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Thoughts On American Idol’s Top 12 Women

March 2, 2011

Note: What the hell was going on with Lopez’s outfit? That dress+boots combo went together like peanut butter and jalapeno peppers. At least Seacrest was able to confirm to Randy that the show was, indeed, American Idol.

Here are the Top 12 female performers in order of appearance on the show.

  1. Tatynisa Wilson – “Only Girl In The World” Well she gets points for picking a current song, and a dancey one at that, but that’s all she’s gonna get. She tried to seem confident, but she looked in over her head. It’s not entirely her fault, as the Rihanna original features very liberal vocal processing, so it’s not unexpected that a crash-n-burn singer like Tatynisa would falter doing it live. Hell, if there was a Max Martin/Dr. Luke-themed night in the future, most of these contestants would choke like James Franco on chronic smoke.
  2. Naima Adedapo – “Summertime” Her little hand motions that accompanied each of the lyrics seemed a little silly, but I’d do the same thing. I kind of like this loungy version. It’s more moldy cheese than fresh cheddar, but at least she broke away from the minimal version that tends to get trotted out every year. Her performance seemed cool and relaxed in a silly Richard Cheese way. I think Steven Tyler sums it up when he says “It’s a new old timey thing that can be new.” Yeah….
  3. Kendra Chantelle/Campbell – “Impossible” Go back to being a fashion designer, Nicky Hilton. That or go be a puppeteer, because when you belt you sound like Elmo. Your vibrato will be your undoing. That or thinking you’re the next Alicia Keys.
  4. Rachel Zevita – “Criminal” She also makes a lounge move, similar to Naima, but this comes off more like red hot Chicago Broadway. That she’s made up to look like Dita Von Teese just seals the deal. Too bad her singing was a little too thin and got swallowed up by the jazz arrangement. I give her kudos for taking on Fiona Apple (who got famous through her musical prowess, attitude, and willingness to challenge mid-90s pop-rock conventions, not her pipes) and trying to do something original. A for effort!
  5. Karen Rodriguez – “Hero” OK, if your opening montage says the show needs more fire, then you sing a stale-ass early 90s Mariah Carey song, it’s a bit of a letdown. Also, if you take on the diva pantheon, you need to bring the noise! Poor song choice (high school talent show) and appalling dress choice (it made her look like a boxy blue rectangle). Neither was a good fit, even with the lyrics en Español. That was maybe the one notable part of the whole performance.
  6. Lauren Turner – “Seven Day Fool” Well now I’m awake! I had never heard this song before, but this arrangement was upbeat and fun! Right off the bat, she separates herself from the competition by performing in her range. The few vocal runs played to her strength and her vocal similarity to Christina Aguilera, which actually fit the big brassy arrangement instead of being silly or outgunned. It was just really engaging.
  7. Asthon Jones – “Love All Over Me” Her attitude right from the get go says “I AM AWESOME AND THE REST OF YOU ARE WEAKLINGS! KNEEL BEFORE ZOD!” It’s a pity that she continues the Lite-FM trouble train that’s boring the shit out of me right now. That kind of music bored me back when I was 12 and still bores me now. She should try to be Kelly Rowland before trying to be Diana Ross (who Randy compares her to). It would be more enjoyable for everyone.
  8. Julie Zorrilla – “Breakaway” I think her performance would have sounded better if she was mixed higher. It felt as though her voice was falling in with the backup singers too much. When she was singing without accompaniment she held her own, although her vibrato is not the Kelly Clarkson bazooka that would have put her over the top. Her track record of mad pretty dresses continues.
  9. Haley Reinhart – “Fallin’” Predictably when she tried to take a vocal run 15 seconds into the song, she went into mumble mode. When she wasn’t mumbling, her voice had more cracks than the awkward teen on The Simpsons. She’s out of her league like Miley Cyrus in a Celine Dion impersonation contest and she needs to work on her facial expressions.
  10. Thia Megia – “Out Here On My Own” At least they got her volume levels right. She sings a little lower than many of her peers, so she actually came out sounding kinda mature for her age. The arrangement was a little too high school talent show, but she kept it simple and did her thing very professional and very well, so props to her.
  11. Lauren Alaina – “Turn On The Radio” Lauren turned out a solid country rock performance with decent belting. J.Lo called her performance effortless, but I’d call it coasting. Whatever, she’s the chosen one this season, so she’ll be protected at every turn until there’s no place to hide. At least she reintroduced Seacrest as “Peaches.”
  12. Pia Toscano – “I’ll Stand By You” Now this is how to do a slow song and win! Her performance had control, passion, and power. There were runs, belting, held notes, looks and most of all, feeling! She’s no diva, she’s a pro! Ashthon’s reaction shot during the applause summarized the “oh fuck no” butterflies her competition must be feeling right now.

My Top 3 Performers

  1. Lauren Turner
  2. Pia Toscano
  3. Rachel Zevita

Bottom 3 Performers

  1. Haley Reinhart
  2. Karen Rodriguez
  3. Kendra Chantelle/Campbell

For a variety of reasons, this group resembled a bell curve: a few power performances, a few train wrecks, and the majority in the middle. Perhaps the theme weeks will separate the pros from the punks.

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