Wednesday, February 24, 2010

American Idol Season 9, Episode 13: Top 24, Ladies

Tonight's the night! It's the night of nights, alright! (Cathryn and I have been watching High School Musical 3, can you tell?) We are finally getting down to what American Idol is all about--the singing and the voting. Getting to know these contestants as more than just soundbites and snippets. We get to hear their voices and see them evolve as artists. It's an exciting time. Also, I love ripping (to steal, or um, borrow a term from my favorite Project Runway bloggers...) performances. And the clothes these crazy kids wear onstage.

The first thing I notice tonight, as Ryan Seacrest introduces the lineup of ladies, is that this is less like roll call and more like a fashion show at Frank N. Furter's House of Horrors. What's with all the black clothing? They all look like participants in America's most depressing wedding. Seriously, it's an assault on the eyes. Fingers crossed, it won't be an assault on the ears.

Ellen DeGeneres is formally introduced to us as a judge, and I have to tell you all, I'm hooked. I like Ellen, and I like her judging style. She's honest without being hurtful, and she's upbeat without being drippy. I think we're in for a interesting time with Ellen as a judge. I don't normally like it when the producers manipulate what we hear and see on this show, but I have to tell you, that video footage they put together from Hollywood Week of Simon flirting and attempting to hold Ellen's hand? Pure gold. I still giggle thinking about it. Also, I get kind of swoony thinking about Kara's ponytail. I am a big fan of ponytails. The poofier (poufier?) the better. Now that I think out it, Randy was kind of quiet tonight. He'll be better when it's time for the guys to perform.

Tonight, and for the next three weeks, the contestants will be singing songs from the Billboard Hot 100, to aid us along in deciding who our Final Top 12 will be. This is what we've been waiting for, folks, so let's get to it---THIS is American Idol!

Ah, so The Corpse Bride herself, Paige Miles, in black lace and a white satin sash, is leading us off tonight. Hmm. Normally, the fashion show ends with the bride, but this is American Idol, and they do what they want. "All Right Now" is an odd song choice. Contestants have got to learn that the producers throw songs their way, that might be fun songs, great songs to sing with your friends at a party, but they are not songs that should necessarily be sung on National Television**. "All Right Now" is one of those songs. Definitely not an American Idol song. It was on the Monster Jams CD, for pete's sake! The fact that she's pitchy and hasn't had a great deal of screen time does not bode well for her fate on this show. Hitting the big notes just won't cut it anymore.

**Of course, given half a chance, I would totally pull out Bon Jovi's "Livin' On A Prayer".

Ashley Rodriguez is very pretty, very polished, and is actually dressed appropriately for a singing competition in a gold jacket, white tank, and jeans. Also, her gold shoes are hot. Like, i woke up thinking about those shoes this morning. I normally think of coffee first thing in the morning. Personally, I like Ashley, but my sister was at the house during her performance, and having never seen Ashley before, informed me that she looked "sickening". Hmm. Guess everybody has an opinion, don't they? Ashley chose to sing "Happy" by Leona Lewis. I've never heard this song before, so I don't have a point of reference, but I have to say that I wasn't very impressed. She's done much better.

On American Idol, if you want a sure thing and you're a female singer, you choose a Heart song. It's power pop with great opportunities to sing the big notes and show off your voice. The songs are all great, so it's really hard to go wrong. So many female contestants have chosen this song, it could easily qualify as the National Anthem of American Idol. Just off the top of my head, the ladies that have chosen to sing a Heart song have wound up in the Final 12--Carrie Underwood, Mandisa, Melissa McGee, Carly Smithson. It would only seem natural that Janell Wheeler would choose "What About Love" for her first performance of the Semi-Final rounds. However, this is only of the weakest, most forgettable performances I've ever heard of this song. Utterly forgettable, as Simon would say. Thinking back, all I can remember is that I really liked her purple top.

Lilly Scott, who is cute and unique but makes really unfortunate eye makeup decisions, was exactly the opposite. She sang a lesser-known Beatles song, "Fixin' A Hole". I thought I had heard every Beatles' song ever recorded, but she surprised me. I thought her performance was fresh and unique. Her voice isn't like everyone else's, and I really like her cute green halter dress. Hopefully, she will continue to surprise us and grow as an artist every week that we see her.

If Paige Miles was The Corpse Bride, then Katelyn Epperly is definitely her Maid of Honor with Questionable Morals in her leather mini dress and fishnet stockings. So many poor, poor fashion choices tonight. I am literally astounding by the sea of Don'ts that we have seen last night. One fashion horror after another. This is the first time I've heard her sing, that I can remember, and choosing The Beatles' "Oh Darling" I thought was a good choice. She has a really strong voice.

Three singers, three Beatles tunes. Too bad a good run was ended by Haeley Vaughn, who I find incredibly annoying. Dressed in all white, and very obviously the flower girl in this wedding of horrors, Haeley chooses to sing a God-awful arrangement of "I Wanna Hold Your Hand". I thought at first it was the arrangement from the movie Across the Universe, but I was sadly, sadly mistake. It was really just all over the place. She has moments where I can actually hear her voice, and it's not that bad. Too bad Haeley chooses to yell through most of the song and disguise her voice. It could have been a very age-appropriate, fun performance.

Did Lacey Brown forget she had to sing on television tonight? Did the driver show up at the American Idol house and catch her so off-guard that she had to throw a bedsheet over her tanktop, toga-style, and belt it so it wouldn't fall down around her feet onstage? She chose to sing Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide", and though Ellen called Haeley's performance a hot mess, just to mess with Simon's head, I'm sure, I have to say that for me, this performance was the mess. She is simultaneously drowning in this song and killing it. I think Lacey is definitely going home on Thursday.

Michelle Delamor's interview with Ryan in the Red Room made her seem like the nicest girl. Plus she used to work in a clothing store AND directed a children's choir? Let's not be coy here; we already know this girl has my vote and I haven't heard the first note of her song yet. Good for her that she chose Alicia Keyes' "Fallin'". She has a gorgeous voice. Have we heard her before? If we haven't, I'm glad of it, because she is quite good. It's a nice surprise. I can't wait to hear more.

Did DiDi Benami (I love the way her name rhymes!) make that macrame nightmare of a vest herself? It's hideous. It makes her look like she's starring in an off-off Broadway production of Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat featuring an all-female cast. Anyway, I got really excited when I heard her singing that jingle from the Gap commercial about fuzzy sweaters, because it makes me feel all fuzzy inside. She's seriously lacking in star power, though. That "IT" factor that sets her apart. She needs to find something that makes her different and wearing an ugly vest is not the way to do it. She and at least two other girls in the competition are completely interchangeable. They look alike, they sound alike. She may make it through on Thursday, but I don't know for how much longer unless she really steps it up.

As I may have mentioned before, Siobhan Magnus has a name that I don't even try to pronounce, and I love complicated words. Is it a stage name? Is it her real name? Were her parents deranged cocaine-sniffing club-hoppers in the 80s? Or were they overly self-important college professors who said, "Let's give our infant a name that people will remember FOREVER!"? It's just confusing. I'm definitely thinking name change if she makes it any farther in the competition. Given this creepy and out-there performance of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game", I just don't see it happening. And landsakes! Does this girl have a rose growing out of the side of her head? That has got to be uncomfortable, painful even, what with the thorns and all. Anyway, let's get back to this performance of hers. Obviously, I didn't like it, but the judges were all slobbery over it. I just don't get it. It started off shaky, and had some nice moments, but overall, it seemed lifeless and dull. I didn't find it to be memorable at all. When I try to replay it in my head, all I can hear is the original, not her version.

Crystal Bowersox is my favorite of the girls. She is real, she is original, and she is one heck of a performer. I want to make a sign that says "Bowersox Rox!" and hold it up in the Kodak Theatre. Slap some veneers on her teeth, and she is instantly commercial. She's already an artist; let's make her a star! I'm normally not a fan of dreadlocks, especially on girls, but she had them pulled back and she looked pretty nice. Sure, singing "Hand In My Pocket" by Alanis Morrisette was expected, but what else was she going to sing at this point? She's very well NOT going to sing Miley Cyrus. I can't wait to get her into the Top 12 so we can see what she can do with those wacky themes they hand the singers. Crystal is all herself and all wonderful, even with that crazy apparatus she attaches to herself so that she can play guitar and harmonica the same time she sings. I would listen to an entire album of her music, even if the judges thought it was a coffee shop performance. I love coffee shops. New sign: "Bowersox Rox my Coffee Shop!"

Did you know that Katie Stevens is 17? Cause if you didn't, the producers and judges are going to inform you of this little tidbit at every juncture of the competition. Just like Jordin Sparks in Season 6. Actually, though, I like Katie, as far as young singers go. She seems like a sweet girl, and very down to earth, not cocky and overconfident unlike SOME contestants on stage tonight that are under the age of 18, but I won't name names! But I'll give you a hint: it rhymes with Smaeley Smaughn. Maybe it's because I love the song "Feeling Good" in all it's reincarnations. Maybe it's because I have like 4 or 5 Michael Buble CDs, but I really liked Katie's performance. She does not have a 17 year old's voice, or stage presence. She's amazing to watch, really, though I was really fearful she was close to show out with red or black tights since she had a red headband, red sash, and red shoes with that black dress. Bare legs were the wise choice to make. Now--I will say this. I do and do not agree with the judges' critique of her performance. I loved hearing her sing, so I think the judges were a little harsh. BUT, I do think that "Feeling Good" skewed a little too old for her, and she should have sung something a little more appropriate to her age. Like, you know, Miley Cyrus. Couldn't you just hear little Katie singing "The Climb" and knocking it out of the park?

In the bottom on Thursday: Paige Miles, Janell Wheeler, Lacey Brown, Siobhan Magnus
Going home: Paige Miles and Lacey Brown (But I'm almost never surprised when I'm wrong, especially not at this point in the game.)

The judges believe that the girls are supposedly the strongest group this year? Huh. I totally didn't get that tonight. Maybe they were holding back. I certainly hope so. I need to be entertained. I don't want American Idol to be a snoozefest. (I'm looking at you, Seasons 3 and 6!)

Wednesday night, the guys bring it! Hopefully. Fingers crossed!

Toodles! (Speaking of High School Musical 3, Sharpay said "Toodles" to her mom and dad on the phone before her performance. Disney totally stole my line. At least they gave it to my favorite character.)

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