Thursday, March 28, 2013

"American Idol" 2013: Music from Detroit (Top 8 Perform)

Posted by on Thu, Mar 28, 2013 at 2:29 PM

It was Detroit night on "Idol," which I initially interpreted to mean Motown, but it was actually much broader than that - we even got some Madonna in there. Smokey Robinson was our guest mentor. He seems like a nice man. I wish he would stop doing things to his head.

Candice Glover opened the show with "Heard it Through the Grapevine." It opened really slowly, which I did not care for. And whoever set up the shot from below, with the stage light flickering on and off above her, was an idiot - that was super distracting. Candice had tempo issues through the verse, but the singing was great even though parts of the song hit the lower edge of Candice's register. She kept getting better and better as the song went on, and Etta James'd that last note. Judges all loved it.

Because this show cannot be less than two hours long, we had three groups in addition to the eight remaining soloists. Group 1 was Kree and Janelle singing "Like a Prayer" by Detroit native Madonna. Their voices did not work well together. Kree is just so much better than Janelle; Janelle's whiny notes, pitch issues, and weaknesses were underscored here. Nikki Minaj summed it up by saying that Kree looked like a superstar who flew in to do a duet with an "American Idol" contestant - she just totally outshined Janelle.

LazaroArbos did "For Once in My Life" by Stevie Wonder. I thought Jimmy Iovine was noticeably restrained with Lazaro in the coaching session, given how furious he was with Lazaro last week. This started out really slowed down and worked nicely as a ballad. But then the tempo picked up halfway through. It was one of Lazaro's better vocals but it was also noticeably lacking in energy until the last chorus. The whole thing still felt amateurish, and Lazaro himself seemed over it. During the judging Lazaro kept talking over anyone who was saying anything critical - I believe he actually said, "It's all good, Boo" to Randy Jackson, which is wrong on EVERY level. And the judges almost seemed to be apologizing to Lazaro for critiquing him last week. Oh, what a fucking mess this situation is. Nikki Minaj said Lazaro did a great job and it's because he stopped listening to Jimmy Iovine. Nikki, you in danger, girl.

Janelle Arthur did "Keep Me Hanging On," which she performed sitting on a stool and strumming a guitar. Cool, new different take on a really familiar song. This was the second straight week that I loved what Janelle put out there, and she's starting to bring me over to her side. Mariah Carey just kept screaming, "Janelle at her finest!" But I can't hate, because she was right. Nikki weirdly thought her voice wasn't as good as normal, because she was smiling too much. OK...

Devin Velez did "Tracks of My Tears," which was a good choice vocally. But Devin was wrestling with the tempo in rehearsal and that came out a bit on stage as well. Ultimately Devin's issue is that he's simply not connecting, with either the song or the audience. Guy can sing - probably the best male vocalist left - but there's nothing about him that's magnetic. This performance in particular felt very old-fashioned, and even though it's a 50-year-old song, that doesn't have to be the case. Nikki said that Devin was looking like a "ripe banana," which was apparently a good thing.

Group 2: Candice, Angie, and Amber on "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" by The Supremes, which is a song I LOVE. Amber had rhythm issues and Angie slid off the pitch toward the end of her verse. Overall I thought this had some nice moments, but it needed a few more hours of rehearsal. Amber was easily the weakest of the three.

Burnell Taylor did "My Cherie Amour" by Stevie Wonder. I thought I would love this, but I actually hated it. The phrasing on the title - the emphasis on "share-REE am-ORE" - really turned me off. His phrasing was awkward in parts, and he sounded really pinched and fully terrible after the key change. I hated it, I'm sorry. I like Burnell, but I hated that. And I thought he looked very strange in that outfit and no glasses. The judges fawned all over it. And hey, guys, did you know that Burnell is from Louisiana? Like Randy? And that he is in it to win it?

Angie Miller picked "You Better Shop Around." She put a slinky rock spin on it, which was...different. I liked the impulse here, but the execution was deeply flawed. The song was too low for Angie. She was trying to be cool and fun strutting all over the stage, but it didn't really work. I think she flubbed a line or two. And nothing about this felt like Angie. She's the moody/emo singer-songwriter, not rocker girl. This just wasn't a good showcase for Angie at all. Randy thought the performance was really pitchy. Mariah thought it was a bad song choice. Nikki said that Angie doesn't need to try to be something she's not.

Amber Holcomb sang "Lately" by Steview Wonder and she absolutely killed it. Her best vocal in weeks. She sang it flawlessly, looked flawless - not a single thing was off about that performance. Tens across the board.

Group 3: the guys sang "Can't Help Myself." Total mess. Lazaro completely forgot one of his solo sections, Devin was more alive in this than he was in his solo, and Burnell actually had some fun. Nikki Minaj said that it was Hollywood Week all over again, that she was going to pretend she never even saw it, that Lazaro fell flat as a pancake, and told them to get off the stage. Awkward moments ensued when both Burnell and Devin said they learned their parts, and gave sharp side eyes to Lazaro. Seriously, he is the worst. If you are still on Team Lazaro, please open your eyes. And ears. At this point he's coming across terribly.

Kree Harrison closed the show with "Don't Play That Song (You Lied)" by Aretha Franklin. Normally I love Kree, but this was the weakest we have seen her since Hollywood Week. There were parts where she looked almost in pain, or irritated to be singing. It certainly wasn't bad, but not what you expect to close the show. Definitely a letdown after her duo performance and Amber's solo number.

Predictions: The Bottom 3 should be Angie, Lazaro, and Burnell or Devin, with Lazaro going home. That's not going to happen. I think Devin is basically doomed for another trip to the bottom. Rounding it out will probably be Burnell. Angie could make a surprise appearance down there. But even if she does somehow get the lowest votes, the judges will use the Save on her.

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