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American Idol Takes on Motown [Video]

(from AmericanIdol.com/Fox)

It’s a tried, tested and true American Idol theme.  And, last night, our remaining Idols, like so many in seasons before them, took on the songbook of Motown.  So, how did they do?  WBKR’s Idol expert was tuned in and shares his thoughts about who will coast through to the Top 7 and who will be up for elimination.

From Steve Thompson:

Overall, not the worst night of television FOX has ever foisted on the American public.  However, when Nicki starts throwing truth like a Molotov cocktail you best duck and cover.  Say what you will about her own singing style, but she can cut through the mustard quicker than the proverbial digestive system of a goose.  (Yes– I used both duck and goose in an opening paragraph.  Thanks for pointing that one out, Audubon!)

Once upon a time there was a movie about the Black Sox scandal called Eight Men Out.  The way this evening’s show played itself out, there may be three men out before a lady ever suffers the ignominious defeat of placing lower than a Y chromosome.

08.  Lazaro Arbos muddied through For Once in My Life by Stevie Wonder.  Remember the good old days when I said Idol should never again let a contestant sing a Stevie Wonder song?  No?  You mean you don’t keep all these reviews on file?  Well, that cuts me to the quick.  Lazaro needs to go home and study for the upcoming Idol tour.  This boy has a lot of homework to do if he has to learn any more songs.  By the way, if Lazaro is somehow saved by a relentlessly lemming-led popular vote– I’ll donate money to anyone who refuses to say he has courage.  Dang, it’s like he’s trying out for the Cowardly Lion in a remake of The Wiz.

7. Devin Velez sang Tracks of My Tears by Smokey Robinson or Johnny Rivers or Linda Ronstadt.  These kids who have to learn songs they’ve never heard before continue to amaze and, yes, stupefy me.  (Whatever happened to Johnny Rivers?  I was a fan of his from the age of four.)  Devin has a smooth tone– but he seems to have followed the directions of Billy Joel…  He’s going South every now and then.  And what is the deal with the two syllable word smi-hile?  Not since Johnny Nash complained of ob-stick-uls have I been so sickened by a phonetic turn of note.

6.  Burnell Taylor sang My Cherie Amour by Stevie Wonder.  I had high hopes for this kid early on in the season, but he’s just not delivering enough for me to think he’s not in immediate danger of being forgotten from week to week.  I wasn’t as taken with his vocal as some of the judges seem to have been.  I heard some notes in that first verse that were flatter than the box office receipts of Lindsay Lohan’s last movie.

5.  Candice Glover sang I Heard It Through the Grapevine by Marvin Gaye and a host of others.  Frankly, I would’ve preferred a cover closer to CCR.  I’ll give her props…  I don’t think I’ve ever heard a version of this song that sounded like she did tonight.  Not as smooth as Gladys Knight.  Not as interesting as Marvin.  But still–  a nice cover of a song that’s been done to death.  The singer who sets the bar with the first performance really has to nail a song to survive placement in the bottom three.  That makes me think there could be a Thursday night surprise (but I think she’ll be safe.)

4.  Angie Miller sang Shop Around by Smokey Robinson.  In every run on Idol, there is one bad step that is taken.  I’m hoping Angie has enough support to get her past her worst performance to date.  Frankly, I can’t see her falling that fast from the top of the chart.  This was a nice attempt at trying something that wasn’t a boring ballad– but she needed more sass and less cheese in her performance.  I kept hearing the Toni Tennille version in my head and thought Angie would hit it out of the park.  This was a bit of a whiff.

3. Amber Holcomb sang Lately by Stevie Wonder.  Okay.  We know Amber can sing.  She takes a song that may not be as familiar as most songs by Stevie Wonder and does her usual splendid job with turning any song into a diva-centric work of art.  Enough!  Give us something up-tempo before Idol starts appealing to the same demographic as re-re-reruns of the Lawrence Welk Show on PBS.  She sings ballads great.  Next?

2.  Kree Harrison sang Don’t Play That Song by Aretha Franklin among others.  I love the way Kree sings and I generally love the way she puts some blues and soul into a country or contemporary song.  This was a wonderful version.  While I agree she may not be in Kelly Clarkson territory– few female singers still living are as good as Kelly.  If you remove Original Idol from the equation, that was a darn good cover that, to paraphrase Keith, was a Kree version and not Kree trying to be Aretha.

1.  Janelle Arthur sang You Keep Me Hangin’ On by Diana Ross and the Supremes among others.  It’s high time we had a female singer willing to take some high-degree risks with a song.  Granted, a group called Vanilla Fudge made this a psychedelic song in the 60s and Kim Wilde had a great cover in the 80s– but the time may have come for a country version in 2013.  Very impressive.  This is now my favorite cover of this song.

What does this mean?  I think it means our three remaining guys are in big-time trouble tonight.  Devin and Burnell will probably be in the bottom three for certain.  Unless Lazaro is catered to by his fans again, the designated woman in peril tonight could be Angie because of her odd disconnect to her song.

By the way, I generally don’t like to grade the group songs– but if there’s any justice in the world and if there’s any superhero power in Nicki to banish singers forever from the stage– the three guys were fifty shades of horrible.  Whatnottosing.com rates each song sung by Idol according to its many reviewers.  This song received a 6!  Yes, that’s 6 out of a possible 100.  Yikes, indeed.

Thursday night we get to see another man leave.  Hopefully.

@March 27, 2013  Stephen W Thompson

 

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