“American Idol”: MacArthur Snark

“MacArthur Park”! Did Amber find the cake recipe we lost in 1978?


To quote what Ryan Seacrest constantly mutters to himself, nothing is more disappointing than when dreams come true. The American Idol gods blessed us with what seemed like a dreamlike theme, a week devoted to one-hit wonders and “contestant’s choice” tracks, but somehow the night felt like a humdrum hodgepodge of passable performances. Where was Kreedom‘s slammin’ rendition of Nu Shooz‘ “I Can’t Wait”? Angie Miller‘s frisky version of Toni Basil‘s “Mickey”? And where the HELL was Amber Holcomb‘s sweet-ass performance of Dionne Farris‘ “I Know”? WHERE? (I just pictured Lazaro Arbos speed-spitting Barenaked Ladies‘ “One Week” and I’m crying now.)

This week also marks an aboutface in my rankings, so pardon me as I sort through my feelings, disappointments, and self-doubt right in front of you. To quote the first one-hit wonder I ever loved: I’m cold and I am shamed, lying naked on the floor.

Tell me what you think about the jumbled rankings, listed worst to best. I’m already torn.

4. Amber Holcomb, “The Power of Love,” “MacArthur Park,” and “Rumour Has It” (with Kree)

As you know, I have been sipping the Amber elixir all season long and rooting for her Doublemint commercial ferocity really hard. She’s a singer who wears tiny jean shorts with the pockets hanging out, and I understand that decision as an artist. It’s called glamor. Because she’s Glamber. And she’s glamazing. And I’m glambling now.

Unfortunately, for all the ballyhoo heaped on Amber last night, which ranged from Nicki Minaj‘s strange “You’re the contestant I most want to be friends with!” comment to Keith Urban‘s “Summer’s arrived and you’re free as a bird!” quip (not an exact quote, but close– I think?), the girl simply sang the least impressively this week and didn’t redeem it with chicness. “The Power of Love” is precisely a song I hate. I was pissed and wounded when I realized Amber picked it for her “Contestant’s Choice.” Why didn’t she pick something saucy? Why wasn’t she purring Jody Watley‘s “Looking For a New Love” while swinging her hoop earrings like lariats? Why wasn’t she killing Teena Marie‘s “Lovergirl” while vogueing and duckwalking? Hit me with some Lisa Lisa, my comely teen ingenue! Some “Queen of the Night”-era Whitney! Wear a tiara or something, girl! Live! Kill Angie Miller using the brute strength of your superfly jean jacket! Thrive! Do anything but sing this Boniva jingle for 70-year-olds who wear sheath dresses, Amber. Anything.

Then came “MacArthur Park,” Amber’s “one-hit wonder” that she clearly selected for its Donna Summer cred, not its Richard Harris beginnings. This should’ve ruled. It is without exception the campiest song ever written, and its orgiastic climax is sublime in a Madame Butterfly-meets-Xanadu way. But instead, Amber really seemed to struggle with the song, missing notes, mumbling lyrics, and (most egregiously) lacking the Agnes Moorehead grandeur that “MacArthur Park” requires. Commit, Amber! You need to LEAVE that cake out in the rain. You CANNOT take it, and you will NEVER have that recipe again because Giorgio Moroder SNORTED IT off your torso at Studio 54 next to AN UNCONSCIOUS LARAINE NEWMAN. That’s what I needed from you, Amber. Cocaine cred. Without that, you should’ve stuck with a slower, statelier one-hit wonder like “Nothing Compares 2 U.”

Her duet with Kree? Inconsequential. For the first time ever, Amber was the undisputed worst this week, and now I worry that my once-proud princess is melting in the dark.

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