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Amber Holcomb Lifts American Idol on Dismal Rock Night (watch)

Amber Holcomb showed her range on American Idol's rock night.

Amber Holcomb showed her range on American Idol’s rock night.

Chris Daughtry proved way back in season five that “American Idol” was never about rock. The show is about finding the next “pop” idol, yet for some reason it forced its seven saccharin finalists to be something they definitely are not–rock stars.

We all know the show’s dirty little secret; for licensing and clearance purposes, it dredges up artists that nobody has heard from in the last 20 years.

Hence, last night’s “rock” performances were well-worn tunes from Queen, Billy Joel, Heart and Janice Joplin. Frankly, none of the singers really rocked any of them.

Amber Holcomb seemed to net the most praise from the judges. She sang Heart’s, “What About Love,” which one could easily argue is more pop than rock. So she got an easy pass in the song category.

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Even so, judge Nicki Minaj couldn’t get enough of her, and all four judges gave her a standing ovation.

“The first line out of your mouth just completely melted me… This has to be my favorite of the night so far, to be honest,” said Nicki, uncharacteristically effusive.

Randy Jackson heaped on so much praise he embarrassed himself. (Where are you, Simon?) As for Mariah Carey, forget about it.

Angie Miller regained some lost ground with a sharp choice of songs. She went with “Bring Me to Life,” a solid rock song (but not hard rock) with a feminine edge by Evanescence. She’s no Amy Lee, but did a great job with a smart choice.

It was all hoo-rah from the judges again. They fell over each other with their praise.

From there, things started to go down hill. Other contestants foolishly took the challenge to heart and chose some iconic rock songs to sing. Big mistake.

There was not way Burnell Taylor was going to come close to pulling off Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name.” The song is just too distinctive. Burnell, an R&B singer, would have been better off going with a completely different arrangement more suited to his style.

That would have flipped the judges, but at least he would have made the song his own.

And, someone should have told Kree Harrison to stay away from Janis Joplin. The ’60s singer seems to be a perennial favorite on the show, but there’s no way Kree could do it justice. Of all the contestants, she probably has the most range, but singing Joplin begs comparison and she didn’t come close.

Janelle Arthur also escaped the rock death trap with Billy Joel’s “You may be Right.” If this is a rock song, then nothing in music is sacred. But it was a good choice for her, and she added her own flourishes to put her imprint on it.

The same can’t be said for Lazaro Arbos, who butchered “We are the Champions” by Queen. A contestant better bring it with an iconic rock song like this, but it was pretty clear, pretty quickly, that Arbos was out of his league with the choice.

What’s not to like about Candice Glover outside of trying to take on “I Can’t get no Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones? The questionable song choice left little room for her to show her stuff.

After tonight, it shouldn’t be hard to choose the top singers.

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