It's not rare for a contestant to blow American Idol judges away to the point that they proclaim the song "good enough to be on the radio." It is rare, however, that it's actually true. Thursday's Ladies' solo night on Idol was one of those times.
Angela Miller, a young singer we met in New York and who looks like a charming combination of Miley Cyrus and Allison Williams, starts off the show by ensuring that she's the most memorable person of the 47 girls performing solos. Sitting at a piano and singing "You Set Me Free," Miller leaves the entire panel speechless. To be completely honest, I failed to take a single note aside from "HOLY CRAP" because like Keith Urban, I was a little baby bird in Miss Angela's hands. She actually sounded like a professional singer. If this girl is not part of the Top 12, it will be a grave injustice.
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Candice Glover also makes herself a singer to watch, as she's done every time she's performed, singing Alicia Keys's "Girl on Fire." There's nothing surprising here, once again, Candice appears to put forth no effort for a phenomenal performance. We can't watch this girl go home prematurely again after she was cut last year. Next up is Janelle Arthur, a picture perfect little country singer. I truly want to like her, but it's hard to separate her from every adorable blonde country singer who's hit the Idol stage since Carrie Underwood hit it big.
Then comes Zoanette Johnson, the woman who continues on in this competition for reasons beyond comprehension. She takes the stage with a drum kit and performs a song she made up on stage that basically consists of her singing the judges' names at them. I have no idea why the judges react to her so positively. The woman has a voice, but she has no idea how to use it. You can give someone John Coltrane's saxophone, but that doesn't mean they can use it. Perhaps they're seeing Zoanette through some kind of filter that smooths out the horribly grating pieces of her voice and her inability to complete a song without stopping, during her solo audition. Somehow, this woman makes it into the top 20... even after Randy brought the 24 girls out and cut four of them without warning right then and there. My mind is a pretzel. I cannot comprehend this continual surprise.
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But in order to fit in the surprise ladies' cut and the leftover cut from last week's guys' solos, the night cut the performance element short, so here's what you need to know:
-Shuba Vedula dared to sing Mariah's "Miracle" in front of Mariah. But she sounds like a cruise ship impersonator of Miss Carey. Somehow, they still love her.
-Kezban performs an original "song" and says it's like "watching my child take her first steps today." That child fell down. The song was awful, no one understood it and she was sent home rather unceremoniously.
-Ashlee Feliciano, the girl whose parents have a large foster family, is ill when she hits the stage, but that doesn't explain why the first half of her performance doesn't match the second half, or why she was able to hit a beautiful falsetto note without issue. The main problem was that her performance was boring and that's what sent her home.
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-Melinda Ademi sings Jessie J. They love it. She's upbeat. She's a tad obnoxious and a bit innocuous for my tastes, but I'll keep it zipped until Vegas.
-Kree Harrison's backstory finally comes out. She lost both her parents, years apart. It's a sad story, but luckily, it's not what defines her. When she sings, she sounds like an updated Patsy Cline in a sea of Carrie Underwood and Leanne Rimes clones. She stays on.
-The judges have Adam Sander sing for his spot in the top 20 guys, but his rendition of "Taking Chances" is so godawful I'm not sure how he ever made it in the first place.
-Josh Holiday also sings for his life, but he's always been boring, like the Tuesday afternoon singer at a Casino. He goes dramatic, but it's hollow. And to top it off, the showoff splits his pants and he's not even going to stay.
-When they cut eight guys, it includes Adam Sanders, Josh Holiday, blonde kid with glasses whose name we never learned, and the adorable David Leathers Jr. (Sorry, buddy.)
-On the girls side, Stephanie Schimmel is eliminated in order to save the always-smiling Rachel Hale, though in all honesty, neither girl really has the chops to continue on.
Do you think Angela Miller could make the Top 12? Did your favorite get cut?
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler
[Photo Credit: Michael Becker/Fox]
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S10E11: While last night definitely proved that the judges have found quite a few talented people (though some are just very capable karaoke singers), it also proved that the people at Idol sure know how to stretch what should be an hour of television into two dreadfully long hours of waiting. They also proved that they can, in fact, fit in about a million references to The Beatles' Love show in Vegas into an hour. Have they been taking cross promotion lessons from Britney Spears or something?
Last night was actually two episodes. The first was a second group round supposedly invented because there were just too many good contestants this year, but really invented because Idol wanted that extra Beatles cash. Duos and trios sang (in a many cases butchered) Beatles classics on the stage at the Mirage in Vegas, where they were cut from a group of 61 to 40. Then they all traveled back to L.A. to go to the hangar of doom (seriously, it looked like the end of Raiders of Lost Ark if you replaced top secret government stuff with broken dreams and diva tears) for their final elimination and what we thought would finally be the top 24. Oh no, it’s not that easy. Cut to the end of those two hours when the screen went black and the dreaded “To Be Continued” screen came up. Really, Idol? I could have done this in 10 minutes – and I wouldn’t have allowed Clint Jun Gamboa to get through, that’s for damn sure.
“I’ve never even heard a Beatles song.” –Ashton Jones
Let me pause for a minute here. YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME. Ashton wasn’t the only Idol hopeful who admitted on national television to never ever hearing a Beatles song. First of all, unless you’ve never seen TV or a movie or the radio or been to a Walmart on a Saturday, you’ve heard a freaking Beatles song. Trust me. Secondly, how can you call yourself an artist/musician/whatever and not know the Beatles? That’s worse than when Miley Cyrus said she didn’t know who Jay-Z was – and I thought THAT was bad.
“This is freaking me out because Beatleland is where I live.” –Steven
I love how insane Steven is. Never change, Steven; I’m begging you. Anyway, since we’ve got so much to cover, let’s get right into the groups. First up was the duo of Stefano Langone and James Durbin. They sang “Get Back” and while they’re both technically good, I stand by what I’ve been saying all season, which is just because you can hit those high notes correctly, doesn’t mean I want to hear them.
High school buddies Pia Toscano and Karen Rodriguez did “Can’t Buy Me Love” like a couple of wedding singers, but the judges seemed impressed. Jennifer even told them they were some of the folks who really “get it.” I have to disagree. The only thing they get is how their high school show choir taught them to act onstage, and you know what? There’s no way I’d throw down 50 bucks to see either of them.
Then the groups really started to prove why forced groupings isn’t always so hot. You’ve got all these unique voices and sometimes when you smush three together, the result isn’t that pleasant. Jacob Lusk, Naima Adedapa, and Haley Reinhart all have beautiful powerful voices on their own, but their version of “The Long and Winding Road” was just too discordant for my tastes. This truly isn’t because of any faults on their parts; their voices just don’t mesh.
“One hand clapping!” –Steven
Moving right along, we caught glimpses of Rachel Zevita singing “Elenor Rigby” like the total drama kid she is (yeah, we know you’ve been saving that little hat for this for years), Lauren Turner who gave a solid turn at “Let it Be,” and finally Julie Zorilla and Tim Halperin with “Something.” I like Zorilla well enough, but why has Halperin not had more attention? He is such a lovely, lovely singer. (Plus, he’s cute as a button.)
After a few conspicuous shots of the American Idol red phone booth (really?) we moved on to Jerome Bell, Lakeisha Lewis and Tatynisa Wilson with “I Saw Her Standing There.” The judges were split here, saying that the performances were so-so while Steven cried foul. He thought they were fantastic – clearly he needs to get his ears checked. Lakeisha does have some serious pipes, but it’s clear she hasn’t learned how to use them yet and the other two were just alright.
I can’t stop quoting Steven, but someone needs to put down a record of all this. (Plus it’s fun.) The groups dragged along, with Kendra Chantelle and Paul McDonald giving us their pretty little version of “Blackbird.” Kendra’s voice is pretty, but a dime a dozen, while Paul once again showed us why he’s still here. He’s got this sweet, wonderful, honey-soaked rasp that I hope sticks around once the voting starts. He really is a breath of fresh air in the competition.
“Guess what, you’re going to die on stage in front of all those people. I’m going to be lying in my bed watchin’ you croak.” –Peggi the vocal coach “From Hell”
Melinda Ademi and Thia Megia were getting railed on by their vocal coach (that’s right, they had that much help and people still messed up this round) for their version of “Here Comes the Sun” and once they hit the stage it was obvious why. Thia’s got it down, but Melinda (as sweet as she is) was the weak link, fumbling her phrasing and lacking the strength that Thia has.
Also fumbling were Ashley Sullivan and her partner Sophia Shorai. They’re a clear example of those who have technical talent – meaning they can hit the notes correctly – but none of that extra something that makes someone pleasant to watch. Needless to say, they both went home.
“It’s like the Marx Brothers put out a fire thing.” –Steven
When Lauren Alaina, Scotty McCreery, and Denise Jackson hit the stage, they’d already been hit hard by the criticisms from big time producer Jimmy Iovine, but it didn’t seem to help. Though they’re all good singers, they just did not work together. On that same note, buddies Carson Higgins and Caleb Hawley also hit a sour note (literally, OUCH) in their duo performance. Chris Medina and Casey Abrams were actually a great pairing, but it was obvious that (as much as I like Chris) Casey was shouldering the weight in the song.
Finally, Robbie Rosen (love him!), Aaron Sanders, and Jordan Dorsey finished it off with “Got to Get You Into My Life.” Overall, they actually worked well together; it was a little boy bandy, but it worked. Robbie was fantastic as always, but Jordan really seems unable to put the money where his mouth his. He talks big, but he’s not that great. Aaron was fine, but he doesn’t really seem to stand out – then again, that could just be clever editing.
“You win some you lose some, and I just lost a big one.” –Caleb Hawley
Alright, here they are, the first cuts. From what Idol actually told us, we lost Caleb Hawley, Denise Jackson, Ashley Sullivan, Carson Higgins, and Molly DeWolf. It’s tough to see people go, but I can accept that these folks just weren’t the best of the best. Now for the real cuts – well, half of them anyway. Seriously, two hours is a whole lotta Idol.
“I used to watch In Living Color and want to be a fly girl too.” –Naima Adedapo
(Me too, honey.) Now that all that Vegas nonsense is over, we get down to business, forcing the contestants to take the impossibly long, terrifying walk towards a stark stage with four white chairs and a video loop of their last performance in the background. What kind of freaky science fiction movie is this? Naima Adedapo and her impossibly sparkly blue dress were the first additions to the top 24 while the sweet, talented Hollie Cavanaugh was sent home. Jennifer made a point to tell Holly that she was outvoted, but that if Hollie came back in a few years, she’d be strong enough to win, not just make it into the top 24. Wow, I never thought I’d agree with Jennifer Lopez on anything.
Also on the chopping block were Lakeisha Lewis and Alex Ryan, though we could have guessed that after seeing how little screen time they’ve each had. Clint Jun Gamboa was all choked up about Lakeisha’s elimination, but I’m still not buying his emotions. (Yep, I’m holding onto that Jacee grudge.) He actually made it through to the top 24, to which I offer this: WHY? He’s a karaoke host and that’s exactly what he sounds like. His voice is just unpleasant, his personality is unpleasant, and I really don’t want to have to see his face on my TV anymore. America, you know what to do. It’s up to you now. SEND HIM HOME.
“We’ve been watching you and I’m really afraid to say…it’s a yes.” –Steven
Knock that shit off, Steven. The contestants don’t like it and neither do we. Anyway, next to get the go-ahead was Haley Reinhart of the crazy eyes. I’m not sure how I feel about her; her voice kind of seems like it’s too big for her body, which is a bit bothersome, but we’ll see how it turns out.
Crowd favorite Deandre Brackensick was sent packing for his lack of consistency (but he’s young, so he’s got time to improve) while Paul McDonald was ushered into the 24 because Idol’s apparently trying to find “artists” this year. I hope they mean that because Paul is really fantastic and I want to hear as much of his singing on this show as I can. (Even is he resurrects that awful white jacket.) Ashton Jones, who rocked “I’m Telling You” last time, also earned a slot in the top 24. Once again, she’s someone I’m not totally sure of, but I’m willing to see what she brings next week.
“It was honestly a pleasure to meet you, someone like you.” –JLo
Now for the really hard part. Because this is a singing competition, no matter how wonderful and saintly the infinitely likable Chris Medina is, he frankly doesn’t have the chops for the competition. I’ve been afraid to say it all season because I love his story and I want him to stick around for that reason. Sadly, they made Jennifer deliver the news. Thanks producers, you know she was going to have the hardest time with that. Of course she’s concerned she didn’t say it right, but the problem is, there’s no right way to tell someone like Chris that they have to go home.
Boy, tonight’s going to be fun won’t it? No, no it won’t. Get ready for another hour of torture in the science fiction/ Indiana Jones hangar. Damnit, Idol.