Top 12 girls sing for their dinner – They were eating light tonight.
Starting girl’s night out was Chelsea Sorrell singing Carrie Underwood’s hit “Cowboy Casanova.”. Though the song was Carrie Underwood’s, the performance fell far short of Carrie. Growling her way through her performance Chelsea was notable mostly for the notes she did not “quite” hit. Randy Jackson thought it was a bad song choice, and that Chelsea should “find her own voice”. Jennifer Lopez thought she was “nasally”, and Steven told Chelsea to “watch the way she phrased the song”.
Erika Van pelt was up next with the Heart power ballad “What About Love”. I was left wondering what about Erika, as she made mincemeat of what should have been a relatively easy performance coup. However, while I thought it was one of the worst performances of the night, Steven somehow thought she “nailed it”, and Jennifer went so far as to call Erica one of the seasons “Power voices”, although Jennifer then qualified her statement by saying she felt Erika could have “taken the performance a little further”. I would have liked her to take the performance to another stage, one where I wasn’t there. Randy said he “Got an Adele vibe” from her. I believe that is the first time I have heard Randy Jackson insult Adele.
Jen Hirsch sang Adele’s “One and Only”. I was worried at first she had taken on too big of a song, but Jen pulled it off, and then some. An excellent job with a difficult song, my only problem was I thought she was trying to hard to show off her vocal stylings. “Twiddles and tweaks” should be for the sake of the music, not just to impress the judges. None the less, Jen’s performance was solid and well done. Jennifer thought it was beautiful, and Steven said Jen has what it takes. Randy said Jen is one of the best singers in the competition. A statement Randy is careful to make only five or six times a night.
Brielle, Oh Brielle, the judges may have loved Brielle Von Hugel’s rendition of Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ on) the Dock of the Bay”, but personally, I think the dock she was sitting on collapsed into the ocean shortly after the first word. This performance was terrible. Some of that may be attributed to the arrangement, which was so far from the original of this classic song as to be unrecognizable. Not a good idea with a song with this type of identity. When judge Randy Jackson said she had a “Janis Joplin” swagger, I wondered if Randy may have slept through her song. Certainly, I had always thought Randy was a Janis Joplin fan…
Fortunately Hallie Day was up next, looking like, and sounding like, the torch singer she has already been labeled. With a wonderful rendition of the popular “I’m feeling good”, Hallie brought a new life into the competition, just in time to keep us from changing channels. Jennifer thought Hallie looked like a star and mostly gained control. Steven liked Hallie’s old-timey sounding voice, and Randy wasn’t sure where Hallie would fit in today’s pop world, saying he thought she might appeal to some of Adele’s fans. Apparently the judges had been lulled to sleep by the mediocre performances up till now.
Skylar Laine chose to sing Face’s “Stay with Me,” Styling it as country with a rock overtone Skylar worked the stage and showed a lot of attitude throughout a competent performance. Her performance was also filled with energy. Maybe a little too much energy, as I think she tried a little too hard to be Tina Turner, and ended up just looking a little bit demented. But, she finished it off with a big high note at the end, which suitably impressed the judges. Randy called her the rockin’ country girl and said he loved her energy. Jennifer said, “It’s like Tina Turner went country.” Steven said she was on fire and encouraged her to keep it up. Lots of potential here, but she needs a dancing coach.
Baylie Brown decided to sing Lonestar’s “Amazed”, although her performance fell far short of amazing. Baylie just wasn’t there, having left her confidence on the backstage floor, She seemed very nervous, and her performance was flat. This was the first time tonight I felt the judges had watched the same performance I had. They actually made some realistic critiques, with Jennifer saying “she didn’t have total control, and Randy Jackson noting it was “pitchy”. Steven said he’d heard her sing better, and I would wholeheartedly agree.
Hollie Cavanagh opted for Christina Aguilera’s song “Reflection” from the Disney film “Mulan,” This girl has a set of lungs, and she did a good job of channelling Christina. If she can get over the stage jitters, I am expecting big things from Hollie. Indeed Randy said she was a Judge’s favorite, and Jennifer opined that Hollie could “win the entire competition”. Steven was right on when he said he hopes to see her let her hair down. While Steven was obviously being literal, Hollie could well stand to figuratively “let her hair down” as well. She has much more in there to offer. What we saw tonight was simply a compelling sampling.
Haley Johnsen was next to hit the stage as she screamed and shrieked her way through the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).”. Sounding more like an out of tune ukulele, Haley also appeared to be trying too hard. Steven Tyler was totally non-committal as he simply said she “pulled it through”. Jennifer had obviously been listening to someone else besides Haley as she said she thought Haley had “skill and soul in her voice”. Of the judges, Randy finally let out the truth when he called her performance a nightmare instead of a sweet dream. A bit Later Randy alluded to a train wreck.
Shannon Magrane attempted to sing the gospel song “Go Light Your World’ by Kathy Troccoli with conviction, but it would appear she left her heart and soul back in the dressing room as she delivered a dull and lifeless rendition. Not even reaching the level of karaoke, all I could think of was “pageant singer”. I was actually surprised during the interview afterwards with Ryan that she did tell how she wanted peace, and to feed all the staving children in the world. Somehow, somewhere, in some alternate universe, Jennifer Lopez found ” passion in Shannon’s voice”. Steven liked it when she took it up a notch towards the end. And Randy Jackson, who was obviously getting tired, said she came out swinging with this one and showed a lot of promise. Promise maybe as a ball player, but not as a singer.
Jessica Sanchez started out by explaining to Ryan Seacrest that she had been on vocal rest this week, so she didn’t have much time to rehearse her song, “Love You I Do” from “Dreamgirls.” As with most who start out by making “excuses” for what was to come, I was expecting to be totally let down. And, for the very first part of the song, which was simply too low for her voice, I was disappointed. But that didn’t last long. As she went up a bit into the chorus, she shone. She soared, and her voice came out supreme. A fantastic performance, no excuses were necessary, and she ended up getting a standing ovation from the judges. Steven said her voice was “perfect”, Jennifer thought she had “swag” and “attitude”, and Randy said she was simply one of the best singers in the competition – boy or girl. And I agree, what a great and enjoyable performance.
Finally Elise Testone was the second contestant to sing Adele’s “One and Only.”, and she ended the night on a very high note. Starting it off playing piano, she finished standing up. Her smoky voice mixed with a bluesy spin as she, according to Steven “blew it out of the water”, and Jennifer said she loved the different tone of Elise’s voice. Randy said Elise is a force to be reckoned with, and I would agree.
Overall, with the exception of the last two performances (how does Idol “arrange that”?) none of the girl’s Wednesday night attempts fulfilled the expectations that may have arisen from their performances in Hollywood week. Some came close, but many other performances fell far short of even that mark, let alone the American Idol standard. Thursday night America Votes, and they will send half of the contestants home. Lets hope it isn’t Jessica Sanchez, Hollie Cavanagh , Elise Testone, Hallie Day, Jen Hirsch, or even Skylar Laine.
Join the conversation and let me know what you think in the comments.