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!


Devin Velez, The Miracles' "The Tracks of My Tears": You know, Devin's voice really is gorgeous, but somehow not even a near-flawless delivery and attention-grabbing red tux jacket can make me perk up and get excited about his performances. I would like this to be different, I swear. The highlight of the song for me was the irony involved in the opening line, "People say I'm the life of the party." What's weird is that I think Devin could be the life of the party; it just seems like he's holding back in every walk of life. Jimmy Iovine likes this restraint, but I'm with Mariah -- I want him to "go forward a little bit more" and give us something more distinctive in terms of performance quality, because the voice is definitely there. So many of his falsetto choices were exceedingly on point.

Burnell Taylor, Stevie Wonder's "My Cherie Amour": I continue to favor Burnell's unique tone over that of any of the other guys, but I found the judges' raves a bit too gushing. Of course, it doesn't help that Nicki and Mariah always reiterate the same things -- rich, soulful voice, artsy, playful nuances, "fabulous and from Louisiana like me." For me, there was no getting beyond Burnell's increasingly distracting hand gestures (tonight's finger-flutter looked as if he was helping to air out or determine the quality of the finest of fabrics) and the way so many of his lyrics came with an extra "mmm" sound at the end. Was he sampling delicious treats throughout the song? It is Easter candy season. I'm on roughly my 89th Mini Egg of the night. But the contestants need to be more responsible than that-mmm.

Angie Miller, The Miracles' "Shop Around": This was a real dud for Angie, and I can't help but wonder if the producers encouraged such a misguided song choice and style (despite the few seconds of footage that showed Jimmy and Smokey questioning it from their perch behind the recording studio glass) so that Angie would crash and burn this week only to delight us with a triumphant comeback next week. But I also don't necessarily believe that a sex-infused, sassed-up uptempo performance style is something she really wants to pursue -- like, beyond a one-week-wonder trial in the Top 8. Is it? I hope not. This was awkward. I agree with the judges in this case. I even agree with Mariah that a modernized version of "I'll Be There" would have been great for Angie.

"I just wanted to have fun," Angie kept saying. But did she still consider the performance fun after it was universally reviled? I wonder. What I'm saying is I don't want her subsequent Pretty Piano Pony performances to feel like she's been unfairly sentenced to the seat. Her plan next week? "To keep having fun." Uh oh.

NEXT: Do you know what 'tour de force' means, COMMONER?

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