On Wednesday night, the Top 10 "American Idol" finalists took on hits that previous winners made famous.
But first, we need to address Ms. Nicki Minaj ... who showed up 13 minutes late for the taping!

According to Ryan Seacrest, the rapper was caught in traffic on the 405 freeway and totally missed the first performance from Curtis Finch Jr. She showed up in time for Janelle Arthur's song and no further mention of her lateness was made by Ryan.

O.K., onto the performances. 

Some proved they had winning material while others fell short. It made this viewer appreciate just how good the likes of Kelly Clarkson, Fantasia Barrino, and Carrie Underwood truly are.

Here's how I ranked them, from best to worst -- and yes, the girls are in it to win it:

1. Candice Glover

Jordin Sparks did an incredible cover of Tom Jones' "I Who Have Nothing" in Season 7, and Candice certainly did it justice. This song was a bit of a departure for Candice, but she still added her confident, cool R&B vibe. There was power, amazing runs, and real intention behind the song.

2. Amber Holcomb

The "Idol" producers saved one of the best for last. Amber closed Thursday's show with the most famous of all coronation songs -- Kelly Clarkson's "A Moment Like This." And while her power is a notch below Kelly's, her ability to hit notes is unrivaled this season. I agree with Nicki Minaj that her styling could be improved; Amber is young but came across a little pageant-y.

3. Kree Harrison

Kree sang a song Carrie Underwood memorably covered, Roy Orbison's "Crying." What makes Kree stand out is her maturity -- and I mean that as a compliment. She takes her time like Melissa Etheridge. I actually thought her vocal -- particularly her head tone -- was better than Amber's (a rare feat) while Amber's performance gave her the edge. Still, Kree was fantastic.

4. Burnell Taylor

I loved Burnell and his cover of Ruben Studdard's "Flying Without Wings." Burnell has the same smoothness and rich tone of the Velvet Teddy Bear. His musical accents are distinct but not distracting. His look was on point tonight too. He has a humble star quality, if that makes sense.

6. Paul Jolley

Paul isn't the strongest singer in this group, but he is pleasant. He knows exactly who to cater to -- his female country fan base -- by singing a song like Lonestar's "Amazed." It was definitely a step up from last week's performance. He'll be safe for awhile if he keeps singing like this.

5. Angie Miller

Angie has a good voice, but Celine Dion's "I Surrender" was too big for her. You need a instrument like judge Mariah Carey's or Kelly Clarkson's to pull it off. The moments could've been bigger if she had one like theirs. Still, this was an above-average performance.

7. Janelle Arthur

Kudos to Janelle for picking an upbeat song -- Montgomery Gentry's "Gone." But like Paul, she was very middle of the pack for me. I agree with Nicki that I missed the sweetness in her voice. With the strong "Idol" country base, it's unlikely she'll be "Gone," but who knows?

8. Devin Velez

I never would've guessed that Devin would pick to cover a Carrie Underwood song. As always, his vocal was good, but this was really flat performance-wise. It was nice, but sometimes nice guys do finish last. He's better than this.

9. Curtis Finch Jr.

It was obvious Curtis would cover a Fantasia song. Unfortunately I didn't believe in his performance of "I Believe." Part of what made Fantasia's version so special was her genuine emotion. Curtis comes across as smug and the vocal tricks as gimmicky. I thought Burnell's performance was far more soulful.

10. Lazaro Arbos

Lazaro covered another Kelly song -- "Breakaway." Like Devin, Laz played it way too safe. It seemed like the lyrics really had meaning for him, but the performance was pretty flat. There were some serious pitch issues throughout the entire song.


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