Well, if you saw last night’s episode or read my article you’d know that it was half the worst live singing Idol has shoved down our throats in a while and half pretty good (enjoy the sunny side of Adam there cause it doesn’t often get much nicer than that). With the boys, the judges were barely in attendance and spoke more platitudes than they did advice or direction while the contenders blew it more often than not. Tonight is the girls: usually they all take it much more seriously, but often it’s way easier to blow those high and difficult notes so they’re always under a bit more scrutiny.
Top 12 Girls take the stage en force and it looks more like a pageant than it does a singing competition as the makeup is slapped on and the clothes cinched up all fancy like. But, before we get into the videos and my review, it has to be said as the camera pans through these girls: this is the WHITEST crop I’ve ever EVER seen on this show. A comment made in my last article, it’s almost impossible to believe that Jessica Sanchez is the only evident woman of colour of the batch and we’re left wondering why. Obviously, if the talent isn’t in someone you don’t want them pushed through just to keep the group heterogeneous, but really? The best of the best of the best girls were all whities? And nearly ALL blonds? I’m a cracker myself so it’s really not my place to complain but I needed to point it out. Now, onto the show!
HOLY BOOBS BATMAN. This girl has never seemed particularly busty to me before- maybe I just missed it as a gay man- but the girls are out to play today. Hopping onto the stage like Jessica Rabbit, this sultry and bosomy brunette takes on pop/country with an Underwood song I don’t really recognize. Unfortunately there’s more speaking to this song than there is singing so her voice is lost in the cavalcade of words and even the judges feel she’s lost in her phrasing. The judges right off the bat pleasantly surprise me and go straight for the jugular and criticize her song choice and power. While I’m not gonna look the gift horse too closely in the mouth and get angry they’re actually doing they’re job, I do wonder what changed since yesterday when the first half of the night was spent stroking egos and lying about talent. Either the producers read my article or they’re trying harder to push the boys hmmm… All in all, I like her and her jiggly knockers but it wasn’t the greatest performance.
Erika has been a fave of mine for a while and I was very pleased with her tonight. The only thing I’d argue might hurt her is that not only is she a bit older than most of the contenders: she looks it. BUT, while I say she looks older I also argue she’s one of the few who looks and more importantly ACTS like an actual singer. She came out there owning the classic piece as if she herself had written the damn thing. Her voice was impeccable and she was so confident on the main stage; I was thrilled from start to finish. The judges can’t find a single thing wrong with this breakout performance and neither can I. Oh wait, J Lo wanted her to “go further” which is such a bullshit claim they throw on the better performers when they’re looking for something critical to say. Randy sees Adele which I do not at all, but rather that Erika has her very own unique style and I can’t wait to see more of it.
Clearly, this bronzed Cali girl did NOT pay attention to Eben’s abortion attempt to take on the masterful Adele last night as Jen challenges Britain’s current greatest songstress and falls hugely short. A boring and nasally sound, I cringed at half the notes the threw out and have no clue what the judges were listening to as they appear blown away with her attempt. J Lo announces “this is what letting loose is”, and if that’s so then I hope no contestant lets loose on this show again. It was sloppy and unpolished and I’m not confident in her chances unless the rest of the night goes down from here. Final note: hot damn that’s another big ol’ demonstration of cleavage exploding on stage as Jen claps and hops up and down. Sorry sugar, it’s gays, girls and grandmas voting for this show and boobs don’t mean a thang.
I know, I know, I promised to leave the past in the past and review only based on performances here on in, so I won’t harp on the tanning bad failure pageant mom or the fact that this girl acts like no one’s ever told her no in her life. Instead, I’ll focus on her terrible, terrible singing. Starting off next to the boys in some sort of bukake reminiscent set up, Brielle immediately starts way too low in pitch and sounds as if she’s forgotten half the words. Then, as she struggles to get to her feet, she seems to lose the mic and her control and wanders through phrasing like a newbie singer in group week. Though I usually love scratchy girl sounds, her attitude comes out too much and turns that off-sound to the negative for me. Ridiculously and unsurprisingly the judges love this edgy young girl (I’m calling her edgy as I’m sure that’s how they’ll advertise her up-and-coming Idol Barbie doll for mass sales). She’s commercial for sure in her look- a brownie Miley Ray- and her comfort on stage is apparent, but talent was not included in the making of this entitled package.
And the boobs are back. Looking like an extra from “Smash”, this Marilyn lookalike takes “Feeling Good” to an impossibly slow pace, moving it about as quickly as her face reacts to her emotions. Getting the bitchiness out of me right away, Halie is conventionally pretty but up close appears akin to a plastic surgery victim though I doubt she’s ever been under a knife. The reason I so cruelly even mention this is that the voters of this show more often like the young, cute talent and some of her look might cost her: more a look for X-Factor if we’re being honest. Concerning her singing, it was… pretty good. I agree with Steven she has a classical, “old timey” sound to it, but she’s got to bring up the performance level or else her voice won’t be enough to carry her. Finally, how many times in Idol history have people sung this song? I feel like it’s such a go-to that it comes out more “Oh that again” than it does “Wow!”
One of two declared country girls, I fell in love a little with Skylar last we saw her as she dropped her walls once she got accepted to the Top 12 and squealed like a school girl, opening up to us the viewers. Today, I felt she did the same even more and I liked it. Her dress looks like it was made by a drag queen on RuPaul’s and I secretly totally love it, but it didn’t shine nearly as much as her smile did. She put herself out there at the risk of a couple missed notes and pitch but more than made up with her extreme energy and appeal to the audience. Jennifer rightly compares her to a country Tina Turner and I think she’s got her dead to right with that one. Running, jumping and yet keeping it appropriate to the song, I’m finally impressed with an act tonight even if it wasn’t technically perfect.
Following a very cute video with her grandpa, Baylie- the long time audience favourite- comes out tonight messing up every single note she attacks. WOW, right out of the gate this lame pony needs to be put down and sent straight to the glue factory. Focusing more on her Angelina Oscar pose than her singing, Baylie is completely lost tonight. I don’t know if I’m more impressed by the judges at not pulling away in disgust mid-tune or Baylie herself for not running off that stage in embarrassment, either way, they’ve all got balls of steel cause that was awful. Steven finally cracks on his ever-abundant positivity and tries to focus on how pretty she is (and damn she is) and all three judges rip her apart as much as they’re willing to as they tell her: “Way to look great, but better luck never!” I’m declaring this her swan song and unless inmates from jails across America are suddenly allowed to vote, there’s no way in hell she’s coming anything but last place tonight.
Dammit, these girls need to be told how freaking important the first note is! Wavering from the second she starts, Hollie messes up the quiet of this powerful song but manages to pull it together once she hits the big notes. She’s one of those singers that spend way too much time practicing the hard stuff and the “easy” notes fall to the wayside as they bet it all on the keystone parts. The judges even seem confused by the performance as Jennifer and Randy confer to figure out if that was good or bad and I’m equally as unsure. In the end, the three of them go to the positive and declare her a soon-to-be front runner but I’m not convinced, especially when you consider her lacking back story and memorability. Oh, and the huge (Australian?) accent out of left field is definitely going to be a hurdle to jump when it comes to convincing Bush supporters that just cause she ain’t from the US doesn’t mean she ain’t some homeland ruinin’ sleeper baby…
I know I’ve said I love it when girls do boy songs and the other way around, but when girls do girl songs as boys I’m not as impressed and this is one huge example of it. Her sound bottoms out during this one and Jennifer attempts to tell us at home that “there was a lot of great stuff [we] couldn’t hear” and christ I hope so, cause as it is it sounded abysmal. The judges get a bit of flak for arguing her song choice and style, and I’m over the moon that Randy actually calls it a nightmare as he accurately points out that this unique song and original performer- Annie Lennox- are nearly impossible to match, and I agree. Maybe it’s just me, but the song even seemed shorter than everyone else’s, though I’m not going to complain because honestly I just wanted it to be over. SYTYCD owns “Sweet Dreams” sugar, don’t ruin my memory of it plzkthxbye.
I will never, ever understand a contestant’s choice to sing lesser-known songs this early on when there’s so much to lose and when they have so much control over what style they can tackle. Soon enough it’s gonna be crap like “50s Week” and you’ll be forced to belt out a never-heard B-Side Elvis song or whatever, so for now, give us some Top 40 or classics in your own voice. I literally typed all that last bit as Shannon sang because I was that bored with the performance. Other than Steven hitting on her and her “famous” dad, there’s nothing I can remember about this girl and that includes what she just sang. Instead, I’m being distracted by the laurels the judges throw to her feet and eye roll my way until she nearly leaves and all of a sudden surprises me a bit. Shannon actually stops to address the fact that her piece choice was a dangerous one but that “this song was in her soul”. Sweetie, it’s great to sing what’s in your “soul” in theory (at the corner with your guitar case collecting change) but you’re in a nation-wide, voter-dependent competition and you need to pander: get it together.
Though I’ve already been called an asian-hating racist the last time I even attempted to criticize this girl or Heejun, I’m gonna take a huge risk once again and say her performance was a tiny, tiny bit too much for me, but I still loved it. She fought through vocal injury to hold some big and difficult notes and actually killed at phrasing where so many other girls failed today but something in this act just made me feel like I was watching the closing scenes to the next “Sex and the City” movie as the girls stomp hand-in-hand down the streets of Manhattan, laughing all the way. Not a BAD thing, but she does have to watch that she can play serious as well to make sure people connect to her emotions and not just energy. The audience goes nuts for her as do the judges and certainly compared to what we’ve been seeing, it’s well-deserved.
Suprise suprise, the producers timed these “random song placements” to save the best for last with first Jessica and now Elise. Starting out calmly behind the piano, she miss-steps a couple notes but does it in such a way that she comes across as emotional and human rather than erred. Grabbing the mic, she saunters into the center of the stage and once again pushes through some cracking and technical faults remaining sincere and most importantly available. The judges really love what she’s done and she gets the opportunity to apologize for not remaining pitch perfect as she explains she nearly cried during this song. While typically I’d tackle this kind of excuse, you can honestly see it in her face that she means these words and deserves to be here. This is one of those rare, rare cases where I forgive based on personality and heart alone; once she pulls it together, she is definitely gonna be someone to reckon with. Her final comment on saving her decorative hair flowers from the “too expensive” room service is gonna SLAY viewers and humanize this sexily scratchy lass all the way to the top.
Okay, now that I’ve judged her solely as her own person, WHAT THE HELL IDOL??? She’s singing, in the same night, the exact same song as contender Jen Hirsh??? I’ve never heard of this happening come live shows and struggle to wonder if they thought it would be cute to do a “who sang it better” thing but the fact that they don’t even address the doubling make it seem like it was a mistake no one caught until it was too late. The worst part is that no matter what, everyone will be comparing them to one another rather than on their own and that’s baaaaaad news for Jen. I’m hoping the producers accept and announce they’ve blown it here come next episode and more importantly make sure it doesn’t happen again. Anyway, it’s boring to hear the same thing twice: variety is the spice of life and all that crap.
So, the night comes to an end. The girls, to me, are by far the leaders of the pack. I certainly straight up hated many of the men’s performances but more importantly I really connected with more than a couple of the ladies this evening and that’s what I’m looking for at this point. Come tomorrow’s elimination I’m satisfied to know that unprepared and straight up not talented enough singers will be gone and it’s all about uniqueness and emotions from here on in. The fact that the girls were able to do that in this first week of live singing just proves how much more ready for this competition they are at this early stage. Below are my predictions for Thursday night’s elimination episode: I cannot WAIT for tomorrow’s reveals.
Erika Van Pelt
Brielle Von Hugel
Judges’ Wild Card
Jen Hirsh (ONLY if they choose two girls as Wild Cards)
** Adam’s Early Early Prediction for Top 3 Girls:
Erika Van Pelt