“American Idol” Recap: The Boys In The Bland

Look at these dudes. Three pleasant, symmetrical rascals with gay posture who just wanted to impress mentor Smokey Robinson with their dotty croquet uniforms, conjure some soul on Motown/Detroit night, and look like they belong on American Idol. Did they succeed? Ahahaha. If the goal was to deepen the tracks of Smokey Robinson’s tears by making him WEEP UNCONTROLLABLY, then yes. Otherwise, they don’t fare so well in this week’s rankings.

Here they are, the eight remaining Idol contestants’ performances from Motown Night ranked #8-1.


8. Lazaro Arbos, “For Once In My Life”

At least Lazaro knows I’m mad at him, otherwise why would he wear greaser attire and slick his hair like the hot prostitute from A Single Man? I’m drawing a blank. Meet me in the parking lot, buddy!

On the same token, Lazaro intentionally peeved me this week by choosing Stevie Wonder‘s “For Once In My Life,” which is not only my favorite Stevie track but the same song Melinda Doolittle picked for her unmatched season 6 audition. Dear Lazaro: You are not Melinda Doolitte. You are more like Melinda from The Real World: Austin. Memorably good-looking, but your only chance at a legacy is if you marry a fellow castmate whose most admirable quality is smiling well. Paul Jolley, please pick up your calling card.

This performance was terrible. Theory: Lazaro’s performances will continue being terrible as long as he 1) is afraid of every song and 2) can’t sing. The judges pretended he rebounded from last week, but he mostly just sang quieter. Which I guess is a step in the right direction, come to think of it. “For Once In My Life” has such tremendous verve and defiance about it, and his read of the song felt tremulous and meek. He’s letting sorrow hurt him! Much like it’s hurt him before! Don’t sing a song if you’re not going to subscribe to its lyrics, Lazzy Star.


7. Angie Miller, “Shop Around”

I guess it’s considered blasphemous to note that Angie Miller is clearly having the worst identity crisis of season 12, as she’s now careened from dopey Celine balladry to ridiculous, almost unrecognizable versions of “Yesterday” and now “Shop Around.” What are we rooting for, again? Her sheath dresses and good hair? We have Amber for that. And Aubrey Cleland is filling out the forms to be her understudy. Hell, so is Charlie Askew. (He just wants to be included, guys.)

Here’s something Angie taught me: “Shop Around” is apparently the single whitest pop song in history. With all her put-on swagger and sorry flirtation with the band, Angie’s version of Motown “flair” conjured all the “sass” of a Kidz Bop rendition of “White Christmas.” Face it, she’s the girl who performs “Jingle Bell Rock” at the school talent show, but she’ll never have the booty-up skills to match Regina George. She’s a second banana like Gretchen Weiners with the confidence of Cady Heron. A lethally comatose combo.


6. Devin Velez, “The Tracks of My Tears”

As far as I can tell, Tintin here is the only competitor left who is guaranteed an elimination in the next two weeks. If my calculations are correct, he’ll be gone tomorrow, and that’s kind of a shame given that Devin is a stately performer who occasionally bothers with vulnerability and command. This week he played it pretty stoic, conveying none of the palpable anguish of Linda Ronstadt‘s version of “Tracks of My Tears” or even the contemplative sensitivity of Adam Lambert‘s season-eight attempt. He’s adorable — even when he’s dressed in a weird black blazer with giant lapels (see above) like Vincent Price on an average episode of Masterpiece Theatre from 1987 — and he’s spent the past two weeks refusing to be memorable. I want to root for him, but as Tim Gunn says, I can’t want his success more than he does. Tim Gunn would probably also root against that red jacket, as Devin is not bad-ass enough to play the singing telegram girl in Clue.

 

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