'American Idol': The Eight Singer Itch

Top 8? More like Bottom... everything. I'm afraid it happened last night, folks. The point that comes in every American Idol season, but usually arrives a little bit later. This is typically a Top 5 problem. But this year, it came at eight.

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Top 8? More like Bottom... everything. I'm afraid it happened last night, folks. The point that comes in every American Idol season, but usually arrives a little bit later. This is typically a Top 5 problem. But this year, it came at eight. I'm talking about the point in the season when you sorta snap. You throw your hands up and say "F--k these people. These awful, awful people." I'm so sick of them! I still enjoy the process of the show, but the individual singers are all starting to wear on me. I mean they got a really bum crop this season, didn't they?

Well, OK, to be fair, the girls are good for the most part. I mean all of them have their certain strengths and charms and whatnot. They're well-selected, fine. But they're not so good that they can make up for the toe-up awful guys. The producers planned their a-girl-wins season too well, making everyone including the girls look bad in the light of how boring the boys are. Yeah there are only three left, but boy do they make an impression. Burnell on any other season would be fine, but his association with this terrible group sullies him all the same. And the other two... forget about it. The living worst. And so the poor girls have to prop up the show and they just don't have the juice. Where's the flair and personality and weirdness? I guess the producers figured we don't want that from a girl, that we want poise and featureless packaging instead. And so we got these blandly competent gals, tasked with holding up a sagging circus tent. It's depressing to watch.

And then last night served us the whammy of having the theme night be the Music of Detroit. Ughhhhhh. OK, even I must concede that it was really interesting when Janelle opened up her mouth and out came the sound of abandoned houses crumbling to the ground and police sirens wailing down Eight Mile. That was pretty inspired as far as Music of Detroit is concerned. But otherwise... Snoozearooney, right? Look, I know that Motown music is hugely important and influential and is for the most part very good and all that, but lordy loo haven't we heard enough of it on American Idol? I mean hell's bells, we have heard so much Motown on American Idol. And it's always so warmed over and cheesy and oof. I'm so sick of it. Can we puhleeze stick to contemporary-ish stuff? Pleeeease? I can't imagine that tween girls like the old timey stuff either, and tween girls are the lifeblood of this show! No more Beatles, no more Motown, no more nothing that was written before, say, 1990. Yeah, I'm gonna be that strict. Unless it's a showtune (please bring back Broadway Night!), that's the cutoff. Sorry guys. But it's for your own good. Speaking of...

The Good

I know I was complaining about bland girls up top (what wasn't I complaining about up top, sheesh) but I will say that Kree Harrison knows a thing or two about a thing or two. Girl can sing, and she can sing well. She's interesting too! Last night the kids sang separately and in groups and Kree did well in both formats. Because it was Music of Detroit, Madonna was fair game, though that's a little bullshit, isn't it? I mean, Kree and Janelle sang "Like a Prayer," which, if anything, is Music of Los Angeles, don't you think? But oh well, whatever. They sang an interesting version of the song by Jennifer Thistles or whatever. So it was countrified, but it sounded pretty good. Though the judges weren't that thrilled with it for some reason. Kree at least got praise, and rightly so. She's got some actual texture and stuff happening in that growl of hers. Her solo song was an Aretha song, which, OK, fine, but she powered through it well and was heaped with more praise and I've a feeling the judges have really taken to her. I'm not sure she's exactly who the producers had in mind when they pictured a girl winning, but they might have no choice. Though, nah, I don't really think she'll win, win. But she's nice to listen to! Which is saying a lot this season.

Speaking of Janelle, she did quite well during her solo gig. She played the guitar (for the first time?) and did her own arrangement of "You Keep Me Hangin' On" that was moody and interesting and made an overperformed song sound kinda new again. Here on season three million, that's a huge accomplishment. Everyone on the ol' sparkle panel was nice to her except Nicki Minaj, who was in a crotchety crabby mood last night and kept being mean to people. In some occasions it was very much appreciated (more on that in a bit) but here it just felt strange. Janelle's was an obviously good and interesting performance. I know all this is subjective, but it's not that subjective. We're talking about a pretty limited world here, just the eight singers currently milling about the light-stained Idoldome. I mean come on, Nicki. Compared to, say, Lazaro, who had performed right before, Janelle was goddamned Farinelli. Slow your roll on the criticism sometimes, Minaj. It's mostly fun, but sometimes... incorrect.

Candice Glover, duh, was good. I mean that's a boring thing to say. It's almost as boring as Motown. Candice is always good and she should probably win this whole sad competition. I mean that's just a fact. Last night she sang "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" for her solo act and she managed to make that song, which at this point is the most boring song to listen to someone sing that I can think of, sound pretty good. (Wait. No. Is it "Sitting On the Dock of the Bay"? Oh, no, sorry, it's "Hound Dog." There is no more boring song to hear someone sing in 2013 than "Hound Dog.") Like, it was fun to watch. She was all bluesy and whatnot and that was appealing. I don't really know what a Candice Glover record would sound like, but she certainly has some kind of style. Let's reboot Smash and put her in the Katharine McPhee role. Can we do that? I think that's what needs to happen. We can bring back Hilty, and sure Wesley Taylor for obvious reasons, but other than that we need a whole new cast, featuring Candice Glover. I think that could be good for her. You hear me, Spielberg? Remake this show.

The Bad

Almost literally everyone else. I mean, Burnell did fine when he sang "My Cherie Amour," but what he did in the group number with Lazaro and Devin completely negated it. Because their number, singing "Sugar Pie Honey Bunch" (wayyyy toward the top of the Boring Song list), was so screechingly awful that nothing the three of them have done throughout the entire competition, the whole season, matters anymore. That was it. They should all go home tonight and be locked in small rooms and left to think about what they've done for a few months. It was so bad! It was so bad that I feel like I need to go find Kevin Covais and apologize to him for harshing on the poor chicken all these years. Same to you, Sanjaya. Antonella Barba? Wherever you are, whatever toilet you're currently taking a selfie on, I'm sorry. I did not know how bad things could get until I witnessed the hell's brew of bad singing and gut-busting lack of personality that was "Sugar Pie Honey Bunch" last night. Good grief. When they were done singing Nicki said "I feel like I'm in Hollywood Week. Get off the stage" and it was amazing. Completely deserved. They were awful. Just so awful. And Lazaro and Devin didn't do much better in their solo sings. Really the remaining three guys — who I'm pretty sure could go home one, two, three over the next few weeks — are the dumpiest bunch we've had in a long, long while. Really not good, dudes. Really bad.

Those Other Girls

I never have much to say about Angie Mills or the other one, Amber. I thought Angie would be a big presence this year, but I'm just not feeling it. And I think I was, like, in the bathroom the first time they introduced Amber because I still don't really have any idea who she is. Was she featured at all during the lead-up to the semifinals? Because every week I'm like, "Who? Oh, riiiight." She sings fine, but I dunno. I really shouldn't have gone to the bathroom when I did a month ago, I guess. Big mistake on my part. Sorry, Amber. And Angie? Yeah I just don't know. I'm still feeling that showkid vibe from her in a bad way. I'll bet she's got a big following amongst a certain set of teen girls, but is it big enough? There's no Cute Boy this season to rally around, so it's possible Angie's Miley-esque fanbase is strong enough to push her over the top. Wouldn't that be a thrill. Gee whiz.

OK. Sorry. That's all I got today. Last night beat me down. Next week we'll all be better, right?

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.