Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Top 12 ‘Idol’ girls take the stage

Oh, where to begin. The ‘American Idol 9′ Top 12 girls were first out of the box Tuesday night, and after all the hype about how great the talent is this season, I must admit, I felt rather let down. Oh, there were some decent performances, but nothing really bordering on greatness, at least in a positive fashion.

Here’s how it all shook out:

Paige Miles – “All Right Now” (Free)

I can’t figure out why Paige would choose this old turkey, and while her performance isn’t bad, the song doesn’t have enough of a soul vibe to really showcase her big, powerful voice. I didn’t hate it, but I think it was the wrong song. Simon basically says the same thing, while Kara, Randy and Ellen all like it. Ellen is especially complimentary, telling her “You were so there, so present.” Going first is never a good thing, especially for someone we really haven’t seen much of. I would say she’s probably toast.

Ashley Rodriquez – “Happy” (Leona Lewis)

Personally, I don’t like this song and am not a real Leona Lewis fan, so this didn’t really do it for me. She is all over the place vocally and the performance isn’t a standout. Kara says, “There were moments that weren’t great,” and I agree. Randy says the song wasn’t her and Ellen agrees with him. Simon calls the performance “clumsy” and tells her he thinks she’s going backwards. Not a good sign.

Janell Wheeler – “What About Love” (Heart)

Ugh. Janell, who has told the press she isn’t Tim Tebow’s girlfriend, tries to sing beyond her abilities. The song isn’t at all suitable for her voice and it really doesn’t work. She is also very, very nervous. You could see her hand shaking at the end. Randy says this isn’t his favorite song choice for her and doesn’t think it worked. Ellen likes the song choice and the way she moved on stage. Simon offers a gem. “You gave it 100 percent effort and delivered 65%. Kara tells her the song was too big for her. I agree. She’ll survive this round, though, based on her looks!

Lilly Scott – “Fixin’ a Hole” (Beatles)

Now this is more like it. Lilly starts off a little pitchy, but once she settles in, she really digs into it and makes it her own. She has an interesting voice, but her phrasing is choppy. She does need some work, but I find her fascinating. I hope Lilly makes it through this round. Simon calls this the best they’ve heard so far (not really a stretch, considering) and Kara says, “You are believable,” and thinks everyone will remember Lilly. Ellen and Randy also love it.

Katelyn Epperly – “Oh Darling” (Beatles)

What? Is this Beatles night or something? Katelyn looks like a streetwalker and appears to be wearing a rubber dress. Her lipstick is too red and she just looks cheap (as my mother used to say). The performance was adequate, but nothing special. Simon calls it messy, but says he likes her a lot. Kara doesn’t like the makeover, but says Katelyn does know her own voice. Randy tells her not to box herself in. Ellen calls Katelyn’s voice amazing.

Haeley Vaughn – “I Want to Hold Your Hand” (Beatles)

This is a very strange performance, but I enjoyed it. Maybe it’s Haeley’s smile or her positive vibe. She’s so happy. Her vocals were a little off, but it was an interesting arrangement and uplifting performance in a strange kind of way. Kara calls her “pure” and Randy comments on the high notes not being “quite as pleasing” as they could be. Ellen thinks she has a great voice and loves her stage presence. Leave it to Simon to rain on Haeley’s parade. He says it was “verging on terrible” and says Haeley was “like a windup doll that never stopped shining.” It was, according to Simon “a complete and utter mess.”

Lacey Brown – “Landslide” (Fleetwood Mac)

I love this song, but find very few people can really do it justice. Lacey was no exception. She was pitchy and obviously very nervous. She never seemed to find her groove in the song and it was a mess. Randy calls it “terrible,” a rarity for him and Ellen says, “I think you’re better than that.” Simon calls it depressing and indulgent, and Kara points out that Lacey normally hits those notes. She hopes America gives Lacey another chance. I don’t think that’s gonna happen!

Michelle Delamor – Fallin’ (Alicia Keys)

Michelle admits to being a “corporate singer,” whatever that is, and it shows. She’s very confident, but just kind phones this one in. I remember the year this song came out – everyone ‘Idol’ tried to sing it. I thought at the time it should be banned and haven’t changed my mind on that score. No, Michelle does a good job, but it’s not a starmaking performance. Ellen calls it safe and Simon tells Michelle she should try to do something to make herself different. Kara tells her that when she comes out like a diva, the performance had better be immaculate. Randy says it was a tough song, but that Michelle needs to take some risks. She could be in trouble, actually.

Didi Benami – “The Way I Am” (Ingrid Michaelson)

Didi sounds amazing. She has a beautiful tone to her voice and immaculate delivery. She doesn’t miss a note and the performance is compelling. I am completely drawn in by Didi’s performance. Simon says, “I’m missing a spark here, something that excites me.” Kara likes the performance, but Simon says no one will remember her. I will, Simon. Randy wonders where the star factor is and calls it too sleepy. Ellen says it was a little low key for that first impression, but liked it.

Siobhan Magnus – “Wicked Game” (Chris Isaak)

I really like this song and think it’s a great choice for Siobhan. She starts out in her lower register, but soars on the chorus. Beautiful range and expression. I really love it. Kara says, “I kinda liked you on that song” and thinks it sets her apart. Randy advises her to reach for bigger things and Ellen just loves it. Simon calls Siobhan a “funny little thing,” but doesn’t think it was as good as her Stevie Wonder Song during Hollywood week. Siobhan defends her choice, saying that she wanted to show her softer side.

Crystal Bowersox – “Hand In My Pocket” (Alainis Morrisette)

I was really looking forward to this and Crystal did not disappoint. She plays her guitar, blows a little harp, and tears the crap out of the song. She’s got an interesting voice and real throwback, kinda hippie vibe. Randy says Crystal is one of his favorites and loves her honesty. Ellen says she’d vote for Crystal and wants to see more of her. Simon puts a damper on this love fest, telling Crystal, “There are thousands of you doing that outside of subway stations.” He thinks she should do Bowie. Kara thinks Crystal has “greatness” in her, but that she needs to “fill the stage.” Kara wants her to be more than just a coffeehouse performer.

Katie Stevens – “Feeling Good” (Michael Buble)

The producers must have thought this was going to be a show-stopper, putting Katie in the pimp spot and all, but I’m thinking they might have been a little sorry after the fact. It was the wrong song, much too old for her, and the performance was, as Simon later says, very “pageanty.” She seems quite confident, though, and sings it well enough. Just not really suitable for a 17-year old. The judges agree. Ellen wants Katie to be 17 and Simon says, “It was like your mom and dad had dressed you for this audition, you started to become annoying…very pageanty.” Kara calls her pitchy and Randy says all the notes went a little sharp. He also compares her to Jordin Sparks, which is ridiculous in that Jordin had a much bigger, richer voice.

Of the 12, I think Didi Benami was the best, followed by Siobhan, Lilly, and Crystal. Katie wasn’t bad, just inappropriate! There seemed to be a lot of rather “meh” performances, with one that stands out as particularly bad – Lacey Brown. I predict she will be one of the two eliminated. As for the other, well, I’m going with Paige because she was first and an unknown. Also, because I picked her in my elimination pool!

Boys Wednesday. Looks like Jermaine Sellers has the pimp spot and Todrick is going first. Hmmm…

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