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'American Idol' recap: The top 8 guys sing for survival

Four are sent packing and the rest get one more night in the lights.

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American Idol

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

Thank god, it’s Motown Night with #idolguys. Motown Night is a fascinating study because it holds such promise but historically tends to be a huge disaster. But I have faith in this class of boys. And so does, it seems, Aretha Franklin, who appears as if from nowhere to introduce the show and sing “I Will Survive.” Aretha looks fantastic and is dressed to a T-Bird. Aretha’s performance is a bit half-hearted, and she STILL KILLS IT because she is fabulous.

This is the first night of eliminations, and this seems to be how it’s going to play out: If you’re called to stage to perform, you’re safe. What an unfair, cruel waste of four of these boys’ time. They’ve spent all week rehearsing and prepping! A whole week!. But, it’s saving us viewers a whole hour a week, so I guess I shouldn’t complain.

First to be called to the stage? Daniel Seavey, which means he’s sticking around another week. Daniel was one of five that I thought to be at risk after last week’s performance, and his presence on this stage proves that he is well on his way to squeaking through for weeks to come. He takes on Marvin Gaye’s “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You),” and it’s fine and unremarkable. It’s fun to watch Daniel perform because no one is more surprised by his presence on this show than he is. He’s so so so happy to be singing for all of us! And here’s the thing: I love Daniel because he is angelic and seems like a solidly nice kid and he has funny little dance moves. On top of that, he is talented. I know a lot of you disagree, but he’s got some skill. That said, I think the judges did him a disservice by putting him through this season. In two years, Daniel is going to kill it. But he’s not ready for this—or for the music industry.

Next to survive? Mark Andrew! “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” isn’t the best performance of Mark’s season so far. It’s a little boring, frankly. His comfort on the stage is so impressive, but tonight he was almost too comfortable. Like maybe he forgot to actually perform.

Our third to move on tonight is Rayvon Owen, which pleases me, as you all know. (Though it also makes me nervous because his performance last week was not fantastic, and the fact that both he and Daniel have been voted through means we’re getting some hard cuts tonight.) He sings “My Girl,” the least surprising song choice for him ever. But man, his voice is like butter. And even though he’s wearing a new hat tonight, Rayvon’s hit the same problem: He’s a little boring. And it’s kind of crazy to say that because his arrangement of this song—one that we all know so well—and his vocals are actually kind of surprising and exciting! But the performance itself is flat. The judges see it, too: They love him, but they want more weight in the performance. Maybe we’ll get it next week.

NEXT: Qaasim lives to dance another day.