It’s Detroit night on “American Idol,” which is a great theme. However, so was the Beatles and we all know how that turned out. It’s interesting that it’s not limited to Motown — so should we expect some Kid Rock and Eminem, then?
Smokey Robinson is the mentor this week. He’s fantastic, though dude needs to lay off the nips and tucks. Also, Smokey always takes us back to this nightmare fuel from our childhood. Totally scared the crap out of us.
1. Candice Glover, “Heard it Through the Grapevine,” Marvin Gaye
She’s putting a bluesy spin on a very iconic Motown song, so hopefully it works. The opening few bars are fantastic — the saxophone and her big, throaty voice. Then when the tempo kicks up, it’s just very …. cool. Just smooth and hep cat and sexy, we love the way she effortlessly goes up into her upper register at moments. An interesting arrangement, to be sure, but vocally, it was excellent.
Urban says she has a great way of controlling her instrument, which is very true. Nicki loves how exciting she was. Mariah says she epitomizes the competition, then babbles some stuff about her and Candice’s secret club or something.
2. Kree & Janelle, “Like a Prayer,” Madonna
Hmm. You would think these two would sound great together, but they don’t. It’s like the harmony keeps overshadowing the melody, plus Kree is so good that it’s kind of drawing attention to the fact that Janelle is not as strong as she is. And the whole thing is kind of lifeless. They’re just standing there like lumps. Very pretty lumps, but lumps nonetheless.
We really wanted to like that, but we didn’t. There was just something … off. Interestingly, Nicki says it looked like Kree flew in to sing a duet with an “Idol” contestant. Wow. We totally agree with her, but that’s kind of … ouch. Mariah brings it back around by calling it a sisterhood moment. The judges aren’t wrong, but it’s a little harsh to act like Kree’s the pro and Janelle’s some schlub.
3. Lazaro Arbos, “For Once In My Life,” Stevie Wonder
This is a fun song, so it’s a good choice because Lazaro could stand to show some personality, though obviously it hardly matters what he does on stage. To quote Simon in regards to Tim Urban, “You’re gonna smile, the audience is gonna vote for you, nobody cares, and you’ll be here next week. So, well done!”
That being said, this is one of Lazaro’s best performances. It’s not so low of a key that he sounds fuzzy and muffled, he seems relaxed and like he’s having fun and vocally, on the sliding scale of the-girls-are-way-better-than-the-boys, this isn’t half bad. The pitch wasn’t perfect, but again, on our sliding scale, it wasn’t half bad.
Randy immediately throws “singing” out the window by criticizing the pitch, then saying that’s not a huge thing. That’s like saying it’s not important for a basketball player to dribble. Pitch is fundamental to being a singer. Don’t get me started on auto-tune, those people are hacks. Pitch is important.
However, Randy goes on to say Lazaro was disconnected, which we disagree with. This was the first time in weeks he hasn’t looked like a singing mannequin. Though we cannot abide those grapey pants.
Mariah compliments him picking a song that was in the right spot in his register and for seeming like he’s “back,” which is definitely true. Nicki takes her judging time to hit on Smokey Robinson. Because of course she does.
4. Janelle Arthur, “You Keep Me Hangin’ On,” Diana Ross
Great, great arrangement. So impressed she did this herself as a teen. This 100% makes up for “Like a Prayer” earlier. This sounds like a completely original country song, it actually took us a minute to remember the title because it’s so different from the original. This is absolutely blowing our minds, Janelle has never been better. This makes the lyrics of the song utterly heartbreaking.
She just threw down the gauntlet for tonight’s performances. This reminds us of when David Cook used to throw those crazy arrangements at us every week in Season 7.
The judges are over the moon, as they should be. Except Nicki Paulas some stuff about Janelle’s voice not being how it usually is or something. Whatever, Nicki’s dumb. That was awesome. Janelle is crying, she’s so happy with the judges’ comments.
We are totally downloading that tomorrow. Watch Janelle’s performance here.
5. Devin Velez, “Tracks of My Tears,” Smokey Robinson
Interesting choice. Not only is it by the mentor, but this was our hands-down favorite Adam Lambert performance in Season 8. ‘Course, maybe nobody remembers that anymore. Anyway, this is … hmph. Not that good. Devin is clearly not familiar with it and seems a little lost for most of the song. We hate the rhythm choices he made here. There are also some pitch issues and he doesn’t even attempt the bridge, which is the best part of the whole song.
Devin is probably in trouble this week. Keith’s not wild about it, but the rest of the judges are totally down with it. Huh. Disagree. Difference of opinion, we guess. Though we absolutely agree with Mariah that Devin should’ve done “Ooh, Baby, Baby.” Now THAT would’ve been great.
6. Amber, Candice and Angie, “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me,” Diana Ross & The Supremes
This is great. This is totally a girl group we want to listen to, like immediately. They sound terrific together. That was super hot and really fun. The judges’ standing O is totally deserved.
7. Burnell Taylor, “My Cherie Amour,” Stevie Wonder
We love Stevie, don’t get us wrong, but this song is a total snoozefest. Zzzzzz. Anyway, it starts and Burnell sounds nice — he’s the strongest guy left in the competition. But he’s pronouncing “cherie amour” weird. What’s up with his emphasis on the Rs? Very weird. It’s distracting. Relax, dude. Just let it flow, be smooth. I mean, sometimes he sounds like he’s saying “amourm.” What is up with that?
Nicki says he reminded them of why they fell in love with his voice and that he’s very throwback, which is true. He is very retro, in a good way.
8. Angie Miller, “Shop Around,” The Miracles
This doesn’t seem like a song that will really show off Angie’s voice, but we’ll reserve judgment ’til we hear it. When she starts … oof. This is maybe our least favorite Angie performance. It’s not showing off her voice, and there are actually some pitch problems — can she not hear herself? Or the music? Seriously, she’s really off in spots.
She’s also being totally overshadowed by the electric guitar, though she certainly has decided to go sexpot on this one. Hmph. She’ll be safe, but this was not her best. The ending was kind of cool, but that doesn’t
a great performance make.
Randy is spot-on with the pitch issues, but we agree that it sounds like she couldn’t hear herself or something. That was pretty rough. The audience boos heartily, but they’re dumb. Randy is right.
Mariah also has some prescient comments in that this wasn’t “Angie” and she wanted to hear her sing “I’ll Be There” at the piano, which would have been excellent. Nicki also cautions her not to be so overtly sexy, which is a delightful pot/kettle moment, but she’s also right.
9. Amber Holcomb, “Lately,” Stevie Wonder
This is a superb choice for Amber. Her being in the Bottom 3 was a travesty last week — an “Idol” travesty, not a real travesty, but you know what we’re saying. Anyway. This is beautiful. You know, Candice gets all the attention as the R&B voice, but Amber is just as good (if not better, honestly). She sounds like Whitney, guys. Not all the time, but definitely at moments. And that is saying something.
The judges give a standing O. That’s all you really need to know. Except Nicki keeps harping on the friggin’ pink lipstick. Shut up, Nicki.
10. Lazaro, Burnell and Devin, “I Can’t Help Myself,” The Four Tops
We are nervous about this and then — yeah, it’s a mess. The pitch is all over the place, the charisma is terrible, nobody knows the words, it’s like — WTF. Did they put this together backstage during the last commercial break? This is an embarrassment. They should all be thoroughly embarrassed.
Nicki says it’s like they were back in Hollywood Week, it was terrible and then she shouts at them to get off the stage. First time all night Nicki’s made any sense. And then Burnell says he doesn’t want to throw anybody under the bus, but then he totally throws everybody under the bus. Devin says he learned his parts. Wow. That was. Jeeeezus. I can’t believe they were allowed to take the stage with that nonsense.
11. Kree Harrison, “Don’t Play That Song,” Aretha Franklin
Big shoes to fill, but we think Kree can do it. And then just like Smokey said — she slays it. Kree has such a gorgeous tone, this was a spectacular song choice. Her low notes are goosebump-inducing, then she just goes up to the rafters like it’s no big thing. The runs are perfect — not too many, used very judiciously. We are totally in love with Kree Harrison.
Now, it wasn’t the night’s best vocal — we think both Janelle and Amber were stronger, tonight. But it was still really good.
Randy agrees that it wasn’t perfect, but Kree is here to stay. Mariah also commends her for doing the song. Keith loves that she was herself, while Nicki says it’s amazing that she can do Queen songs and have so much confidence.
So, who is going home? Devin is probably in trouble, though maybe Burnell. Lazaro was better than he’s been in weeks and we know he’s not going anywhere. None of the women should be going home at this point.
What say you, “Idol” fans?