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I BELIEVE IN YOU AND KREE Amber Holcomb rivaled Kree Harrison and Candice Glover for best vocal of the night.
Angela Miller: Colton Dixon's "Never Gone" -- Singing a tune from last season's Top 10 finisher was Angela's not-so-subtle way of telling viewers, "Vote for me if you're a Christian." And hey, that's allowed. She's smart. She's playing the game. I don't know that she needed to pull that card so soon, as the sweet, piano-driven Disney-princess quality of her voice would have been distinctive enough to advance Angela regardless of song choice.
The whole segment seemed like a weird paid advertisement, just a setup for the grand announcement that America's Colton Dixon is currently on tour. But the judges made sure to give "Angie" (sung dramatically by Keith Urban) her props, too. "I mean, can I just get your album?" wondered Nicki, right on script. "Nigel, Mike Darnell -- I just want an acoustic album, right now."
Will the over-pimpage help or hurt Angie? You decide. Decide 50 times! That is your right, now.
Amber Holcomb: "I Believe In You and Me" -- This is when the episode finally kicked into gear for me. Every performance until Amber's felt like a rehash of something the singers had previously done -- well, either that or the vocals just weren't strong enough for me to really perk up. Both the tone and pitch on this ambitious cover were so fabulous -- "exquisite" according to Keith. "I do believe that Amber is definitely in it to win it right now!" yelped Randy. So essentially he said nothing.
I liked how Mariah got in a subtle dig at Nicki, who'd commented that normally contestants who attempt Whitney Houston seem like they're having a hard time. "You're not taking on Whitney. You're paying homage." Well excu-u-u-use her. But seriously, I've never seen a contestant pay homage to the late great singer so breezily. Very refreshing.
Kree Harrison: Faith Hill's "Stronger" -- I'd say she has zero chance of elimination, as her rich, effortless country (but it could be anything!) vocal is that undeniable. You'd really have to hate music to not want Kree Harrison to advance. Keith name-checked the key of B, an F sharp, and a high C, which was pretty awesome and sober-Steven Tyler of him. The more musical-nerd stuff we can hear from Keith and Mariah, the better.
Kudos to Kree for playing along with Nicki's effing stupid mock British accent as well as the idea that the two women are now officially married. What happens in Vegas…will transfer back to Los Angeles! I also loved, loved, loved Kree's excited, childlike wriggle when Ryan finally uttered the words "Vote for Kree." She's so natural and I don't see her likability dwindling, ever. I hope I didn't just jinx that. Just kidding. I can't do anything.
NEXT: Candice Glover gets the pimp spot