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On 'American Idol,' a Detroit breakdown

9:26 AM, Mar 28, 2013   |    comments
Burnell Taylor, left, Devin Velez and Lazaro Arbos perform on 'American Idol.' (Photo: Michael Becker, Fox)
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The guys had their chance Wednesday. On Detroit Night, Lazaro Arbos returned to his likable form with a charming rendition of Stevie Wonder's For Once in My Life. Devin Velez found his inner Smokey Robinson (who mentored the singers) with a bittersweetly syncopated version of Tracks of My Tears. And the judges raved for Burnell Taylor's riffing on My Cherie Amour.

Meanwhile, female favorite Angie Miller flamed out when she tried to sing a sexy rock version of the Miracles' Shop Around and came across as calculated rather than fun. And Amber Holcomb, who also got raves from the judges for her performance of Stevie Wonder's Lately, still seems to have trouble connecting with a sizable portion of the audience, despite her flawless vocals.

And then the guys screwed it up.

A group performance of the Four Tops

I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)

fell completely apart, as Lazaro Arbos, Burnell Taylor and Devin Velez started forgetting their lyrics, missing their cues and stepping over each other as they tried to rally. It ended up looking like a Hollywood Week train wreck, the kind that gets singers sent home. And it probably will.

After the performance, a furious Nicki Minaj lit into the trio: "I don't know what that was, but I'm going to act like I didn't even see it or hear it!" She ordered them off the stage.

And then the guys compounded their problems. Taylor started mumbling, like he wanted to blame the other singers but knew that he shouldn't. Velez threw the other singers under the bus, saying that he'd learned his parts and tried to cover for them. Arbos looked like he was about to collapse from sheer embarrassment.

The night had gone fine to that point. Smokey Robinson gave everybody great advice, elevating not only Velez's performance but Janelle Arthur's too, as she did a simmering, intense rendition of the Supremes' You Keep Me Hangin' On that, as Keith Urban noted, brought out the angst in the lyrics. Candice Glover took a bluesy romp on Heard It Through the Grapevine. And, at the end, Kree Harrison brought a version of Aretha Franklin's Don't Play That Song that impressed Robinson so much, he said he had called the Queen of Soul to make sure she watched.

And, of course, the women nailed their group performances -- Harrison and Arthur with a twangy take on Madonna's Like a Prayer and Miller, Holcomb and Glover doing their best Supremes impersonation with I'm Gonna Make You Love Me.

Figuring that Arbos and Miller were safe given their overall popularity, I had Holcomb tagged for elimination. But after the guys' meltdown, it's almost surely going to be one of them.

Here's how I rank the solo performances:

  1. Kree Harrison, Don't Play That Song
  2. Devin Velez, Tracks of My Tears
  3. Janelle Arthur, You Keep Me Hangin' On
  4. Candice Glover, Heard It Through the Grapevine
  5. Amber Holcomb, Lately
  6. Burnell Taylor, My Cherie Amour
  7. Lazaro Arbos, For Once in My LifeAngie Miller, Shop Around
In trouble: The guys, most likely Burnell Taylor or Devin Velez.


Brian Mansfield, USA TODAY

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