'American Idol' Recap: Lazaro Arbos Bottoms Out

April 11th, 2013 8:42am EDT

Lazaro Arbos performs on AMERICAN IDOL All hail the end of the ridiculous group songs on the performance shows. No more filling time, just a double dose of each singer.
In fact, we don’t have any time to spare. Let’s get to the recap:
Angie Miller’s First Song: “Anyone Who Had a Heart” by Dionne Warwick
Keith Said: You have such a great voice, but don’t rely on it alone. There were moments where I was waiting to hear that passion.
Nicki Said: Your voice is so amazing, but this felt old-fashioned.
Randy Said: You gotta sing the song like you wrote it.
The Verdict:
By the end of this performance it was like it hadn’t happened. It was just ordinarily good. Workmanlike as Angie sounded great but did nothing too memorable with the song.
She sounded just as good as usual but there were no moments created in the song. At no point did she unleash the Angie with a big note for a creative spike. She just plowed right through the tune without taking any time to breathe or really dig into it. Just a solidly sung song with nothing much to say about it.
Right in that zone of not bad but not overwhelming. Right in the forgettable area. Right were you don’t want to be when you lead off the show.
Grade: C+
Angie Miller’s Second Song: “Love Came Down” by Kari Jobe
Keith Said: When you get out and tour, you’re going to be doing a lot of that.
Nicki Said: This is Angie. Don’t stray from that.
Randy Said: So unbelievable. Thank you!
The Verdict:
My word.
I have no idea what this song is, but if Angie had actually written this song and put it out on Spotify, it would be filling my feed to the point that people would be scared I’d died and my computer just got stuck on repeat.

A total pantheon performance here from Angie and she finally outdid herself from Hollywood week when she became the favorite with her original song. That didn’t seem possible at the time, but here we are.
Grade: A+
Prediction: After the first performance, she seemed like she might require a judges’ save this week. After the second one, they might as well stop the competition with the mercy rule.
Amber Holcomb’s First Song: “I Say A Little Prayer” by Dionne Warwick
Keith Said: It was just floating and it never let me go the whole time.
Nicki Said: I am bowing down to you right now. You just became my favorite girl in the competition.
Randy Said: The competition just started tonight. Amber is trying to win, y’all.
The Verdict:
A pro vocal. An amateur performance.
At this point, Amber might sing the songs better than anybody else in this competition. It feels like an original every time the way she matches the song so expertly to her voice and then just effortlessly cuts through it like she’s been touring with the tune for years.
But the performance seemed like a kid bopping around at a karaoke Sweet 16 birthday party as she was all nervous smiles and awkwardly trying to figure out what to do with her hands while she sang. The vocal just didn’t match the person delivering it.
That could be because the vocal was coming straight from a 70s soul diva ready to record a string of number ones, and nobody’s going to do that without a little season. But it would have been nice to see her at least approach it.
Grade: B
Amber Holcomb’s Second Song: “Love on Top” by Beyonce
Keith Said: It was beautiful. It was a such a great song choice for you.
Nicki Said: You gave me everything I ever wanted.
Randy Said: This girl is in it to win it!
The Verdict:
A very muddled performance here. Amber just didn’t have it vocally in the way she normally does. She seemed to get lost in the pitch and arrangement at times as she struggled with her rhythm and phrasing.
There were times she seemed confused. Like she was about to tell the producers to stop the record so she could regain her place and composure and get back to her normal ownership of the song.
Here, she didn’t even lease the song. It ran away from her and she never caught up. Though she still sounded good and looked great doing it.
Grade: C-
Prediction: A couple of mediocre to forgettable performances from an early spot make her vulnerable.
Lazaro Arbos’ First Song: “(They Long to Be) Close to You” by The Carpenters
Keith Said: You choose a key of the song that’s way too low for you. You were sharp from the beginning.
Nicki Said: Let’s just pretend I already gave my comment because we’re gonna be here all night. (A shot at Mariah for taking I think at least 2 minutes to say absolutely nothing. No regrets cutting her out of the column. None at all.)
Randy Said: All I can say is, “No, no, no, no.” That was horrible. I felt like we were back at the auditions in some city and were about to say, “No. Next.”
The Verdict:
Every week, a new perfect comparison emerges for Lazaro. This week may be the mother of them all.
When you go to the Quad (nee Imperial Palace) in Las Vegas to play blackjack there are these really annoying people there called Dealertainers. What are Dealertainers you ask? They are celebrity impersonators who take turns butchering songs by famous artists when they aren’t dealing hands of 21. And if you think getting crushed by the deck with a regular dealer is tough, it’s much more amplified when fake Lady Gaga flips over an ace after just strangling a cat to the tune of “Born This Way”.
After this dreadful performance, Lazaro just cemented himself in the class of those Dealertainers. He could definitely wind up flipping cards at the Quad with the type of voice he just displayed in his obliteration of Homer and Marge Simpson’s favorite song.
Though, he might not even make the cut in the casino.
Grade: F
Lazaro Arbos’ Second Song: “Angels” by Robbie Williams
Keith Said: We just saw the difference between those in a talent show, and those trying to be real artists.
Nicki Said: What Keith said.
Randy Said: It’s a girl’s race right now to me.
The Verdict:
Making fun of Lazaro is probably the most enjoyable pass time in this column so far this year, but this even defies mockery. It’s just so bad that it starts to verge on pity.
This is such a brilliant song choice for anybody on this show. Why this isn’t in the “every year someone picks it” song rotation is a complete mystery: It’s so perfect for this show, yet it only gets trotted out a few times a decade.
Lazaro may have put it away forever here as those unfamiliar with it may think it was written by a high school boy who couldn’t sing and tried to win over his classmate with a tune he composed on a broken guitar.
Lazaro sure made it seem like that and sang it like a poor-man’s Aladdin. See! We could get back to mockery and the expert analogies eventually. Now bye-bye, Lazaro. We don’t need you around anymore.
Grade: F
Prediction: He should be going home, but he should have gone home several times already.
Kree Harrison’s First Song: “What the World Needs Now is Love” by Jackie DeShannon
Keith Said: You can feel your real genuine compassion for people when you sing.
Nicki Said: Your voice is sweet and humble, but at the same time it’s Hella cocky.
Randy Said: This is singing. This is a singing show. That girl can sing!
The Verdict:
Look, it’s easy to just sit there and praise Kree for having a great voice. Of course she does, she’s in the final six of the competition. Everybody not named Lazaro has an excellent voice.
What matters is how you use that voice and Kree here turns out a garbage self-indulgent pat on the back that might as well have not had any lyrics at all. She’s supposed to be singing a pleasant song of hope and she turns it into a “Look at the notes I can hit!” “Look at the runs I can sing!” “Aren’t I just the greatest!”
No care is paid to connecting to the song. No thought is put into how to make this song her own or how to improve upon it. All she wanted to do was come out, hit her notes and try to wow people. Why even bother singing a song at that point? Why not just do vocal warm up exercises so everyone can sing your range.
This is the kind of self-indulgent nonsense that needs the old Simon to put in its place. Instead, everyone will just think it was great when it was anything but.
Grade: D
Kree Harrison’s Second Song: “Help Me Make it Through the Night” by Kris Kristofferson
Keith Said: I can’t wait for Kris to hear how good that was.
Nicki Said: I just think that you are something very very special and you’re going to be around for a very long time in the industry.
Randy Said: You are what I call a natural natural singer.
The Verdict:
After the self-indulgent garbage fire of her first performance, Kree settles nicely into a sweet country range and forges a beautiful connection with this song in a way that I absolutely would want to see this in a music video involving a back porch.
There’s a level of major authenticity here as Kree puts a stranglehold on the country demographic in this competition after Janelle had been wrestling it away slowly the last few weeks.
This proved Kree can dominate in this competition and especially in her genre when she isn’t trying to do too much. Here she relies on the song to carry her through and gives a brilliant performance without a single spot on it.
Instead it was spot on.
Grade: A-
Prediction: Taking back the country demo is a sure way to go through to the next week and weeks to come.
Janelle Arthur’s First Song: “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” from the musical Promises, Promises
Keith Said: That was good. There was another side to you with that song.
Nicki Said: I thought that was really boring.
Randy Said: At the end you found some bright spots, but find songs where you can still be Janelle.
The Verdict:
Picking a song from a musical is always a bad choice on this show because you always come off as being in a bad High School musical with an out-of-context performance.
Janelle hit every note of that with a borderline embarrassing performance that saw her sing-acting the song in a boring and awkward manner as she strolled around the stage like a drunk sorority girl trying to remember where her dorm is.
This was also one of her worst vocals in the competition so far. If not the worst. A lot of bad notes and major pitch issues throughout. Her voice nearly cracked a few times which is strange because it was such a bland that didn’t really challenge her vocally.
Just an absolute dud.
Grade: D-
Janelle Arthur’s Second Song: “The Dance” by Garth Brooks
Keith Said: You should have done the song with the guitar.
Nicki Said: I thought you stepped it up vocally, but I don’t think it’s enough to get a leg up over the other girls.
Randy Said: I don’t know that this was your best performance.
The Verdict:
Janelle has now slipped back into doing her “Impression of a Country Singer” thing. She’s got the twang, she’s got the delivery, she’s got the personality, but she just isn’t good enough on this song. It’s a kid singing along to a country record rather than a real singer making a country record.
The result is boring and awkward. And, again, she had a ton of bad notes and pitch problems here just like her first performance. This is Janelle’s worst night in quite a long time and put her right back to where she started: a kid with a country dream who can’t compete with the four major girls on this show.
Grade: D
Prediction: If it’s not going to be Lazaro going home, it’s going to be Janelle.
Candice Glover’s First Song: “Don’t Make Me Over” by Dionne Warwick
Keith Said: You set the bar really high. You just became in my top three.
Nicki Said: That thing in your voice made me feel like I wanted to have a woman’s revival in here.
Randy Said: This was one of your best performances ever. So crazy good.
The Verdict:
Just a nice easy breeze of a soul song. Pure effortless class from Candice who sang this with such ease that she could have been doing her taxes at the same time. It’s like it came out of her like a reflex – she’s that good.
And she owned it. Totally owned it. When she got intense at the end just smothered the song and did away with it. Put it down to never be heard from again. It’s amazing how quickly she went from cool and smooth to just a fiery diva, but she did and made it look not only natural but necessary.
That’s what killing is on this show.
Grade: A
Candice Glover’s Second Song: “Love Song” by The Cure
Keith Said: (Standing Ovation)
Nicki Said: (Standing Ovation)
Randy Said: One of the greatest performances in the history of ‘American Idol’!
The Verdict:
Scroll up. Read everything I wrote about Kree’s performance and multiply it by two.
Yes, Candice can sing. She can absolutely blow. But this was just a ridiculously self-indulgent jazz take on this song that didn’t need it.
It’s a weird performance to review because she obviously delivered a killer a vocal. A killer vocal. But what was she singing? Where was the connection to the song? Why didn’t she just sing an actual jazz song?
But at the same time, I’m the guy who loves when people turn songs on their heads, I just don’t agree with the way she did this. It just turns into vocal showmanship rather than actually singing the song.
And something just doesn’t sit right with that type of performance.
Grade: C
Prediction: According to everyone but me, she killed it in the pimp spot, that means she goes on without a doubt.
Final Thoughts:
It’s a referendum on Vote for the Worst after last night’s show.
Not since Simon was on the show have the judges so ruthlessly trashed a contestant as they did Lazaro last night. He’s clearly the one who deserves to go. He’s clearly the one they want to go. On merit, he should be gone.
That’s been the case for several weeks; however, and he hasn’t gone anywhere yet. In fact, he made the top three last week after Jimmy called him out as being the only one who deserves to go.
So what’s it going to be, another win for Vote for the Worst? Another triumph for the pity of voters? Or is merit going to prevail?
I say VFTW and Pity trump merit and Amber goes home. What a pity.

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Photo Credits: Micelotta / FOX

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