I was truly looking forward to seeing the ladies perform on “American Idol” Wednesday night (March 2), because of all the hype surrounding some of them during the auditions. There would be a lot more expectations on them instead of the guys earlier in the week. Oftentimes when a contestant is hyped this early they tend to peak too soon. To my surprise I saw none of that, yet a few others that shined during the audition phases who were favorites didn’t deliver as much during the semifinals.
One thing is crystal clear this season. Everyone is a lot more relaxed now that Simon Cowell is gone. For the most part I thought the men had better song choices, while most of the ladies chose safer songs. Yet, they all sang extremely well with a few that stood out from the Top 12.
The Best of the Very Best
These are the three that stood out during the semifinals and are assured to be moving on to the Top 5. One of them received the least amount of coverage during the auditions, while another is just at the new age limit of 15 years old and the third one came via viral through MySpace.
Pia Toscano – She wasn’t exactly showcased at every turn during the auditions like many of the Top 24. I remember Kris Allen in Season 8 during the semifinals. He was never shown during the auditions and there he was all of a sudden as a standout. That is certainly the case with Pia as the last one to perform Wednesday night. It was like they saved the very best for last.
At first I thought her song choice was a bit too safe. It is one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite lead singers in a group, Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders. Pia Toscano brought the house down and the judges to their feet by giving her a standing ovation. You never saw the judges do that in season’s past. Only one of two may have stood up. She is definitely a contender.
Thia Megia – I’ve not been a big fan of hers, because she hasn’t been seen in the best of light, especially during the Vegas audition round with that hellacious vocal coach. Whatever came from that experience has made made Thia a stronger vocalist. She was absolutely brilliant. Her voice is so crystal clear. It has a beautiful quality to it for someone so young. I absolutely loved her song choice and it’s not one that’s been done to death on “American Idol.” It comes from one of my all-time favorite movie, “Fame.”
Karen Rodriguez – I’ll give her props for choosing to sing a Mariah Carey song and she pulled it off very successfully. She was the only one to do something unique with her performance. It was the first on Idol to have a semifinalist sing a song in both English and Spanish. I loved it and look forward to hearing more Spanish songs from Ms. Rodriguez.
More Excellent Performances
Each one gave an outstanding performance that is worth mentioning. One has been considered a winner already by Steven Tyler during the Nashville auditions, another one hasn’t been focused too much except in Hollywood and Vegas and the third one has been highlighted every step of the way in this lengthy audition process.
Lauren Alaina – It may have been a bit premature for Tyler to declare her the winner of the competition at the Nashville auditions. She hasn’t exactly stood out in Hollywood or Vegas, especially the latter with that awful British slapstick Beatles song routine. However, she was in her element singing something from Reba McEntire. I really enjoyed her performance a lot. That song is catchy and Lauren did it justice.
Kendra Chantelle – This is one semifinalist who has lung power like Christine Aguilera. It was only natural she’d take on one of her songs. In seasons past anyone who took a Christina Aguilera song was always doomed by the judges, especially Simon. That wasn’t the case at all for Kendra. I’d really like to see her in the Top 10 or as a wildcard.
Naima Adedapo – Here is someone who sang a different genre outside of the popular music genres of pop, R&B and country. Her rendition of “Summertime” was a nice jazzy arrangement. Steven Tyler said it was like listening to Ella Fitzgerald. Of course Randy Jackson said it did not live up to Fantasia’s. Quite frankly I don’t think Naima was trying to top the Season 3 winner.
Who Will Be in the Automatic Top 5 or a Wildcard?
I have no idea who will be the Top 5 Ladies except Pia Toscano, Thia Megia and Lauren Alaina seem to be locked in. I’d also like to see Kendra Chantelle and Karen Rodriguez. It will be interesting to find out on Thursday night. The results show will be live. Jennifer Lopez will debut her music video “On the Floor” by unveiling the winning selected ending. Of course we’ll see the Top 24 perform as a group. It promises to be a suspenseful night for the Top 12 Men and Top 12 Ladies.
American Idol – Official Site for Videos, Photos and Community, American Idol.com
Shirley Halperin, “‘American Idol’: Pia Toscano, Lauren Alaina & Thia Megia Wow the Judges”, Billboard.com