American Idol: Top 8 - March 27, 2013

American Idol: Top 8 - March 27, 2013

Tonight's theme is technically "Songs From The Motor City", which translates into Motown. I grew up on the music of Motown so this could be a very promising theme in my opinion.

1. Candice Glover - "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" A/A-

Candice gave the song a jazzy, ad-libbed feel which was absolutely perfect, and kept this oft-performed Idol song from turning into standard karaoke. I loved the new, horn-heavy arrrangement which allowed Candice to settle into the song. I always believe Candice when she sings - which sounds like a no-brainer, but is actually rare amongst Idol contestants. This year isn't as heavy on the teenage contestants, but in years past, many of the contestants have come off very pagent-like and practiced, rather than musicians who are feeling the emotions of what they sing.

Group Performance #1 - Janelle & Kree - "Like A Prayer" B/B-

Sort of an odd song choice here, which came off a bit karaoke at parts. Nicki hit it right on the head when she said it seemed like Kree was the superstar who flew into do a duet with an Idol contestant. Kree comes off extremely natural on the stage, whereas Janelle was more pitchy and just all around "off" in this performance. That said, it was an unoffensive performance that it is hard to find a lot of fault with. It wasn't particularly memorable however.

2. Lazaro Arbos - "For Once In My Life" B-/C+

Much has been said online about Lazaro and I'll sum up my thoughts in one sentence: Lazaro is now painfully out of his element and is consistently outshined by the other contestants. It's actually getting a bit hard to watch. This was Lazaro's best performance in a little while and it was nice to see him go uptempo for at least half of the song. His voice sounded a bit strained and weak at points during the song; he's not a natural performer when it comes to "commanding the stage" as they say. There were a few highlights to the performance - "this is mine, you can't take it" and that very shiny leather coat.

3. Janelle Arthur - "You Keep Me Hangin' On" A+

I LOVED that Janelle explained she created her own arrangement to this song when she was 14. As Keith Urban pointed out, she really brought out the angst to the lyric that's deeply embedded in the cheery upbeat tempo of the song as its usually performed. It was original and haunting. I loved that the staging let her literally take "center stage", just focusing on her and the guitar. I do have to say I wish she had not gone for the "glory note" at the end, but just let the song end organically. SUBLIME.

4. Devin Velez - "The Tracks Of My Tears" B+

I was pleasantly surprised by Devin's rendition of one of my favorite Motown songs (so masterfully done by Adam Lambert in the legendary Season 8).  I was dubious at first when heard the song choice, but I quickly fell in love (or at least a really strong like) with Devin's version. I loved the falsetto and his sharp red suit jacket. However, in sharp contrast to Janelle and Candice, there was no deep emotion behind Devin's delivery. That said, it was more than enjoyable and one I'll be downloading. Devin's best performance on the show weeks - he CERTAINLY did not deserve to go home over Lazaro.

Group Performance #2: Angie, Candice, and Amber - "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" A

This was such an amazing tribute to Motown and Diana Ross & The Supremes! It was so immensely fun to watch and the girls' voices blended together so well on the chorus, while allowing each individual singer to highlight her particular style of singing. This performance should be shown to all current and future Idol contestants as a lesson on how to perform as a group.

5. Burnell Taylor - "My Cherie Amour" B

Burnell utilized a jazzy arrangement and tone to his voice for a very unique performance. Many bloggers have pointed out his strange pronunciation, adding an "m" to the end of each line. I didn't notice this the first time I watched his performance, but it's very distracting to be made aware of on subsequent listening! This was a competent and interesting performance, but not one that will really stick with me too much. I would have liked to see him move a bit to the beat and really try to "perform" more than he has, since the song is an uptempo (or at the very least, midtempo).

6. Angie Miller - "Shop Around" B-

I love that she tried a rock arrangement to this song - it had the potential to make it exciting and fresh. But something just did not work throughout this whole performance and I'm struggling to put my finger on it. Maybe it's that she's not believable as a rock singer or that her delivery really did not match the arrangement. She sounded a bit breathy and "off" throughout the song. I really wanted to like this much more than I did.

7. Amber Holcomb - "Lately" A-/B+

Amber is an amazing singer, but she doesn't excite me when she performs. I don't anticipate her performances like I would with Candice, Kree, or even Angie. (Also - I hate to say it, but Stevie Wonder songs are more than overplayed on Idol. WHY hasn't anyone sang "I Just Called To Say I Love You", BY FAR the best Stevie song?!?) Amber has what I would describe as a "crazy amazing voice", but I just found this performance a bit sleepy and similar to all her past performances. My grade is more based on technical merit than true emotion.

Group Performance #3: Devin, Burnell, & Lazaro - "Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch" D-

It's been a long time since I've seen a performance on Idol that can only be described as "TRAIN WRECK". This was absymal. I noticed that the camera panned away from Lazaro quite a few times, probably to take away from the fact that he didn't know the very simple side-to-side choreography and had to keep looking over at the other two guys. Lazaro completely forgot the words and there was an entire line where no one sang. Poor Devin definitely picked up a lot of Lazaro's dropped lines. But this was pretty absymal for a live Top 8 Idol performance.

8. Kree Harrison - "Don't Play That Song" B+

Kree makes it look so absolutely effortless I don't even know if people understand the degree of difficulty behind everything she does. I wasn't a huge fan of this song and would have loved to hear her take on a lot of other songs in lieu of this one. Her voice sounded amazing however!

Best of the night: Janelle
Worst of the night: Lazaro


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