Tuesday, March 05, 2013

American Idol Top 20-Females

Three nights of Idol this week, and starting it off on Tuesday were the Top 10 females who once again took to the stage at the Mirage in Las Vegas to sing in a live television broadcast (at least to the eastern half of the country.) I only wish that Montecore, the white tiger, would have been allowed to make a return visit to his former stomping grounds.

America is now back in charge of the voting. That can be risky in a variety of areas, but overall a good idea. Five out of the girls will advance later on this week, but I would be shocked if there is not some sort of wildcard selection or sing-off or extra round added to the competition to make it a traditional Top 12 or Top 13. Right now, the show seems to be telling us that we will have the Top 10 (and the people who will get to go on tour) decided, before anybody performs next week for the first time on the Hollywood stage.

Idol clearly wants a female to be the next American Idol just about as much as the College of Cardinals wants a male to be the next Pope. Let's face it though; the girls are so much better than the guys this season. When they compete head to head against the boys, it may be Chicago Blackhawks like domination.

Tonight, the show got off to a bit of a rough start, but by the end of the night, it was clear that there were some extremely talented lady singers in this group and it is hard to accept that five of them are allegedly going to be going home again. There were easily seven or eight, if not perhaps even nine, who deserve to go on. However, I did as I always do and ranked them on the vocals.

Starting off the night, it seems as if many of the girls who sang last week (six days ago on tv, but seven days ago in reality) were set to sing earliest in the evening. I am not sure how that was exactly selected, but there may be debate over whether or not that is fair, since the other five girls had a whole extra week to prepare.

1. Zoanette Johnson- "What's Love Got to Do With It"

Last week, I had her ranked at the bottom, and entertainment factor aside, did not think she should be on this show still. What she did tonight was worse. Much worse. The vocals were embarrassing at points on this 1980s Tina Turner song and even the judges had to give her some reality. I guess the last note she did was slightly impressive at least.

At this point, I would have been shocked if anybody would come out and be worse than Zoanette was. However, I was thinking that enough people would still be voting for her, that she was quite likely to still be in the top half of performers tonight, unless there were some truly spectacular performances over the course of the evening.

2. Breanna Steer- "Flaws and All"

I did not know this song at all. Apparently, it is a Beyonce number. I found it pretty boring and "safe", which was a big mistake for Breanna at this point in the competition. Last week, she had seemingly came out of nowhere to make a big impression on the judges, but they had far more criticism for her this week.

Vocally, it was decent (was there a lyric she had to censor at the beginning?), but the song did not go anywhere and did not allow Breanna to show any personality or originality at a point where she is still fairly new to the American Idol public, who would be voting on her for the first time. Seacrest seems to always ask her about her thought process in regards to singing the lyrics she is. She alludes to singing it for someone special who may have been in the building. Could it have been one of the Top 10 Guys? If she has something going on with one of them, the list of suspects is probably pretty short.

3. Aubrey Cleland- "Big Girls Don't Cry"

The young lady who grew up on an Oregon farm seems so humble and good-natured. Will that be enough though this season? Like Breanna, she also was a bit of a surprise "winner" in last week's round, but needed to keep up the momentum to advance further.

Aubrey was decent enough singing this well-known Fergie song but it was far from a showstopper. As I observed last week, her voice is just not crazy big and her range may not be that large. So while on the lower notes, she sounded good, it sounded to me like she was straining to belt out the big parts of the song. I was also a bit surprised that she once again decided to stand still at the microphone stand and sing, instead of moving around the stage and trying to engage the audience in that way.

4. Janelle Arthur-"If I Can Dream"

While I thought Janelle did well enough to advance last week, she still was lucky to make it over Rachel Hale, a fellow country singer who I felt gave a stronger performance.

I have to say I really like what she did singing a countrified version of an Elvis Presley anthem. I also found it odd that the judges never commented that this was an Elvis song and that it was a bit unusual to even hear a female voice attempt it. Vocally, Janelle was not perfect, but she still sounded pretty good and appeared far more engaged in the performance as compared to last week. She does not have as big of a voice as some of her female competition, but I believe she remains a threat to go very far in the competition (provided she can survive the big cut this week), due to her musical genre and personality, which a lot of older Idol viewers will love.

Slowly but surely, the evening is picking up steam, with each performance at least a bit better than the one before. Can the trend continue?

5. Tenna Torres- "Lost"

So this was a Faith Hill song I had never heard before. Everything about Tenna's vocal and performance styles make it clear she really does want to be like Mariah Carey. At least she was missing the bad wig this week.

A couple bum notes aside, her voice sounded nice and polished. However, I was kind of bored by this ballad and I imagined she would receive at least moderate criticism by the judges. It did feel a bit "cabaret" in parts. Also, I was wondering if her blue and orange mini-dress was an homage by the young lady from Queens to the New York Mets.

As part of her critique , Nicki Minaj told Tenna that she liked her boobs. That's allowed now? Nicki is just going to get away with that? Somehow, Simon Cowell and Ellen DeGeneres avoided going there in their judging in seasons past.

6. Angie Miller- "Never Gone"

Over the past couple of weeks, Angie has been receiving more buzz on the shows from the Idol producers as perhaps anyone else. All this points to her as a potential early "Chosen One." Last week though, the judges kept talking about her Hollywood performance of an original song and wishing she could recreate that moment. I found it very interesting that in this round, she sang a song that very few people know; one that was done by Colton Dixon, an alum of last season.

From what I have read online, Angie and Colton know each other quite well, because Angie's boyfriend is Colton's best friend or something like that. This connection or the fact that the two Idol hopefuls know each other was not mentioned on the broadcast. While it quickly became clear last season that Colton was a Christian Contemporary singer, who was aiming for a career in that genre, I wonder how long it might be for fans to catch on that Angie is also a Christian singer. I sort of realized that a couple weeks ago, but that is certainly solidified now. It does seem somewhat unusual for an Evangelicalish singer to come from Massachusetts of all places.

Angie can kind of oversing a bit, but she gave another strong performance, this time playing the piano. She has a very strong ability to connect to a song vocally and through her facial expressions, etc. While I would be pretty surprised if she is not voted through (certainly with the help of Colton's people from last season), I do think that all the "pimping" she has been getting early on in the season will eventually cause a bit of a backlash. That has happened to early frontrunners in the past who failed to win. Also, if Colton is invited to return as an alum this season and sing a song, he may need to pick something else, now that Angie has already covered "Never Gone."

7. Amber Holcomb- "I Believe In You and Me"

Last week, Angie also was one of the contestants who not many people knew about, but who won a spot in the Top 20 on the basis of a strong performance. This week, she took a risk by taking on a Whitney Houston ballad.

If I am being honest, there were a couple notes that seemed off to me, but still the overall performance was quite good. She has a strong powerful voice and seemed very confident this week. I also think she has very good musical phrasing. Additionally, she has quite a marketable look and it certainly makes sense for the show to want her to do very well this season. The judges loved the performance and I am pretty sure she will be around next week, one way or another.

 So, while it is a big night for ballads, the vocals on this episode are scoring some points, and to think, three of the contestants who I felt were the absolute strongest in the Top 40 round, including both women I had ranked at number one in their respective weeks, were still to perform. Some brutal cuts are ahead on Thursday.

8. Kree Harrison- "Stronger"

Was this also a Faith Hill song? I thought Kree was a top scorer last week and was probably even better this week. I am not a country music fan, but am not sure that Kree is limited to that genre, but regardless, she can absolutely sing.

Vocally, this was close to a masterclass in parts even though I do not think I know the song. She may very well be one of the best Idol contestants in recent years, but I am still curious to see her sing some other kinds of material. It would be a damn shame if she did not advance, as she would be competing with Janelle for country votes. Will both of them be able to make it? There was some sort of weird banter with Nicki calling Kree her "wife" and Kree humorously playing along with it. Hopefully there will not be a backlash among my fellow conservative Idol viewers over that.

There is a long way to go before I could be convinced that Kree could win this season, but after two performances thus far, she may be the one that will ultimately deserve to.

9. Adriana Latonio- "Stand Up For Love"

I had to google this song, and apparently it is by Destiny's Child. I wondered if the song was called "Stand Up For Life" and I was at least somewhat curious if this was some sort of Pro-Life anthem that I was unaware of. If that would have been the case, I may have been tempted to actually vote for Adriana, who I happened to think was very good two weeks ago. Maybe even Sarah Palin would have gotten her Facebook followers to vote for her fellow Alaskan.

This week, I think Adriana sounded good again, but as she was singing, I knew the judges were about to compare her unfavorably to some of those who had gone before. While she belted out a strong note at the end, there was some minor shakiness towards the beginning of her vocals and it did indeed feel a bit "pageanty." Nicki, after having heaping praise on her in the last round, basically dismissed her this time and told her to come back next year. Would she be allowed to? I do not think so, now that America is getting to vote. However, the twenty people who got cut in the Top 40, will apparently be allowed to audition again, next year and in the future.

Going into the night, I thought Adriana would be a reasonable bet to advance based on her vocals and her support from Asian-Americans, particularly, her fellow Filipinos. If she does, it will be for that reason, and sympathy based on the way that Nicki was so dismissive of her. Adriana had a shining moment in February, but she probably made a bad mistake in picking the song she did.

10. Candice Glover- "Ordinary People"

Another song I do not believe I had ever heard before, but that was maybe a good thing, because I am able to associate it purely with Candice's vocals. Like Kree, she was very good in the last round, and was even better tonight. They may both be the two best singers in the entire competition, but may have to cover more ground solely for non-vocal superficial reasons.

Nonetheless, Candice basically sang the hell out of the song. It had a bit of a Mary J. Blige R&B vibe to it, but I see it is a John Legend number. There were several African-American females who were in this group tonight and I really hope that Candice did not wind up splitting a segment of the vote and missing out on a well-deserved spot in the Finals. Since she was given the pimp spot (or as my father referred to it; the "prostitution spot"), she should probably be ok.


10. Zoanette Johnson
9. Breanna Steer
8. Aubrey Cleland
7. Tenna Torres
6. Adriana Latonio
5. Amber Holcomb
4. Angie Miller
3. Janelle Arthur
2. Candice Glover
1. Kree Harrison

I do not know what the guys are going to sound like tomorrow, but I am not that optimistic. If it were up to me, I would put eight of these girls in the Finals and maybe put four guys with them to make a Top 12 for America to vote someone off week by week.

How the voting will proceed this week is an open question. If Zoanette somehow makes it through, she will have stolen someone's spot, just based on vocal performance. However, since she went first and so many that followed got stellar reviews, my hunch is that she will fall short.

I see very little chance for Breanna or Tenna to get enough votes to advance based on their song choices. Nothing else would really surprise me though. My prediction will be that that the top five as I have ranked will advance, and that will be good news for Kree, Candice, Janelle, Angie, and Amber.

As mentioned before, something is likely to happen with wildcards to make at least a Top 12. Otherwise, it seems like there will not be enough weeks of a show to make it to the usual May finale spot. I do not know what format such a twist will involve on Thursday, but I will assume that the judges will just go ahead and select two more people and both of them will be girls.

Based on the vocals this week, Adriana and Tenna would be most deserving, but the judges will probably pick Breanna and Aubrey.