American Idol Top 8 recap: Mariah Carey gets bleeped, Smokey Robinson mentors during Motown week

ssorich@ledger-enquirer.comMarch 27, 2013 

If judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj wore red dresses to spice up Wednesday's episode of "American Idol," it didn't work.

The top eight singers performed Motown tunes on the two-hour show. Smokey Robinson mentored the contestants this week. The result? Viewers heard many songs that have worn out their "Idol" welcome. Did we REALLY need another cover of "My Cherie Amour"? I don't think so. To fill time, the episode also included some group performances.

As usual, Candice Glover was my favorite of the night. Predictably, the guys were unimpressive. Who's going home this week? Call me crazy...but my first instinct says Burnell Taylor will be the lowest vote-getter. I doubt that's the most popular prediction.

In judges' news, Mariah Carey was especially incoherent this week. At one point in the show, she used the term "tour de force," accused the audience of not knowing its meaning and then offered another comment that had to be bleeped. Baffling. (A reader suggested "incoherent" might not be the best word describe Mariah this week. Maybe that's true. After all, Wednesday was her birthday. I'll settle for "in rare form.")

Here's a full recap of Wednesday's show.


Candice Glover performs "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" by Marvin Gaye. She starts the tune slowly. I expect things to pick up after the opening verses, but that doesn't happen. She delivers a slowed-down, jazzy rendition of the song with a very old-school vibe. It's not a ballad, but it's not the version I expected. That's not a bad thing. Candice is solid as usual, and I appreciate the uniqueness she adds to this performance. I'm impressed -- it's a great start to the show and Candice should have no problem sailing through this week.

Keith: "I never feel like you overpower it too much or leave it down too much."

Nicki: "It was very exciting and you stayed in it completely."

Randy: "I think you believe that you belong in this competition."

Mariah: "In a lot of ways, you epitomize what this competition is."

Duet time! Kree Harrison and Janelle Arthur perform a country rendition of "Like A Prayer." It's intriguing in theory, but underwhelming in practice. I want a little more "oomph." I like Kree much better than Janelle, though neither of them seem incredibly comfortable with the song.

Nicki: "I'm so proud of you and I'm so excited." Says Kree out-performed Janelle.

Randy: Says the pitch got away from Janelle, agrees that Kree was stronger

Mariah: "This was a sisterhood moment."

Keith: "It worked really well...I thought you both sang great."

Lazaro Arbos sings "For Once in My Life" by Stevie Wonder. He starts in ballad mode. Will things pick up? Yes. I'm relieved -- I was a little worried. On the plus side, Lazaro seems much more confident than what we've seen in recent weeks. He's clearly more familiar with this song. And he hits some nice notes, especially toward the end of the song. My biggest criticism? It seems like we've already seen this performance 100 times on "Idol." Lazaro doesn't exactly exude uniqueness tonight. I guess he's making progress, though.

Randy: "I don't know if you completely redeemed yourself, but this is far better than last week."

Mariah: "It felt like you were back."

Keith: "I think tonight was exponentially better than last week."

Nicki: "You're definitely back...You gave me everything I needed and wanted."

Janelle Arthur performs "You Keep Me Hangin' On" by The Supremes. She dramatically changes the arrangement. She slows down the song and plays her guitar on stage. People will likely either love it or hate it. I'm divided. I guess I appreciate the attempt at creativity...and Janelle manages to insert some real emotion at points of the song. However, I don't think it's THAT amazing. Once the initial novelty wears off, things get a little boring. It's hardly the most innovative arrangement we've seen on "Idol."

Mariah: "That was you at your finest."

Keith: "That was beautiful."

Nicki: "I just don't think that your voice is how it normally is in my opinion."

Randy: "I thought it was incredible."

Devin Velez performs "The Tracks of My Tears" by The Miracles. I believe during last week's conference call with reporters, ousted "Idol" contestant Paul Jolley said he originally planned to perform this tune on Motown week. Anyway, there are a few pitch problems during the song's opening verses but overall Devin delivers a fine performance. He offers more uniqueness than what he's delivered in previous weeks. That said, I still think Devin lacks youthful appeal. I just want him to have more fun.

Keith: "You've got style."

Nicki: "That was an amazing job tonight...I loved every single choice you made."

Randy: "I think this is one of your best performances in weeks, hands down."

Mariah: "I felt like this was flawless from you."

Group song! Angie Miller, Candice Glover and Amber Holcomb team up for "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" by Diana Ross & the Supremes. Candice impresses me the most out of the three. It's a decent performance overall.

Mariah: "That was so pow. I loved it." Apparently, we're not getting comments from the other judges.

Burnell Taylor sings "My Cherie Amour" by Stevie Wonder. Groan. It seems like this is another song I've already heard hundreds of times on "Idol." Maybe it's largely due to the song choice, but this is one of my least favorite performances from Burnell. I want him to deliver the power and originality we saw at earlier stages of the competition. It just seems like he completely opted for the safe route this week. I expected more and I'm not incredibly impressed with his white suit, either.

Nicki: "You reminded us why we fell in love with that voice tonight."

Randy: "I love your choices."

Mariah: "I think you did a really good job with it."

Keith: "I love everything about your voice."

Angie Miller sings "Shop Around" by The Miracles. Angie's definitely trying to showcase a different side of herself this week. She adds a rock edge to the song and attempts to rock out on stage. Does it work? Well, slightly. My biggest criticism is that the band seems to overpower Angie during many portions of the song. If she wants to rock out, I'd rather have her perform a song she doesn't have to change so much. That said, I'm actually kind of happy to see an edgier Angie this week. She was getting a little too pageanty.

Randy: "It's the first time ever that I've seen you on this show have such a pitchy performance."

Mariah: "I would've rather heard you at the piano." Wants her to sing "I'll Be There" at the piano

Keith: "The melody kept pulling you down."

Nicki: "You don't have to try to be more overtly sexy."

Amber Holcomb sings "Lately" by Stevie Wonder. Geez...why didn't they just make this Stevie Wonder week? Initially, I'm a little mad at Amber for picking another ballad. Ultimately, if she wants to secure a fan base, she should probably dabble in some uptempo stuff. However, she delivers a very impressive vocal and demonstrates some serious stage presence. The power notes at the end are pretty nice. I'm impressed. The four judges give her a standing ovation.

Mariah: Calls it a "tour de force," says people might not know what that means, then says something that needs to be bleeped -- needless to say, it's a compliment

Keith: "You picked the right song, you sang it beautifully, you felt it beautifully."

Nicki: "That was just out of this world...You are just something very, very special."

Randy: "By far, for me, the best vocal of the night."

Group song! Burnell Taylor, Lazaro Arbos and Devin Velez perform "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)." It's a giant hot mess. Did somebody just forget the lyrics? Yes, I believe so.

Nicki: "I don't know what that was, but I'm going to act like I didn't even see it or hear it."

Kree Harrison sings "Don't Play That Song (You Lied)" by Aretha Franklin. Anyone else remember when Kelly Clarkson performed this on Season One? Watch the clip here. I appreciate Kree's attempt to be more fun this week -- yes, she was getting kind of boring. Overall, it's a very good performance. It's nice seeing Kree do an uptempo song. I'm assuming this is outside her comfort zone. She seems a little stiff on stage and maybe strains her voice a bit on the bigger notes. Still, she's miles ahead of many of the others.

Randy: "You definitely are here to stay."

Mariah: "I commend you for doing this song."

Keith: "You sound like Kree and I love that you do that."

Nicki: "Your confidence never wavers."

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