Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Top 8 Perform: Detroit-Music From The Motor City

Welcome back. Last week we saw the elimination of the second male in the competition, Paul Jolley. So there are 3 guys left, with Devin consistently in the Bottom 3, and Lazaro getting repeatedly poor reviews by the judges and Jimmy Iovine, so Burnell is doing pretty well in comparison. This week the contestants will be singing songs from Detroit: Music From The Motor City, which means a lot of Motown, but basically anyone from Detroit. So we will see who that benefits and who that hurts. Last week Idol did not give out rankings, only told us the Bottom 3, so these week our rankings will be a bit less redundant. So enjoy:

Weekly Rankings
1. Candice Glover-Same Spot As Last Week
2. Kree Harrison-Same Spot As Last Week
3. Angie Miller-Same Spot As Last Week
4. Burnell Taylor-Up 1 Spot From Last Week
5. Janelle Arthur-Up 2 Spots From Last Week
6. Amber Holcomb-Down 2 Spots  From Last Week (Officially Bottom 3)
7. Devin Velez-Down 1 Spot  From Last Week (Officially Bottom 3)
8. Lazaro Abros-Same Spot As Last Week

Solo Performances  #1
This week Motown legend Smokey Robinson joins Jimmy Iovine in mentoring the Idols.  

Candice Glover
(I Heard It Through The Grapevine-Marvin Gaye)
Smokey commends Candice on her singing "I Who Have Nothing" a couple weeks back.  He calls her "singing personified". He tells her to hit the beat and make it more funky. The first week we got very soulful, R&B, last week we got Rock and this week we got some Jazzy cool funky version of the song. I love that she is so diverse. This song doesn't sound like the original, it really sounds like her own version. It's tough to critique her because she sounds like she means everything she is singing, like if there any problems or issues then it's part of the song, everything has a purpose. Very cool way to start the show. Incredibly original and incredibly cool. A
Keith=She raises the bar each and every time. Has a great way of controlling the song. The whole thing is great, loves seeing her come into herself. Best performance so far.
Nicki=Is proud that she stayed int he moment completely. She never overdoes it. Did more of the rocky and bluesy side of herself.
Randy=Came out and just showed everyone what she can do. Believes that she has the best voice in the competition. Amazing and effortless.
Mariah=Epitomizes what this competition is. It was her straightforward giving a soulful, R&B, gritty and pretty performance. Wants more churchy and jazz moment.
Do The Judges & I Agree?: Definitely. Candice couldn't start the night any better.

Group Performance #1
Tonight begins the filler time on the show. Instead of making the show 90 minutes instead of 2 hours they instead decide to have the solo contestants become groups. It doesn't really get judged, nor does it really matter in the long run, so I'm not gonna comment too much about it. 

Kree & Janelle
(Like A Prayer-Madonna)
Madonna grew up just outside of Detroit, so they chose her. They are both country singers so it's a good mix. They work well together, their voices blend really nicely. The judges feel that Kree out-shined Janelle throughout. They liked it, it was fine. Not sure why this is really being judged because it's an individual show, so it's more like a competition in the way the judges are breaking it down. B

Solo Performances #2
Lazaro A
(For Once In My Life-Stevie Wonder)
Smokey tells Lazaro that he is so good when he does what he likes. Jimmy tells Lazaro to just relax and be comfortable. He starts the song very simple with a piano accompaniment, then the strings start in and then the band gets in there. I would have loved to see him do the whole thing without the band and background singers, just the violins and piano. Lazaro seems much more on pitch and in his wheelhouse. Better than last week, but still not in the same company as Candice. But he'll get credit for doing better. B
Randy=Didn't completely redeem himself, but far better than last week. Not perfect pitch wise, and there was still some disconnect.
Mariah=It was a smart choice that was more in his sweet spot and register. Courage and guts were back.
Keith=Exponentially better than last week. Has to make sure that rhythmically and vocally are comfortable before him. 
Nicki=Gave everything and more and needed. Did a great job not listening to Jimmy Iovine.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Kinda. I knew they were gonna say how much better he was then last week, but he is still not completely where he should be at this point.

Janelle Arthur
(Keep Me Hanging On-The Supremes)
Janelle tells Smokey that she is planning to do something different with this version of the song.  Smokey wants her to make the song more dynamic. Janelle starts the song playing her guitar and sitting on a stool. After the verse, the band and background singers accompany her, but it still stays pretty mellow. When Janelle hits the chorus it really picks up and gets moving in the right direction. I like how original and different this version of the song is. I like that she used her creativity and Smokey Robinson's direction to pull this song. Plus that last note was crazy cool, she took it down and then brought it back up. Very nice. A-
Mariah=Janelle at her finest. Anything negative anyone says was just proved wrong.
Keith=Beautiful. Loved the fearlessness and the arrangement of the song. Never heard the lyrics like he did tonight.
Nicki=Always shines when she has her guitar. Thinks her voice isn't exactly where she usually is.
Randy=Absolutely loved it and thought it was incredible. One of her best performances on the show. Loves that even with the other girls she is in it to win it.
Do The Judges Agree? Yep. Other than Nicki who wasn't fully behind it, we all agree that this was easily one of the best times that Janelle has sounded. The arrangement and originality of the song was great.

Devin Velez
(Tracks Of My Tears-Smokey Robinson & The Miracles)
Smokey explains how he came up with the lyrics of Tracks Of My Tears, which is pretty cool. To have the actual singer and songwriter of the classic song explain how he came up with it is so unique. Jimmy thinks that he is singing behind the beat but Smokey maneuvers it so it suits his voice. It's been a few weeks since Devin has really blown away the judges and audience so it's do or die, given his place in the Bottom 3 recently. Devin hits every note right on the button, and he goes for certain runs that really energizes his voice. Devin rebounded for sure tonight. B
Keith=Can see that he relaxed into the song. Can still see that he is thinking way too much.
Nicki=An amazing job tonight. Loved every single choice he made. Felt smooth and comfortable. Loves the falsetto choices.
Randy=Believes that Devin is back tonight. One of the best performance in weeks. 
Mariah=Loved it. Flawless. Knows he restrained himself, but tonight proved how good he is.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Pretty much. This is easily the best Devin has sounded in 2 or 3 weeks. He has been Bottom 3 for 2 weeks running so we'll see how well he can rebound with fans.

Group Performance #2
Amber, Candice & Angie
(I'm Gonna Make You Love Me-The Supremes)
They all take turns playing the Diana Ross role. They looked and sounded pretty cool together. Each of them stood out and had fantastic runs. The judges give them a standing ovation. Mariah tells them A++, I'd give them A.

Solo Performance #3
Burnell Taylor
(My Cherie Amour-Stevie Wonder)
Smokey thinks that at first it sounded like Burnell was straining, but then tells Burnell to relax and make the song more intimate. This song has been done a ton on this show, but Burnell goes for it anyways. Burnell doesn't really change it up like I had hoped he would, but sings it very well. Burnell just has a very pleasant tone, I could listen to him for hours, he is never gonna really amaze me like some of the others, but he is just comfortable. B+
Nicki=Reminded everyone why they fell in love with his voice. Definitely sounds like he could have been part of Motown. 
Randy=Loved his choices. Doesn't always have to do the big runs, can do small twists. 
Mariah=Loves how he looks, and thinks he is shining. Did a really good job with it. Gave a modern flair to the performance.
Keith=Loves everything about his voice. Is so original that he is hard to critique. Really good tonight.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Yup. Burnell is far and away the best male vocal left in this competition and tonight just proved it again.

Angie Miller
(Shop Around-Smokey Robinson & The Miracles)
Smokey tells Angie that he finished writing the song in 30 minutes. Smokey wants Angie to have fun with the song. Smokey wants it to be more bluesy. Jimmy wants her to lighten it up. This definitely isn't the Motown version, Angie makes it more like a pop-rock song. Smokey and Jimmy told Angie to have fun on stage and it sure seems that she followed that advice. I think her vocals dipped at points because she was trying to raise up her on stage personality. I like how she ended the song, it was kind of chopped up and she played with the band. Maybe not best vocally, but really well done on the other stuff. B
Randy=First time that he saw he so pitchy. Wasn't the right key or something.Not great tonight.
Mariah=Rather heard her at the piano. Thinks she could have done another song because this is not what she does best, she does best the stuff at the piano.
Keith=The melody kept pulling her down, but her vocals were up, so her pitch was all over the place. Talent is undeniable and we'll see her next week.
Nicki=Tried to show a different side of herself and she doesn't need to do that. We don't need to see another side of her, we like the side that we have seen.
Do The Judges & I Agree? Not really. I liked that we saw this side of her. She doesn't want to be pigeon-holed and I completely respect that. The judges like what they like, but I think seeing a pop-rock side to her, along with the R&B and bluesy side shows that she has potential to do anything, not just one thing.

Amber Holcomb
(Lately-Stevie Wonder)
Smokey and Jimmy just told her to keep doing what she is doing. She needs to keep stepping it up every week. There has been a number of times that the judges reference Whitney Houston with Amber, and tonight I really saw it. I think the simple background band and lack of background singers and real focus on Amber's voice was just outstanding. When she hit those high notes she did it flawlessly and that last note was just ridiculous. Amber saw she was in Bottom 3 and was determined not to be back there and she won't. She gets a 4-judge standing ovation. Well deserved. Best Amber ever has sounded. A+
Mariah=Tour de force. It was f-ing great.
Keith=Picked the right song, sounded beautifully. It was all mesmerizing.
Nicki=Out of this world. Something very very special. Wants her to just have that twinkle in her voice. 
Randy=By far the best of the vocal of the night. Crazy crazy vocals. Grown so far in this competition. Unbelievable, amazing.
Do The Judges & I Agree? For sure. Best Amber has sounded yet, and that's saying something. First time she has beaten out Candice in vocals, and that's saying a lot as well.

Group Performance #3
Burnell, Devin & Lazaro
(I Can't Help Myself(Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)-The Four Tops
Yikes. Lazaro had a tough time, he forgot words, and lost rhythm. Devin helped carry this performance as much as he could. This was a mess from beginning to merciful end. Just a complete mess, something you would see Hollywood week. Nicki thinks it was like Hollywood Week as well. She also thinks Lazaro fell as flat as a pancake. Tells them to leave the stage. Wow, so after the performance and Nicki laying in on them Burnell said that he doesn't want to throw anyone under the bus but "he did what he was supposed to do". WOW. That is not the thing to say. Lazaro was brutal, but they all were bad. Burnell better watch himself because someone else said things like that and he didn't get too far, and that's Curtis Finch Jr. So bad job by Burnell. F

Solo Performance #4
Kree Harrison
(Don't Play That Song-Aretha Franklin)
Smokey is incredibly impressed by Kree, he tells Kree that he is gonna call Aretha Franklin up and tell her to watch Kree. I love that Kree didn't choose an Aretha Franklin song that has done a million times before like "Natural Woman", or "R.E.S.P.E.C.T". Kree sounds great tonight. Last week her energy was a little off, but her vocals were still good, tonight everything just worked. She looked incredibly comfortable and her whoel on stage persona was fantastic. I think Amber's vocals were a smidge better but Kree delievered as well. A
Randy=One of the best in the compettion. Wasn't perfect but there were points that were just unbelieveable. 
Mariah=Commends her on choosing this song. Loves that she re-invented the song. Is here to stay in this competition. Bravo.
Keith=Loved that she reminds people of the blues and soul in coutnry. Loved that she didn't sound like Aretha just like Kree.
Nicki=Loved her confidence, she is natural. She sang 2 Queens tonight, Madonna and Aretha and Kree is a Queen as well.
Do The Judges & I Agree? For sure. Kree nailed it. It's possible she has sang better before, but not by a ton. Beautiful job by her tonight.

Bottom 3

Going Home
Devin. I went back and forth with this one between him and Lazaro. I didn't choose Lazaro because last week he was terrible and didn't even land in Bottom 3, so he must have a lot of fans. It's a tough call because Devin did a better job than Lazaro tonight. I personally think that they might use the save on anyone but Devin and Lazaro, and it's possible based off of Devin's decent night that he won't go, but if we are talking the past couple weeks and who else is left in this competition I think it might be Devin.

Final Thoughts

*With basically everyone doing a solid Solo performance tonight it is possible that the judges' save could be used. The men's group performance was horrible, but I don't know how much stock the audience will put into that. I don't think the judges would utilize the save on Lazaro or Devin, but I think any of the other 6 the judges might. So that tells you how well those other contestants did tonight and have done in the past. Though Burnell should have kept his thoughts about Lazaro messing up to himself, that did not look good. Angie was a little off tonight but it doesn't mean that she deserves to go home, they'd save her if for some reason she was kicked off. Could be an interesting night tomorrow.

*That men's group performance was one of the worst things seen on the Live Idol stage. It's true that in Hollywood week that bad performances like that happen, but usually by this late stage of the competition the contestants are able to handle learning a couple songs. I am tired of Lazaro saying that he had to learn the lyrics quickly and was unsure of them til recently. This is Top 8, you can't keep giving that excuse for messing up. He needs to learn the material. It's a lot of stress, a lot is going on but you have to suck it up and get it done.

*I said it before but having these group performances is ridiculous. If the judges are judging each of them then it's not a group performance, it's a competition. So it's like a song battle round. It's just unnecessary. Make the show 90 minutes, don't stretch to 2 hours. I know FOX doesn't have ton of  30 minute programming but still, it would make the show so much more compact and tight and without filler and fluff.

That's it. Another performance night in the books. A lot of great solo performances, a couple decent group performances and one that was atrocious, so that's about right in Idol world. Come on back tomorrow to see who the next eliminated contestant will be or if the Judge's Save is utilized. So until tomorrow, see ya!

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