American Idol: "Top 12 Girls Perform"
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American Idol: "Top 12 Girls Perform"

So how did the girls fare tonight compared to the boys’ strong turnout Tuesday night? Like last night, we had to sift through some snoozers and head-scratchers to get to the gems, although overall, the guys delivered more personality. I think it was song choices but also because the guys’ pants weren’t as tight. 

Ta-Tynisa opened the show with the girls’ version of Jordan Dorsey’s “OMG.” Rihanna is not a fantastic singer, and “Only Girl” is not a great singing song (or a great song in general, despite the evidence presented to me every time I turn on B-96), so the results were less than impressive. Ta-Tynisa’s flirty little dress was cute, but that’s the best I have to say about her performance. The song seemed to tire her out: Ta-Ty sounded breathless and like she was having a hard time keeping up at the end, plus we came away with absolutely no idea what kind of a person or singer she is. It’s funny that Steven and Jennifer each complimented her with phrases that actually sounded like insults: “The song sang you,” from Steven, and “Good that it’s over now!” from Jennifer. Randy played Simon this round and was the unpopular voice of reason, saying that Ta-Tynisa didn’t bring anything special to this version of the song. He was right, and in response, Ryan made a fat joke. 

I’m not as confident in Naima tonight as I was earlier in the competition. So far, I think she’s been a strong singer, and I like her unique style, but after tonight’s performance I’m not sure who she wants to be in the competition. She sang an up-tempo version of “Summertime,” slinking about the stage in a perplexing dress as bright as the sun. Her happy-cabaret style was a little at-odds with her bohemian Erykah Badu-ish image, and I thought, in general, the performance was OK but nothing special. The judges were mostly happy with it, but I wanted more.

Do you get the feeling that Kendra Chantelle should be on a different singing competition, specifically one called Making the Band? I think she’s actually a good singer, and she held her own on the Christina Aguilera song “Impossible,” but her whole package—stiletto heels, pleather pants, corset, big hair and fake nails—read a little desperate and cheap onstage. The judges liked her a lot, and in this case, I agreed with Jennifer, when she said that Kendra has a lot more in her. She seems talented (albeit I feel that way about Aguilera but have never voluntarily listened to her music) but needs to relax and show us who she is a little bit more. She needs Casey Abrams to coach her on not trying too hard.  

I was wondering what the hell Rachel Zevita had hiding under her cape when she appeared onstage early in the evening, and it turned out to be the musical equivalent of a bunch of scary bats just waiting to swarm once she released them. Had she tackled the song “Criminal” in a straightforward manner, it could have been a great choice, but it’s like Rachel didn’t want to offend Fiona Apple and thus decided to go the most humorous route possible with the song. She threw off the cape, tossed down the microphone stand and delivered an extremely cabaret rendition of the song, complete with judges’ panel strutting. She looked very pretty, at least? The judges hated the performance: Steven was rendered comically speechless, and Randy said that the performance didn’t work. I agreed with him that Rachel’s rendition made Apple’s song nearly unrecognizable.

Karen delivered the first female performance of the night that seemed right at home musically and stylistically. Songs like “Hero” are not my thing—I’ve never loved big-diva-type music—but aside from the fact that I’d never buy it as a single, I couldn’t find a lot wrong with her performance in its Idol context. She sang half in English, half in Spanish (which didn’t really do anything for me either way), but I was impressed by the way she handled the high Carey-type notes at the end—once again, not something I usually like, but she is clearly capable. She looked lovely and seems like a charming person as well, so I like her okay, even if her style isn’t my thing. The judges adored her. 

I remember picking Lauren Turner out during Hollywood Week for just the minute that we saw her featured during Group Night. So far, she might not be the most gorgeous or the funkiest of the girls in the group, but she’s definitely one of the strongest, most confident singers. I feel like the girls get stuck with/pick these old-fashioned songs, so I wasn’t sure at first with the song “Seven Day Fool” (especially considering the fact that she’s apparently a former maid: The choice was too literal), but I was sold by the end of the performance. She’s the real deal, talent-wise. The judges loved her, with Jennifer advising Lauren to figure out how to sell herself to the camera a bit more. I liked Lauren even more when she confessed, “I’m sarcastic, America,” and then referred to Ryan as “Ry-Crest.” If she can get as good as the best guys last night were at establishing who she is onstage, she should be in the top ten easily. 

I think Ashthon Jones is cute as a button, but I didn’t like her song choice, “Love All Over Me” (which makes love kind of sound like horse poo.) Like Tim the night before, it felt like she had far more energy than the song allowed her (especially with her repeated yelps to the audience). I didn’t think the song showed off her voice very well, so the performance didn’t portray her in the best light. Steven and Jennifer called her a diva and a queen, but Randy got it right that the song choice wasn’t the best for her. I’m pretty sure she’ll be safe next week, though, with her sparky personality—we’ll see if a different song will work better on her. 

Julie Zorrilla is still pretty like a princess, but that wasn’t enough for her tonight. She sang Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway” and was merely sufficient, compared to the other girls. She didn’t stink up the joint or anything but it was sometimes hard to hear her over the music, and the whole package didn’t work, the uplifting song and Julie’s bridesmaid-y look. The judges were lukewarm on her: Jennifer still doesn’t think Julie is singing from the heart, and Randy out and out said Kelly Clarkson’s version of the song was much better. I don’t know if Julie is actually relying on her looks—she is, but it only sort of looks like it so far—but both in terms of actual performance value and relationship to the audience, she needs to let her hair down a little bit.

Haley Reinhart rubbed me the wrong way tonight. I couldn’t stand the vocal gimmicks in her version of “Fallin’”: All the growls and whines and word-slurring were off-putting, and her stage-slinking was over-the-top. I think there’s an actual, strong singer in her, but she has some bad habits that Jennifer and Steven unfortunately seem to encourage. Randy once again was the sole voice of reason and he got booed for his troubles. But yeah, Haley needs to tone the sassitude down a notch and, if possible, stop resembling Miley Cyrus.

Thia Megia is one savvy 15-year-old. After Haley’s, well, obvious performance, Thia came out to a lonely spotlight to begin "Out Here On My Own" a cappella, eventually accompanied by only a piano. I didn’t know the song, so it was hard to know how to judge it, but I was impressed by the choice she made of making her audience shut up and lean in to hear her. Randy spoke on behalf of all the judges when he said, “This is what hot singing is about.” It’ll be interesting to see where things go for Thia, because so far it’s undeniable that she’s incredibly talented for such a young lady, but we’ll see what happens when she has to make America like her enough to vote for her as the weeks go by. It’s hard to say her performance was “great,” but it was definitely something.

I’ll take Steven’s word for it that we haven’t seen the best yet of Lauren Alaina. Her up-tempo, country-rock “Turn On the Radio was fun and all, but I had a hard time telling her apart from the backup singers until the second half of the song. She seems like a strong singer and a nice girl, but I think she suffered tonight singing 11th out of 12girls and might have sounded more memorable had she gone earlier on. But I don’t have any big complaints about her, so I’ll just hang on and assume the judges all know what they’re talking about when they say how great she is—it’s no small thing for Randy to compare her to both Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.

Does anyone get the impression that Pia is the better version of Julia Zorrilla? She’s similarly gorgeous, only she sings much better and she seems a little bit more effortless. At first, I wasn’t too thrilled with her version of “I’ll Stand By You”: It sounded fine, but a little schlocky. Then she took the wheel and drove the song on home after the song’s key change. For someone who doesn’t like big-voice ballads that much, I was pretty impressed, and the judges all jumped to their feet afterward (Pia’s mom’s reaction was pretty priceless, too). Steven saved his most incomprehensible statement for the night, saying, “After a Monday and a Tuesday, even a week says WTF.” I mean, I understand technically what that’s about, but I don’t really know how it applies to Pia’s performance. Anyway, long story short, she was strong. 

I’d say the female standouts after tonight were Karen, Lauren Turner, Thia, and Pia although I feel the girls got tied down with somewhat traditionally “female” songs, while the guys had more fun choices last night. Plus, the girls seemed like they wanted to emulate their heroes more than show off their true personalities. Maybe, too, it’s harder for the girls to really let loose when they have to worry about looking pretty and all while they perform. We’ll see how things go once this group gets narrowed down.

Stray observations:

  • Jennifer looked a little bit like she was a finalist in RuPaul’s Drag Race tonight (which is not necessarily an insult… nor a compliment.) 
  • Who do you think will get cut tomorrow night? I’m thinking Ta-Tynisa and Jordan are pretty sure losers, and maybe Tim or Jovany and Rachel or Julia are also in danger.
  • I’m not totally sure how the Wild Card selection will work, but based on what I’ve read, I’m completely uninterested. Let’s just move forward with no jibber-jabber or nonsense. 
Filed Under: TV, American Idol

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