American Idol Top 8 Recap: This Theme's a Mystery, Every Contestant Must Stand Alone

janelle-wheeler-idol-keep-me-hangin-onTonight’s installment of American Idol kicked off with chyrons promising “a story of innovators, a story of visionaries.” And then we jumped right into a theme that Idol has coughed up roughly 26 times over the course of 12 seasons: “Detroit: The Music of Motor City” (AKA Motown Night Plus a Random Madonna Track).

Randy Jackson shouted “in it to win it!” (the verbal equivalent of a pile of dusty horse bones getting worked over with a cat o’ nine tails). Mariah Carey did her impersonation of a butterfly (much flapping of the wings/gums; very little in the way of pointed critique). One singer used the “I wanted to have fun” card while trying to explain away a catastrophic mess of a performance. And while, thankfully, the majority of contestants chose uptempo tracks — thereby ending a run that gave us ballads for 17 of the last 19 performances — a sense of ennui prevailed for most of the episode, with a few jarring exceptions.

Nicki Minaj poured 100-proof honesty into the watered-down punch — at one point becoming so disgusted with the three remaining male contestants that she demanded they leave the stage immédiatement. (From what Devin and Burnell mumbled to Ryan Seacrest, though, it sounded like they thought the vitriol should’ve been heaped solely on Lazaro — and his failure to participate in choreography/learn his lyrics. Yikes!) Guest mentor Smokey Robinson used his keen ear to give the Top 8 some legitimately sound advice. And Janelle Arthur, who looked no better than a mid-pack player a couple weeks ago, played the David Cook card and changed up her Motown ditty in a way that was downright electrifying. (Three of Janelle’s fellow chicas weren’t too shabby, either.)

With that said, let’s cut to tonight’s set list — and celebrate another Nicki Minaj side eye — while assiging letter grades for every performance!

Nicki Minaj idol side eyeCandice Glover: Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” | I love that Candice took some chances with the tempo and melody of a song we’ve heard six times before on Idol — including renditions in Seasons 9, 10 and 11 (Andrew Garcia, Casey Abrams and Skylar Laine), but there was something a little underbaked about her funk-centric rendition. It didn’t help that the camera shot during Candice’s opening verse was almost entirely obscured by a glaring spotlight, nor that the show’s director spent half of the performance cutting to backup singers, the saxophonist, and pretty much anything other than a closeup of The Lady Glover herself. But I felt like Candice didn’t completely immerse herself in the groove, didn’t display 100 percent of the “I got this!” swagger that’s usually welded to her awesome vocals. That last growling run was fantastic — and yeah, the judges should’ve given Candice some points for creativity — but I couldn’t have disagreed more with Keith that this was her best work to date. Grade: B+

Kree Harrison and Janelle Arthur: Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” | Speaking of creativity points, can I get a slow clap for Kree and Janelle for choosing the only track this week that took the “Detroit” theme past the Motownville and into less-traversed neighborhood of Madonnaland? Okay, with that praise on the record, let’s be honest: Kree and Janelle’s arrangement of “Like a Prayer” was about as authentically country as the Jersey Shore hottub (no matter what that lady from Duets has to say). I agreed with Nicki that — were this a battle — Kree got the edge over Janelle, but considering that both women got a tad steamrolled by that massive 10-person choir (unnecessary much?), it was a hollow win at best. Grade: B-

Lazaro Arbos: Stevie Wonder’s “For Once In My Life” | The judges seemed elated that Lazaro hit a much higher percentage of notes than he did on last week’s “In My Life.” But to put the performance in baking terms, dude went from starting a raging kitchen fire to merely dropping his pie face-down on the floor. “For Once in My Life” wasn’t irreparably damaged, but it still wasn’t very good. Part of the problem is that at this stage in his vocal development, Lazaro is nothing more than a solid karaoke singer: There’s no depth of emotion, there’s little creativity, and when he tries to riff on the melody it often goes awry. Add in details like that odd side-to-side dance step usually reserved for first graders who need to go pee-pee and what seemed to be an almost dismissive response to the judges’ feedback, and I think Lazaro is guaranteed for a Bottom 3 placing come Thursday. Grade: D+

Janelle Arthur: The Supremes’ “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” | Janelle said she came up with her haunting arrangement of “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” at the tender age of 14 — which makes me think girlfriend sat at the “dark and brooding kids” table when she was in high school. Seriously, the way she reimagined The Supremes’ upbeat hit as a minor-chord ballad breathed new and heartbreaking life into the lyrics — as Keith noted, she tapped into a well of angst — and yet also allowed her to work in some breathtaking ad libs on the final refrain that, to my ears, represented the most masterful vocal technique of the episode, too. Add that adorable little factoid about how Janelle’s uncle made her oversized guitar and, well, I’m calling 9-1-1 and reporting felony menacing if she’s sent anywhere near the Silver Stools of Doom (TM) on Thursday. Grade: A

Devin Velez: The Miracles’ “The Tracks of My Tears” | Once again, Devin (sporting a red tux jacket with black lapels and a black shirt with white collar that made him look like a waiter on a dining car of an old-timey train) hit all his notes correctly this week, and that would put him at the top of the class — if this were a course in mathematics. Alas, though, great singers need to be able to set moods and conjure up emotions when they sing, and Devin’s “TToMT” was devoid of the central heartbreak and longing of a man who’s wept one too many times over lost love. Yeah, Nicki flipped her lid for it — saying she loved every single choice Devin made — but all that tells me is she’s never heard Adam Lambert’s rendition from Season 8. (Oh yeah, I went there.) Grade: B-

Candice Glover, Angie Miller and Amber Holcomb: The Supremes’ “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” | I’m choosing to believe no stylists were consulted in the selection of this trio’s jarringly disparate outfits, and I’m choosing to ignore yet another instance of Mariah Carey trying to make “fetch” “Hashtag: Pow!” happen. That way, I can focus on the way Amber, Angie and especially Candice brought a raw 2013 energy to an arrangement that was comfortably chillaxing in the late ’60s. Make no mistake: These ladies can sang — even if Amber is the only one who really knows how to get her flirt on during a performance. Grade: A-

Burnell Taylor: Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amour” | What’s tone got to do, got to do with it?/ What’s tone, but one part of the equation?/ What’s tone got to do, got to do with it?/ I can’t get past this kid’s strange pronunciations… It may seem to you like I’m acting confused, but seriously, there were more “mmm” sounds at the end of Burnell’s phrases than in that Crash Test Dummies song from the early ’90s: “My cherie amourmm”? “Pretty little one that I adormm”? I’d have been less distracted if Burnell had been using Mariah’s idiotic wand as a mic. And while, yeah, Burnell did occasionally offer a little twist on the melody to keep things from sounding too totally karaoke, we also had to contend with his flitting hand gestures (half “shoo fly,” half “I’m like a bird”). And worst of all, while Burnell did complete a short walk from the back of the stage to the mic stand, it was essentially another case of the kid standing in one position at the center of the stage for almost the entire performance. I mean, there’s hitting your mark, and then there’s being glued to it.) Grade: B/B- (Burnell receives separate scores for technical merit and artistic impression; and the East German judge wasn’t having the “mm” effect.)

Angie Miller: The Miracles’ “Shop Around” | I knew Angie was in grave danger the second her rehearsal footage rolled and you could hear the inauthentic rock track that Jimmy and/or Smokey should never have allowed to escape the studio. I mean, the arrangement was so tinny and stilted it would’ve made Alice Cooper sound like Josh Grobin, so there really wasn’t much hope for a chipper teen who declared herself ready to show “my fun crazy side — with some attitude.” (Somehow — and maybe it makes me a bad person — but that clip made me think Angie’s idea of “crazy” is grabbing a second tong-full of croutons when she’s at the Ponderosa salad bar.) Deep down, though, I think Angie knew this wasn’t going to work — that it was a week she’d have to survive rather than thrive. She almost immediately seemed to misjudge the rhythm of the song — vocally stumbling about like a three-legged cat — and by the time she strolled over to engage the band’s guitar player, she wound up flubbing a line or two of her lyrics. Plus, as Keith pointed out, the usually technically solid vocalist hit a ton of sharp notes. Faced with a bad performance from an ordained front-runner, Mariah’s internal wiring went all CTRL+ALT+DEL; she tried to compliment Angie’s “risqué” dress, then pointed out how exciting it must’ve been for songwriter Angie to sit with a songwriter of Smokey’s caliber. Yes, folks, never before has a critique looked more like a trout flopping around on a dock. Grade: C-

Amber Holcomb: Stevie Wonder’s “Lately” | It’s a tricky job on a reality singing competition to find the right mix of power and restraint, but Amber handled it pretty perfectly on a rendition of “Lately” that went right up to the edge of the melisma cliff, peered down at the deathly drop into the canyon, and then backed away to the safety zone at just the right moment. Amber does need to be carefully not to let her tone get shrill when she’s in full on belting mode — on that note, my husband thinks I’ve graded her too generously — but I think her biggest challenge in the weeks ahead will be finding a way to advance beyond “fantastic Idol underdog” and into “viable chart-topper” territory. Amber needs to simultaneously be more daring, more current, and less reliant on ballads — not an easy task given Season 12’s theme nights thus far — but at least she’s crushing it in terms of fashion (that little black-and-white dress was amahhhz) and sound bites (“I really wasn’t gone! I felt like I was here last week, too!” she exclaimed with a giggle after another recitation of the “Amber is back!” theme). Grade: A-

Burnell Taylor, Devin Velez and Lazaro Arbos, “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” | I’m gonna defer to Nicki on this one: “I’ma act like I ain’t even see it or hear it!” Yep, that was like Hollywood Week Group Rounds — and not the good kind, either. We’ll discuss more on the Idology episode filming Friday and posting Sunday night/Monday morning — because really, this requires some Melinda Doolittle knowledge. But until then, I have to ask: Why did Lazaro think it was okay to forget his lyrics and not even bother with the simple choreographed dance moves? Yeah, Burnell’s “not to throw anyone under the bus…” and Devin’s “I learned my parts. I tried saving a couple people,” may not have been tactful, but it’s not like they could ignore Seacrest’s question — or what had just gone down in their performance just seconds prior. Grade: C- (maybe a D- for Lazaro)

Kree Harrison: Ben E. King’s “Don’t Play That Song (You Lied)” | Is it sacrilege for me to say that I’m just not a huge fan of Kree’s song choice? “Don’t Play That Song” like one of those giant snakes you see at the Science Center: It’s cool for a second, but then it just sits there and sits there, and nothing about it really changes no matter how long you stare at it. Kree brought her mesmerizing and very distinctive tone to the table, but I felt like a quieter arrangement would’ve been a better showcase for her emotions, which might’ve given me something more to latch onto. As it was, the band got a little overzealous — and those absurd heels of Kree’s seemed to limit her ability to fully engage physically in the week’s goings-on. And same as Candice, I don’t think this was Kree’s personal high water mark, but she’s still in my Top 4 contestants for the week, no matter which way you slice it. Grade: B+

And with that, let me turn things over to you. What did you think of Season 12 Top 8 performance night? What did you think of the judges’ comments? Who was your favorite? Who’s going to be in trouble come results night? And what about the Lazaro-Burnell-Devin catastrophe? Take our poll below, then sound off in the comments, and for all my Idol-related news, recaps, interviews and videos, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Stacey says:

    Wow. Janelle really surprised me. I figured she would take one of the Motown and make it country, but she took a song and made it completely different. Bringing out the angst, and made it a true country ballad. Almost like David did with Billie Jean. Make you look at the song in a completely different way. And something country radio would eat up in a second, and ready made for a video. She was my favorite by far… With Kree in second place…

  2. julia says:

    granted this was not at all angie’s best performance. but didn’t the judges just tell her last week after she did that amazing job on yesterday, that they wanted her to do more rock songs (ik randy and mariah definitely did) and then they were all like after her peformance, we don’t like this, we never asked you to do anything like, just stay in your little box. i mean im fine with them having issues with the perfromance itself, but then dont lie and act like you weren’t the ones who told her to do something like this.

    • Guitar Blue says:

      Just catching-up as I hosted an open jam tonight. Only thing I saw that I enjoyed as “special”, rather than just run-of-the-mill overdone Motown/Idol stuff —– was Janelle’s individual performance. ………………………………………………………

      Way too much over-critique by the Judges, a few mistakes where everyone wants to pounce or turn the whole mess into a way to embarrass some of the contestants. Nicki’s comments after the Janelle/Kree duet were uncalled for and made Kree uncomfortable as well.

      Has anyone else noticed how Idol has lost much of it’s free-spirited fun this year??

    • sdexta says:

      Thank you for pointing this out about Randy and Mariah’s comments to Angela! And yes, I know it wasn’t her best performance, but I also don’t think it was a trainwreck by any means. Angela is still my favorite, along with Candice.
      Speaking of terrible performances…can we all agree that Lazaro is just not a strong enough contestant to handle this stage of the competition? It seems like every week he has to use the excuse that he didn’t know the song beforehand. It was clear that he was the weak link in the guys’ trio. I actually thought it sounded really good when they first began singing, but then Lazaro kept missing his cues and it quickly turned into a huge disaster. I really hope that people start understanding that voting for him isn’t doing him any good.

  3. Timmah says:

    I was worried about Janelle and Kree after that trainwreck of a Madonna cover, but then they came out and knocked their respective solos out of the park. These are the two to beat IMO.

  4. dweller says:

    I think my favorite quote of the night had to be from Randy: “I don’t know if you couldn’t hear in your ears or whatever…” to the partially deaf Angie. Classic Randy.

    • LeahKittyS says:

      I know, right? It’s easy to forget that Angie only has partial hearing in both ears. If Lazaro gets a pass for consistently being subpar because of his stutter, Angie should catch a break for her less-than-stellar performances as well.

      • HitTheGroundRunning says:

        good point since partial hearing loss could affect how things go on stage with everything going on, perhaps but stuttering won’t affect anything at all in that regard

      • Harvey says:

        I don’t think anyone should be graded on a curve for any reason. We’re looking for the best singer.

        • Scott says:

          Thank you. That’s what bugs me about Lazaro. Imagine if the judges judged him the way they judged Kree or Candice — if Kree or Candice gave a Lazaro-type performance, they’d be raked over the coals, and rightly so. But Lazaro gives at best a Karaoke performance and they’re all “It was so much better than last week” I know they don’t want to go all harsh on him and bring out the sympathy Lazaro-dialers/texters so he sticks around, and TBH I don’t want that either, but it grates.

  5. Mark says:

    I can’t stop watching the Burnell/Devin/Lazaro performance on YouTube – such a trainwreck, but sooo entertaining. Seriously, though, how is that performance ranked higher than (arguably) Lazaro’s best performance of the season? Devin did what he could, but as a whole, that was absolutely awful. Meanwhile, though Lazaro’s solo was far (far FAR) from perfect, it deserves a bit better than a D+, I think . . .

    • teatime says:

      I watched Lazaro’s solo performance with some people who did not recognize the song. They had no idea what he was saying. They kept making up gibberish lines for what it sounded like he had just sung.

    • Maria says:

      Well, at least the backup singers sounded pretty good.

  6. jaded says:

    Maybe it was his accent but I hated Burnell’s version of “Ma Cherie Amour.”

  7. kirk says:

    I don’t know what it was but during the angie, candice, amber trio I felt like Angie was channeling Cheryl Crow, Candice was channeling Queen Latifah and Amber was channeling Stacey Dash (it was an awful look for her), just sayin’

    My other observation is the “m” after every word that ends in …”or” by Burnell. Very, Very irritating.

    1. Janelle (and I really don’t like her)
    2. Amber
    3. Janelle/Kree
    4. Candice
    5. Angie, Candice, Amber
    6. Kree
    7. Devin
    8. Burnell (he’s this low cause I can’t stand the “m” or throwing others under the bus)
    9. Lazaro
    10. Angie
    11. Burnell/Devin/Lazaro

  8. connerc says:

    I watched the boys group performance again to see who said what. Burnell said he did what he was supposed to do. He’s not throwing anyone under the bus. But, it is a competition. Then Devin said he learned his part and tried saving it a few times. Lazaro admitted he didn’t know the words. It was a new song. And then he said sorry guys to either the audience or the judges. Obviously, this was Lazaro’s fault and no one directly threw him under the bus. Bottom line is Lazaro needs to go. How hard is it to learn a song and 1/3 per week? But, Devin will be gone. Too bad.

    • Lois Benton says:

      Anyone who isn’t Lazaro is too bad. But better that it’s Devin than Burnell, who is interesting, at least. If one of the ladies is in the Bottom three, I swear I will GLARE at the TV.

  9. Joe says:

    Melisma Miller arched her back, stuck out her butt, put on her best Sheena Easton strut. I thought for sure she was about to dry hump the bass player with the shaved head and if she did, she would’ve gotten all 50 of my online votes. Sadly, she only shopped around with the available male string players (somehow avoiding the violinist with the giant fro) but suffered from such indecision that she walked out of the mall empty handed. No votes for you Melisma until you sing a mashup of Hopelessly Devoted to You & You Light Up My Life in a prairie dress.
    Miss Candice Glover is just devouring the competition. They’re all her Pips.
    Did Devin & Burnell sing tonight? Really? They did?
    Lazaro, sweet courageous Lazaro and his child bearing hips…we’ll give you an E for effort tonight. You alone, sweet Lazaro, have made me take back every snide comment I made about Ricky Martin’s talent. You make him look like Tom Hanks while you’re Peter Scolari’s cousin.
    Kree is on Idol autopilot. We’re cruising at a comfortable elevation with little turbulence. Or in other words, I’m worried for her.
    Janelle was quickly becoming this year’s Hee-Haw Barbie, but tonight channeled Phillip Phillips/David Cook/Kris Allen while avoiding Lee Dewyze. I almost was expecting J. Lo in a headscarf rushing to judges table to call her “baby”.
    Amber got all 50 of my votes because she’s part Natalie Cole, part Whitney Houston and part Lisa’s horny sister Patrice in Coming To America who sleeps with Arsenio Hall believing he’s the prince. Just let your soul glow baby.

    • Lemon says:

      *round of applause*

      Especially the 50 votes for Amber part.

    • Tom says:

      Why aren’t you writing your own recaps? If I were the manager of a website like this, I’d hire you in a flash.

      • grateful by the bay says:

        Agree, agree, agree! Confession? I even so emailed Mr. Slezak a year or two ago. Between “Joe”, “Darcy…”, “Deedee”, “HTGR”, “Leah…”, “Marie”, & other gifted commenters I’m neglecting (apologies!), this “community” contains some real gems that make Idol sparkle.

    • GumboJumbo says:

      Someone send this to Ausellio & Penske Jr. We need Joe here on staff to provide the pessimist counterpoint to Slezak’s hope-springs-eternal.

      I don’t want to miss a week of your micro-recaps.

    • Adam Fachry says:

      OMG I LOVE YOUR RECAPS! HASHTAG POW! HASHTAG LOL at the way you depict Candice’s performance. And you know what, the second I read “I thought for sure she was about to dry hump the bass player with the shaved head”, I immediately thought of Jacob Lusk humping a backup singer’s mic circa season 10 (Jason used to put it on some idology/idoloonies videos back in the day).

    • just saying says:

      nice! spot on about angie especially. was she in heat or something? or is that just what she thinks is sexy the way you watch the toddlers in tiaras strut?

    • deedee says:

      Great recap, Joe. I love your love for Amber. And I especially love all the 80’s references you snuck in – Sheena Easton, Peter Scolari, Arsenio Hall … haha!

  10. Ang says:

    I can’t say anyone had me jumping out of my seat. I agree that Kree outsang Janelle on the duo performance. I love the song Lately! I thought it should have been more soulful, but she did a good job. Candice was good, not her best. Janelle’s solo was MUCH better than her performance of Like a Prayer. Devin was the best out of the guys. The male group performance wasn’t as bad as some people said due to Burnell and Devin. It is time for Lazaro to go. He took a perfectly good spot from Brianna. Kree was solid. I liked her better in the duo.

  11. Guitar Blue says:

    Polls around the net show Devin and Burnell bouncing around at the bottom tonight. The Laz is getting bashed in the blogs, but his troops are burning the wires and phone lines with unabashed support……….

    If they name a bottom 3, rather than just 2 tonight. it might catch the Laz — then again, it could be a real surprise — which will cause the blog counts to rise.

    • Name That Tune says:

      Very sad news. Lazaro picked up another 2800 followers during tonight’s show. It breaks this way:
      1. Lazaro 2800
      2. Angie 2600
      3. Burnell 2200
      4. Kree 2000
      5. Candice 1700
      6. Janelle 1600
      7. Amber 1400
      8. Devin 1300

  12. Colin Sean says:

    The boys may have given the worst performance of the night, but it’s the only one I’m watching again and again. Each time, you spot a new dirty look/side-eye, random diva pose, uncertain shifty-eyed glance around the room, etc.

    Devin singing “do anything you ask me to” and then throwing his hand up and giving Lazaro that “you can’t touch me b*tch” glance is my new screensaver tbh.

  13. lydiakj says:

    I voted for the boys’ group performance because Nicki’s reaction (and Keith’s reaction to Nicki’s reaction) is my FAVORITE thing that has happened on this show in at least 2 seasons and maybe ever. And because it was hilarious.

  14. Joy says:

    Never mind Adam Lambert — Paul McDonald and his perma-grin conveyed more heartbreak on “Tracks of My Tears” than Devin managed tonight.

    • darcy the slutty twin says:

      Amen. Not to mention that Paul was way, way hotter and I spent the entire season waiting for him to perform shirtless.

  15. DZ says:

    I will never forgive Angie for that performance. Never ever.

    • deedee says:

      Funny, as awful as she was last night, I actually thought it was an improvement over last week’s horrendous ‘stage adaptation’ of “Yesterday”. This week her pitch was off, she could barely hit the low notes, and her performance was all Glee Sings Motown, but at least it didn’t actively enrage me :-) .

  16. Felipe says:

    I honestly think that what’s happening here is that Janelle is usually so bland and boring that because tonight she was, indeed, better than she’s used to, everyone’s thinking she’s done better than people who are ALWAYS good.
    Well, that’s not the case! Janelle at her best will never be as good as Candice at her worst, to be true. And Candice was DEFINITELY not at her worst tonight. Maybe it wasn’t better, but it was just as good as any of her other performances. And, again, the best of the night by a clear, clear mile. She’s in such a different league than everybody else there, it’s almost painful to watch as she butchers them all mercilessly.
    Janelle was not particularly bad tonight though, probably a 4th or 3rd place.

    • Stacey says:

      Candice brought no life to the song. It started promising, but once she got to the heart of the song, there was no oomph to it. It was a B- song. Janelle brought a new life to the song, that no one really though as a angsty ballad. Everyone has favorites. And I prefer when someone like Janelle or Kree take the song and go to the meaning of it. Candice while better this week than Angie and Amber would be in third place in the girls race this week… Janelle and Kree 1 and 2. Amber is in the most danger I think, since she was in the bottom last week and she took a song that is boring and didn’t do much with it… If the guys get sympathy votes, Amber is in the most danger.

      • Name That Tune says:

        Last week Jimmy complained that Kree oversings. I wasn’t sure what he meant by that until last night. The problem with her performance was exactly that. I recognize the talent she has but she is on a flat line for me and has been for a couple of weeks. I’m not sure I was in love with the arrangement of Candice song and I think she was a little nervous about the song but it came away feeling she can sing anything. Kree has become one note to me.
        So I would have to go Janelle -》Candice -》Kree/Amber. And give Burnell 5th because he is just himself.

  17. QueenJ says:

    There is absolutely 0 chance Kree and Janelle chose Like a Prayer on their own.

    • LeahKittyS says:

      None of them chose their group song on their own. Those numbers were set up entirely by producers to fill the 2 hours.

  18. Lois Benton says:

    I love Candice and Amber. I would have preferred the jazzy thing Candice was doing to her song in the rehearsals to the funk she was encouraged to lay on it for the final performance. Of course, I would have preferred a different song altogether, but she brought something new to it, anyway, even if I wanted to hear her original version. Amber was very fine, but I kept hearing Stefano from Season 10, who kind of ruined the song for me, even though he sang it well enough. I liked Janelle’s arrangement, and her singing was good, although not great (I agree with Nicki that something wasn’t quite right in the actual delivery, but I did like her a lot). Kree–a little dull.I like her, but that wasn’t really that interesting. Angie was painful. She has a marvelous instrument, but that was pretty bad. Burnell is always interesting, but he and the other dudes, by all that is holy, should be in big trouble. That male trio started out okay and went downhill fast. Lazaro’s bug-eye expression as he tried to figure out when to come in was pretty funny. But way to go, Devin and Burnell, for alienating the voters. If the three men are not in the Bottom Three this week, a divine flood may come forth and sweep out the Idol population, with no ark insight.

  19. Timmah says:

    The sad part is that Burnell or Devin will likely end up taking the fall for Lazaro’s screw-up. It’s like in a play when an actor forgets his lines and the other actors end up looking bad because they have to cover for him.

    • dj says:

      I hope not, but I think you’re right.

    • HitTheGroundRunning says:

      Yeah, in part because it’s the whistlebower syndrome. Keep quiet and take false blame or speak up and getting slammed for being arrogant enough to speak up. It’s so often the whistleblower and not the wrongdoer who seems to receive the worst punishment. People are petty and turn quickly. Like even if you are being judged ridiculously unfairly there is no way out. You either take it and everyone believe the BS and you are sunk (although if if you be a good little boy or girl and smile and toss a tear you may get carried along for a while but you will still never have a shot at top two or anything) or you speak up and then get slammed even worse for not just being happy to be there and being ‘ungrateful’, ‘arrogant’, etc. People are petty and jealous and will turn on the contestant before they even turn on the judges. They don’t like being told anything can be wrong with the judges or production and they wish they were on stage and they don’t want to hear it. I don’t agree with that at all, and certainly many others don’t as well, but it does seem to describe a dangerously large portion of the Idol audience.

  20. Adam Fachry says:

    Just some random observation. I think American idol this season proves to be the perfect epitome of the show’s hypocrisy towards LGBT people. They chose gay contestants who are allegedly in the closet (All the top 5 guys) instead of one who’s so proudly out (JDA).

    • LeahKittyS says:

      The sad thing is, I kind of have to agree. I kept JDA’s performance as a reminder of what could have been. He is an excellent foil to the guys who made the voting rounds.

  21. Connor says:

    I don’t mean to be mean but if Lazaro is here another week I might quit watching. It’s a joke! Every year there is always one individual that brings the show down. I think the judges if he does stick around should be super nice to him. Therefore he doesn’t get sympathy votes. I mean I have learned to fast forward his performance but I’m just glad it is not just me who strongly dislikes his vocals. I just think he has gotten to the point where he is equally as bad as Sinja

    • deedee says:

      Everybody says Sanjaya couldn’t sing. I always thought he had a really nice voice, even if it wasn’t the strongest or most versatile. Lazaro’s singing has way more issues than Sanjaya ever had, imo.

      • Dave in Alamitos Beach says:

        I agree. Sanjaya was more like Devin really. He was able to hit all the notes but was kinda criminally bland…other than his hair.

  22. Paula says:

    Kree’s performance of “don’t play that song for me” doesn’t really stand comparison to Kelly’s performance in idol.
    Janelle was the best tonight hands down.
    Lazaro needs to go. He has a touching story, but he’s the worst singer by far and idol isn’t supposed to be speech therapy camp.

  23. Nephtalia says:

    I am a loyal person. Once I decide who I love, I will vote for her till the end. This is my 4th Idol season and I give up trying to understand the science of Idol. You do too much ballads. They ask for uptempo. You do uptempo, they think u don’t have enough moments. You too nice, they call you dull. You too confident, they call you arrogant. You have a great voice, they need more stage prescence. You get praised too much by the judges, they say you are too pimped. You get constructive critisms by the judges, you get voted off. So if you are an Idol contestant reading this, my counsel to you. Stop reading blogs. And just do you and hopefully that is good enough. Just interact with your fans on Twitter, they are the one voting.
    Anyway, I spent the whole 2 hour voting for Angie. For me, she cannot do no wrong now. But I know I am bias.

    • just saying says:

      no wonder you dont get it. you dont understand the basic concept of a critique. it has nothing to do with loyalty and has to do with actually using a critical eye and delineating what is either good or bad about a performance. What worked and what didnt. Now this can be subjective, which is why people have differing opinions. But you seem to have no opinion other than “i love angie”. myopic thinking like yours is one of the big problems of the world. if one can do no wrong, then one can never get better. and we as individuals and as larger entities should always be striving to be better than we are today. that’s how innovation, progress, and art happen

      • Nephtalia says:

        Believe me, I understand critique and after reading this blog for 3 years, I think those ‘critiques’ just mess up their mind. This blog is fun for me, cause it is a good hobby. I spent 2 hours voting for my favorite then come here to see what ‘the experts’ following Idol since day 1 think. But, I feel like some of the contestants and Jimmy are reading them and it will make them more confused. The majority here have been pulling for the wrong contestant since I start reading this blog. But, this blog is the most watched by the contestants. That’s why I said, please Idol contestants do not read this. I have an opinion, my opinion is loyalty. And guess what, the Idol winner will be the one with the most loyal fanbase. Everything being said here would not matter but that. That’s what been happening and that’s what will continue to happen. The Idol winner this year will be Kree, Candice or Angie since they were the top 3. Whichever one had the most loyal and passionate fans of those 3 will win.

  24. Jonathan Lipnicki says:

    I don’t understand the expression “tour de force”….therefore, I am the “lowest common denominator” in the eyes of the superior being Mariah Carey.

    Please excuse me a moment, I’m just about to go off an do “the Seacrest Shake”….

    • deedee says:

      “The Seacrest Shake” made me laugh out loud last night. Ryan totally holds this show together.

    • Matt says:

      She said that because when she first used the term, you could hear crickets chirping; it did come across like the audience not knowing the term.

      • deedee says:

        Why on Earth would the term “tour de force” necessarily get a reaction? Did she expect the audience to erupt in cheers and applause as soon as she said it? It was a bit weird how she kept yelling out “do you KNOW what that means, people” just because she didn’t get a standing O for using a foreign phrase. Or Maybe the audience confused it with “Tour De France”, and fell silent over the Lance Armstrong drug scandal. Hard to say …

  25. Maria says:

    Up until tonight, I wasn’t much of a Janelle fan, but she won me over last night with that wonderful performance. And I also loved Amber, but I have right from the start.

  26. darcy's evil twin says:

    There’s been a lot of discussion about who Angie reminds everyone of…Marie Osmond…Mylie Cyrus. Well, last night it finally dawned on me. She reminds me a lot of Irlene Mandrell, Barbara Mandrell’s youngest sister. Irlene appeared on the Mandrell sisters’ variety show in the early 80s and then went on to appear on “Hee-Haw”. I mentioned it to my husband and he agreed – he also said Angie could be a commentator on Fox News if she doesn’t make it in the music industry. You can probably google Irlene Mandrell.
    Not much to add here – even though Burnell sounds a bit like Chris Brown and exhibited some annoying (if not bizarre) enunciation, darn he looked good in the white suit! That was his best look.
    speaking of wardrobe, please do not put Candice or Kree in leggings anymore. They need monochromatic outfits with palazzo (sp?) pants. And get Angie out of the Kelly Bundy dresses. Amber’s dresses were lovely. If you’re going to sport that look you need a pattern or some embellishments on the dress to give it some interest.
    Candice and Kree were very good, even though I was a bit disappointed in their song choices. Amber did a nice job on “Lately” and despite everyone’s criticism of that song doesn’t anyone remember when Stefano Langone sang “Lately”? He was wonderful!
    for the first time tonight I liked Janelle.
    Devin gave a good performance and Lazaro just needs to go. He has worn out his welcome.
    And last, but not least, when the guys came out together I told my husband “I hope they sing ‘I Can’t Help Myself’ just for Mr. Slezak”. :-) Had Lazaro remembered the lyrics it would not have been that bad.

    • darcy the slutty twin says:

      Twin, I agree regarding Stefano. I love, love that season. Remove Jacob Lusk, and it would have been perfect. Also wanted to add that Stefano was really hot.

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        LOL, sister. I think Stefano would be perfect in “Jersey Boys”.

        • darcy the slutty twin says:

          I had to keep myself from attending all the Season 10 tours just to see Stefano shirtless for the “DJ Got Us Falling in love Again” number. He is so, so hot and those biceps and abs are to die for!!! I am fanning myself right now.

  27. Delon says:

    Janelle and Candice were the best of the night.

  28. noa says:

    this season is giving me some serious Project Runway vibes with having to question contestants taste level and people “throwing people under the bus” after group challenges/performances. enough. send the guys home please.

  29. Mary says:

    Well I hope and prayer that Lorenzo is gone this week, but it will probably be Devin. I see that the judges went easy on him in hopes that it won’t spike a voting frenzy with him. My favorite tonight was Amber then Kree. I thought the judges were a little harsh on Janelle in the duet except Keith. I hate it when they compare. I died laughing when Nicki told the boys to get off the stage. That was the worst group singing I ever witness. All three of them should be in the bottom three, with a triple elimination. None of them are showing any growth and to be frank they are just painful to watch.

  30. Anne TM says:

    As I watched Cree I heard Cary Smithson when she was on idology – she said her husband told her to take off those stupid heels they put you in and be yourself!. That is all I thought about the last two weeks when I watched Cree. Just be you- a great singer – don’t buy into the stylist “Top Model” approach. That are limiting her mobility, in fact it looks like she can barely stand.

    On a crazy side note – Devin looks like the cartoon character Tin Tin. I cannot take him seriously.

    • Jessica says:

      The heels are bad this year. Look how long it takes Mariah and Nicki to walk to the judges table. Kree and heels-it doesn’t work

    • deedee says:

      Oh yes, Anne, I’ve been saying exactly the same thing about Kree’s heels. It’s insane how restricted her movement is because of those dang things. I think her seemingly low-energy performances have everything to do with her concentrating on not taking a tumble on stage. When she does attempt to walk a bit, she’s so slow and careful in her step, that I actually find it distracting. Put her in a low heel, and let her stalk the whole stage, ffs! When she did “Evidence” she seemed a million times more free!

  31. Kelly says:

    Angie had a rough night, but she is still one of my favorites. For me, she built up a season of goodwill with her original song and the Colton Dixon song, both at the piano, both mesmerizing and something I would listen to again and again (and i have). It tells me what kind of artist she actually is.

    I will not be surprised if Angie is the low vote getter this week, but I think if she is they will save her. (Didn’t Keith say something like “I know we will be seeing you next week” which kind of suggests that no matter what happens with the voting this week, she is not going anywhere.) The key will that she needs to make sure it is her first and LAST time being at the bottom of the pack, because then the save will be gone!

  32. EVPandHC says:

    What was Angie thinking????????

    For me, the best of the night was Janelle’s rework of “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”. A few weeks ago, I stopped being a fan of hers. She is reeling me back in. One more good week, Janelle, and I’m back.

  33. ChrissieK says:

    OKmmm … Why is it when the 4 judges come out on the stage and are walkin’ on down to their table we barely see this on camera???? Madonna is from ROCHESTER, Michigan NOT Detroit, Michigan and my ears were being done a damage when Kree and Janelle did “Like a Prayer”…took me a few seconds to remember what Ryan said about “Motown” and “Detroit singer”.

    • Matt says:

      Well, “Don’t Play That Song” has even less of a connection considering neither Ben E King or Aretha are from Michigan…and neither was on Motown. So, explain how that song was relevant to the theme.

  34. Matt says:

    Why does your critique of Mariah’s critique of Angie leave out that Mariah also told Angie she should have done something more in her comfort zone? Or that she told Devin he needs to go for more?

    You praise Nicki for being honest, yet she praised a sub-par Lazaro and didn’t give Janelle the credit she deserves.

    For me, for you, you are biased.

    • Rami says:

      THIS^^^^ Mariah was very astute tonight, even he critique of Candice was along the lines of yes it’s great you are showing this side but go back to your best self etc. Nicki lost all credibility with me this week when she praised Devin and couldn’t even give Janelle any credit for her performance. #pow indeed!

    • idek says:

      Well, considering what Nicki said about Jimmy (“Because he comes down very hard on Lazaro [Arbos], America keeps voting for him.”), I think the reason she praised Lazaro is because she knows he’ll get sympathy votes if the judges are too hard on him.

  35. ChrissieK says:

    Just about no one should wear leggings so yes, get Candice and Kree out of them! Kree…don’t wear them big shoes…they hold you back. And I wish the band and singers would go home and let Kree release her voice on us as in the beginning, back in January. Once the boys are gone we’ll be into the Battle of the Babes, no doubt.

    • CAS says:

      Absolutely this! Candice looks terrible every week, and all the girls are teetering around on stilts that no human being can decently move around in. And then we criticize them for being stiff and not working the stage.

  36. Katrice says:

    Janelle Arthur’s arrangement of You Keep Me Hanging On was very similar to the Vanilla Fudge version (the original).

    • Katrice says:

      My bad. I just checked, and The Supremes did record it first, but the Vanilla Fudge version was a slower more angst ridden version.

    • marie says:

      Gee, can’t believe the Vanilla Fudge version slipped my mind. Some definite similarities, yes.

  37. Hello Kitty says:

    No mention of Nikki playing with her phone during Amber’s feedback??? That SO RUDE!!!

  38. madgem says:

    I would like to see Lazaro go home tonight, but I’m not getting my hopes up. This would not be American Idol if someone less talented didn’t stay at the expense of someone more talented, but slightly less “inspirational.”

  39. CAS says:

    My take:
    1. Candice: The pants were AWFUL! Her vocal was flawless, but I didn’t like the arrangement that much. That song doesn’t call for any glory notes or melisma.
    2. Lazaro: The slow part at the beginning really sounded good and, for once, I enjoyed his solo. But his slurring of words (and, yes, I know he’s got a non-English background) is very distracting.
    3. Janelle: Fantastic vocal, but I didn’t like how much she changed up the tune. This arrangement also took away the anger that I think is implied in the song.
    4. Devin: I missed the “pretty” quality of his voice this time around, but it was really great to hear him do something a little more up-tempo. And I’m glad he didn’t try to do Adam’s version of the song.
    5. Burnell: He seemed breathless, his pronunciation was weird, and he seemed to be straining. I really like the grittier quality of his voice, but he didn’t SING very well tonight.
    6. Angie: The song didn’t suit her voice. I think Keith’s analysis of it was spot-on. But I don’t think it was anywhere near as pitchy and terrible as everyone else seems to think.
    7. Amber: She was excellent. But I just don’t love her voice as much as I love all the other females.
    8. Kree: I thought this was the vocal of the night. She smiled a little too much for the lyrics of the song at the beginning, but really put the passion into her voice. Blew me away.

    The ensembles were just thrown in to fill the time slot, so I don’t worry about them too much. Kree and Janelle were nice, Angie, Candice and Amber were fabulous (and Angie’s voice seemed just as rich and full as Candice’s), and the guys just seemed to want to have fun with it. It WAS entertaining, even though Lazaro didn’t know what he was doing. When all three of them were actually singing, they blended very nicely.

    Bottom three should be all the guys.
    Bottom three will be Angie, Devin and Burnell.
    Should be going home: As always, Lazaro
    Will be going home: Devin, for no real reason. He just doesn’t seem to connect with voters.

    • noa says:

      i agree- Angie really did well on the group number, and i’m not usually a fan.

      i can listen to Kree’s performance over and over- but i’m not into watching it. it’s mostly because those heels were crazy and she looked awkward walking in them on stage. maybe she was smiling a lot because she was just happy to not fall down.

      i liked Janelle a lot, but i had to stop thinking about it as a song i already know because most of the original melody wasn’t there. but it was great.

      i think Lazaro just needs one OK week and he might be sent home then. if he cries or complains about “haters” or whatever, it just keeps him in the competition. did you see his tweet? “Oh well It must be some people’s main goal to hate on me everyday,I’m glad I’m giving them a reason to look forward to another day :)” ugh. yes, be happy your performances are bad so that people who aren’t fans have something to complain about. nice.

      i like Amber, but someone needs to comment on her diction and soon because it’s really holding her back. she needs this one really important piece of advice she’s not getting.

  40. Jess says:

    I’d love for one week’s theme to be that Mariah picks their songs. I thought she was spot-on in saying Devin should have done “Ooo Baby Baby” and Angie should have done “I’ll Be There.”

  41. darcy the slutty twin says:

    Devin Velez has a vanilla voice and is a dull, dull performer. What a pageant performer. He was also tackily bitchy in his post-group performance interview. Lazaro was a total turd, though, and should go home, STAT.

  42. marie says:

    Wow, 345 comments already! Idol still rules TV singing competitions – it HAS no competition, as far as I’m concerned.
    And doggone it, I really don’t have time to read all the comments today, although I wish I could – LOVE coming here to rehash every show – but a nutso day at work. Phooey.
    Just one thing: agree with Michael that last night was far from Candice’s best performance. Heck, Keith didn’t REALLY think so, either; you could tell from his face – during past performaces of hers, he’s looked positively ecstatic, as in “consumed by ecstasy” – and from the fact that this week, he didn’t give her a standing ovation.
    Which is not to say her performance was in any way deficient – huh-uh, no way. I just set the bar very, very, very high for Candice: heck, she HERSELF set it very high right from the beginning.
    Still, I find I’m a litte down after the show because she wasn’t quite her usual perfect singer.
    Well, actually, this only provides evidence towards something I’ve been thinking lately: we rarely get a CONSISTENTLY perfect singer on the show; the people are, after all, relatively inexperienced, amateurs. This is only highlighted by the few exceptions: Melinda and Adam come to mind, and they both, at the time they were on Idol, had had some degree of professional experience (much more in Melinda’s case, as she was already making her living as a backup singer). This is not the case with anyone currently on the show, so I guess I have to cut them all a little slack and not be disappointed when Miss Candice is at, say, 97% on a given night vs. at 110% as usual.
    Amber is the dark horse in this race. She really has a TON of potential. I really look forward to seeing her each week.
    Of the remaining guys: I like them all except for Lazaro. Both Burnell and Devin have really pleasing voices (agree about the weird “M” sounds with Burnell last night).
    Lazaro is a sweet kid, but if anyone other than he is sent home tonight, it will be ridiculous.

  43. mariposa says:

    This is my first time commenting… be nice. I have watched every episode of AI since year 1 and love Slezak’s recaps. I have never seen such bizarre behavior from a judge (even Tyler) as what I see with Nicki. Some of her comments are spot on and I can even stand some of her silly attempts at humor, but she spends the whole time with her chair turned to the side and barely looks at the contestants while the other judges are commenting. Is she that enamored with Keith or just can’t stand looking at Mariah.:) And why can’t the 2 female judges at least wear shoes that allow them to walk out on stage without help and clothing that covers the essentials????

    • Jessica says:

      I agree! Nicki seemed in a weird mood last night. I don’t know what is worse-being rude with Kree/Janelle’s duo or saying all those inappropriate things about Smokey when he is next to his wife.

    • deedee says:

      Nicki can be funny, but at times she’s just off the mark and offensive (like commending Kree for not losing her cool when singing alongside a beautiful woman. W.T.F.!). I think her chair is turned in a show of contempt for Mariah. I always watch Nicki’s face when Mariah is talking, and she’s usually seething beneath her almost paralyzed blank expression. Haha, it’s ridiculous, and the constant tension kills any kind of chemistry this panel might have developed.

      • CAS says:

        Didn’t Simon usually look off to the side when the singers were performing? I thought it was because he wanted to judge them completely on their vocal quality and not be distracted by facets of their appearance.

    • Mary says:

      I will give her the benefit of the doubt and say it is Keith that keeps her looking that way. I know if I sat next to him I would be staring. I never thought I would like Nicki as a judge but she has impressed me. Some of her remarks are out there, but I appreciate her saying like it is.

  44. Guest says:

    I am totally shocked that Lazaro is still on the show. I know he has followers, but this is ridiculous. Why all the pity votes? He should not have been in the top 10. We know they don’t want to jeopardize the chances of a female singer, but there were other guys in the Top 20 more deserving. Angie is a great singer, but something is missing for me. I only liked her original song performance. Burnell and Devin can do better. I like Burnell’s tone and Devin’s voice, but the boring song choices are killing me. Burnell could have had been really good if he didn’t put “m”s at the end of Cherie Amour. Devin needs to feel what he sings. Amber had the vocal chops, but she needs more training and better song choices. Still not wowed like I was with Funny Valentine. Anyway, we all know it’s staged for a girl to win. Angie, Kree or Janelle. Still waiting for a wow moment.

  45. Jess says:

    Michael, what about how Mariah noted she had wished Kree would have done the big backing parts of “Like A Prayer” but thought maybe Kree was saving those moments for her solo? Kree responded “Guilty.” Mariah was on it last night, you just were unaware.

  46. marie says:

    Oh, yeah, one more thing and then I REALLY need to close this browser and get back to work: the three ladies were BETTER than the Supremes. Yes, I said it. Candice’s voice is a thousand times better than Diana Ross’s paper-thin warble EVER was (although Mary and Florence were better than she and SHOULD have been given the leads from time to time, but I digress). All three ladies sounded great and blended well together. Did they do a studio recording of that? (Probably not. Probably have to content myself with ripping from YouTube.)

  47. Guest says:

    I also felt bad for the guy’s performance. I know it was probably frustrating working with someone not knowing their lines or choreo and also not getting as much support and praise like that the girls. Stop complaining and step up! I cant believe they threw Lazaro under the bus. We all know he messed up, but you bashing him guarantees more pity votes! We know they want a girl to win. So what! This is an opportunity to throw a wrench in their plans and show that you have what it takes to win.

  48. david7118 says:

    White Stripes, Uncle Kracker, Ted Nugent, Eminem all are from Detroit and yet we get another episode of tired (in that we’ve heard them a million times on AI) hits. Please for the love of God someone think up some new themes for this show.

  49. noa says:

    i don’t understand how Lazaro can tweet things like that and complain to the press and get a pass and when people don’t even come close to that they get hammered by the viewers and sent to the B3. just cause they’re not happy and smiling ALL THE TIME. just think of the backlash Elise got last year. for what?

  50. Thanks Michael. That Cheri “Amourumm” was getting on my last nerve.