American Idol 2013: Detroit Week

I can’t wait for ‘Boise, Idaho’ week next week.

Candice Glover: I mean seriously, does Smokey Robinson just sleep in the studio underneath the stage until it’s time for Motown/60s/”Detroit” Week, then pop out to do mentoring? I mean, Lord knows I love Smokey Robinson, but I don’t need to see his new Surgery Face ever year, and I particularly don’t need to hear Nicki Minaj yelling about how she wants to do him. Candice Glover was the first to meet the New Smokey, as apparently “Heard It Through The Grapevine” was originally recorded by him, just like every other song ever written, up to and including “Scatman (Ski-Ba-Bop-Ba-Da-Bop)”. Candice’s arrangement was probably closest to the Gladys Knight version if anything, and allowed her to do what she does best : scrunch up her nose and look stank. It was a decent performance, but given that you’d expect her to slay Motown Week, I was slightly underwhelmed. Fortunately, she was given an opportunity to shine later in the night when she got to play Diana Ross in the Supremes Dress-Up Round. And unlike Diana Ross, she actually managed to come across as the BEST singer. SCORE : 7/10

(I think I had pretty much the same problem as you with this performance – there was nothing WRONG with it, per se, but Candice should’ve been able to dominate this week in her sleep and ended up just being so-so. SCORE : 7/10)

Lazaro Arbos: Woof. So the dogs have started coming for Lazaro pretty hard, with the advice he got this week basically amounting to “eh, do whatever the hell you want, we don’t care any more” ; the chintzy lounge arrangement of chintzy lounge classic “For Once In My Life” he got given ; Burnell and Devin both shoving him under the bus hard after that disastrous rendition of “I Can’t Help Myself” the three of them wandered into ; then Nicki making sure to compare the whole sorry mess to a bad Hollywood Week Performance, in a callback to the last time Lazaro just plum forgot the words and stared around blankly (and then laughing at herself openly and joyously, OH NICKI). Oh, and that outfit he was wearing on the Performance Show. And that outfit he was wearing on the Results Show. And the sad thing, after all this, is that in terms of his solo vocal, it was probably the best he’s done for a while now. Eep. SCORE : 3/10

(At least his outfits are still entertaining. I still can’t decide if “extra from Saved By The Bell” is a step-up from “ice-dancing ice-cream salesman” though. SCORE : 3/10)

Janelle Arthur: Hearing someone say that they’ll be performing an arrangement that they came up with when they were 14 is usually a pretty good warning that you’re about to sit through something exquisitely cringeworthy. So I was both relieved and slightly disappointed (hey, I’m only human) when Janelle’s teenage reworking of ‘You Keep Me Hanging On’ turned out to be reasonably decent. I wasn’t sure about it at first, because it was so quiet and still and plaintive when this is a song that really ought to be loud and impassioned and urgent, but something about her performance just made sense to me. There was an air of resignation to the whole thing that was an interesting twist, and I rather liked it. Mind you, it probably helped that she toned down the mugging a little bit. Now for the first time since the live shows started, she feels like she might be a legitimate rival to the other girls for reasons beyond the strong country bloc vote. It’s just as well she pulled off her solo as well, because she did not come out of that duet with Kree well at all, as Keith and Nicki pointed out. Now, can anyone please explain to me why Smokey Robinson sounds like D’Fwan? SCORE: 8/10

(She slowed it down, added a guitar, and made it boring. Plus ca change. I guess at least she didn’t Angela herself SCORE : 5/10)

Devin Velez: Well, the latest thing we can add to the nuggets of knowledge that we’ve gleaned from the Idol rehearsal rooms is that the inspiration for ‘Tracks Of My Tears’ was when Smokey Robinson wondered what would happen in someone cried so much that you could see the tracks of their tears on their face. THANKS FOR THAT, SMOKEY. Still, that was genuinely more interesting and unexpected than anything Devin contributed for his actual performance tonight, turning up dressed like he was singing at a junior prom and giving a performance to match. I remain slightly baffled that Burnell is still here, but I guess he was at least an amusing mess this week whereas Devin was a dull one, and he paid the price for it. SCORE: 3/10

(His post show rage-feud with Nicki Minaj is almost enough for an extra point. Almost. SCORE : 3/10)

Burnell Taylor: I think we can all agree after this week, and the hybrid ice-cream man/angel/doctor/preacher get-up, that wherever Burnell lost those 30 pounds from, it was not his badonkadonk. Burnell was the second of this week’s unfortunate males to be given Stevie Wonder to sing, and to fail pretty badly in it. The problem, to be honest, is that Stevie Wonder has an easy, light tone, and Burnell is at his best when he’s strained and tight and a little anguished. So “Ma Cherie Amour” was never going to be a great choice, even at the points when he didn’t sound like he was about to slide into singing “My Sharia Law”. Pinched, forced, and just not nice to listen to. Of course the larger issue with Burnell is that he is a man, and the show is clearly looking to stop messing around and get all the guys off the table in time for the end-game. And given that this week all the men were in the Bottom 3, and all the women…weren’t, it looks like, as usual, Creepy Uncle Nigel is getting his way. SCORE : 2/10

(I actually forgot to grade this performance when I first watched it. I feel that says worrying things about it. SCORE : 2/10)

Angie Miller: So Chris pointed out to me the other week that back at the beginning of this year’s recaps I said that Angie was going to be the contestant that I hated even though she was a pretty good singer, and then I ended up giving her my highest marks because no matter how much I hated her, I couldn’t deny that she was talented. Well, this week she performed abominably, and somehow I’m still giving her a mark that isn’t as mean as it could be, because even when Angie’s dreadful, she’s kind of hilariously dreadful. She opted for ‘Shop Around’ for this week’s performance, was flatter than the Norfolk broads and kept forgetting her words every time she tried to sassily and seductively strut up to her band members. Although to be honest, I think at least two of these marks are for the guitar player and the brilliant sex faces he was making throughout the whole thing. And also for the hilariously inappropriate denim hotpants she was wearing during the otherwise very good group rendition of ‘I’m Gonna Make You Love Me’. SCORE: 4/10

(Well at least the rest of her finally lived down to her mall hair. SCORE : 2/10)

Amber Holcomb: As much as everyone was shocked by Amber’s appearance in the bottom three last week, I think I can understand it. She’s a good singer, but there’s just something lacking when she gets on stage. This was true of both of her performances this week: in the all-girl trio she looked by far the most uncomfortable of the three and ended up getting lost next to Candice and Angie, and despite excellent feedback for her rehearsals of ‘Lately’ with Smokey and Jimmy Fraggleface, it all fell flat for me on the stage. I know they have vocal coaches on the show and she probably doesn’t need all that much help on that score, but what would really help Amber’s cause would be some serious posture coaching so she can learn how to hold herself confidently while she sings – and if somebody could also give her some ideas of what the hell to do with her arms rather than just waving them around aimlessly at midriff-height, that’d be super. Still, there were two absolutely great moments in her post-performance chat: one was Mariah saying “Tour de force, darlings, do you know what that means?”, only to be greeted by stony silence and following it up with an incredulous “does ANYONE know what that means?” And the other was Ryan declaring triumphantly that “Amber is back!” only for a nonplussed Amber to retort “I wasn’t really gone.” Attagirl. SCORE: 6/10

(The moment when Mariah realised that not a SINGLE PERSON IS LISTENING TO ANYTHING SHE SAYS, ON A SHOW WATCHED BY 11 MILLION was truly beautiful. This performance was not. SCORE : 4/10)

Kree Harrison: I’m starting to get Shock Boot vibes off of Kree Harrison and I’m not sure why, given that this week Aretha Franklin herself was on the phone, singing her praises, and the judges devoted the entirety of the critique of her duet with Janelle (“Like A Prayer” by Madonna because…Madonna is…from the same state…that Detroit is in and…probably went there once or something) to pointing out how much better the former was than the latter. All whilst Nicki set up an underdog “poor frumpy Kree having to compete with RADIANT BEAUTIES like Arthur Janelle” storyline to keep the housewife vote puttering along nicely. But there’s just something about her stage presence, or complete lack of it, that tells me that America is going to lose interest at some point soon. Basically, she’s Pia Toscano, but with a wholesome country vibe, rather than a “Lost Kardashian Cousin” one, so she’ll probably last a little longer. Although, let’s face it, it never pays to underestimate country on this show. At any rate, I think she gave the best vocal performance of the week, even if she did kind of lurch around the stage like a “Walking Dead” tie-in as she did so. SCORE : 8/10

(I’ve been getting shock-boot vibes from Kree as well. It wouldn’t surprise me if she’s the first girl to go, but she’ll probably still outlast the remaining two guys. SCORE : 6/10)

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