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American Idol recap: Rock Songs (No Ballads)

The Top 7 take on classic rock tunes (let Nicki Minaj boo herself in advance) with accompaniment from Orianthi

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American Idol Candice Glover

American Idol

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban, Ryan Seacrest
Reality TV

Tonight’s Rock Songs (No Ballads) theme for the Top 7 turned out to be The Same Few Songs We Always Hear (And One Ballad). Plus: One contestant performed a song from later than the year 2000. Whaaaaaat? Idol is shakin’ it up! It’s positively the Space Age up in here. We are living it!

Burnell Taylor, Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name”: If the assignment was “Carry out the song title as best you can,” Burnell absolutely succeeded on Rock Week (No Ballads) (No Originality). Apparently this was the only song on Idol‘s cleared list that Burnell even vaguely knew. So, I mean, that’s dumb. They should have more songs. But also, aren’t these kids supposed to be interested in music?

I don’t understand why someone who wants to be a recording artist wouldn’t lunge at the chance to rearrange any classic rock song to better suit his personal style. There’s an entire team of professionals to help you do it! It’s just so confusing. They have stereo systems all over the place, right? Burnell probably has an iPod? Put a song on your iPod and play it 50 times. Voila: Now you know the song. And you’ll probably go around singing it to yourself, perhaps in your own particular way. So sing it that way on the show. Gah!

I know there’s a time crunch as we go week to week, and the contestants have to learn a second song, plus a results night song, plus participate in a bazillion interviews and photo ops. But where is the planning? Where is the focus on what should be the most prominent task at hand? Why would you give up so easily and treat this week as a bye — especially when you’ve been in the bottom three? When I see a lifeless, just-getting-through-it performance like Burnell’s, all I can think, in the style of Dionne from America’s Next Top Model Cycle 8, is “What the hay-ul?”

Burnell put more oomph into his duet on The Box Tops’ “The Letter,” but his efforts as a “shining star” were completely overpowered by the celestial dominance of Candice Glover, to whom Keith Urban referred as “the whole galaxy.” She really is in a class of her own — Burnell’s got a rich, unique voice and all, but next to Candice, he was barely whispering. Is this all part of the producers’ master plan to eliminate another Y-chromosome (whose name is not Lazaro) in the interest of GIRL POWER? Who knows? I’m guessing Burnell gets voted out tonight.

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Despite my general frustration with him, I couldn’t get enough of Burnell’s shyly appreciative smile after his big sister Candice told the cameras backstage that their vibe as friends likely helped them in the duet.

NEXT: Take another little pinch of my nerve, now, baby