Wednesday, February 21, 2007

American Idol, Top Twelve Girls

AI: The Girls, Week 1

OK – gonna give the live bog thing a shot here (well, actually watching at 9:30 CST tonight, cheating with my DVR – I ♥ Tivo!). Last night, the boys were a'ight, a few good performances (Chris Sligh, Blake Lewis and Chris Richardson stood out to me – Sanjaya Malakar and Sundance Head are in danger of going home, IMO). So which of the ladies will rock the house tonight? Who goes home and who goes on? Some thoughts from the Tomato, tonight – on American Idol!

Stephanie Edwards – How Come You Don't Call Me Anymore? (Alicia Keys)

I don't really remember her audition; is that a bad thing? It's a sticking point with Simon, at least it was last night with the guys. Anyway, Stephanie looks poised and she's rockin' a sassy hairstyle and attitude to match. Excellent dynamic range, she's workin' the crowd, and she owns the song – great gospel/blues style. A little slip holding the last note, but all in all a very solid start for the show. Great job!

Randy loves it, "loved the conviction", and commends her on her vocal runs. Paula gushes about how she's already a star, and Simon says she was a million times better than anything last night. He says she looks and sounds as if she came out ready to win the competition.

Amy Krebs – I Can't Make You Love Me (Bonnie Raitt)

Again, someone I really don't remember from earlier shows; wasn't a problem with Stephanie, so let's see how Amy fares.

Ah, a Bonnie Raitt tune, one of my favorites. It's the same arrangement as the original, so comparisons are inevitable. Amy's trying to give it some flavor with a run or two, and I'm not buying it. She's got a nasal quality to her tone that bugs me. She sings well, but I don't think she has IT. A run at the end wanders and I'm left unconvinced.

Randy agrees with me, he thinks it was too safe and the runs didn't work. Paula agrees with Randy (big shock) and Simon wants to know what Paula is really saying (big shock). Simon says he still can't remember her – she has "the personality of a candle….you're just like this thing that sings." Gotta agree with Le Cowell on this one

Oh look - Amy's a few inches taller than Ryan, and you KNOW it's not just the heels…maybe Ryan left his heels in the green room?

Leslie Hunt – You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman (Aretha Franklin)

I do remember Leslie Hunt. I remember that I didn't think she deserved to go on to the Top 24. And now, she's going to attempt to sing this song? Yikes – career suicide on national TV is in the works if she doesn't pull this off. And as usual, yet another female contestant proves that you just shouldn't attempt to emulate the Queen of Soul if you can't bring something special to the performance. And Leslie doesn't. She can sing, but so what? It wasn't anything.

And Randy agrees with me again – he says the song was just too big for her, and I think he's right. And now, Paula says that Leslie did a great job, but cautions her to "watch the songs you pick". Oh, so she DOES agree with Randy, but decided to couch it in the form of a compliment (that's her other usual tactic). Now, Simon's going on about how Leslie looks like a dog walker or something and Leslie's entourage in the audience is incredulous. Well, I guess they don't speak British metaphor or something. Not sure that I do either, but somehow, Simon manages to convey that Leslie was out of her depth. And of course, he's right again.

Sabrina Sloan – I Never Loved A Man (Aretha Franklin)

Sabrina has that "I should be in the touring cast of Rent" look about her, but tonight, she's all about the rhythm and blues. And wow – she's turning this song OUT. Big voice, but not out of control and the runs are fan-tas-tic. Unlike Leslie who wasn't cutting it with her song by the Queen, Sabrina shows that she is up to the task. She's not outsinging Aretha, but she is definitely holding her own, making the song work for her voice, and she is selling it well. Really great job and a great song choice – most girls pick the well-known Aretha hits, but this one is not as well known (it's from the same album as "Respect", "A Change is Gonna Come") and I think that works in Sabrina's favor. Let's un-pause the TiVo and see what the judges have to say…

Randy loves it, he thinks we've "finally got a competition…that's the one to beat right there, that was hot!". Paula gives up one of her solo standing o's. Simon mentions how they've been taking heat for being overly critical of some people, but says that Sabrina's performance shows why they have to be that way: some people just take part in the competition, but she shows the desire to work hard at it and bring something special. That's what he wants to see from every performer, and that's why he criticizes those with talent who are just coasting – and I agree with him 100%.

Great job, Sabrina!

Antonella Barba – I Don't Want To Miss a Thing (Aerosmith, from the Armageddon sountrack)

OK, now Antonella I do remember. She's one of the beastly girls, OOPS, I mean she's the friend of the icky girl (Amanda) with the attitude problem, who ousted Bayley, who claimed she wasn't flirting, who said that she got through because "God likes good people" ICK. Anyway, Antonella auditioned with her, and she made it to the top 24. I'd have picked one of a few other girls – she forgot her words a couple times, she was shaky with the group sing. ; I really believe that Antonella got in more for her looks than her singing (which, to be honest, isn't bad at all, just sayin…) So let's see what she brings tonight

Oh dear.

Armageddon is a bad movie. Truly awful. I love watching it just to hear the really cheesy line at the end. It makes me laugh out loud every time I hear it.

Antonella's performance is just as bad as the movie. But I'm not laughing.

Oh dear.

Randy's gonna rip into her. He asks "Antonella, what do you think I'm going to say to you?" NOT a good sign from Randy. She offers "maybe you could see my nerves a little bit?" Uh no, dear – we could see your LACK OF VOCAL CONTROL, AND THE FACT THAT YOU DON'T BELONG HERE EXCEPT AS SIMON'S INSURANCE POLICY SO HE CAN GET YOU VOTED OUT AND KEEP LAKISHA.

But I digress…Randy lets her have it, "pitchy, bland, wasn't great" and the usual boos from the audience are noticeably missing. They KNOW it too.

Simon confirms my suspicions. "Well the good news is – you're attractive." No doubt – she is that. "The bad news is – it didn't work." The boos come for that, but they're half hearted, I think. Simon advises her to find some pop song and go with that.

So, Antonella's wonderful audition goes out the window, and she's on the edge of elimination. That rogue asteroid headed our way right now won't get here until 2038, so no danger of a distraction to keep the voters from voting her out.

Jordin Sparks – Give Me One Reason (Tracy Chapman)

Jordin's young, she's cute, and she's been described as "sugary sweet" by Simon in the past. But I do remember her audition – and I thought it wasn't so sweet as he thought, she had a good edge on her voice, and I enjoyed her in the Hollywood weeks. And now, she's putting her own spin on Tracy Chapman.

A little faster than the original, but the problem is that there's no range on this blues number. She does take it up an octave at some points to give it some more dynamic and it's not bad, but it's not up to the same level of Stephanie and Sabrina. She is a good performer, and she's yet another one taller than Ryan. He didn't take his shoes off again, did he?

Randy wants her to go for it – he doesn't think there's any song too big for her voice. Paula thinks she did well, and she again echoes Randy "go for it go for it go for it". An aside – I have to wonder if Paula stole her choreography for those videos back in the eighties; does she ever have an independent thought? Simon does, and he thinks that Jordin has made a big change, he likes her voice, he wants her to push herself to see how far she can get.

Nicole Tranquillo – Stay (Chaka Khan, Erykah Badu)

Nicole has that average look, that average appearance, and an above average voice and performance style. She comes out with attitude and I'm not buying it. It seems faked, like she's put on a mask for this performance. The voice is speaking loud and clear though, when I look away from the screen; she sounds much better when I'm NOT watching. Don't work so hard at it, Nicole.

Randy doesn't think it was her vibe. Paula disagrees. She and the guys loved it "out of this world" says our girl. Simon and Paula are sniping a bit, he found it "unnatural and fake, over-rehearsing, indulgent" SEE? Simon and I are bash-buddies. She can sing, but that was NOT the right song.

Haley Scarnato – It's All Coming Back to Me Now (Meatloaf)

Now, Haley's audition I DO remember. This girl is hot – great voice, great look, great chance at going far. But she's going to sing Meatloaf..yikes. The king of ballads custom designed for oversinging.

Odd. It started well when she was being quiet and building to the chorus, but once it got going, it's like she couldn't keep up. Randy and Paula are non-commital, Simon thinks she has a good voice, but also thinks she sounded "old" and "boring". Yep. That would be Meatloaf…

Melinda Doolittle – Since You Been Gone (Aretha Franklin)

Melinda. Professional backup singer. EXCELLENT voice, a fun personality, and knows what it takes to succeed. Highly deserving of being in the bright spotlights out front. But can she bring it with the third tribute to the Queen this evening? I hope so, because I LOVE her voice, I love her spunky attitude when she starts singing…

And wow – maybe not quite as good as Sabrina, but again, a great performance. I think the edge that Melinda has is that she puts a lot of nuance into her singing, a lot of terrific touches here and there that make her style perfect for singing a Franklin song.

And Randy agrees (so does Paula, natch). Simon says she has HUGE talent and loves that she is so humble. I think he's rooting for her, and so am I.

Alaina Alexander – Brass in Pocket (The Pretenders)

I think she's one of these finalists who has a good voice, but is out of her depth. Perhaps she's one of the other Insurance Picks? We'll see – maybe she can rise to the occasion…
Well, it's the right song, if you're trying to match voices. She does sound like Chrissie Hynde. But she can't sell it. She's flat here and there, cracking a vocal tone now and then. I'm not sure that she's "special –so special".

And again Randy and I are on the same wavelength, Paula steals our thoughts and Simon wraps it up by repeating my thought – she sings that she's special, but there wasn't anyone special about it.

Gina Glocksen - All By Myself (Eric Carmen / Celine Dion)

Gina is one of my favorite characters from the first few weeks. I love her so much; she's taken a no-nonsense approach to rehearsing, but hasn't lost her sense of originality or fun. I think she's great. But will she manage to do well on the finalist stage?

Interesting song choice – doesn't really seem to match the red streak in her hair, but maybe it's an attempt to do something unexpected. And she almost handles Dion's long, drawn out key change, throwing in a too-long pause in the ending before giving a NICE run to finish. Hmmm…it was NOT the right song for her to sing, Randy or Paula. Does Simon agree? Well, he didn't expect it either, and he heard the problems with the big note too. Points to Gina for going against type…hope she sticks around longer.

Lakisha Jones – And I'm Telling You (Dreamgirls)

I would SO love to see Lakisha go far this season. I'd love to see a real woman, a woman with a real life (a young child at home, struggling to make ends meet) do really well, and Lakisha can blow. Can a bank teller ride the Jennifer Hudson train to the top? I think she could…

well, it was very good. it was very big. but was it great? Not sure… I think she can find yet another level in that voice of hers, but I don’t think she managed to bring it any stronger than Sabrina. It's close. The judges are loving on her, Simon wants to suggest to the other 23 "book your plane tickets, you're going home"

I don't know. She owned it, she did well, but was it the best? Not sure…

Will she make it through? Pretty sure she will – I don't think that Antonella or Haley will be back after tomorrow's vote. But all in all – the girls took week one, no doubt. The boys have their work cut out for them – come back next Tuesday and get my take on the top ten men….

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