Tonight's pre-credits sequence hearkens all the way back to the first auditions of each of the final four, most of which I don't remember, if we even saw them at the time. The four finalists also have some thoughts about the state of things, which Angie wraps up by saying that America has the hardest choice. I don't know, difficult choices usually have consequences.
As usual, after the credits and the entrances, Ryan brings out the final four -- Amber, Candice, Kree, and Angie -- for a quick look before sending them off backstage. Ryan says there'll be two rounds plus some duets, the first round being the nebulous "contestants' choice" and the second round's theme having been chosen by call-in voters. We'll find out what that is when the time comes (translation: they're still deciding).
For now, we learn that the final four visited Childrens' Hospital in L.A. this week, so video of that is going to be what their intro reels are coming from. Amber describes it as a "life-changing" experience as we see clips of her wandering the halls with Angie as her partner, and then singing a song for the kids. This would be a lot more touching without the American Idol logo and branding pasted all over every available surface. Including, I believe, some kid's sterile mask (not really).
For the first round of tonight's competition, Amber is singing "The Power of Love" by Celine Dion, which she also got to rehearse in front of the kids (so the contestants got something out of it too). Amber starts it off almost a capella, near the top of the upstage steps, and it's pretty, if not all that thrilling. One would have thought nobody would want to go near Celine again so soon after what went down with Kree last week, but unlike Kree, I think she might have actually pulled it off. The judges certainly think so, as Keith, Nicki, and Randy all give her a standing ovation.
Keith loved the song choice and her range and poise. Nicki compliments Amber's looks first, as usual, commenting on her mostly white outfit and saying she looks like a big sexy glass of milk. She also says Amber is current and ready, and doesn't even seem like a contestant any more. Randy makes Amber turn around and show off how her outfit is black in the back and says she looks more like a "black-and-white cookie." Which is not an expression, obviously, but I guess I should give Randy credit for having the uncharacteristic presence of mind to not call a young African-American woman who just covered a song by a white singer an "Oreo®." It probably would have been better if he'd just kept the thought to himself entirely, but this is Randy Jackson we're talking about. Anyway, Randy also declares her "Most Improved" and agrees with Nicki that she's ready. Mariah babbles as usual, the only part of which cuts through the white noise is "hashtag pow." Oh my God, it's actually working. Also, like last week, Jimmy is backstage for some instant criticism. He says he heard a little strain at the top end of Amber's voice, but maintains that the song is going to be hard to beat.