Last night the Top 8 Idol contestants took on Motor City classics, after being mentored by Smokey Robinson. It was a mixed bag for me, with some standout performances, some awful ones and some that were just meh. You know, the usual. I think the hardest part about these theme weeks is taking classics and making them feel fresh and new and current without butchering them. Here are my thoughts on the performances last night, in order of favorite to least favorite.
Kree Harrison: I think Kree might be my favorite this season, though she has some fierce competition for sure, she is my most consistent. I love her vocals, her personality, the whole package is just genuine for me in all the right ways and she seems like a professional imo. Smokey’s reaction to her performance of Aretha Franklin’s “Don’t Play That Song” really says it all. It was a bit of a quiet moment, but I like that she doesn’t need to blow every whistle to blow me away and she’s currently winning the “Who’s album would you buy?” competition.
Amber Holcomb: I know, I’m biting my words a bit right now, but she really surprised me with her rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Lately.” I think she listened for the first time to some very important feedback, coming from Smokey, about showing that she feels the emotions of the songs she is singing. One of my biggest problems with Amber has been that lack of genuine that Kree excells at. She delivered a soulful performance that she really seemed to feel every note with and I agree that it was one of the best performances of the night. I think Amber has a lot of growing to do as a musician and as an individual, but for perhaps the first time in this competition, I was able to see what the judges all love about her.
Candice Glover: I think Candace was kind of cursed with her opening slot, because she delivered the same amazing performances she always does with Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”, but the memory of said performance was a bit dim by the end of the night and there was something missing for me that I can’t put my finger on. I predict she’ll go far in this competition but as much as I love her voice, I’m still not convinced I’d buy her album. Still, she is undeniably one of the best singers of the season.
Janelle Arthur: She did a beautiful rendition of the Supremes’ “You Keep Me Hangin’ On,” but given that I’m not a huge country music fan, I think she’ll always fall a bit short for me when it comes to lists of favorites. I love her though and I think she did great.
Angie Miller: I love Angie and I think she’s crazy talented, but much like Amber I think I’m starting to notice that her biggest problem might be her age. She is young and she’s still finding herself and learning all the tricks of the trade. My 6 year old noticed she was off key tonight in her performance of the Miracles’ “Shop Around.” Her whole goal last night was to “have fun” and she clearly did that and didn’t seem concerned with the judges’ concern about her performance at all. She was told by Jimmy and Smokey to loosen up and let go of the reigns, but I think she let go too much personally.
Devin Velez: I like Devin but I don’t love him. I think I just don’t get that “Star” vibe from him that some of the other contestants have. He reads very Music Student to me rather than Super Star and no matter how good he does with his songs, he doesn’t excite me at the end of the day. He did a good job with the Miracles’ “The Tracks of my Tears,” but not great imo and it wasn’t super memorable by the end of the night.
Burnell Taylor: The judges really ate up his rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amour,” but it was all wrong for me. It felt too… immature and totally not genuine. It lacked the real true romance and just felt like he has a real crush on some chick, not like he loves her. And I still am not crazy about his whole thing. His voice is fine but his song choices and what he does with those songs I am not a fan of.
Lazaro Arbos: Wow. I think everyone is surprised that Lazaro is still here this week and I’ll be interested to see how far his fans take him tonight. His solo performance was definitely better than last week but by no means as good as the great performances of the night and his co-contestants clearly wanted to rip him a new one in his group performance. He’s a sweet kid with a good voice but he is so not ready for all of this.
What did you think? Who did you love? Who did you hate? Who should pack their bags?