American Idol recap: Motown Hits

Detroit's got it all -- fragels, an airline salesman's daughter, and a dozen or so potential standouts
Ep. 03 | Aired Jan 22, 2014

TUBA GIRL Ain't no way Malaya Watson will fail.

Fox

The third episode takes us back to Motown for a very healthy smattering of potential stars, including.....

Keri Lynn Roche, 24, who wins over Keith Urban with "a little artistry -- what a concept," despite his initial disappointment that the local waitress doesn't know what a fragel is. The judges prefer her a cappella rendition of "I'd Rather Go Blind" to her guitar-driven "Radioactive," and I agree -- even though her eyes are closed, you can tell she's really feeling the song and just loves performing. Plus, not requiring vision is the whole point of the song! Harry loves "the grit" of Keri's vibe and that she seems like the kind who will turn away from the cameras and just not give a crap. He really digs that.

Power Chord (referring to three quick-hit yeses in a row): Keith thinks 18-year-old Detroit shoe salesman Julian Miller looks like an artist that's going somewhere -- and with that denim jacket, "Eleven" beanie, bow tie, and bright red pants, he sure is ready to travel to any place, maybe even any decade. There's a lot going on. Paris Primeau, 16, turns off the judges with her overly theatrical "House of the Rising Sun," but Harry finds a "weird quality" about her so she's moving on. Olivia Diamond (real name!) takes her time with "And I Am Telling You," which is nice because I get to inspect all the wildly different pigments in her hair. Harry thinks she can really put Detroit back on the map, Idol-wise.

I'm devastated that 18-year-old Samantha doesn't get a ticket, if only because her last name is Furtwengler. What do the mean kids call her at school? Is it Fart Wrangler? I think it's Fart Wrangler.

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 11.56.49 PM

Sadness is... a non-applicable poster.

(As reader Erin pointed out to me over Twitter, they should have been prepared with the ol' "You have the golden ticket to our <3" on the other side.)

I love everything about Malaya Watson, 16 -- her braces, her tuba-playing, and the way she "shakes it out" before launching into an incredibly mature rendition of "Ain't No Way." Her instincts on when to rev up and when to pull back are spot on. Like Cher Horowitz, J. Lo's main thrill in life is a makeover, so she can't wait to see Malaya "go through the transformation" into a glossy starlet who will wear high heels and colorful cropped jackets in the signature Idol style. J. Lo thinks Malaya has "something pure and real and special." "And human!" Keith marvels. Season 13 is shattering standards left and right.

"Can't you see that flower blooming?" Harry asks the others after Malaya walks out. "And then… you know…." he trails off. I want to hear the rest of the story about the flower, though, because when I try to finish it myself, the flower wilts and dies. I really need to be drinking more water.

Remember Steven Wakefield? Neither do I, but nonprofit director Brian Watt, 29, just screams "the older brother from Sweet Valley High" to me. Harry Connick Jr. calls Brian "Superman," but I wouldn't go that far. He just looks like he should be slightly airbrushed onto a paperback. And he's got talent, too! Anyone who can make J. Lo orgasm in her chair from that great a distance by covering a Carrie Underwood song definitely has that special something. At 29, he'll be the gramps of the group, and I'm not sure I could imagine a better candidate for America's Ideal Older Brother. Keith has some great advice for the guitar player with a smooth groove: "Don't be afraid to show a little more ache."

NEXT: Hey, where'd your accent go?

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