Well, gang, after this week's shows, we'll be over halfway to finding out who is in our Top Ten for this season of American Idol. Before we can find out who will join Julia, Charles, Kimberly, and Ruben in the finals, we've got to get through tonight's performances. So, let's not waste any more time…
The show opens with Ryan at center stage and that silly dramatic music playing. Oooh, the tension! Oooh, the suspense! Can you feel it? Yeah, right. We go over for our weekly "hello" to the judges, and Simon has apparently come out of hiding and joined Paula and Randy in person this week. Ryan says that the best part about last week's shows was when Paula pulled the plug on Simon and disconnected him from the telecast. At this point, Simon begs to differ and shows a replay of the "Ruben sandwich" from last week. After showing this to everyone, Simon tells Ryan, "You showed you were a woman with that performance." Oh, come on, Simon. You can do better than that. Your writer must either be sick or on vacation; that sounds like something Paula's lame writer would come up with. Ryan leaves the judges' table and takes us once again into the Red Room, where we see this week's performers and their friends and family. I can't really decide if I like the addition of the friends and family in the Red Room this season. I don't see what it adds to the show for those of us who are watching (with the exception of the episode involving Patrick Fortson's dad, of course), but I'm sure it's nice for the contestants to have their support team there.
First up tonight is Kimberly Kelsey. For those of you who don't remember Kimberly, she's the girl who called her mother right before her Hollywood audition, only to have Mom give her sound advice such as "look at the floor while you're performing." Kimberly drew the first spot for the Hollywood auditions, and she's going first again tonight. Kimberly chooses Celine Dion's "It's All Coming Back To Me Now" as her song, and I thank God that if she has to sing a Celine Dion song, she's decided to sing one of the few I like. Kimberly gives an overall good, if not spectacular, performance. Randy tells her, "You can definitely sing." Um, no duh, dawg. Of course she can sing. How else did she get this far? Of course, A.J. Gil got even farther last season, but I digress. Anyway, Paula calls Kimberly's performance "really refreshing", and Simon concludes with, "You're capable of better, but well done." The judges don't go wild over her performance, but they don't trash her, either, and this isn't the only time we'll see that reaction from them tonight.
Our second performer of the evening is Jordan Segundo. Does anyone else find it kinda funny that he is the second to perform this evening, and his last name means "second" in Spanish? Anyone? Oh well, I guess not. Jordan sings "For Your Love," and I can't help but think that he sounds older than he is (18). I also think he's gunning for the Christina Christian Vibrato Award, because his vibrato is really pronounced during his performance, and I expect Simon and/or Randy will comment on this. They don't, however. Randy says, "It was alright, dawg." Paula tells Jordan that he has a "rich tone" but that he "fell flat in a couple of places." Simon delivers the harshest criticism of the three (what a surprise, right?) and says, "That was a good audition, but there was no spark. You were like a fish on a slab." Ugh…Simon, I'm begging you…please get your old joke writer back.
Next up is Vanessa Olivarez. A hair colorist from Atlanta, we see Vanessa trying on all sorts of funky outfits during her pre-performance video montage. At one point, she says to the stylist, "I think the chemicals (in her hair dye) might have gone to my brain." It doesn't matter to me if they did or not, Vanessa, as long as you can sing. Vanessa walks out on stage in a two-piece leopard print outfit that is trimmed in bright pink fur. Yes, that's right, leopard print and bright pink fur. I can't decide if she looks like the upholstery in a bordello or the interior of a souped-up hot rod, but she somehow makes the look work for her. Vanessa chooses Irene Cara's "Out Here On My Own" for her performance, and I'm pleased, as I've always liked that song. When she's done, she walks over to the judges and braces herself for their critique. Randy tells her, "That was really good. You sang strong." Paula adds, "You definitely have personality. That was very nice." It's Simon's turn, and he tells Vanessa, "You have a great personality, a great voice, and that was a brilliant song choice. But, I have to say this…you need to lose a few pounds." What the…? Nobody said that to Ruben or Kimberly last week, so why Vanessa? Vanessa throws it right back at Simon and says, "I may have a big butt, but hey…it worked for J-Lo." I'm laughing out loud at this point, and Vanessa collects high-fives from both Randy and Paula. You go, Vanessa! I really like this girl.
Our fourth performer of the night is Rickey "Hercules! Hercules! Hercules!" Smith. Singing Brian McKnight's "One Last Cry", Rickey impresses me with his range, even if his voice does sound a bit "tinny" to me. Randy says, "That was very good, dawg." Paula tells Rickey, "You have a great personality and a wonderful voice. You did your thing." Um, I guess Paula has decided to borrow some of Randy's clichés tonight. Simon adds, "It was good. Just good." At this point, Rickey says, "What was bad about it?" Um, Rickey…hello! Simon didn't say it was bad; he said it was good. Back in the Red Room, Ryan suggests that maybe Rickey shouldn't have asked what was bad about the performance; rather, he should have asked how he could make it better. Big difference there, Rickey.
Our next performer tonight is Samantha Cohen. There's been talk that Samantha looks older than she is (20), and I have to say I agree. She's got on lace-up boots and a dress that laces up both sides, and she ends up looking like a cross between a country singer and Elvira. Anyway, Samantha sings Aretha Franklin's "Giving Him Something He Can Feel". She tries to get all bluesy with it, but she just isn't convincing enough to me. As Randy would say, she's not taking it and making it her own. Randy tells Samantha, "That was good, but not amazing." Paula says, "You have a great voice. Good job." Simon adds, "You were polished. That was good, but I wasn't excited."
Next to sing is Louis Gazzara. In his pre-performance video, Louis tells us that he can not only sing, but he can also tap dance and lead a cheer. I don't know how much that's going to help him, as I'm pretty sure the "singing and tap-dancing cheerleader" is not a huge voting bloc for this show. One of the youngest semifinalists at 17 years old, Louis loses points with me for being a Michael Bolton fan. He loses even more points with me when he chooses Lord Mullet's "How Am I Supposed To Live Without You" for his performance. The whole time he's singing, Louis is grimacing like he's in pain, and he crouches from time to time like he either has to go to the bathroom really badly or he's playing an imaginary game of Musical Chairs and is anticipating the music stopping. What do the judges think of his performance? Randy repeats his "It was just alright" from earlier. Paula says that Louis was "a little pitchy" but that "overall it was good". Simon calls Louis "the RJ for this competition". He says, "You look like you should be in a boy band, and you sound like you should be in a boy band. I thought the performance was a bit 'so what'."
Our next-to-last performer of the evening is Equoia Coleman. In her pre-performance video, she mentions that she's been battling a head cold, and I'm hoping this doesn't hinder her performance too much. Her song choice is an interesting one for this competition—Barbara Streisand's "The Way We Were". I like Equoia's voice, but I can definitely hear the effects of the head cold. She sounds a bit hoarse to me, and she has a tendency to inhale quite loudly with each line. Overall, though, I think she does a pretty good job, and the judges seem to agree. Randy tells her, "That was just alright for me. You definitely have the most passion of the group, though." Paula says, "You've got the passion. You were feeling it out there." Simon calls Equoia's performance "cabaret-like" and says she is "capable of better".
Our last contestant tonight is George Trice. George has chosen to sing "Unchained Melody" tonight, and we hear that it is one of Simon's favorite songs. I'm thinking this is either going to really work in George's favor, or it will backfire on him big-time. George does a good job with the song, but I couldn't help but think he sounded a bit quiet during the performance. I also couldn't help but notice that George kept his hand on his stomach the whole time, and I'm wondering if he's just nervous or if he had some bad food at dinner. Anyway, when George is done, Randy tells him, "I liked it, dude. It was interesting." Hmmm…not sure what you mean by "interesting" Randy, but OK. Paula calls George's performance "seamless, beautiful, and amazing." Simon concludes with, "I just thought it was OK."
Well, that is it for Group 3's performances. I've got to agree with the judges about this week's group. There weren't any absolutely horrible performances, but there also weren't any that just knocked my socks off. Who's going to be in the Top 3 tomorrow night? I'll go with Vanessa, Rickey and Equoia, with Kimberly and George as possible spoilers. Which two will go on to the finals? I'll go with Vanessa and Rickey. Of course, I could be totally wrong in those predictions, but we won't know that until tomorrow night.
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