American Idol Top 30 Performances of All Time: No. 19, Candice Glover, “Lovesong”

This performance was a music snob's wet dream

This performance was a music snob’s wet dream

No season in American Idol deserves an asterisk more than Season 12.

Sick of the WGWG (if you don’t know what it means, you lose all right to complain about commentary; it’s a common Idol term that any Idol fan knows) trend, the producers did everything they could to guarantee some pretty white boy wouldn’t win.

Instruments were now frowned upon during the audition process and when it came time to pick the Top 10 Guys, the list was pretty atrocious. There were several guys we saw during the audition process who seemed like locks to make it to the live shows and they either disappeared before the quarterfinal round or were left sitting on their hands as the worst male performers in the history of the show were chosen.

It was clear the producers’ goal was to make sure a female won the show.

Don’t think this is a shot at Candice Glover. She was as worthy a competitor as we’ve seen on the show.

Her strength was her consistency. She stayed within her genre and never made poor song choices. Angie Miller seemed like she was going to run away with the competition; she had the look, the sound and she was a cute white girl, but she was all over the place with her performances. Amber Holcomb had a wonderful voice but a terrible idea of how to win the show; Janelle Arthur and Kree Harrison were more than happy to accept the country bump.

But once Candice performed our No. 19 American Idol Performance of All Time, a jazz rendition of The Cure’s “Lovesong,” the show became hers.

THE SITUATION: With the guys getting sent home week after week, the final six had all five female contestants and Lazaro Arbos, who was earning huge sympathy votes because of his stutter (Serious question – if you have a stutter when you talk but when you sing it’s not there, don’t you just sing everything all the time? Or is that weirder?).

Anyway, Candice needed to get noticed because it seemed Miller, the all-American girl, or one of the two country girls were getting the most attention.

You could definitely make the argument that Candice didn’t have the best voice of the remaining contestants. But she was a smart player and when she needed a big performance she came up with one of the best ever, going to a goth rock band’s beautifully written song with her own twist.

THE HIGHLIGHTS: Music from the 80s is surprisingly brilliant for Idol because it’s fairly simple to rearrange and make sound like actual music instead of synthesized crap. That’s not saying The Cure’s “Lovesong” was synthesized crap; they were a little ahead of their time but, like any well-written song, it’s easy to rearrange because it’s made to be performed in a multitude of ways – studio, live in concert, acoustic – in order to maximize how much money the song can earn.

Glover did an old-school, slowed-down jazz arrangement and it was jaw-dropping from the start.

She doesn’t WOW you with the opening lines. That’s not the point here. She simply draws you into the performance.

It’s not big notes or a chance to show off her voice; the start of the song gets you to pay attention and if you’re not, you likely have a horrible taste in music.

You can’t not love everything about the performance. Between her black dress, beautiful necklace, perfect hair and being backlit with red lights, Candice looks stunning. It looks like she should be singing at some jazz club years ago; it’s a timeless performance.

There are a lot of songs on this list where I can point to a note here or a run there and talk a lot about this. I don’t get that here because of the control and consistency in Candice’s performance.

I don’t get goosies from the song because I’m just in awe. And that’s way more difficult to do on Idol, especially when you’re singing songs that have been done.

When Candice finishes, Mariah Carey’s insane, pay-attention-to-me reaction was actually the best. Just praise Candice, who, by the way, gives this awesome “I’m the fucking best” face around the 3:10 mark. It’s like Jordan (that’s Michael, not Sparks) when he’d hit a big shot and mean-mug for a moment; she knew she just nailed the shit out of that song and she was trying to stay humble, but how can you after that? I don’t care how nice you are, if you stand up and deliver a performance that is of that caliber, you can’t help but sit there and think “holy shit I’m good.”

WHY IT’S HERE: I cannot reiterate this point enough; Season 12 was horribly underwhelming. Most of the contestants simply weren’t as good as people who had been cut from the finals in previous years and didn’t deserve a spot on the live shows.

Candice was one of the few that did and the one thing I’m very curious about is how she would have fared in a more competitive season. After the “Lovesong” performance her star continued to rise and she came up with some big songs in the final, but by then we all knew she was beating Kree. Would she have done the same if she was going up against a Fantasia? Or Caleb Johnson even? What about against a David Cook or Lee DeWyze?

Personally, I think Candice had a competitive edge like all the great Idol winners and putting her in a more competitive setting would have equated to a couple more entries in our Top 30 list.

PREVIOUSLY: No. 20, Clay Aiken, “Bridge Under Troubled Water”

NEXT UP: The most underrated performance in the history of American Idol because this contestant didn’t win because America fucked up bad.