Every year I try to turn away from Idol, and last year I finally stopped watching. Well, I’m back off the wagon and we’re finally past the audition nonsense and on to the best singers of the season. On March 2nd, the final 12 girls took to the stage to vie for America’s vote.
We open in true dramatic Seacrest fashion, with the host walking by the top 12 girls who are dimly lit and announcing that this IS American Idol. Alright, on to the music. Oh, wait, I forgot about the obligatory banter between Ryan and the judges. Does Steven have feathers sewn into his hair. Why yes, I believe he does.
Ok, NOW on to the music. First up is Ta-Tynisa Wilson, a former Beyonce impersonator singing “Only Girl in the World” by Rihanna. It…isn’t awesome. Steven, however does not agree and tells her she opened the show well. JLo loves her groove and says that she “took it home.” Aaaand Randy keeps it real. He tells her it is “just OK” and that her version paled in comparison to the original.
Next up, Naima Adedapo with “Summertime,” wearing a dress she designed herself. This is a brave song choice, since Fantasia formerly blew the judges away with her version. Naima’s version of the song is decidedly more upbeat than either the original or Fantasia’s rendition. Jennifer says that she loved the last note and compares the Naima to a flower in a rose garden. Randy calls the performance “Lounge Acty” and thus puts words to what I couldn’t quite put my finger on during the performance. As predicted, he compares her to Fantasia and implies that she wasn’t as good. Steven loves her and her performance.
Kendra Chantelle is singing “Impossible” by Christina Aguilera in a cat woman inspired outfit. She is holding her own, particularly when compared to the pipes of Aguilera. The first half seems stronger than the second, but we’ll see what the judges think. Randy says he was worried when he first heard her song choice, but that she surprised him in a good way. Steven thinks her “whole package” is hot, while Jennifer opens by praising the girl’s “heart.” Overall, positive comments all around.
Now we have Rachel Zevita , who has apparently tried out numerous times for Idol. She’s singing “Criminal” by Fiona Apple. The rendition is very bluesy, if that’s a word, and according to my spell checker it is. She utilizes the stage, even singing behind the judges at one point. Steven tells her that she was “too Broadway” and then they share an awkward moment when she rebuffs his notion that “maybe that’s her nitch.” Jennifer didn’t like her either, and Randy says he couldn’t even recognize her. Ryan tries to give Rachel an out, asking if she was uncomfortable with the stage, but she says no.
Karen Rodriguez is up, singing “Hero” by Mariah Carey. Bold choice. She’s singing parts in Spanish. Very bold. She can hold the notes, but it is very hard to command a Mariah song, and she can’t quite get there. They show the judges nodding, though they look stoic, so who knows what they’re thinking…for a few more seconds. Jennifer Lopez repeats the word “Wow” numerous times and commends Karen on integrating Spanish into the performance. Randy also likes that she made the song her own, and Steven says he loved it and calls her “fantastic.”
Lauren Turner, former housekeeper from Louisiana, is performing to “Seven Day Fool” by Etta James. Finally, a girl that can saaang. She seems comfortable and she nails it. Randy agrees, saying “that’s how you do it!” On to Steven, who calls the performance “spectacular.” Jennifer calls Lauren’s voice “undeniable,” but tells the songstress to stop holding back in her physical performance.
Next, Ashthon Jones takes the stage with “Love Over Me” by Monica. Her hair is amazing, and her confidence isn’t far behind. Her vocals are decent, though the second half is better than the first. Steven notes that she has the “confidence of a queen” and he also compliments her voice. Jennifer tells her that she has the makings of a diva–Ashthon smartly retorts with “I get it from you.” Randy says that he didn’t love the song, but he says that her voice and confident are great. He finishes up by comparing her to Diana Ross.
Julie Zorrilla is tackling Kelly Clarkson’s “Run Away.” Isn’t there a universal memo that recommends against singing songs by former powerhouse Idol winners? First Naima, and now Julie… Her version isn’t even close to Kelly’s. Her outfit is adorable, but I expect her to get reemed by the judges. Jennifer asks her how she feels, never a good sign. But…then she says she liked it, although she comments on a lack of connection with the audience. Once again, Randy has to be the bad guy, telling her she is not as good as Kelly and that she does not stand out. Steven tells her it was the wrong song choice and the wrong key. Ouch.
Now on the stage is Haley Reinhart with “Fallin” by Alicia Keys. She can definitely sing, though she would have benefited from sitting in a stool during her performance, because her movements on stage are extremely awkward. Overall, however, chalk the strange finger pointing and bouncing up to nerves and she did a respectable job. Randy does not agree with me, uttering the dreaded “Karaoke” comparison. Steven disagrees entirely, and says he “liked it a lot.” Jennifer also has positive comments, but she agrees that the movements looked uncomfortable.
15 year old Thia Megia is up with “Out On My Own” from “Fame.” With just a piano accompanying her, she sings a lovely ballad, particularly for her age. She appears self assured and her pitch is simply awesome. Steven agrees, calling her pitch “perfect.” Jennifer says that Thia “captivated every person in the room” and Randy compliments the tone of Thia’s voice, saying she reminds him of Michael Jackson. She appears to be a favorite, with good reason.
Lauren Alaina, just 16 years old, takes the stage with country jam “Turn on the Radio” by Reba McEntire. Her performance is impressive, even inspiring Jennifer to clap along and Randy to nod enthusiastically…to a country song. Country appears to be the Southern girl’s nitch, and dare I say that her version is superior to Reba’s? I dare. Jennifer says that Lauren “doesn’t even have to try” and yet she is great to watch. Randy and Steven follow suit, telling her she has natural talent. Randy even compares her to a cross between Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.
Last to take the stage is Pia Toscano. Her song choice is “Stand by You,” originally by The Pretenders. She keeps it simple, singing in a black dress while standing behind a microphone stand. Her performance is one of the better of the night. The judges award her with a standing ovation, and Randy says that her performance is among the top of all Idol performances. Steven calls her song “gorgeous” and Jennifer refers to the performance as “out of this world.”
While it’s hard to pick a favorite just yet, the last three girls were the judges’ favorites. Will America agree?