‘American Idol’ Recap: Top 12 Girls

“You gotta take it to the moon and that’s where we’re going.” –Steven

S10E14: Watching the top 12 girls perform on American Idol is always an interesting experience. Whereas the men always seem to choose songs that are not singers’ songs, the women tend to have trouble picking songs that aren’t sappy ballads or fun pop songs that are cute, but don’t showcase their voices. For many ladies last night, that was the issue, but some of them still sang beautifully even when the song choice was a bit off.

As for the judges, they were a little bi-polar (and not in the bi-winning, Charlie Sheen sort of way) and Steven and Jennifer were split from Randy almost every single time. It’s painfully obvious that the two newbies judge with general feelings about the contestants and not so much with a technical perspective. The panel has always been a little like that, but you could have placed bets on what Jennifer and Steven would say and the fact that Randy would say (again) “Yo, I’ve got to disagree.” I mean, it makes sense. Jennifer and Steven have always been on the performer side of things, so the star quality and connection with the audience is what they know, while Randy has been on the A&R side of things for a long time, so having a good ear for talent is what he knows. Maybe it all worked out for the best though, because while some of the girls faltered, it’s obvious that we’re going to have a pretty damn good top 10 once the votes are counted tonight.

Here are the top 12 girls in order of best to worst.

Pia Toscano

“I’ll Stand By You”

I was a little disappointed that she chose this song when she started, because I think it’s one of those songs people think they should sing on Idol, but they’re a little dated and it’s hard to have your own sound with them. However, I guess Pia’s been holding back on us, because holy crap, the girl sang fantastically. She was on my list of people I thought would be going home and suddenly she’s my number one pick.

Simon Says: I don’t think I would have picked that song, but I like you.

Lauren Alaina

“Turn on the Radio”

What can I say about this girl other than that she makes it look so easy. She’s just a natural onstage, her voice is never strained and even when she’s doing something fun and upbeat, she’s able to keep her voice strong. She came out with a simple, casual manner like the stage is her home and yeah, she’s getting the Kelly Clarkson/Carrie Underwood comparison, but I think she’s got her own style and it’s slowly coming out more and more – need we remind you she’s only 15.

Simon Says: I really enjoy you.

Thia Megia

“On My Own”

I really didn’t like the song choice for this performance, but what I did like was the fact that even though the song aged her, we can see that she truly has an amazing voice. I just wish she would pick a younger song, maybe go back to the bluesy, jazzy pop style she started with (“Mercy” by Duffy). Randy says her voice sounds like Michael Jackson and I’m as confused about that as she was, but she’s definitely got the goods.

Simon Says: That song was a terrible choice. But look, this is a singing competition and you sang well.

Kendra Chantelle

“Impossible”

I never ever thought I would be putting this girl in my top five, but she gets better and better every time we see her. Once again, I had an issue with the song choice, but she did the best she could with it. Suddenly, she’s showing us this fantastic vibrato and significant improvement. She had a few pitch issues, but I think we’re going to see a lot more from this girl if voters give her the chance.

Simon Says: Yes, it was an improvement but I think it was just alright.

Haley Reinhart

“Falling”

She returned to her original audition song and gave us a taste of what it could look like with the full production behind it, and despite what Randy said, I really enjoyed it. I almost always agree with him, but I think she’s got a lot of soul and she really has an amazing and unique voice. Even though this song’s been done a million times, this was one time where it actually seemed like a unique rendition and not a subpar copy of Alicia Keys.

Simon Says: Look, I think you have got something but I think you just haven’t figured out how to use it. It was all over the place and a little immature.

Lauren Turner

“Seven Day Fool”

The girl who Jennifer called a modern Bette Midler delivered a fairly Broadway performance (though the panel was pissed when Rachel Zevita tried on the same genre) and received overjoyed feedback. She deserves it, the woman has got a great voice and she knows how to build slowly to the big bang and the end of the song. The only thing is she seems a little awkward onstage.

Simon Says: I don’t know that this right for the competition. You’re talented, but you don’t seem like you know what you’re doing up there.

Naima Adedapo

“Summertime”

I don’t know exactly what she was doing, but it wasn’t quite right. She’s got the voice, the confidence, and the wonderfully jazzy style but her performance was just a little too unbridled and not in a good way.

Simon Says: It was like you were a cartoon lounge singer in the Copa Cabana. It works for Saturday morning cartoons, but this is American Idol.

Rachel Zevita

“Criminal”

I didn’t love this performance, but I’ve never been a fan of Rachel’s and something clicked for me. Yes, she’s a drama kid and this was very Broadway or at least incredibly showy (something that doesn’t bother me, because HELLO LADY GAGA), but she’s got a unique voice and I think the arrangement of the Fiona Apple song was daring and incredibly interesting, even if she seems a little unsure about it. Personally, I don’t really like covers when they sound exactly like the original, so bravo Rachel.

Simon Says: It seems like you don’t quite believe in what you’re doing.

Karen Rodriguez

“Hero”

UGH. People need to stop picking this song. The judges were allured by her switch back and forth between Spanish and English, but personally I thought it was really, really boring. I don’t think her voice is interesting enough to do a song as boring as “Hero” and get away with it.

Simon Says: It was dreadfully boring. It was like the end of an awful Saturday afternoon movie.

Ashton Jones

“Love All Over Me”

This girl has chops – she sang that song from Dreamgirls like she owned it – but this was not that great. It’s obvious that she’s got a capable voice, she just really didn’t use it well here; and she really needs to figure out how to use it, because from my perspective the quality of her tone isn’t all that enjoyable.

Simon Says: Look, you hit the notes but it still sounded like one of those free summer concerts at the state fair. The singer’s capable, but it’s just not something anyone would pay to see.

Ta-Tynisa Wilson

“Only Girl (In the World)”

It was weak, breathy and tired. Her pitch was all over the place and she was sharp time and time again. Yeah, she “moved the crowd” as Jennifer said, but I think she had some help from the fact that they’re a captive audience and the Rihanna song is fun.

Simon Says: No. It just didn’t work. Awful, absolutely awful.

Julie Zorrilla

“Breakaway”

Oh how the mighty fall. The judges supposed this girl might win at one point, but after that performance, I don’t think it’s an option anymore. She really let the arrangement of the song and the stage effects carry her, but the singing itself was off key, all over the place, and she seemed like she was lost. I said I wanted to see more emotion from her because singing and hitting notes hasn’t been a problem, but she hasn’t really felt it, and she had a little more feeling here, but that little tiny bit seemed to kill her singing ability.

Simon Says: Ghastly.

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