By Chaz Lipp
America spoke and four girls were voted off American Idol, leaving eight remaining female contestants. Aretha Franklin appeared via a prerecorded segment to tell the top 12 to improvise if they ever forget a lyric (the Queen of Soul assured them that she has never once forgotten how to spell R-E-S-P-E-C-T). The judges were playing a bit more hardball, as they were with the guys, after last week (in which nearly everyone was buttered up with empty superlatives). Goodbye Shannon Berthiaume, Katherine Winston, Shi Scott, and Lovey James. Crappiest ouster in our book was Lovey, who killed last week and got passed over in favor of far lesser performances.
Onto the American Idol Season 14 Top 8 girls and their Motown Night performances (in the order they appeared)…
Tyanna Jones – “Rockin’ Robin”
Tyanna at least got rid of the annoying bowtie she usually wears, but she picked an easy song that didn’t really showcase her vocals. There wasn’t anything wrong with it per se, but it wasn’t a challenge and ended up being unmemorable.
Loren Lott – “I Wanna Be Where You Are”
More early Michael Jackson solo material, but unlike Tyanna’s there was something wrong with this – it was wildly out of tune in places. For some reason, none of the judges picked up on this. Loren was one of last week’s weakest (“Note to God”), didn’t deserve to go through, and repeated with another poor showing.
Maddie Walker – “I’ll Be There”
Maddie’s arrangement left out the best part of this Jackson 5 classic (Jermaine Jackson’s section). She played it extremely safe with a very bland rendering that didn’t exhibit much personality.
Joey Cook – “Shop Around”
Joey reinvented the Smokey Robinson tune with customary skill, delivering a rock solid performance that once again demonstrated she has a sure sense of who she is as an artist. Harry Connick Jr. cautioned her about possibly overdoing her trademark vocal affectations.
Sarina-Joi Crowe – “You Really Got a Hold On Me”
Sarina-Joi has possibly the best voice of the entire group this season and she showed it off with an intimate reading. Stripped down to guitar accompaniment, Sarina-Joi scored points by being subtle and displaying precise phrasing. Harry got on her about pitch issues. While it may not have been a technically perfect performance she didn’t have the problems Loren did (which Harry didn’t say anything about).
Adanna Duru – “Hello”
Kind of a weird song choice as it was the only one that didn’t come from the classic ’60s-era Motown period. It was overly dramatic and started off extremely shaky in terms of pitch, but Adanna brought it home with a striking ending.
Jax – “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”
Jax is a favorite already, but this reworking didn’t work at all. Changing it up is one thing (it worked for Joey), but obliterating the melody is another. Only the chorus was recognizable and that turned out to be the dullest part.
Alexis Gomez – “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar-Pie Honey Bunch)”
This strange, countrified reading of the Four Tops classic likely didn’t win Alexis any new fans – and probably raised the ire of anyone who felt there were good singers sent packing among the four cast-offs. The judges uniformly slammed it (especially Jennifer Lopez) and it ended the night on a real downer.