American Idol recap: You Keep Me Hanging On

Set me free, why don't you, Idol, from this done-to-death Motown theme night?
Ep. 22 | Aired Mar 27, 2013

GUITAHHH, DAHLING Janelle is in it to win it, Keith!


Lazaro's subsequent trio with Burnell Taylor and Devin Velez on "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)" was a complete disaster -- Devin, who was in the middle, had to basically step in for more than half of Lazaro's parts after Lazaro couldn't remember them. Lazaro looked like he was about to cry the whole time until the end, at which point he struck another killer pose. The guys received a thorough lashing from Nicki Minaj. "Don't ever do that again. All three of you, go. Go! Go! Get off the stage!" RUDE.

Then when Seacrest gently nudged the guys to discuss what happened (ALSO RUDE), Burnell muttered "Not to throw anyone under the bus, but…" and then Devin explained, "I learned my parts. I tried saving a couple people, but…" Neither of them mentioned Lazaro directly, and I'm not sure what they could have said to make this entire thing seem less bitchy. It was just a bad situation and they were defending themselves. If Lazaro couldn't learn the song in time, I don't see what's wrong with the other two implying that, especially when put on the spot.

"I didn't know the words that well," Lazaro strained to say. Such an uncomfortable moment all-around.

Janelle Arthur, The Supremes' "You Keep Me Hanging On": YES! I loved this so much. Janelle went with a complete rearrangement of the classic upbeat tune by singing it as a drawn-out country ballad -- an idea she came up with while singing around the house at age 14. I totally agreed with Keith that the slowed-down spin on the song really brought out the angst in the lyric in a way he'd never heard before. It really is a desperate and pleading song, and Janelle captured the character of it beautifully with her pained eyes, measured melisma, and GIANT GUITAR (hand-crafted by her uncle).

I loved how she was so genuinely overcome with emotion following the first time she'd ever played guitar while backed by a full band. I'm just so pleased with this turnaround from a slew of decent but forgettable performances from her. I almost don't want her to do anything else!

Janelle's solo should certainly overshadow the judges' negative reactions to her duet with Kree on Madonna's "Like a Prayer." You remember, that famous Motown artist Madonna, from the '60s? (Apparently the songs could come from any artist who hailed from Detroit; it just turned out, somewhat hilariously, that this random Material Girl hit was the only non-traditional-Motown choice on the night's roster.) I thought the judges pushed this a bit too far as a way of nudging Kree above Janelle on principle. I didn't think either girl really outshone the other, and I liked how both remained smiling even as the judges went on and on about how Kree was the clear victor in what didn't need to be a competition. SCRIPTED. Weird.

To end this on a more amusing note, the stupid word processor I insist on using to type out my notes (Text Edit) still refuses to recognize Kree and Janelle as real words, so for the record on my computer at least, "Like a Prayer" had been performed by Knee and Jangle.

NEXT: Burnell Taylor distinguishes himself with finger flutters, random 'mmm's

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