Discuss as:

Brutal group number may doom one of 'Idol' men

“American Idol” had two hours of airtime to fill on Wednesday and just eight singers. That meant that in addition to everyone’s solo, each singer also had a group number to worry about.

Frank Micelotta / FOX

Lazaro Arbos will probably be safe.

That was bad news for the guys on the annual Salute to Detroit episode, appropriate for a season that has been a debacle for their gender. Guys have been voted off in each of the last two week, and tomorrow’s results show might make it a trifecta. Their group number was brutal and then they proceeded to shift the blame around to make it even more obvious that the “Idol” guys are the J.V. talent understudying for the all-star women on the varsity.

“It’s a beautiful day in Hollywood today,” Nicki Minaj said after watching Lazaro Arbos, Burnell Taylor and Devin Velez butcher “I Can’t Help Myself.” But that wasn’t the compliment it might sound like. “That’s what I thought, because I thought I was back in Hollywood week! Get off the stage! Go!” she added.

They did, but not fast enough to avoid tarnishing what had been a decent week.

Lazaro Arbos badly needed a strong performance, and he got what he needed in “For Once in My Life.” The old swagger was back, and he again looked like a pop star, which is a big step forward from the hot mess of the previous two weeks.

“I don’t know if you completely redeemed yourself, but it was much better than last week,” Randy Jackson said. But Nicki was more effusive, crediting herself for her insistence that Lazaro stop listening to Jimmy Iovine’s criticism. Forget Nicki-Mariah … it’s Nicki-Jimmy that’s the most entertaining “Idol” feud in years.

Burnell Taylor impressed the judges with his own solo, and continues to be the beneficiary of Randy Jackson’s worship of All Things Louisiana. Meanwhile, much-maligned Devin Velez got a huge endorsement from Nicki, who raved, “That was an amazing job tonight. I love every single choice that you made tonight.”

Michael Becker / FOX

Burnell Taylor has a fan in judge Randy Jackson.

So, individually, the guys did fine.  Together … ugh.

If any of the women crack the bottom three – and at least one likely will, given Lazaro’s demonstrated fan support, there are a couple of possibilities.

The obvious choice is Amber Holcomb, a surprise member of the unpopular trio a week ago.  Her “Lately” by Stevie Wonder got a standing ovation from all four judges, but it’s also the type of performance that has always tended to impress judges more than viewers.

If she’s in trouble again this week, Nicki has some fashion advice. “If you wear the pink lipstick, you’ll get more votes,” she said.

It could also be Angie Miller, who got something less than raves for the second week in a row. She was dinged last week for being too theatrical. As if to emphasize that point,  Jimmy told her she didn’t need to enunciate like she was in the musical “My Fair Lady” -- which caused Angie to point out that she had acted in that play in high school. Accentuating a perceived flaw is rarely a good idea.

Randy called it the first time ever he’d heard her give a pitchy performance, but Keith Urban remained optimistic. “Your talent is undeniable, and we’ll be seeing you next week,” he said.

The other three women all shone, particularly Janelle Arthur. The judges all told her that Kree Harrison ate her lunch in their duet of “Like a Prayer, “ but she came up huge with her slowed-down cover of “You Keep Me Hanging On.”  

“Janelle at her finest!”  Mariah yelled.

“I absolutely loved it. I thought it was incredible,” Randy says.

So basically, they liked it.

Candice Glover and Kree Harrison bookended the show, either a smart decision or some lucky randomness.  Both are locks to last until May, and aren’t going anywhere. As for the boys … well, all bets are off.

Who would you send home? Vote in our poll, and tell us on Facebook.

 Related content: