At the beginning of American Idol’s results night, Jimmy Iovine did not mince words when predicting who he believed should go home: Florida ice cream scooper Lazaro Arbos.
After several weeks of Arbos continually flubbing lyrics and wilting under the Idol lights, who could argue with Iovine? After all, it was Arbos who struggled the most in the show’s failed group number of The Four Tops’ “I Can’t Help Myself” with Burnell Taylor and Devin Velez. The act was so bad, Iovine gave them a fitting name for their group: “Wrong Direction."
Iovine also directly addressed Nicki Minaj’s criticism that Arbos should stop taking, um, “direction” from the mentor: “He’s got to listen to somebody. He at least has to listen to the melody.”
Minaj wrote off the entire performance by comparing it to a bad Hollywood Week group round performance, angrily ordering all three boys off the stage, and who could blame her? As a matter of fact, the entire episode reminded us of when Arbos was in a group with Josh Stephens in Hollywood as they prepared to perform The Beach Boys song, “Wouldn’t it Be Nice?” Stephens said back then that Arbos was holding the group back, and when the others were eliminated and he was mysteriously saved, his teammate said it was due to all the work they did with him.
Fast forward to the finals. Mentor Iovine practically called Arbos a liar by saying he'd had five days to learn his Beatles song, as opposed to Arbos’ claim that he didn’t have enough time to prep. Last night, Velez—who told host Ryan Seacrest that he had studied every word to “I Can’t Help Myself” -- alluded Arbos was the weak link in the group. “I knew my part,” he said.
So wasn’t it shocking when the guy that should have been sent home was sent to safety, and the guy who not only learned his part for himself and the other vocalists was sent packing?
Maybe Idol viewers didn’t want to reward Velez for his not-so-nice (although) true statement, and made their displeasure known by not dialing away for the 18-year-old singer. On the other hand, he had been in the bottom three before, and quite possibly didn’t have a strong fan base to begin with.
In the end, poor Velez had to sing for his life, choosing his signature song, Perry Como's “Impossible,” as a final plea for clemency. The Idol audience was going wild, practically chanting for a save, but alas, it was not to be. When Randy Jackson informed the audience that the save would not be used, the look on Seacrest’s face was one of absolute shock. Clearly, he was stunned, and it took a second before he flipped into robo-host mode to introduce Velez’s “goodbye” package. But was it unanimous? Mariah Carey, who was in tears during Velez's entire performance, hinted that the decision wouldn't be. I think she has a soft spot for these guys.
So once again, all five girls are safe, and we say goodbye to the singer Minaj once dubbed “The Spanish Ken Doll,” the kid from Chicago with so many possibilities. Velez is a talented teen, with a background in theater and a pleasing tone and a bilingual niche that could translate nicely on record. Can’t you just see Velez opening for Enrique Iglesias or Marc Anthony one day?
At least the episode provided us with a stellar performance by returning Idol Colton Dixon, who energetically belted his latest song, “Love Has Come For Me,” with the benefit of singing without being judged, and the added perk of giving Angie Miller a well-deserved hug for her performance of his song, “Never Gone." Also in fine form was Keith Urban, who gave a little sunshine to east coasters dealing with the lingering winter by singing his song, “Long, Hot Summer."
Season five runner-up Katharine McPhee also returned to the Idol stage, performing alongside OneRepublic on the group’s new song, “If I Lose Myself.” McPhee looked great, beginning the song sitting on the couch with the girls. In an odd moment, Seacrest introduced McPhee as a “recording artist” with no mention of Smash or her Idol past. Weird.
And in another Idol moment, Aretha Franklin finally got her wish to be a judge as she praised Kree Harrison for performing her song on Wednesday night.
Also noteworthy: the return of the Ford commercial featured the Idols mentoring kids as they learned the lyrics to "Home" by Phillip Phillips. Arbos had no problems singing the "oooh" part.
So what do you think, Worshippers? Was the right singer sent home?
And for those viewers beginning to burn out on ballads, there is good news for all! The theme for the top seven performance night next Wednesday is rock!