'American Idol' Recap: A Lot Of Stalling On Motown Night With Top 8

March 28th, 2013 11:04am EDT

Janelle Arthur on AMERICAN IDOL There’s one thing very certain about this season so far. It’s not that a girl is going to win. It’s not that the competition is stacked in the female’s favor. It’s not that this is the worst season for talent since the Jordin Sparks year. It’s none of that. No, the biggest certainty this year is that Mariah Carey is the worst judge on this show since Ellen.
It’s not that what she says is wrong. It’s that she doesn’t say anything. The hardest part about writing this column this season is trying to pick a sound byte out of Mariah’s insipid ramblings. She just never comments on the contestant, the performance, the song, anything. It’s usually about how we love them, their outfit is nice and the world is grand. Nothing ever about singing.
So it’s over. Its’ all over. No more Mariah. She’s banished from this column. Until she gets up and smacks Nicki Minaj or just passes out on live TV there is no reason to pay any attention to her any longer. She’s earned the fast forward button on the DVR and there is no going back. That’s where she is and where she’ll stay.
Also, as always, I’ll pay absolutely no attention to the ridiculous group numbers they trot out in the middle of the competition in order to do nothing more than fill time. They have no place in a singing competition and are routinely boring.
Now, for the actual singing competition…
Candice Glover Sang “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye
Keith Said: You really raise the bar.
Nicki Said: I think it was good for people to see your rock/bluesy side. Good job.
Randy Said: Effortless. Just crazy good.
The Verdict:
A little indulgent here from Candice. She’s proven she can really sing the past couple weeks, but here she showed just how much she thinks she can sing with an unnecessary jazz arrangement that didn’t make a lot of sense other than it allowed her to sing fifteen too many runs more than she should have.
Yes, the voice is impressive and her skills are just about unmatched in this competition, but that performance was just all about her voice and nothing about the song or the melody – just a whole bunch of flash without any real substance making it all just feel empty and soulless.
Which really isn’t good when you’re singing a soul song.
Grade: C-
Prediction: She’s enough of a favorite at this point that she’ll have no trouble going through.
Lazaro Arbos Sang “For Once in My Life” by Stevie Wonder
Keith Said: That one didn’t feel rhythmically comfortable for you, but vocally it sounded better for you.
Nicki Said: Fonzi, you gave it to me tonight.
Randy Said: I don’t know if you completely redeemed yourself, but this is far better than last week.
The Verdict:
It’s finally become clear what Lazaro is! At the Venetian in Las Vegas they have gondoliers who sing ridiculous songs and wear ridiculous clothes with really mediocre voices that don’t belong anywhere outside of being a Gondolier. That’s what Lazaro is! One of those singers! That’s where he belongs!
Now get off the stage and stop trashing soul classics with your theme park vocals.
Grade: D
Prediction: This was probably his best of the live shows, so he’ll probably keep keepin’ on.
Janelle Arthur Sang “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” by The Supremes
Keith Said: It brought out the angst in that lyric in a way I’d never heard before.
Nicki Said: Sometimes I don’t think your voice is how it normally is.
Randy Said: I absolutely loved it. I thought it was incredible. She’s in it to win it!
The Verdict:
Janelle’s got herself a little confidence and rather than turning it into some level of annoying perkiness, she’s channeled into a very cool blues/country version of a pop-R&B classic.
Somehow, the way she’s altered the melody actually suits the song better than the original Motown groove. If this hadn’t been recorded to such fame and acclaim previously, these words would have felt completely at home in this arrangement and coming from Janelle’s country twang.

There’s always those few rare special performances each ‘Idol’ season where a contestant covers a song so well that it seems new again and completely that singer’s own. Who knew Janelle would give us our first such performance this season?
Grade: A
Prediction: She’s definitely safe after that masterpiece.
Devin Velez Sang “Tracks of My Tears” by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
Keith Said: Just relax into it cuz you’ve got style.
Nicki Said: That was an amazing job tonight. I loved every single choice you made.
Randy Said: I belive Devin is back tonight.
The Verdict:
This is a smooth throwback performance that’s almost a little too much of a throwback. To the point that it verged on old-fashioned.
That’s not to say it’s all the way there. It’s more retro than it is really old-fashioned, but Devin certainly didn’t do anything to modernize it. Almost like a bad Bruno Mars wannabe who doesn’t understand how to make something old new again while remaining classic.
While Devin may have gotten a bit stuck between Fabian and Justin Timberlake here, he sounded as solid as ever. The kid can definitely sing even if he is a total charisma vacuum with the moves of a mannequin onstage. A mannequin with a great voice.
Grade: C+
Prediction: Devin came back a bit tonight, but he’s gotten so killed the last three weeks by the voters that he’s still in danger.

Burnell Taylor Sang “My Cherie Amour” by Stevie Wonder
Keith Said: I love everything about it. It was really good tonight.
Nicki Said: You reminded us why we fell in love with that voice.
Randy Said: The choices that you make are so smart.
The Verdict:
This is such a safe, predictable and mundane song choice that Burnell couldn’t do anything other than come out and give a safe, predictable and mundane performance. That was a given.
What wasn’t a given, though, was the fact that Burnell would take a vocal hatchet to this one. Vocals have never been his problem, just the theatrical way in which he delivers them. This time he takes out the theatricality in favor of a half-asleep cruise ship performer and dunks his vocals down 30 fathoms as he’s pitchy, rhythmically out-of-sync and just off the whole time.
Still, sweet white tux.
Grade: F
Prediction: The judges loved him, but that seemed like the type of performance that sends somebody home.
Angie Miller Sang “Shop Around” by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
Keith Said: You were all over the place.
Nicki Said: You tried to show a different side of Angie that didn’t need to be shown.
Randy Said: It’s the first time I ever heard you sound pitchy onstage. It’s not great tonight.
The Verdict:
A bit of a goofball performance here. Definitely show choir more than it was show business. Angela never seemed authentic or comfortable with this song choice and definitely not with the arrangement of the song choice. It all just felt so awkward as she tried to turn this into Pat Benatar-gone-soul for very confusing reasons.

Her vocal was solid (it always is) but even that wasn’t her best. It was a little pitchy and she never really settled into her normal dynamic groove.
Every front-runner has an off performance each year. This will probably end up being remembered as Angela’s weakest.
Grade: D+
Prediction: This could be a wake-up-call Bottom 3 for Ms. Miller this week.
Amber Holcomb Sang “Lately” by Stevie Wonder
Keith Said: You have this way of laying in a song that’s just mesmerizing.
Nicki Said: It’s really unmatched.
Randy Said: By far the best vocal of the night!
The Verdict:
This is just class all the way. A diva in her prime turning the lights down and slowing the beat to just kill a vocal and show the audience why they came to see her sing. Just a dominant vocal and perfectly poised performance.
There’s two battles going in this competition. The two country girls (Kree and Janelle) and the three pop/R&B girls (Amber, Angie and Candice) – tonight Amber decimated her side of the competition by just absolutely owning a song and making it her own by doing nothing more than ripping into a transcendent vocal without an ounce of self-doubt or hesitation.
Grade: A-
Prediction: alkfjaljlajsflajsf
Kree Harrison Sang “Don’t Play That Song (You Lied)” by Ben E. King
Keith Said: You’re Kree and you sound like Kree and it’s great.
Nicki Said: You’re a queen.
Randy Said: The moments you had were just unbelievable.
The Verdict:
This performance was…kinda fun? Yep. Just kinda fun. Like somebody singing at a country-themed wedding. That level of fun and quality.
At least it started that good. Then it got boring. Painfully repetitive as the melody recycled itself and Kree did nothing to alter her vocals or make it more interesting. Instead she just sort of slowly deteriorated into a bungling mess that just became shrill by the end.

And Kree is just so smug when she performs. She sings with the type of unearned cockiness that just makes you want her to break a heel on her ridiculous shoes in the middle of her performance that causes the most embarrassing of tumbles.
Grade: D
Prediction: Too much love in the pimp spot for Kree to go home.
Final Thoughts:
After a pretty lackluster week for every singer except Janelle and Amber, it looks like it’s Angie’s turn to face the fire. She’s not going home, but it’s not going to be an all-boy affair at the bottom of the voting this and Angie was the one girl who got trashed a bit by the judges and didn’t really own the stage. She’ll be the token girl in the bottom three this week.
But not going home. Oh no. That’s going to be either Devin or Burnell. Both forgettable, both with weird love from the judges. It’s a tough pick, but Burnell seems like the one to go this week. Just way to forgettable.

Related: American Idol, Keith Urban, Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj, Randy Jackson, Starpulse Exclusives, Recaps, Television, Reality, Reality (Talent)

© 2013

Photo Credits: Michael Becker / FOX

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