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'American Idol' recap: Top 8 girls do Motown

The ladies underwhelm on our last night in the Motor City.

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American Idol

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

Welcome back to Detroit, where Ryan Seacrest continues his exciting exploration of casualwear. It’s our last night in the Motor City, and I hope the ladies get it together as they take on the Motown songbook. As a refresher, only eight women will perform tonight; the rest will be dunzo. Our top 8 guys are watching from the balcony, and Ryan thinks that’s what a frat party must look like. No, Ryan, that is not what a frat party looks like.

Good news kicks off the night: Tyanna is the first to get through, and she gives us a spirited performance of “Rockin’ Robin,” and continues to be an absolute pleasure to watch on stage. She’s singing in a key that beautifully showcases her talent, but she never hits us over the head with it, and I appreciate that. (Harry calls the performance subtle, which is the perfect word.) I’m not sure that I’m going to have big memories of this performance after seven other girls perform, but she’ll definitely be safe next week. I’d like to be friends with her.

Next up, Loren Lott. Oh, Loren Lott, how I struggle with you. You really upset my every nerve. Loren’s performances feel so manufactured. Especially watching her immediately after Tyanna, who is nothing but natural up there, she comes off as calculated and phony. And for what it’s worth, her voice still hurts my ears about 60 percent of the time. Loren’s fringe-covered performance of “I Wanna Be Where You Are” is followed by Loren maniacally laughing and looking like she’s just going to burst with excitement as she hugs Ryan. She actually says this sentence, which is not a sentence at all: “Good vibes, beautiful vibes, flowery, pretty vibes.” UGH. Loren, stop. Honestly, she’s behaving like Jessie Spano on caffeine pills. She’s SO EXCITED. Less, Loren. Less. I would NOT like to be friends with Loren.

Maddie Walker’s next, and selects “I’ll Be There.” Maddie struggled last week with that weird Shania Twain song, and I’m surprised to see her up here tonight. I’ve not been a fan of Maddie thus far, but her performance tonight is measured, understated, and her voice sounds pretty. She still looks like a baby deer up there, but she holds her own better than last week. Harry gives her actual advice—vary the dynamics, be careful about those big notes—and so does Keith, who basically tells her to take a deep breath and calm down.

Remember how Aretha Franklin sang to us last night and then promptly disappeared? Well, she’s back! She spent some time this week with the contestants (yep, she’s still dressed like Kenickie) to give them advice in a segment that I’d like to call “Life Lessons from Aretha.” Here’s what we learned about making it in the business.

  1. Stay physically fit. Try roller-skating, like Aretha.
  2. Stay away from anything that would be career-ending. (This seems obvious, no?)
  3. When you mess up on stage, just rhyme something! (But Aretha herself has never messed up. And no, Katherine, she has never misspelled “respect.”)

And that is how you become a superstar.

NEXT: What color is Jax’s damned dress?