The top eight contestants took on songs from the motor city for Motown Week during tonight’s episode of American Idol. Each contestant performed once individually and in a group. They gained inspiration from Smokey Robinson and, as always, worked with Jimmy Iovine to perfect their performances.
Candice Glover was up first and sang Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard it Through the Grapevine.” She put her own spin on the song and slowed it down quite a bit. Keith loved that she lifted things up during the second verse and didn’t overpower or leave it down too much. Nicki was happy Candice kept her eyes in the performance this week and agreed with Keith that she didn’t overdo it. Randy said she has one of the best voices this year in the competition, it was effortless, and crazy good. Mariah thought the performance was Candice being straightforward giving a soulful R&B performance, but she still wanted more of the churchy jazz moment.
Kree and Janelle sang Madonna’s “Just Like a Prayer” for their duet. To make a long story short, Nicki told Kree her voice sounded like butter, but Janelle wasn’t so good. Randy agreed and felt Kree outshined Janelle in that moment. Mariah felt they had a moment together on stage and thought they were very, very good. Keith wanted to see them get into it and move around a little, but he liked that they were in the performance together.
In an attempt to redeem himself from last week, Lazaro Arbos sang Stevie Wonder’s “For Once in My Life.” The performance started out a bit slow, but he picked things up after the first verse and seemed much more confident than in previous weeks. Randy didn’t think he completely redeemed himself, but it was far better than last week. Mariah felt like Lazaro was back, and she wanted him to take the critiques and listen and try what he believes in. Keith gave props to Smokey Robinson for the advice he gave Lazaro and agreed with Randy. Nicki told “Ricky Riccardo” that he was back, asked if Smokey would be her sugar daddy, and then said “Fonzie gave it to her this week.”
Janelle Arthur played her guitar and put her own spin on “You Keep Me Hangin’ On.” Mariah thought it was Janelle at her finest. Keith told Janelle it was beautiful, and he loved her fearlessness. Nicki said Janelle shines when she has her guitar in front of her, but she seemed to be smiling more and not connecting with the song and singing the way she normally does. Randy absolutely loved it and thought it was one of her best performances on the show before adding that Janelle was in it to win it.
Devin Velez took on Smokey and The Miracles’ “Tracks of My Tears.” He got a lesson from Smokey on how he came up with the lyrics. Keith thought there were moments in the song where he could feel him really get into it, but he could tell he was thinking too much at times. Nicki thought it was an amazing job and loved every single choice he made – she also told him he was up there looking like a ripe banana. Randy thought it was one of Devin’s best performances in weeks. Mariah loved it and said it was flawless.
For their performance as a trio, Amber, Candice, and Angie took on The Supremes’ “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me.” They received a standing ovation from the judges. Mariah said, “Hashtag POW!” She added that they each had their own moments during the song.
Burnell Taylor sang Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amour.” He sounded great, but he kept adding an “m” to the end of his words. Nicki told Burnell he reminded them why they fell in love with his voice, and she could definitely hear his voice back in the Motown days. Randy loved the choices he made and the fact that he listened to Smokey’s advice. Mariah thought he did a really good job with it and gave it modern flair. Keith had a hard time critiquing Burnell because he is so original, and he loved it all.
Angie Miller chose to sing “Shop Around,” by The Miracles. Smokey was happy she chose to sing one of his songs and encouraged her to have fun with it. Randy thought it was strange, and it was the first time he had ever seen her have such a pitchy performance. Mariah would have liked to hear her at the piano with “I’ll Be There.” Keith agreed with Randy about the pitch, but he thought the melody was pulling her down when her energy level was a lot higher. Nicki rudely told her thought she should do what she shines at, and they hadn’t asked for another side yet. As Ryan talked to Angie about the judges’ comments, Nicki whipped out her cell phone and furiously started typing away. (Because that’s appropriate for a judge to do).
Amber Holcomb took on Stevie Wonder’s “Lately,” which Smokey couldn’t wait to hear her annihilate. All four judges were on their feet, and Mariah called it a “Tour de Force.” No one knew what that meant, and when she provided an explanation, she was bleeped out. Keith said it was beautiful. Nicki told Amber that if she wears pink lipstick, she will get more votes. She went on to say the performance was out of this world, but she wanted her to get the twinkle back in her eye and forget about having been in the bottom three. Randy told Amber it was the best performance of the night, and he sees her grow every week.
The final group performance came in the form of a trio from Devin, Lazaro, and Burnell, who sang “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch).” Their performance was off, and it appeared as though Lazaro messed up his lyrics. Nicki told them it was a beautiful day in Hollywood, since it felt like they were back in Hollywood week, said Lazaro fell flat as a pancake, and shouted at them to get off the stage. Ryan laughed it off and said he had to give them a chance to respond, and Lazaro blamed his troubles on not knowing the song and having to learn it.
Last up for the night was Kree Harrison, who sang Aretha Franklin’s “Don’t Play That Song (You Lied).” Randy didn’t think it was the perfect performance, but the moments she had in the song were unbelievable. Mariah loves her and said she is here to stay in the competition. Keith loved that she kept reminding everyone of the blues and soul roots in country. Nicki commented on Kree’s confidence level never waivering and called her a queen after singing two “queen” songs.
Tune into American Idol tomorrow night on FOX at 8/7 p.m. central for performances from Keith Urban and Colton Dixon, along with what should be a very interesting results show. What was your favorite performance tonight? Who are you rooting for? Leave a comment below!
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