It’s the ladies’ turn to impress us tonight on American Idol, and this is the last chance they have to impress us before the Top 12 is determined. Who will survive this all-important last cut? We’ll find that out tomorrow. First, though, we’ve got to get through tonight’s performances. Ryan opens the show as usual, but he looks a bit sloppy in his untucked t-shirt and khaki pants. Anyway, after making sure we see the male contestants in the audience and introducing us to the judges, he takes us to our first performance of the evening.
Up first tonight is Amanda Avila, who has chosen to sing the Tina Turner classic “River Deep, Mountain High” for her performance this evening. The performance is a good one, but there are a couple of things about it that prove rather distracting for me. First of all, I guess I’ve never really noticed before, but Amanda’s teeth are huge. Huge and white. Really white. I mean, girl must have been using Crest Whitestrips Premium big-time or something, because it’s like they almost blind me when the spotlights are reflected off of them. Then, Amanda does that tapping-the-microphone-with-her-hand thing. That in and of itself is bad enough, but when the tapping is so hard you can hear it, that takes it to a whole other level. As for the actual performance, Amanda’s voice is strong, and she certainly has the energy to carry the song off. Do the judges like what they hear? Randy says, “I thought it was good. It wasn’t da bomb, but it was aight.” Paula adds, “It was good. You put your all in it. You have a good chance to stay in.” Finally, Simon says, “You look great tonight, but you didn’t come close to the original. You’re an average singer, but a good performer.”
After a commercial break, it’s time to hear from Janay Castine. Now, in my opinion, Janay should have been gone after the first week, but she’s had Lady Luck on her side up to now. After hearing her performance of Selena’s “Dreaming Of You” tonight, the only way I can see Janay making it to the Top 12 is if she begs, pleads, and even promises to name her first-born child after Lady Luck. Her rendition of the Selena hit is just plain horrendous. She misses more notes than she hits, and she has this look of fear plastered on her face like a deer caught in headlights. I’m afraid that even Lady Luck might not be able to help Janay this time. What do the judges think of the performances? Randy says, “You know what? That was really, really pitchy. That was one of your worst performances.” Paula adds, “I gotta give you credit, but that was really pitchy. I’m being honest.” (Wow…Paula criticizing a performance and being “honest”? What a concept…) Finally, Simon tells Janay, “I see a suitcase and plane travel within 24 hours in your future. You looked cute, but you sounded horrible.”
After Janay, it is Carrie Underwood’s turn to sing for us. She chooses—surprise!—yet another country song to perform, this time Jo Dee Messina’s “Because You Love Me”. Carrie sounds a bit off at the beginning of the performance, but she recovers nicely and finishes strong. It’s not one of Carrie’s better performances, but I don’t see Carrie having any trouble making it through to the Top 12. Do the judges agree? Randy tells Carrie, “You’re probably one of the best girls in this competition, but that was not one of your best performances. It was a little pitchy. I’m still down for you, though.” Paula says, “You have one of the most trained vocals, but you’ve got to get back to that happy-go-lucky Carrie we saw in Hollywood.” Simon adds, “That was a very safe, almost boring song. It’s pointless to say anything to you, though, because the audience is gonna vote you through.”
After another commercial break, it is Vonzell Solomon’s turn to perform. Decked out in a white cowboy hat and white cowboy boots (I guess someone forgot to tell Vonzell that the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader tryouts were down the hall), you’d think Vonzell would be singing a country song, right? Well, you’d be wrong, grasshopper. Vonzell doesn’t sing a country song; rather, she sings the Aretha Franklin classic “Respect”. Yes, Vonzell sings an R&B standard looking like a waitress from Steve’s Steak Shack. Outfit aside, Vonzell’s voice is strong, and she delivers as good, solid performance. Do the judges like it? Randy says, “You’re back. That was definitely better than the last couple of weeks.” Paula adds, “You have a great spirit, and you are great to listen to.” Simon concludes the critiques with, “All we’re missing is a cow and a lasso. I thought it was an OK performance.”
We come back from another commercial break, and it is time to hear from Nadia Turner. Nadia has chosen to sing another R&B classic, “Try A Little Tenderness”, and when she begins her performance, I have to cringe a bit. She starts out awfully slow, and I’m thinking this could be a mistake, as Nadia’s strength so far has been on the more up-tempo songs. Nadia must hear my prayers, though, because about halfway through her performance, she picks up the pace and really kicks it into high gear. She ends up delivering a strong, solid performance that has the audience on its feet by the time she’s done. Do the judges like it? Randy says, “I love watching you. You definitely have the star potential. You worked it out.” Paula adds, “You’ve got the knack for picking the right song for you, and that’s what is brilliant about you.” Simon tells Nadia, “I thought it was amazing. You reminded me of a young Tina Turner. Without question, that was your best performance so far.” Yes, I think it’s safe to say they liked it.
After yet another commercial break, it is time to hear from Lindsey Cardinale. Lindsey performs the Aerosmith hit “Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing” and puts an interesting spin on the song. You can definitely hear the trademark “smoky” sound in her voice, but there’s just something about the performance that doesn’t quite click for me. It’s not that it’s necessarily a bad performance; Lindsey’s voice sounds good and strong. It’s just that a rock song like this doesn’t sound quite as good when it’s sung by someone with a deep voice like Lindsey. What do the judges think? Randy tells her, “You came back. Your husky tone returned. It was a pretty good performance. It was aight.” Paula adds, “I’m a fan of your voice, but I’m not a fan of the songs you’ve chosen.” Finally, Simon says, “You’re the musical equivalent of Ryan Seacrest. You look the part, you do everything right, but your performance is disappointing.” Hey, Simon…how would you know about Ryan’s “performance”, anyway? Hmm?
Mikalah Gordon is up next, and she has chosen to sing the West Side Story classic “Somewhere”. Of course, I’m immediately reminded of when Latoya London sang the same song so wonderfully last season, and that’s not fair, because Mikalah’s rendition of the song doesn’t even come close to Latoya’s interpretation. In fact, Mikalah’s rendition doesn’t even come close to being her best performance. I actually think it’s one of her weakest performances to date. There are several places where she sounds off (especially on the deeper notes), and there are other places where it sounds to me like she’s over-enunciating the lyrics. Do the judges hear the same thing? Randy says, “That was a very interesting song choice. The thing I love about you is that you’re a risk-taker.” (Hmm…a critique that’s neither positive nor negative. That sounds like something that would come from Paula.) Paula adds, “You tackled a tough song. You started shaky, but you pulled through.” Finally, Simon tells Mikalah, “The first part of the song was horrendous. The last part was fine. But, it was a really boring performance. For me, you’re losing what we liked about you.” Mikalah might be nervous after hearing all of this, but I don’t think she needs to be. I fully expect to see her in the Top 12 after this week’s Results Show, regardless of how disappointing this performance was.
We come back from the last commercial break of the night, and it’s time to hear from our final performer, Jessica Sierra. Jessica sings the rock hit “The Boys Are Back In Town”, and it’s a great way to finish the show. Her voice is strong, she is all over the stage, and her energy level is definitely high. By the time Jessica’s done, the audience is whooping and hollering and clapping feverishly. Do the judges feel the same way? Randy says, “Awwwwwwwwwwww yeah. That was hot. I had a good time with that.” Paula adds, “I second that. That was awesome.” Finally, Simon says, “With that outfit, you couldn’t have picked a better song.” It takes me a couple of minutes to figure out what Simon means by that, but I finally decide that he’s referring to Jessica’s chest, as “the twins” are on prominent display throughout the performance.
Well, ladies and gents, all of the performances are behind us. It is now up to us to decide which four contestants will have come this close to making the Top 12, only to miss out at the last cut. Who will be in? Who will <s>come</s> be out? Tune in Wednesday night to find out!
Best performance of the evening: Nadia
Weakest performance of the evening: Janay
Who should go home: Janay, Mikalah
Who will go home: Janay, Lindsey
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