BEVERLY — Angela Miller got lots of acclaim for both of her performances on “American Idol” last night, but it was the rendition of “I’ll Stand by You” that she dedicated to Boston just days after the city’s marathon bombing that seemed to transcend the competition.
“I’m singing for Boston tonight,” Miller tweeted beforehand.
Miller performed The Pretenders song at the piano near the halfway mark of the two-hour show, during a section dedicated to vocalists performing songs written the year they were born.
Afterward, three of the four judges stood up, and the audience cheered.
“It was a beautiful dedication, Angie,” Urban said. “I love you at the piano, I just do, we all do.”
“That was a great song choice for you, that was a great vocal delivery,” Randy Jackson said. “I think you’re on your way, I really do.”
In agreement was Mariah Carey — “Such a beautiful thing to do,” she said — and Nicki Minaj, who said the song was a smart choice for her “as an artist” and “human being.”
Even the oft-critical show commentator Jimmy Iovine praised Miller’s performance, calling it “fabulous” and saying she’d successfully transformed the song into a “power ballad.”
Viewers won’t know until tonight whether the 19-year-old Beverly High School graduate received enough votes after the sing-off to stay on the show another week. But she seemed like a strong contender throughout last night’s episode, which also saw her perform “Halo” by Beyonce, after which she received another enthusiastic review from the judges.
“Definitely top three,” Urban said.
“Now my Angie Miller is back!” Minaj said.
“Angie’s in it to win it, y’all,” Jackson said.
Carey also applauded her second performance, saying it wasn’t easy to cover Beyonce and that Miller’s “clarity of voice” had benefited the song.
Miller is the daughter of Guy and Tana Miller, co-pastors at the Remix Church in Salem. Her brother Jonathan is a member of the band Exiting the Fall. She graduated from Beverly High School last year and declined music scholarships at three Christian colleges in favor of trying out for “American Idol” in New York in September.
“American Idol” airs on Fox tonight at 8.