American Idol: Is the Pressure Getting to Lazaro?
Lazaro Arbos | Photo Credits: Frank Micelotta/ FOX
Wednesday was Lennon/McCartney night on American Idol, with the Top 9 hopefuls choosing songs from the Beatles' songbook to perform. Aside from making us feel like dinosaurs because several of the singers had never heard the songs they were performing before (Kids these days!!), the theme night gave the contestants the difficult task of putting their own spin on songs many viewers (of a certain age) hold near and dear to their hearts.
But before that, host Ryan Seacrest announced the results of last week's sing-off between Charlie Askew and Aubrey Cleland for the final spot on the Idol summer tour. The "fan save" slot went to Aubrey. Fortunately Charlie held it together this time and seemed to take his loss in stride.
Thankfully, the show also decided to — finally! — change up the order of the judges' feedback during the performances. Who knew Mariah Carey had more things to say than "I completely agree with everything that's been said."?!
As the competition heats up, however, the pressure seemed to be getting to one contestant, Lazaro Arbos. After a wince-worthy performance of "In My Life" — his second lackluster song in a row after last week's take on Kelly Clarkson's "Breakaway" — Nicki Minaj noted that Lazaro had a sense of nervousness about him that he hadn't demonstrated in the early rounds. "You are not back to the Lazaro that I remember," Minaj told him afterwards. "Something is bothering you, babe. I need you back."
She might have a point. Lazaro looked visibly upset during the judges' feedback (see below) and struggled to fight back tears as Seacrest comforted him with pats on the back. Is it just the heightened level of competition, or is something else going on? It wasn't a Charlie Askew-level meltdown, but still cause for concern.
To the performances!
Kree Harrison — "With a Little Help From My Friends": What a way to kick off the night! Kree proved that her spot in the Top 3 is so well-deserved with a blistering take on the Beatles' classic. The song started softly and slowly, but eventually soared to a crescendo that blew the judges and the audience away -- quite literally in the case of Keith Urban, who leaned back so far in his chair at one point that he nearly fell out of it. "I thought it was fan-freakin-tastic," Carey told her afterwards. Minaj complimented Kree's newfound sense of fashion and confidence, telling her, "You just have started to become this superstar before our eyes." Grade: A+
Burnell Taylor — "Let It Be": Can we pause for a moment and address the fact that Burnell told Jimmy Iovine he was completely unfamiliar with this number? Okay. With that out of the way, Burnell gave a commendable performance, especially since he didn't know the material. (But seriously — really?!) Still, it was rather snoozy and, perhaps due to his lack of attachment to the song, not nearly as heartfelt or emotional as it could (and should) have been. The judges seemed to be alright with it though, with Minaj praising Burnell for "caressing" the tune and Randy Jackson telling him, "You made it your own. ... This is the mark of a great singer and a great artist." Grade: B-