Last night began the rounds of “American Idol” in which we as Americans have our turn to vote on the talent, and specifically which twelve contestants go home over the next three weeks, and which twelve make up the finalists. And what I saw last night was a case of the judges having done a bad job of delivering us talent. Because there weren’t many women who stood out from the twelve that performed on Tuesday, and yet the judges kept going on and on about how loaded this year’s crop is. Um, not really. At least not where the female contingent is concerned. Let’s recap what we saw, and let’s say that I agreed with almost everything Simon Cowell had to say….
The best performer last night was Lilly Scott, the 20 year old from Denver who has been living out of her car and performing on the street to survive. Are you kidding me? How does someone like that not suck? Well, she didn’t suck, and she did a kickass version of The Beatles’ “Fixing a Hole.” It was mostly original, maybe a little Lily Allen-ish, but there is no denying Lilly’s talent as a singer. Ellen DeGeneres, making her live Idol debut, said “That’s what we’re talking about!” and that it was distinctive and Lilly had a great stage presence…..Simon said she was the best of the night so far (she went fourth) and that it was a good song choice, but that he didn’t see Lilly’s star potential just yet….Kara said it was believable and Lilly was at ease on stage, and Randy said he liked that Lilly came across as a true indie artist. I agree with all of that.
Katelyn Epperly, 19, was next and she did another Beatles’ song, “Oh Darling.” This girl can also sing her butt off, and I have to be honest…I didn’t know much about her at all before this, and that’s because I think the producers did a lousy job of showcasing the true talent in the auditions. Anyway, Simon said the performance was a bit messy but that it was a good song choice, and that he likes Katelyn….Kara said she knows her own voice well and it was a good choice…..Randy said she paid attention to tone and likes Katelyn’s look…and Ellen said that while it was hard to figure Katelyn out at first, she was interesting and strong, and has an amazing voice. Yes to all.
Paige Miles, 24, had the daunting task of going first, and you may remember she did a killer version of Stevie Wonder in her last audition before this. Well, Paige goes and chooses Free’s “All Right Now,” a classic rock and wedding band staple, and it sounded like a wedding band performance. But you could definitely hear her strong voice in there. Simon said he believes Paige has the best voice among the women, but that this was a wedding singer song (duh)….Kara said she disagreed and that she thought it was a brilliant performance (really Kara?)…..Randy said it wasn’t the right choice, but that Paige has a big voice…and Ellen said she knows it’s hard to go first and that she thought Paige sounded “fantastic” (really Ellen?). Look, it wasn’t horrible, but a really weird and bad song choice.
Michelle D’Alamor, 22….um, who? Hey, producers, seriously…who is this? Well, Michelle has a day job of being a corporate singer. That’s a fancy way of saying she sings in a cover band. She took on Alicia Keys’ “Fallin'” and it was not bad, but not great when you compare her to Alicia Keys. Ellen said it was fantastic, but she thought it may have been a bit safe and easy for Michelle….Simon said she did well but sounded like a professional singer, and that wasn’t exactly a compliment in this context….Kara said it was “mostly great,” and Randy said Michelle chose a tough song but that it was “pretty good.” Pretty much yes on all of that.
Didi Benami, 23, is originally from Knoxville and now waits tables in L.A. while pursuing a music career. You may remember Didi lost her best friend a few years ago and she continues to honor her pal. Didi did Ingrid Michaelson’s “The Way I Am” and it sounded, well, like Ingrid Michaelson with a few vocal runs. It was just too much like the original for my taste, but she isn’t bad. Simon said it was good but he felt there are too many contestants trying to sound like the original, and that means no creative spark. Amen Simon! But he thought Didi had a nice voice….Kara said it was a good choice and she liked that Didi made a few changes to the phrasing (yeah Kara, that was really impressive!)….Randy asked the question all of us were thinking, “Where is the star factor?” and then he used the word “sleepy.” Ouch…..Ellen thought that for her first performance, it wasn’t representative of what Didi can do.
Siobhan Magnus, 19, who is one of my dark horses (Simon even said so), is a glass blowing apprentice for her day job. Now that’s a day gig! Waitress? Boring. Glass blower? Awesome. Anyway, Siobhan chose a weird song for her, Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game.” Still, she pulled it off but they showed a clip of her also singing Stevie Wonder in Hollywood week, and this did not compare to that at all. Kara said she wouldn’t have picked the song for Siobhan but that she liked it….Randy wondered where her “big pipes” were….Ellen said she was “entertained” and Simon said “You are a funny little thing, aren’t you?” and then added that it wasn’t as good as the Stevie Wonder performance they all loved. Exactly.
Crystal Bowersox brought her guitar and did Alanis Morissette’s “Hand in My Pocket.” She has a good voice but this performance was just too Lilith Fair for me, and there wasn’t much original about it. Randy said he thought it was original, but that he didn’t like the song choice (huh?)….Ellen said she was a Crystal fan…..Simon said what I thought, that it was good but that there are thousands out there just like Crystal, a.k.a. a “soundalike,” but that he likes her…..and Kara said Crystal was good but not great and that it was “too coffeehouse.” Exactly.
Katie Stevens, 17, also chose a weird song for her, Michael Buble’s “Feeling Good.” It wasn’t bad but seriously…..this song? Ellen thought it was good but too conservative of a song choice, and that she wants to see Katie act her age….Simon agreed with Ellen and said the performance even started to be annoying….Kara said it was a bit pitchy and not like Katie, because she has a natural gift….and Randy said that she was pushing so hard that some notes were going sharp, and that the song was “too old” for Katie. Yep, pretty much, but she should be safe.
Will somebody tell me how Ashley Rodriguez made it this far? Ashley did Leona Lewis’ “Happy” and it was pretty bad and pitchy, and she was trying too hard to BE Leona Lewis. Kara said it was a big song to take on but had nice moments, not great moments….Randy said it was a good job but not great compared to the original….Ellen agreed with Randy and said that Ashley needs to step out and be different…Simon pulled no punches, saying it was clumsy, not a good arrangement and that Ashley is “going backwards” and could be in trouble with the voting this week. I totally am with Simon.
24 year old Janell Wheeler was next and she took on Heart’s “What About Love,” another extremely risky choice when you consider, as Kara pointed out, that Ann Wilson has one of the best voices in rock history. Add to the fact that Janell shouldn’t be here to begin with, and you have the recipe for disaster, which is what this performance was. Randy said it was not his favorite song choice, and that it just didn’t work….Ellen said she liked the choice and that Janell “mostly” sang well (really?)…..Simon said Janell gave 100% but delivered 65%….and Kara said it was way too big of a song. The only thing Janell has going for her, beside the fact that she dated Tim Tebow, is that there were a few performances that may have been worse.
Haeley Vaughn was one that I thought should not have made it this far as well, and she also made a weird song choice, The Beatles’ “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.” Haeley had some harsh high notes, and I mean really harsh. Kara said it was technically all over the place but that Haeley was having fun…..Randy said she is unpredictable and had trouble with the high notes…..Ellen said she enjoyed it, but I’m not quite sure she was watching the same thing I was….and Simon said what most of us were thinking–that it was “verging on terrible,” and sounded like a wind-up doll. He then used the word “mess.” There you go. Now why did you guys let her get this far?
Lacey Brown, 24, made it almost this far last season, and this time had her chance to perform for America’s votes. Well, Lacey’s votes will be in direct proportion to the number of family members she has. She did Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” and it was pitchy and weird. Randy said it wasn’t the right choice, and he even used a Simon word–“terrible”…..Ellen said she thought Lacey was a better artist than what she showed last night….Simon called it “depressing” and “indulgent”…..and Kara said Lacey did not hit the high notes with ease. Um, what high notes are in that song?
So there you have it. This was not a great night for “American Idol” and I think the judges really screwed up by letting some of these women in. Of course, I don’t expect the really bad ones will still be there in a month. Of the four I thought were bad, I’m going with Haeley and Lacey to head home, with Ashley a distinct possibility as well. Janell will be safe based on her wine sales clients and the Florida football team voting for her. Tonight it’s the guys, and hopefully they will deliver a better collective performance than the ladies.
See you tomorrow with the recap!