When you recall that he scored a mere 12 points in his first week, funnyman D.L. Hughley actually had a decent run on "Dancing With the Stars." But that stint came to an end Tuesday night after he and pro partner Cheryl Burke were voted off the show.
“My heart is very sad, but my knees are happy as heck,” Hughley told reporters after the live broadcast. “We took the ride as long as we could.”
Burke said the comic had a backup plan had he not been sent home since, starting next week, contenders are going to have to start performing two routines.
“He said he was going to pull a hamstring,” said Burke, who only sounded like she was half-joking.
Hughley credits his and Burke’s supporters for keeping them in the game this long. He hopes to take any new fans he's made with him when he launches a new animated sitcom on FX in the near future.
Burke, as is standard with eliminated pros, will continue to make appearances on "Dancing" results shows. She’s also had a meeting with producers of "The Bachelorette," in hopes of headlining an upcoming season, but fans won't catch her there any time soon.
“It’s not up to me,” she shrugged. “They’ve already picked their new bachelorette.”
Oh, and speaking of "The Bachelor," Tom Bergeron was just setting up a joke on Tuesday's results show when he said that there was going to be a televised wedding special in August featuring Sean Lowe and his fiancé Catherine Giudici -- hence the confused look on Lowe’s face! The host was poking fun at Lowe’s budding “bromance” with Tristan MacManus.
An ABC rep told Today that no such wedding special has been confirmed.
Comedian D.L. Hughley and pro partner Cheryl Burke were eliminated Tuesday.
By Drusilla Moorhouse, TODAY contributor
More Maks! More Val! More … Andy Dick?!
Tuesday's "Dancing With the Stars" results show devoted extra airtime to hunky brothers Chmerkovskiy and declared surprising fan favorite Andy safe, so nearly everyone was a winner.
Except, of course, for D.L. Hughley. The comedian and his partner, Cheryl Burke, were sent home after placing in the bottom alongside boxer Victor Ortiz and Lindsay Arnold.
(Soap star Ingo Rademacher and Kym Johnson, the first pair declared in jeopardy, were spared.)
After a rocky relationship with the judges -- especially the harshly critical Len Goodman -- D.L. was rewarded with a standing ovation from all three fault finders.
Even Tom Bergeron praised the comedian: "I know this has been a bit of a roller coaster, but I applaud how well you've handled the criticism, my friend," he said. "Really."
Hughley left with a good-natured crack at his "verbal assaulter": "Len, you need to watch your hip action," he teased about the elder statement's show package. "The hip replacement Bruno said I should have, I'm willing to you."
Fortunately, we saw much more of Val and Maks' hip action than from Len or D.L. Tuesday night.
First, Len granted the wish of Jacoby Jones -- and viewers who wanted more Maks -- by asking the NFL star and Karina Smirnoff for an encore of their jive. (Anna Trebunskaya partnered with Maks, but he also gave his former fiancée another kiss after the dance.)
Another bonus? Val heating up the dance floor with Oksana Dmytrenko after a commercial break!
The cherry on top of this delicious Chmerkovskiy sundae came from some practice footage, which could sub as a preview for the Ukrainian brothers' reality show. (Make it happen, TV gods!)
"When something's wrong with him, I get b------ at like it's my fault," Maks grumbled, and said Val escapes their mother's wrath only because "I don't let anything go wrong with me."
"Bro, you're one big wrong already," retorted Val. "My whole life!"
(More hilarity ensued when they each threatened to tattle to "mama" and "papa." Adorbs.)
The other performances of the night included Tristan MacManus and Witney Carson dancing to The Band Perry's "Better Dig Two," Tyne Stecklein and Jeremy Hudson twirling around Kerli as she sang "Love Me or Leave Me," and Selena Gomez getting sweaty while she appeared to lip-synch her new tune "Come and Get It."
Next week, Stevie Wonder will be in the house! Tom revealed that the dancers will perform two group routines, with Team Paso taking on Wonder's "Higher Ground" and Team Samba performing to "Superstition."
Asked about his preference, Andy delivered a wisecrack that left even Tom speechless.
"I want to be on your team, Kellie," he told his co-star, "just so we can call it Team Pickler Dick!"
"For the first time in 16 seasons," said the Emmy-winning host, "I got nothing."
Usher's not having much luck beefing up his team so far.
Poor Usher. So far in his first season on “The Voice,” he’s having a tough time even getting his second choice of singers, and the ones he did get aren’t making him very happy.
For the second time in two nights, the coach lost out on a singer he tried to steal. After begging for Sasha Allen only to see her choose Shakira on Monday, he couldn’t convince Caroline Glaser to pick him over Adam Levine on Tuesday. And considering Blake Shelton seemed to be steering her toward Adam, now Usher has reasons to hold a grudge against all three of his fellow coaches, plus host Carson Daly.
Caroline suffered an agonizing defeat to Danielle Bradbery, as ultimately Blake decided that he would look pretty dumb if he passed up on the teenage Danielle and she wound up being a country star. For those of you in “The Voice” pools, this just in: Blake will almost always pick the country artist if it’s close. And while Caroline’s voice is more unique and, as Adam noted, ethereal, the coffeehouse singer is unlikely to wind up sharing a bill with Blake in Nashville, so there’s less chance of awkward dialogue backstage.
Caroline's defeat set up some drama among the judges, which viewers had to be thankful for because the rest of the night was a whole lot of dull.
Adam pulled a veteran coaching move and started his sales pitch before the results were even announced. “Caroline, I’m an imbecile. I actually caught it on TV and saw myself not turning around and said, ‘What is wrong with you, you idiot?’ ”
Then once Blake picked Danielle, both Adam and Usher pounded their buttons as if the result would be decided by the speed and power of their response. Carson let Adam speak first, causing Usher to stand up on his chair in protest that he’d pushed the button first. Sadly, we did not get the slow-motion replay to determine who, in fact, shot first. You know “American Idol” would have thought of it.
“What you do just astonishes me,” Adam said. “I don’t know why I didn’t hop to it earlier, but I can promise you that I will do everything in my power to make that up to you if you come to my team. You lost the battle but you definitely haven’t lost the war.”
Usher was unfazed. “I love your voice. I love the potential of what I can do with you. I understand who you are. I’m willing to set myself on fire.”
“That was my line! I said that already!” Adam protested.
“You said it but I mean it,” Usher retorted.
Blake chimed in with his own thoughts. “Caroline is a singer-songwriter. That’s very important to her. Which one of you can coach her as that type of an artist?”
Adam took that to mean himself, and apparently so did Caroline. Usher was philosophical in defeat. “I gave it my best shot. I even stole one of Adam’s lines. But it didn’t work out for me.”
Perhaps Caroline had heard stories about Usher’s coaching and shied away. He’s definitely more intense than the others, trying unique approaches to get the best out of his people, and is not afraid to challenge them in ways viewers haven’t seen from the others this season.
Jeff Lewis found that out in his battle against Josiah Hawley. Usher wasn’t pleased that the waiter was laughing after a brutal rehearsal of “Roxanne,” and channeled his inner Joe Pesci to ask what was so funny. Fortunately, tragedy didn’t ensue as it did in “Goodfellas,” but Jeff did lose what was the least impressive battle of the season so far.
At least Usher has some more time to get his team in shape. And pretty soon, he’ll have more luck stealing people, if only because at this point, he’ll soon be the only one left who won’t have used up both of his opportunities.
Tony Dovo-who? Tristan Mac-whatzit? On Monday night's "Dancing With the Stars," several pros who aren't currently competing in the ballroom bash returned to tackle the show's latest theme, but there was no hiding the real main attraction.
Forget the other pros! Forget the theme! (Really -- more on that later.) Heck, forget the stars! Monday was all about the return of ballroom bad boy Maksim Chmerkovskiy.
For only the second time since Maks first joined "Dancing" back in season two, the fan favorite isn't a regular on the dance floor -- and the producers clearly knew just how much he's been missed.
An opening group routine first showcased the popular pro with plenty of fanfare as he took his former fiancée, Karina Smirnoff, for a spin across the floor. But that was far from the only glimpse viewers got.
The easy-on-the-eyes pro returned -- twice -- for head judge Len Goodman's Side-by-Side challenge. The idea was to feature a pro couple showing off their perfect moves before the stars hit the floor alongside them. That posed a problem many times over the course of the evening, because ... well, pros are better than amateurs -- and it shows.
But there was one time the gimmick worked. That's when Maks (and fellow pro Anna Trebunskaya) joined his brother Val and this season's "Dancing" queen, Zendaya on the dance floor. Maks and Anna attacked the routine, and Val and Zendaya matched them move for move until they broke off for their own intense Argentine tango. For both Zendaya and her pro, the dance was a first -- not that anyone would have guessed.
"It was like a lemon tart: sharp and tangy at the top, crisp and tasty below," Len boasted before giving the perfect-appearing dance a 9.
As for Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli, they handed out the first 10s of the season for the effort.
While getting the highest score of the season so far, Val took the opportunity to remind viewers of Monday's tragedy in Boston. "These are our first 10s, and I don’t want to overdo the subject, but I wanna dedicate these 10s to everybody in Boston," he said. "Honestly, this is a difficult show to be part of right now, and I just hope we’re doing something special for everybody."
Though Maks helped Val and Zendaya rocket to the top of the scoreboard, it's not as though he could make every other couple look that good. When he and Anna paired up with the always-entertaining Jacoby Jones and Karina, the skill gap was hard to ignore in their jive. Maks didn't hold back for his part, but Jacoby just couldn't keep up.
Despite high praise from the panel -- and high scores in the form of two 9s and an 8 -- the wide receiver was clearly exhausted as the extra-long dance went on and on, long after his best content ended.
Maks hung up his dancing shoes for the night after those routines (though fans can expect to see more from him on Tuesday's results show), but the dances continued to suffer with the other pro pairings.
In fact, the only other couple that did the challenge justice besides Zendaya and Val was their closest competition in the ballroom, Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough. Teamed up with troupe dancer Henry Byalikov and Anna (again!), the pair shined in a Foxtrot that marked Kellie's first traditional ballroom number and her best score yet -- a matching set of 9s.
Point-wise, Aly Raisman and Mark Ballas (who took the floor with Tony Dovolani and trouper Whitney Carson) trailed Kellie by just two, but the booty-shaking samba lacked finesse and synchronized moves. The latter of which was a problem time and time again.
Despite Len's early assurance that the challenge meant "every move, every step must be perfectly in synch," they just weren't -- not when Sean Lowe attempted to redeem himself after last week's flubbed performance with a 24-point quickstep with his partner Peta Murgatroyd (and Tristan MacManus and Chelsie Hightower); and certainly not when Ingo Rademacher hit the floor for a 21-point cha-cha with Kym Johnson (and Tony and Emma Slater).
But Ingo deserves some credit -- his dance definitely deserved to outscore Victor Ortiz's lastest ballroom blunder (a Viennese waltz with Lindsay Arnold, Tristan and Emma), even though it didn't.
As for the men frequently at the back of the pack on "Dancing," comedians D.L. Hughley (who moved with regular pro Cheryl Burke, as well as Chelsie and troupe dancer Sasha Farber) and Andy Dick (who grooved with partner Sharna Burgess, and Sasha and Emma), their tango and paso (respectively) kept them pulling up the rear with 18 points each, but both put their hearts into the dances -- as they always do.
So who should say "so long" on Tuesday night? It's not too soon for Victor to go, but the funnymen will need plenty of fan support to stick around again.
New "Voice" coach Shakira wasted no time stealing talent from her opponents.
By Craig Berman, TODAY contributor
If you’re ever playing poker against Shakira, take note: She’s not afraid to go all-in before anyone else has had the chance to get comfortable.
“The Voice” brought back the steal this season, with each coach getting two to use to take an opposing coach's losing singer in a battle. Shakira had used up both of hers by the end of Monday’s episode, so she’ll have to be content with sitting quietly the rest of the way while everyone else gets to swipe talent.
Or, if she prefers, she can just take Blake Shelton’s advice after she moaned, “I never should have taken this job.”
“Just drink, like I do,” Blake suggested.
Shakira got started quickly, convincing Sasha Allen to pick her instead of Usher after Adam Levine declared Amber Carrington the winner of their battle. In the time-honored “What was Adam thinking?” gesture, both coaches pressed their buzzers about three words into Carson Daly’s speech about how the steal still existed.
And while obviously this is a TV show and the coaches tend to err on the side of creating drama, Usher seemed genuinely upset that Sasha dissed him for the second time. He pushed his button for her both at her blind audition and the battle round, and both times she rejected him.
“I didn’t see that one coming,” Usher said. He also said he was “flabbergasted” and “mortified,” which means he must not have heard Sasha’s daughter screaming for her mom to pick Shakira.
After selecting Garrett Gardner to advance past J’Sun in her own battle, Shakira raided Adam’s team again for her second steal, taking advantage of the decision to pit Judith Hill and Karina Iglesias against each other. The two big voices made the most of their time in the ring, bowing to each other at the outset and then doing their best to bring down the light fixtures. It definitely made for an entertaining couple of minutes.
“That was not a great battle. That was the best battle I’ve ever seen on this show,” Adam said.
Of course, while it made for good TV, that call also meant Adam got an earful from Blake, whose feedback concluded with, “The only negative thing I'll say is that Adam's really stupid for putting you two together.”
Shakira also called the matchup “stupid.”
“And that was all true. I’m a stupid person with bad ideas,” Adam said. But he picked Judith, and Shakira used her final steal of the season to nab Karina.
Blake got the other steal of the night, swiping ex-gymnast Taylor Beckham after Usher decided she’d lost her matchup against Jess Kellner. Taylor has some potential, but she still has a lot of work to do. Moreover, she’s not a country artist, and Blake used that as his self-proclaimed tie-breaker when picking Holly Tucker and the Swon Brothers as battle-round winners for his squad.
“The Voice” continues with the battle rounds on Tuesday, and we’ll see if Shakira sits quietly or takes Blake’s advice instead.
Trace Adkins led Team Power to a long-awaited win.
By Ree Hines, TODAY contributor
Finally! After losing all but one task in the first six weeks of the competition, Team Power turned things around on "Celebrity Apprentice" Sunday night.
Of course, to be fair, Team Power is now made up of equal parts original members and former Plan B'ers who were forced to switch, and the once-failing team owes its victory to one of the latter players.
Trace Adkins served as project manager for Power, and came up with a company-pleasing campaign for sun care products -- one that required him to dress up as a comical, sunburnt caveman. His not-so-stiff competition?
Heading up Team Plan B was none other than Gary Busey, and his first stint as project manager went about as well as one might expect.
OK, maybe even a little better. Busey somehow avoided alienating the clients with his goofy antics, and even offered up a sun-and-fun ad that they liked. But it was light on one important element: the product.
"Dancing With the Stars" pro Valentin Chmerkovskiy will be blogging about his experiences and thoughts on his fourth quest for the mirror ball trophy in The Clicker throughout the season. The 14-time US champion in dance is paired with 16-year-old Disney star Zendaya, who plays Rocky Blue on "Shake It Up!"
By Valentin Chmerkovskiy
This week, Zendaya and I are very privileged to have my brother Maks and Anna Trebunskaya joining us in our Argentine tango. It’s really exciting. The number is great, the dance is really strong, really passionate.
On a personal level, it’s huge ... I’m very grateful for the opportunity to perform side-by-side with my brother, just simply for all our fans and my family, particularly. I had a conversation with my grandma Thursday and she was just ecstatic that she’s gonna get to see Maks and I dance together.
But the most important thing is Zendaya and her dance, making sure that we don’t sidetrack into something that’s not as important. The goal is to make sure Zendaya looks great, and that’s why I feel really lucky to have Maks and Anna join us because they really helped out with this number.
The truth is I never danced the Argentine tango before in my life. It’s a dance that I’m familiar with, I’m a big fan of, but when it comes to ... maybe teaching it, I’ve never done that. At the same time, I’ve never done contemporary before either, and that was quite successful for me.
Argentine tango, yes, traditionally it’s something that’s very passionate toward the relationship between a man and a woman. But that’s traditionally. We have a song that has a different energy about it, so that allows us to still be passionate, still have the strength and the attitude of an Argentine tango, still have proper technique. But we’re passionate about a completely different topic. There’s going to be a theme to the dance, and I don’t want to reveal before you watch it and that will all make sense as to why there is aggression, why there is passion, why there is a struggle. It’s going to be great, but it doesn’t always have to be about love. Even love has very different angles. We celebrate the love for dance!
This dance has been a lot – a lot – more challenging than any other dance we’ve done this season. The most challenging part of it is the speed, the precision, the intricate footwork. The technique of the dance is like no other. The posture is like no other. The frame, the lead ... so that’s been challenging. The choreography, most importantly, is very, very challenging. I don’t know if it’s going to be noticed by the judges, but most certainly I know that the fans are really going to appreciate.
The dance turned out amazing so far. We took huge risks this week with tricks and choreography. And obviously, there’s a moment in the dance where we’re dancing side-by-side, which is a huge risk because no matter how talented Zendaya is or I am as a teacher, Anna is a professional ballroom dancer. That’s what she does, better than most people. That comparison’s going to be interesting. You don’t have to be the best dancer to be a great performer, and that’s what I really want to showcase in Zendaya this week. I think this tango’s going to do that better than any other dance we’ve done this season.
I think the side-by-side challenge is great. It shows how committed production is to our fans and the viewers. A number danced by one person will never – no matter how incredible it is – will never have the same power and or impact as a group of four people. It’s just the collection of energy that really speaks to the audience and has the opportunity to create a lot more dynamic because there’s more people. It’s going to look cool.
The surprising answer is yes. America really does love a comeback.
In fact, despite his low scores, Dick has garnered enough votes to make it to week five in the competition.
He's even won over the judges. Carrie Ann Inaba was moved to tears by his poignant performance on "Best Year of My Life" night -- a Viennese waltz set to Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," which he dedicated to his daughter.
"Your movement vocabulary is small, but what you said with those few words is so beautiful," Inaba said.
What Dick lacks in his dancing skill -- no one believes he's a serious contender for this season's mirror-ball trophy -- he more than compensates for with his enthusiastic effort and his attempt to better himself.
"You're not a great dancer, and you know that," said judge Len Goodman after Dick's comical "Prom Week" cha-cha with pro Sharna Burgess, "but what you do is you make me feel good. I feel better after watching you than I did before you danced."
Obviously, the fans feel the same way, and not just about Dick's dancing. Both on and off the ballroom floor, the audience has grown to appreciate his vulnerability, honesty and genuine emotion. Take, for example, their comments on our Facebook page about his cha-cha:
"Andy Dick impressed me the most. He clearly working hard and trying to improve himself," wrote Pamela Kay. "So glad that I had the opportunity to be in the audience last Monday and to talk with him personally at a nearby restaurant afterwards. He is taking this gig very seriously and it shows!"
It was the end of the "Idol" road for Lazaro Arbos on Thursday.
Ladies and gentlemen of “American Idol,” you won’t have Lazaro Arbos to kick around any more.
The inspirational story who soon became mentor Jimmy Iovine’s nemesis, Lazaro looked to be indestructible as his fellow males fell before the voting masses one by one. He was even among the top three vote-getters a week ago. But the last man standing on season 12 finally ran out of chances on Thursday, finishing in sixth place and officially ending the guys’ five-year winning streak.
This means he won’t have to spend another Wednesday listening to the judges patronizing his courage for getting this far despite his speech impediment before moving on to crush him for his vocal miscues. There will be no more Thursday nights marred by having to stand there and try to smile as Jimmy rips him to shreds on video.
“Last night’s performance hit me like an Ambien milkshake” was this week’s gem from the “Idol” mentor. He later closed his evaluation with, “If I had to chart him this week, I’d put him 10th.”
“There’s only six singers,” a producer’ s voice chimed in.
“I know,” Jimmy answered.
That’s partially a burn, partially just a really bad joke.
Lazaro also won’t have to worry about butchering another group performance. Nor will any of the other contestants, which could be why none of them were crying at the results except for Amber Holcomb.
And Amber had reason to cry. She was the second lowest vote-getter despite Nicki Minaj’s very vocal sales pitch. Every season has a singer or two with a lot of talent who just doesn’t resonate with the viewers, and right now it’s looking like she has that honor this year.
“Amber, I don’t know what to tell you to change. Just keep on doing what you’re doing,” Jimmy said in his video recap of her Wednesday performance.
Or, you know, maybe try something different to avoid getting sent home next week.
In fairness, she also could have been crying because season one winner Kelly Clarkson showed up to perform in a glowstick-heavy performance wearing some really scary eye makeup. But I’m guessing it was the results.
Kree Harrison and Candice Glover were the top two vote-getters this week. That was not surprising, considering they sang the best on Wednesday. Angie Miller and Janelle Arthur were in the middle.
With the judges’ least-favorite singer at the bottom, this was the least dramatic sing-for-survival performance of the season, even though they now have to use it or lose it next week. But Lazaro tried anyway, because them’s the rules.
“It’s a new dawn. It’s a new day. It’s a new life!” Lazaro belted as he covered “Feelin’ Good.”
The judges couldn’t have agreed more.
“Lazaro, we love you, you’ve been a treasure to the show,” Randy said. “But we’re not using the save.”
That won’t come into play until next week, when the competition really gets interesting now that the guys are gone.
James Deen says he refused to pretend to be dating "Teen Mom" Farrah Abraham.
By Ashley Majeski, TODAY contributor
Porn star James Deen tells TODAY.com “it’s been a wild ride” since news broke on Monday that he had filmed an adult movie with "Teen Mom" Farrah Abraham.
Abraham recently lashed out at Deen for telling TMZ on Tuesday that the plan was for the porn film to be shot professionally and then be passed off as a leaked sex tape.
"What happened was that the company doing the movie came to me and said, 'We want you for this,'" he told TODAY.com. "I tried to tell them that I'm probably the worst person to choose for this because people are going to recognize me. Even if you try to obscure my face, people still know me and are going to know it's James Deen in the movie with her. I said this two weeks ago when we were in the booking process."
Deen told us that eventually, the company commissioning the film (which he declined to name) realized that he would be recognized as a professional porn star, so they tried to get him to pretend he was actually dating Abraham so that the movie could eventually be leaked as a personal sex tape.
"They wanted to send us out on a date and then call the tabloids to come," he said. "I said absolutely not. I'm not going to pretend to be dating somebody. I'm a big believer in honesty and I don't like weird media ploys, it's just not my style. I told them that I am not a prostitute and I'm not going to go on fake dates with people for the tabloids. This was not going to be able to be leaked as a weird, boyfriend/girlfriend sort of thing.
"If you're going to make a celebrity sex tape and try to pass it off as an amateur home video, you don't hire a well-known porn star!” Deen said. “You hire, like, some random dude."
The media became aware that something was going on when the two were photographed together coming out of her hotel on the way to the movie set.
Regarding Abraham's statement to TODAY.com that she wouldn't sell the video for less than a couple of million dollars, Deen told us it makes no sense.
"I don't understand the whole, 'I'm going to sell it for $2 million thing, because somebody, the company that paid us to do it, already owns it."
Although Deen had never heard of Abraham or "Teen Mom" before he signed on to star in the movie with her, he does think she's well-known enough for the film to be a great success.
"It sucks that the company's marketing strategy, and her marketing strategy, didn't go as planned, but honestly, I think it worked out better this way, as far as my perspective goes," he told us. "This whole thing definitely created some buzz. I can tell you that the movie's amazing in my opinion. The whole idea of doing a sex tape is to get famous, get press, Kim Kardashian-style, right?"
Deen said that the company that paid him and Abraham to make the video has asked him not to reveal anything that's in the movie, and he wouldn't comment on if the movie would be "Teen Mom"- themed.
"I'm trying to be respectful of Farrah and her wishes, and despite what she said, I didn’t let the cat out of the bag," he said. "I can lie about it now and try to keep it confidential, but eventually the porno will come out, so it's just prolonging the inevitable. It does bother me that she got so offended, because I have no desire to say anything that’s disrespectful or violate her boundaries."
Lazaro Arbos struggled with his performances Wednesday.
“American Idol” history was made on Wednesday: Randy Jackson slammed a finalist, and nobody booed.
It was that kind of night for Lazaro Arbos, the last “Idol” man standing. And he won’t be around much longer if viewers paid attention to the desperate pleading from the judges Wednesday. They did everything but get down on their knees and pray that they won’t have to deal with him for another week.
He’s still one of the most inspiring finalists in the history of the show. The judges all said so, perhaps in an effort to avoid the sympathy votes that unalloyed meanness sometime inspires. But they really think it’s time for him to take that inspiring story to one of the nearby movie studios instead of the “Idol” stage. Since the hopefuls sang both a Burt Bacharach tune and a song they wish they’d written, the judges got to say so twice.
After Lazaro's first song of the night, “(They Long to Be) Close to You,” Randy opened the commentary by saying, “You know that I love you, the person. ... Your story inspires us all. But all I can say is, 'No, no, no NO. That was horrible.'”
Ordinarily, that inspires the audience to voice its displeasure, like angry parents of a spurned child at a talent show. There isn't a more sympathetic audience in the world than this one – but not on this night. It was as if the audience shrugged and said, “You know what? That’s a fair point. Maybe birds suddenly appear because they're harbingers of doom.”
Both Mariah Carey and Keith Urban similarly acknowledged his courage while slamming his vocals. Nicki didn’t even go that far. “Let’s just pretend I already gave my comment, or we’ll be here until tomorrow,” she said.
With his second chance, Lazaro didn’t do much to change their minds. The best that can be said about his cover of Robbie Williams’ “Angels” was that it did not stink.
Keith noted that he’d improved, but, “The way the girls are singing tonight – they are so crazy good.”
Randy agreed: “Slightly better. But Keith is right, the girls are so crazy good.”
And, you know, Lazaro's not.
Candice gets some love Of all the crazy good girls, Candice Glover was the crazy good-est, and her performance to close the show could be a game-changer.
Everyone else played it relatively safe in the songs-I-wish-I’d-written category, at least sticking with their comfort zone. Candice went with “Love Song” by The Cure, slowing it down and truly making it her own in a performance that earned a standing ovation and an ocean of applause. The only downside was that because it was the last vocal of the night and the judges had spent so much time criticizing Lazaro, they didn’t have time to praise it for as long as it deserved.
“One of the greatest performances in the history of ‘American Idol,' ” Randy said, saying he spoke for all of the judges.
Kree Harrison also got a lot of love, with Keith predicting she’d become a member of the Grand Ole Opry, which he knows a little bit about since he’s a member himself. Nicki showed love as well and noted that the difference between Kree and Janelle Arthur is that Kree’s got the artistry to sell an unfamiliar song and Janelle doesn’t.
But if Nicki loves Kree, she’s now becoming even more obsessed with Amber Holcomb. “I am bowing down right now for you, little girl. Yes!” Nicki said after Amber covered “I Say a Little Prayer.” And that wasn’t even her best performance! Imagine how she’ll react if Amber really takes it back to the next level next week.
If there’s any surprise… Lazaro should be going home tomorrow, but then again, he should have gone home last week, and instead he was in the top three. Never underestimate the ability of the “Idol” voters to do something wacky.
If he stays, Janelle, will likely be the one singing for the judges' save, if only because the praise for her was more tepid. The judges liked her second song better than the first, but even then, Nicki said, “There’s no doubt in my mind that you could be an enormous commercial success, but as for that performance, I thought it was really boring.”
Angie Miller would be more surprising, especially since she went back to the piano and did very well with her second song. But the first was more of a paint-by-number exercise that left everyone feeling cold and wanting some more fire. Keith had a point when he noted that someday, she’ll sing with the same passion with just the microphone as she does when she’s at the piano.
If only Angie could sing with the passion the judges feel about the possibility of Lazaro going home, she’d win this for sure.
Lazaro Arbos is the last man standing on "American Idol," while five talented women are still competing.
Every good TV show needs comic relief, and for “American Idol,” that story line this season is the continued survival of Lazaro Arbos ... and how much that exasperates mentor Jimmy Iovine.
It’s fair to say Lazaro hasn’t been the best of the men, at least not since the finals began. As an individual, at best he was behind Burnell Taylor, though Burnell was the singer shown the door last week. But that understates the problems Lazaro’s had on the live shows.
As a member of a duet or group, Lazaro has made history as arguably the worst team player ever, dropping lyrics two weeks in a row and counting on his partners to pick up the slack. Angie Miller was able to smooth things over in their duet last week, but the Burnell-Lazaro-Devin Velez fiasco two weeks ago was legendary in its awfulness. When he’s onstage with others, the show reverts back to those dreaded Hollywood group performances where the only reason to watch is the trainwreck potential.
One reader noted that the issue may be Lazaro’s Latin roots, and the possibility that his background makes him less familiar with the songs he’s assigned to sing. That’s fine, but based on the post-performance interviews, it seems like nobody really knows these artists, which says a lot for the state of music education. Everyone else has to sing genres they’re uncomfortable with, but they're at least professional enough to learn the words.
He’s certainly not the first to overstay his welcome (witness Sanjaya Malakar), and given that he’s the last man standing, he could continue to frustrate Jimmy by showing up for mentoring for the foreseeable future. But he finished among the top three vote-getters a week ago, an unjustifiable vote of confidence from the audience that defies logic.
The question is why. What about Lazaro is causing viewers to ignore their ears and keep him in the game? Here are some possibilities:
He’s inspirational: There’s a reason Lazaro has gotten more face time than anyone else this season – the fact that he’s overcoming his speech impediment to succeed in a competition like this one is something special. Every week, we see him struggle to talk onstage, but when the music starts, it’s like he’s using a different set of vocal cords. You’d have to be made of stone not to want him to succeed, which generates fan support even when it’s undeserved based on his actual talent and performance.
He’s an underdog: Has Jimmy ever wanted a singer to succeed less than he does Lazaro? Every week, the record-label boss talks about what Lazaro isn’t doing – either he isn’t working hard enough or he isn’t singing well enough. Being too negative toward a contestant can backfire, and Lazaro would hardly be the first to ride the pity train late into the competition.
He’s been coddled: Jimmy has no problems saying exactly what he thinks about Lazaro’s shortcomings, but the judges have been nicer. When they’ve been critical (and to be fair, they have been), they’ve been gentle in their comments rather than channeling the old Simon Cowell Evil Metaphor That Stings. They clearly like the guy personally and want him to do well, but it also offers wavering fans an excuse to keep voting.
He looks the part: Nicki Minaj keeps calling Lazaro “Ricky Ricardo,” and he does have the Teen Beat vibe going. When he’s singing with confidence, he looks like a 1950s teen idol throwback. Indeed, a reader on Twitter speculated that his fan base was teenage girls who watch the show with the mute button pressed.
He’s male: Guys have won each of the past five seasons, and though Lazaro is not another "white guy with a guitar," he is the favored gender among recent “Idol” voters. Anyone determined to extend that winning streak now doesn’t have any other options. Maybe there are a lot of “Idol” fans who just really don’t want a girl to win. That would certainly explain season nine champ Lee DeWyze.
He’s not terrible: When Lazaro sings with confidence, his vocals are fine. Not spectacular, and not as good as the women, but not as bad as Jimmy sometimes makes it sound.
VoteForTheWorst.com: Maybe viewers (and "Idol" haters) aren't ignoring their ears. Each season, the website picks a singer to support that the folks behind the site believe producers would hate to see win. Lazaro has been their guy this season, so anyone who dislikes the show for any reason or just wants to throw a wrench into the process could be voting for him. Of course, for this to have much of an impact on the final numbers would require a sizable group to participate each week.
Where the Vote For the Worst folks have been most interesting is documenting the apparent lack of love for Lazaro even among his fellow contestants. Many of the highlighted tweets have been deleted, but even after some edits, Angie still has favorited tweets that aren’t exactly pro-Lazaro. For example, "Lazaro???? Really??? Above Amber????” from @cclervois on April 4. Maybe she really does hold a grudge for that botched duet.
None of these seven reasons is going to be enough to allow him to actually win. This is nothing but good for the “Idol” execs. The women are the talent this season, but Lazaro is, no pun intended, the talker. He’s the guy who everyone is focused on after the show, and the biggest buzz centers around him.
And if he does win, that’s not necessarily a disaster either. Who wouldn’t watch a reality show where he and Jimmy make that debut album together?