“If you sing these songs well they will deliver for you,” music producer and Idol mentor Jimmy Iovine told the contestants. “If you don’t sing them well, the whole world is going to know.”
Country crooner Kree Harrison kicked things off with a booming version of “With a Little Help From My Friends,” which had the judges trying to outdo each other with praise. “You’re all the cool things about country,” Keith Urban said. Mariah Carey dubbed Kree’s performance “fan-freaking-tastic.” And the always fashion-conscious Nicki Minaj had nothing but praise for Kree’s suddenly pumped-up style and her unflappable confidence.
Burnell Taylor was up next and although he wasn’t familiar with the song “Let It Be,” he proved to be a quick study. The audience gave him a rousing ovation and Nicki said she loved the way he “caressed” the song and “treated it like it was a newborn baby.”
Amber Holcomb took on a lesser-known tune, “She’s Leaving Home,” which elicited a so-so response from the judges.
The most emotional part of the night came after Lazaro Arbos – who was decked out in a loud yellow jacket – delivered a super subdued performance of “In My Life.” During the ensuing, mostly negative critique (Randy thought it was his worst performance ever and Nicki said she could sense that something was bothering him), Lazaro looked defeated and had tears in his eyes, which finally spilled over during his post-performance chat with host Ryan Seacrest.
Candice Glover brought the show back into high gear with a surprisingly edgy rendition of “Come Together.”
Paul Jolley, who’s consistently battled criticism for being overly theatrical and inauthentic, didn’t change the judges’ minds with his rendition of “Eleanor Rigby.” But the audience seemed to disagree – they kept booing the harshness of his critique.
Angie Miller wowed everyone with her dramatic spin on “Yesterday.” Devin Velez got rave reviews for his Brian McKnight-esque take on “The Long and Winding Road.” And Janelle Arthur closed the show with a performance of “I Will” that Mariah deemed “elegant” and Randy thought was the best of the night.
Results will be announced Thursday (8 p.m. ET) – tune in to see which contestant will be in danger of being sent home.