“We’re down to the last eight contestants on American Idol – and all of them are very talented,” said the legendary Smokey Robinson, who was on hand as a mentor for Motown week.
Candice Glover – who later admitted that she was sweating the pressure of having to sing first – didn’t let the nerves show during her bluesy take on “Through the Grapevine.” The judges’ verdict: “You’ve got one of the best voices in the competition,” Randy Jackson said, summing up the whole panel’s response.
Later, Lazaro Arbos took the stage to sing Stevie Wonder’s “For Once in My Life.” The audience loved it and although the judges weren’t 100 percent positive, Keith Urban shared his take, calling “exponentially better than last week.”
Janelle Arthur brought the house down with a slowed-down, countrified arrangement of “You Keep Me Hanging On” by the Supremes that she came up with when she was just 14. Mariah Carey‘s response: “Janelle at her finest!”
And Randy sang her praises by trotting out his old “She’s in it to win it” line.
Chicago’s Devin Velez – who’s been a frequent member of the bottom three – tackled the Smokey-penned song “The Tracks of My Tears” and got an audience ovation so loud it almost drowned out Keith’s kudos.
Mariah loved it, too. “I thought this was flawless,” she said. “I hope America understands how good that was.”
Dressed in all white, Burnell Taylor took the stage to sing Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amour.” “You reminded us why we fell in love with that voice,” Nicki Minaj said of his performance.
The closest thing to a train wreck surprisingly came from Angie Miller, who was eager to show off her fun side but struggled with “Shop Around.” “It was not great tonight,” Randy said.
Even the always-upbeat Mariah agreed: “This is not necessarily what you do best,” she said.
Nicki was harshest of all: “You tried to show a side to Angie that doesn’t need to be shown. Don’t come out here and try to give us another side, we didn’t ask for another side yet.”
Amber Holcomb brought things back on track with a powerhouse performance of Stevie Wonder’s “Lately.” “That was a tour de force,” proclaimed Mariah.
Nicki agreed: “When God created those vocal chords he was showing off,” she said.
Kree Harrison closed the show with her version of “Don’t Play That Song” by Aretha Franklin. Over hoots and hollers from the crowd, Randy assured her that although it wasn’t her finest performance, her obvious talent would keep fans voting.
“You definitely are here to stay,” he said
The results come in Thursday (8 p.m. ET) – which contestant will be in danger of being sent home?