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Thursday, February 22, 2007

 

American Idolatry: The Women Who Wowed

After an uneven start with the boys last night, the challenge rounds of American Idol moved to the top 12 women. The judges felt that the women were generally stronger, but I'm not certain about that...my eardrums are still trying to recover from Alaina. The complete rundown:

Stephanie Edwards: Starting off sultry with Prince's "Why Don't You Call Me Anymore," Stephanie set a different, unexpected vibe. I wasn't as wild about the performance as the judges were (they seemed to be covering for their harsh criticisms the night before), but she impressed me...a more assured version of Fantasia (who I never really dug).

Amy Krebs: "I Can't Make You Love Me", by Bonnie Raitt...one of my favorite songs of all time. It equires a full tone and a soft, full delivery, and Amy has neither. That isn't to say that her voice isn't pretty, it is. Just not a good song for her. Her energy was rather low too. The judges were fair in remarking on her lack of individuality. Not a contender, methinks.

Leslie Hunt: As if the Idol gods had ordered it, here's a fuller, rounder tone. A kicky take on Aretha Franklin's "Natural Woman." She's not paying attention to the lyrics, but she's having so much fun that the audience isn't noticing her lack of comprehension. The voice is not the strongest, and taking on a classic will always get you criticized by Randy. All in all, not very inspiring...but passable enough to get through this round easily.

Sabrina Sloan: More Aretha. Better text comprehension. Does my fascination with her frizzy split ends make me a bad person? No...just a bored viewer. She definitely did her homework; every note was perfectly placed and landed, over-rehearsed into a simulacrum of perfection. It certainly worked on the judges, who loved her. Simon called her the best so far, and I'm inclined to agree...but I don't know that it's much of an achievement.

Antonella Barba: Known as "New Jersey jailbait" around the MFHQ, Antonella was followed with heavy air time during the audition rounds...one of the few who got a storyline at that stage, with her "best friend" getting cut even as she stayed. I was never that impressed by her voice...and I wasn't tonight either, with a karoake-quality version of "I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing" by Aerosmith. She was out of tune almost the entire time, bordering on the tone deaf. Still, she is undeniably gorgeous (and there aren't too many gorgeous girls this year). Is she this season's Ace Young...small talent, great looks? It got Ace to #6 I think. I don't expect her to go farther than that, provided she survives this round.

Jordin Sparks: I have high hopes for Jordin -- she's fresh and fun, and unconventional for a possible Idol. She chose an untraditional song, "Give Me On Reason" by Tracy Chapman, so bonus points for stepping outside the bounds of what is expected. It started off a little small (but she did manage to land all of those low notes), and ended with the biggest bang of the season so far. Randy was complementary of her big voice, and even Simon dug it. A dark horse in the making? Quite possibly...we'll definitely see her back next week.

Nicole Tranquillo: Not so much a song as an epileptic fit, I'm not sure Nicole ever got in the neighborhood of the melody line. She's got a big voice, and maybe even a good one. But this was a big stinky pile in my opinion. Randy blamed it on song choice and Simon called it indulgent and erratic, but there's more than that going on in the complete wrongness of her performance. I thought she was going places, but now I'm not so sure.

Hailey Scarnato: So completely forgettable and Celine-esque, I blanked out watching it. Complete aural wallpaper. Never going to win, but probably will make it through the week.

Melinda Doolittle: This former back-up singer's story is inspiring....more than that, it makes you want to pull for her. With a belter's voice, an infectious smile and a pitch-perfect rendering of Aretha Franklin's "Since You Been Gone" (sidenote -- a lot of Aretha tonight, huh?), it is sublimely easy to be in her corner. The most energetic and exciting performance of the competition to date, she automatically moves into a contender slot. Of course, we know what happens to black women belters at Idol...no higher than third. But hope springs eternal.

Alaina Alexander: If you've ever asked yourself, "What would The Pretenders sound like if Stevie Nicks had been their lead singer?", Alaina answered it for you with her pedestrian, screechy of "Brass In Pocket." I hate it when songs I love are put through a meat grinder. Ugh. One of the weakest of the night.

Gina Glockson: Singing so low in the beginning that I first thought she might be transgendered, Gina's shlocky version of "All By Myself" was remarkable only for its deep, manly baritone. She's a bit of a screamer, isn't she? Lots of big, loud, wailing notes at the end. Surprisingly polite reaction from the judges and the audience, with only Simon dissenting. Watching a suburban girl with a punk haircut singing Celine Dion is...unsettling, to say the least.

Lakisha Jones: Taking on the most iconic song of the night -- "And I Am Telling You (I'm Not Going)" from Dreamgirls -- I thought it was a pretty middling performance of a song owned and operated by Jennifer Hudson and Jennifer Holliday. The judges went ga-ga for it, but I'm not drinking the Kool-Aid. She's definitely talented, but she's got to do better than that if she wants to find the winners' circle.

Best of Night: Melinda Doolittle
Getting Cut On Thursday: Alaina Alexander and Nicole Tranquillo (although Antonella should be here instead)

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