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American Idol recap: You Keep Me Hanging On

Set me free, why don’t you, Idol, from this done-to-death Motown theme night?

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American Idol Janelle Arthur

American Idol

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

Another year, another Motown Week. Hey, at least the age-defying Smokey Robinson was on hand to guide the Top 8 through all their Stevie Wonder covers. It was fun watching Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj duke it out (while pretending the other does not exist) in complimenting the legend — Mariah gushing about his musical accomplishments, Nicki declaring the pristine green-eyed statue “a sexy piece of specimen.” Why, I do declare 2013’s Motown Week a tour de force, dahhhling. There’s no way you American Idol viewers could possibly know what tour de force means, right? COMMONERS!

Candice Glover, Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”: She really funked this up to the point where I didn’t recognize the original melody. I thought it was great! No, really. Candice is so reliably good. I’m hoping singing first won’t hurt her this week, but an even more stellar performance in the “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” trio with Angie and Amber (she was totally the Diana) should remind voters of what a stahhhh she is. Especially if the wardrobe department keeps draping her in 100% Pure Sparkles.

After last week’s “Come Together,” we’ve now seen two rock-y, bluesy numbers from Candice in a row, and birthday lady Mariah Carey has simply had it with this train of thought, so she rambled for what seemed like years about what Candice needs to do next. “You know what I want to hear. That thing…that you do…that you know how to do…Something we’ve talked about a lot.” What was this, some mysterious sex thing? Does it have anything to do with that enormous pink magic wand? Quite the opposite, as it turns out. “I just wanna hear more of that churchy, jazz moment,” clarified Mimi.

Lazaro Arbos, Stevie Wonder’s “For Once In My Life”: Somehow Lazaro got through his solo with no tears-inducing hiccups — perhaps he’d heard it before, or simply listened to it thousands of times over the weekend. Even though Lazaro miraculously knew the words, I still felt like the entire performance was merely an attempt to survive, an effort to prove that yes, he did know the words to this one new song. He loves gathering up all his “phew, I’m still standing” confidence during the last few seconds of a song and then dramatically finishing with his head swept to one side like Elvis. I’m not so into that. Too little, too late, my friend!

Mariah once again noted Lazaro’s “courage and guts” instead of his vocal abilities, and Randy and Nicki declared Lazaro’s performance a redemptive triumph. The Dawg called it “not perfect pitch-wise, not that that is a big huge thing.” (He forgot to add, “When you’re Lazaro.”) Annoyingly, Lazaro opted to talk back to Randy: “No problem, boo.” Wait, is this for real?

NEXT: ”’Sugar Pie Honey Bunch’…you know that I don’t know you…” –Lazaro