It’s often extremely uncomfortable to watch young singers on American Idol tackle older songs. The show is designed to crank out pop superstars. Having them tackle Barry Manilow or The Beatles just establishes the songs they won’t be singing on an eventual album. The trio of Burnell Taylor, Devin Velez, and Lazaro Arbos had an especially rough time with the Four Tops hit “I Can’t Help Myself.”
Midway through the performance, it became clear Arbos didn’t know his parts, forcing the other two singers to cover. During one point, the camera shot to a closeup of Arbos. The cameraman, and everyone watching, was praying for him to nail this line. It didn’t happen.
New judge Nicki Minaj has come under fire for her at times rambling critiques, but here she summed it up better than anyone. She called it “a beautiful day in Hollywood,” saying the performance reminded her of the often terrible group performances during Hollywood week.
“I don’t know what that was, but I’m gonna act like I ain’t even see it or hear it,” she said. Minaj told Arbos he was as “flat as a pancake” up there. She then told the trio to get off the stage. The crowd booed her assessment. Arbos, who has a stuttering problem while speaking but usually sings well, is a huge fan favorite. But as the pressure has increased, his performances have been more uneven. His story is a very inspiring one. Still, if we’re supposed to take group performances into account while voting, Arbos belongs in the bottom three vote getters. Tonight, we’ll see if that happens.