“Semifinalist Girls Perform” S11 / E15
- C Community Grade
I can’t believe it’s been five seasons since a lady has won American Idol. To put it concisely, the girls are so much better than the boys this time around. This is their season. Let’s get right to them.
Poor Chelsea Sorrell (AKA Idol’s Mary Murphy). I think she had a rather unfortunate go of it as the first girl of the night. I figured that she had an advantage with her “small town girl shootin’ guns” video package and her take on Carrie Underwood’s “Cowboy Casanova” seemed all right to me. I was more distracted by her pleather leggings than her voice, to be honest. However, all three judges critiqued her performance: Randy didn’t like her song choice, JLo thought she sounded nasal, and Steven advised her to watch her phrasing. Considering that the judges barely had anything bad to say about any of the boys last night, I wasn’t sure why Chelsea got such negative feedback in comparison. She wasn’t incredibly memorable, but I didn’t think she stunk up the place. I kinda thought Steven, at the very least, would have a soft spot for her, thanks to her boobs and red leather jacket.
I’m rooting for Erika Van Pelt, especially because I think the reasons I like her are strikes against her in the competition. Due to the inexplicable top she wore (blazer? tunic? shirt?), her song choice (“What About Love?” by Heart), her age, and her persona, she just seemed so old for Idol. And she’s six years younger than I am. But she handled a Heart song (never a small feat) like it was no big deal and seemed confident onstage. I worry she’s too much of a senior citizen for this show, but I’ll root for her. I thought Randy’s claim that Erika resembles made no sense, though.
I expected more from Jen Hirsh tonight. (Why, by the way, were she and Erika put on those weird sheer-armed tops?) I thought her take on Adele’s “One and Only” lacked a little power. I remember being much more impressed by her in Hollywood and Vegas than I was tonight. Nothing about her performance was wrong, but she didn’t stand out the way I expected her to.
I admit I’m already a little biased against Brielle Von Hugel after the way she and her mom behaved in Hollywood, plus, after the 25+ singers, a cocky 17-year-old wasn’t necessarily going to be my hero. I thought her choice of “Sittin’ On the Dock of the Bay” was a weird choice. She started off way too low and then, toward the end of the song, decided to interpret “bluesy” by singing shouty. If you want to belt, belt, but why do it on a song that’s about chilling and not doing anything? SITTING ON THE DOCK OF THE BAY, WASTING TIME!!!!!!! The judges loved her, which annoyed me, along with her referring to herself in the third person.
The camera loves it some Hallie Day and so does producer Nigel Lythgoe, who has mentioned more than once on Twitter that she reminds him of a young Marilyn Monroe. (I say Kim Basinger.) She sang “Feeling Good” by Nina Simone. She sang well, but I think she especially benefited from having a good package: She’s a beautiful woman (who is actually a woman, not a girl) who seems confident in her own skin. I thought it was interesting that Randy started quizzing her on what kind of singer she wants to be. There are admittedly so many torchy-type singers out there already, but who cares right at this stage? Also, was he throwing shade at or complimenting Lana Del Ray when he said that she is “doing her thing, somewhat interestingly”?
Actually, forget what I said about being predisposed against 17-year-olds ,because I am totally fine with Skylar Laine. She’s the same age as Brielle, but her performance of “Stay With Me” was my favorite of the night by that point. The song was the perfect combination of rock and country for her, and she just shot out on stage like a little firework. She had lots of personality, but it was backed up by a big-ass voice and a nice huge note at the end. The judges adored her, and for the first time this season, I totally agreed with them.
The judges actually got it right, too, with Baylie Brown. They complimented her looks first, and then admitted that her rendition of Lonestar’s “Amazed” was good but not great. I feel like that pretty much summed her up. Also: boobs.
I thought I remembered Hollie from last year, but I wasn’t sure if that was her until she opened up her mouth to speak after her song and I recalled her as being the girl with the inexplicable Australian accent. Anyway, I thought Hollie was in for a rough time at the beginning of “Reflection,” but she sure showed me. Once she got out of a rocky beginning, she hit the chorus, reached a lot of big notes, and changed my mind. Obviously, she needs to learn how to handle the non-huge notes, but I was impressed. Jennifer thinks Hollie is a contender to win the whole thing.
Randy Jackson was a little rough on Haley Johnson for her version of “Sweet Dreams” by calling it “a bit of a nightmare,” but he wasn’t totally inaccurate. It sounded like Haley avoided the best parts of the song and instead chose to sang just the harmony and plenty of “oohs.” It was a shame, because that’s a great song, and her voice sounded like it’s probably decent, but it was a poor choice in terms of song arrangement. She’s pretty, though.
I’ve started to suspect that there was something slightly churchy about Shannon Magrane, and that was confirmed tonight with the performance of her song “Go Light Your World” by Kathy Troccoli. I’d never heard of Troccoli before, so I looked her up; turns out she’s a Christian “singer, author, and speaker.” Objectively, Shannon sang very well and with a lot of power for a 16-year-old, but the performance as a whole left me cold: The dress, hair, and song were all a bit staid and old for me. After her performance, she talked about getting across the “message that I was feeling,” so I guess if she wanted to convey that she’s full of the spirit, she did that, but for a singing competition, I thought she could have delivered more.
Is it OK to admit that I lose steam toward the end of these long episodes? Because it’s true. Jessica Sanchez, a tiny little girl in weird horse-hoof shoes, came out and forewarned us about a throat problem. She started off tentatively on “I Love You (Perfect Man)” by Jennifer Hudson and ended up blowing the roof off the place. Maybe it was her, or perhaps it was just because I was getting antsy, but the performance didn’t make a huge impact on me. Maybe I just have a thing against Jennifer Hudson songs. Objectively, I know she did a great job.
I had a feeling that Elise Testone would impress us since she closed out the show, and I wasn’t disappointed. She also took on “One And Only” but was the first singer so far who actually sounded like she had any business singing an Adele song (sorry, Jen.) I loved how she started off at the piano and then stood up to really belt her scratchy voice at the end. I loved that she just seemed so happy (to the point of being overwhelmed) to be onstage. And I loved that she saved her flowers from room service to put in her hair. And I love that she’s 28.
After the show, the judges named their favorite boys and favorite girls. And their favorite girls could eat their favorite boys for breakfast.
- It was satisfying to hear Randy admit that he was too soft on the boys last night. It was not satisfying when he refused to name names.
- Girls, don’t wear tight dresses when you sing.
- Jennifer said doo-doo, you guys. Heh heh. Doo doo. Poo poo. Pee pee. Penis! I’m Randy Jackson, and I’m 55 years old