March 27, 2013

TV: American Idol 2013: Music of Motor City

It's music from Detroit tonight, and any artist from Detroit is up for grabs. So that means lots of Motown, maybe some Aretha, perhaps some Madonna, and... I dunno, who else is from Detroit?

Because we no longer have enough singers to fill 2 hours, we're also getting duets and trios thrown in to fill out the evening. Those technically don't count as part of the competition, but it's silly to think that a particularly good or bad small group number won't help or hurt.

The rundown:

Candice, "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" -- Most of the song works well, and the slower, bluesy arrangment is a nice change. The opening and the tag with the prominent sax feels cheesy, though, and undercuts the overall effect. As ever, Candice's singing is excellent.

Janelle & Kree, "Like a Prayer" -- Aside from a little twang in their voices, I'm hard pressed to say what's country about this song. Kree is certainly the better singer, though Janelle held her own better than I'd have expected. It wasn't a passionate or emotionally involved performance, but I imagine that they spent most of their time working on their solo numbers.

Lazaro, "For Once In My Life" -- He did his best. It wasn't very good.

Janelle, "You Keep Me Hangin' On" -- The singing is quite nice, but the arrangement is a mess. This is not a sophisticated song, musically or lyrically; it's a light fluffy piece of pop, and it's not substantial enough to be taken this seriously. It's like building a 12-ton marble display case for a feather.

Devin, "The Tracks of My Tears" -- It's an overwhelmingly pleasant performance, the sort that puts a mild smile on your face, the sort that will inspire aunts to pinch his cheeks, the sort that would easily win his high school talent show. But it's not exciting or interesting or memorable in the slightest. (I don't know why it took that red jacket to make me realize this, but oh my god, how much does Devin look like Tintin?)

Candice, Amber, & Angie, "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" -- To answer Ryan's mean-spirited pre-song question, it is obvious that Candice is the Diana. It's also obvious that Angie is the least comfortable with this song and style, but even so, she's a good enough singer that she's not horrifyingly bad. I do wish the background singers weren't mixed so heavily on the choruses, so that we could hear how well the three harmonize.

Burnell, "My Cherie Amour" -- Not his best moment. Making the "la la" phrases quieter meant making them choppy, since he needed to breathe midway through them. He's throwing in far too many runs and frills, and his pitch is way off for a few seconds after the key change at the end. (And, please, Idol stylists, let the man keep his glasses!)

Angie, "Shop Around"-- I don't know if it's because she's trying so hard to be relaxed and have fun, but her pitch is all over the place tonight. And though I gasped and cried "blasphemy" when Jimmy told her not to worry so much about enunciation, he may have been right; the first few lines in particular felt overly precise and prissy, with every consonant falling too crisply into place.

Amber, "Lately" -- A couple of the low notes in the first verse are too low, and can't be heard. Aside from that, it's a lovely performance. I'm beginning to fear, though, that she will be this year's victim of the long-standing Idol lack of enthusiasm for elegant black women. (See, for instance, Stephanie Edwards, Nadia Turner, LaToya London, Trenyce, Tamyra Gray...)

Lazaro, Burnell, & Devin, "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)" -- Remarkable evidence of just how bad Lazaro and Devin are: They dragged Burnell down to their level. That was sad and embarrassing.

Kree, "Don't Play That Song (You Lied)" -- I wish her physical attitude matched her vocal attitude; she's just plodding back and forth across the stage with none of the swagger that's in her voice. But the vocal attitude and energy is more than enough to sell it, and it's great fun to listen to.

For the night: Kree, Candice, Amber, Janelle, Burnell, Angie, Devin, Lazaro.

For the season: Candice, Kree, Amber, Burnell, Angie, Janelle, Devin, Lazaro.

Let's send home: Should be Lazaro, but I think the sympathy vote is good for another week or two; Devin would be an acceptable alternative. I have this strange fear, though, that Amber will be the first woman to go.

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