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'American Idol' Season 12: Candice Glover leads Top 10 power rankings

"American Idol" Top 10 contestant Candice Glover

"American Idol" Top 10 contestant Candice Glover (Credit: Fox)

Let the “Idol” weirdness begin. Or, as Mariah Carey would say, “Hashtag Pow!”

Can we start with the true craziness that Nicki Minaj was so late that they actually started the live show without her? She tweeted “Stuck in traffic *sighs*” after the show began, blaming it on a backup on the roads from her Malibu home. Um, what? Never mind that the on-air folks for a live network TV show generally need to be on set at least an hour before airtime, are there really no preshow meetings with the staff beforehand?

Maybe Nicki really just wanted to miss the first act Curtis Finch Jr., who truly delivered one of the worst Top 10 performances in years. For “American Idol Alums Week,” he took on Fantasia's “I Believe.” It was shaky and off-key and so all-out terrible I thought the band was playing it in the wrong key. And yet somehow, Keith Urban, Randy Jackson and Mariah Carey all liked it. Can they not hear if Minaj isn't sitting among them?

Then, Janelle Arthur took on Montgomery Gentry's “Gone,” which was a game-changer for Scotty McCreery, and she was fun again. In keeping with the weirdness, Jackson thought it was bad and Carey thought she would have done better with something midtempo.

(It will be interesting to see if “Idol” voters are already deep enough into the season to not let the judges sway their votes. I'm guessing they are and will send Curtis home and keep Janelle safe from the bottom three. We'll see.)

Once Minaj arrived, the judging took on a more-sanctioned weirdness. “This is the first time you've stimulated my sexual appetite,” Minaj told Paul Jolley after his OK performance of Lonestar's “Amazed.” “I like that you look like Ricky Ricardo tonight,” she told Lazaro Arbos, after a wobbly, rushed take on Kelly Clarkson's “Breakaway,” cautioning him not to let Jimmy Iovine get into his head. And then she had a lengthy comparison of Kree Harrison's version of Roy Orbison's “Crying” to microwaved Aunt Jemima waffles with syrup.

Her comments were actually more interesting than most of the guys' performances, including Burnell Taylor's OK version of Ruben Studdard's OK “Flying Without Wings” and Devin Velez's unusually laid-back take on Carrie Underwood's “Temporary Home.”

It's the first time that the judges' preference for the gals over the guys seems warranted. Candice Glover is hoping “I Who Have Nothing,” which helped make Jordin Sparks the last female “Idol,” will help her become the next one. It was potent and dramatic, with a bit of a trip-hop vibe to make it more current. It received a standing ovation from the judges, except from Mariah, who said her skirt was too tight for her to stand.

Amber Holcomb's “A Moment Like This” was also remarkably strong, drawing a “Hashtag Pow” from Carey, and Angie Miller's “I Surrender” was also good. So is the ultimate weirdness that the judges may finally succeed in getting a female "Idol" this season?

THE RANKINGS

Candice Glover, “I Who Have Nothing”
Amber Holcomb, “A Moment Like This”
Kree Harrison, “Crying”
Angie Miller, “I Surrender”
Paul Jolley, “Amazed”
Burnell Taylor, “Flying Without Wings”
Devin Velez, “Temporary Home”
Janelle Arthur, “Gone”
Lazaro Arbos, “Breakaway”
Curtis Finch Jr., “I Believe”

BOTTOM THREE: Curtis, Burnell, Lazaro (*actually, Curtis, Devin, Paul)
SHOULD BE ELIMINATED: Curtis
WILL BE ELIMINATED: Curtis
ACTUALLY ELIMINATED Curtis

*Thanks to a weird new twist, "Idol" is giving the standings for everyone outside the Top 3 this season. Here's the results for week one: Top 3 - Candice, Kree, Angie; 4. Lazaro, 5. Amber, 6. Janelle, 7. Burnell, 8. Paul, 9. Devin,  10. Curtis

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