The top 8 contestants tackled Detroit’s finest this week, with the help of guest mentor and Motown legend Smokey Robinson. However, not everyone was up to the challenge.

American Idol celebrated judge Mariah Carey’s 43rd birthday with a night full of the very best music Detroit has to offer. The Motown classics proved to be too much for some of the contestants, while others rose to the occasion. The judges didn’t pull any punches with their critiques of last night’s performances, which did not always go over well.

Top 8 Performances

Candice Glover

Twitter: @CandiceAI12

Front-runner Candice started off the night with Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.” Her performance started out slow and bluesy, with a saxophone accompaniment, but built to a rocking conclusion. The judges praised her vocal control in particular: that she can do the big belty notes and runs, but knows when to hold back.

Lazaro Arbos

Twitter: @LazaroAI12

Lazaro’s had a tough few weeks, and this was his big opportunity to shine. He chose Stevie Wonder’s “For Once In My Life,” which was a better song choice than those he’s made recently, but still not great. The judges commended him for listening to their critiques, and for following his heart this week and choosing a song that he felt he had more of a connection to.

Janelle Arthur

Twitter: @JanelleAI12

Country girl Janelle chose to do an arrangement of The Supremes’ “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” that she had arranged herself, when she was 14 years old. This performance had less of the country sound we’re used to from Janelle, and more of an ’80s pop-rock sort of drama. The judges agreed it was one of her best performances.

Devin Velez

Twitter: @DevinAI12

After two straight weeks in the bottom two, Devin really needed to pull out a great performance to save himself this week. Mentor Smokey Robinson’s own “Tracks of My Tears” was an excellent choice. Devin’s smooth voice was enough to carry the classic song, but he added just enough of his own personality to it. If he ends up in the bottom two again this week, America is officially crazy.

Burnell Taylor

Twitter: @BurnellAI12

Looking almost unrecognizable in a slick white suit and without his signature glasses, Burnell took on the Stevie Wonder classic “My Cherie Amour.” Even though he wrang every bit of French out of the title phrase, Burnell’s performance was pretty good. The judges didn’t seem wowed by it, though they did continue to praise his uniqueness, and the interesting choices he makes in his performances.

Angie Miller

Twitter: @AngieAI12

Angie tried a sexy performance this week, and it did not go over well with the judges. Singing “Shop Around,” another classic by Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, Angie shimmied uncomfortably across the stage in a tight blue dress. The judges questioned her decision to try on this new personality, when there was no problem with the old one, and called her out for being pitchy.

Amber Holcomb

Twitter: @AmberAI12

As the big surprise in the bottom three last week, judges’ favorite Amber had to pull out a big performance this week to avoid the same fate. She chose Stevie Wonder’s “Lately,” and gave a beautiful performance. She brought all four of the judges to their feet, with Mariah even calling her performance a “tour de force.” Hopefully America’s realized the error of their ways and will save Amber this week.

Kree Harrison

Twitter: @KreeAI12

Bluesy country girl Kree took on Aretha Franklin’s “Don’t Play That Song,” but seemed to lose some of her usual luster when she made it to the stage. Perhaps more distracted by the feat of shuffling around the stage in her super-high super-sparkly stiletto heels, she seemed sort of dead-eyed and nervous. But this didn’t stop the judges from praising her, and assuring her she’ll be back next week.

Group Performances

The contestants broke up the night with some group performances, to mixed results.

Kree and Janelle’s performance of Madonna’s “Like A Prayer” resulted in Kree sailing ahead and leaving Janelle in the dust. The judges couldn’t praise Kree enough, and made it clear to Janelle that, in this performance at least, she was out of her league.

Angie, Candice, and Amber did their best Supremes impression with “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me.” Before the performance, Ryan asked them which of the three was the Diana Ross of the group, and they all sort of hesitated and giggled. But the performance itself left no question that Candice is obviously the Diana. Not only was she the center of the trio, but she got to show off all the best vocal acrobatics.

Burnell, Devin and Lazaro performed The Four Tops’ “I Can’t Help Myself,” and it did not go so well. While Burnell and Devin each turned in a good performance, Lazaro obviously had no idea what he was doing. He didn’t know the words, the arrangement, or even the choreography. He then had the nerve to seem annoyed at being blamed for their terrible performance.

This is not the first time Lazaro has been outwardly annoyed by the judges’ critiques, and acted rudely. Viewers have not responded well to such attitudes in the past, and it seems pretty likely that between his continued bitterness, and his mess of a performance, Lazaro will be the one to go home.

Find out which contestant is eliminated Wednesday night at 8/7c on Fox.

What did you think of this week’s Motown theme? Which performances were your favorites?

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