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!


Amber Holcomb, Stevie Wonder's "Lately": I have to admit I was surprised when the judges gave a unanimous standing O after this one. Amber sounded lovely as usual but the tune was kind of sleepy and hook-less, and her delivery was almost too earnest for me -- like an undiscovered Whitney Houston trying to prove herself in a youth talent contest. It was just less human and gritty than I'd like. I much preferred last week's "She's Leaving Home" to this -- that one had more drama, nuance, and attitude. This one was extremely well-sung but in a more technical way.

"Tour de force, dahhhling. Do you know what that means?" Mariah slowly and painfully dragged out this random vocab lesson until she eventually gave up and offered to rephrase things for the "lowest common denominator": [SOMETHING BLEEPED], and then, "I loved it. Nicki, meanwhile, will not give up on the idea of Amber wearing pink lipstick. It'll get her so much more votes!

I loved how Amber (who landed in the bottom three last week) told Ryan yes, she did think she was "back," then quickly clarified, "I really wasn't gone."

Kree Harrison, Ben E. King's "Don't Play That Song (You Lied)": Kree seemed the most genuinely starstruck by Smokey (and the promise of his call to Aretha Franklin to watch her perform on TV), which was awesome. And Kree turns in consistently great vocals. But I'm sensing an overall flatness in her performances that I think might hurt her later on. On the one hand you could rave that she's natural and organic and doesn't feel the need to put on a big show, that she lets her vocals speak for themselves. True, true. Confidence is key. But I'm going to be on the lookout for something deeper within Kree.

I think what I'm trying to say, poorly, is that I don't think she's desperate enough to win American Idol. There's not enough yearning in her face or fire in her eyes. Do I sound absurd? It's not a glaring fault of hers as an artist, just as a reality TV contestant. Maybe I'm crazy. Like I said, Kree is great. I just think this one part is missing.

But what do you think? Did Motown Week keep you hanging on or leave you wanting more? Who goes home tonight?

Read more:
Which 2013 'American Idol' judge is your favorite? -- POLL
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