These first three weeks of performances on American Idol
are like a base coat of paint. The singers all get to solidify themselves and set themselves up for the real competition of the Top 12. Though half of the Top 24 is eliminated, even more than that show that they have no shot at winning this competition.
Tonight the Top 8 women performed, and unlike the guys, these women are all very close in their talents, for the most part. As of now, no one has stepped up as the clear favorite. In fact, I'd argue that as many as four of these women have exhibited signs of becoming the frontrunner, but none has completely seized it. Right now America is faced with a few good and a bunch of average performances. At that point, it's all about who has the biggest fan base.
1. Brooke White “Love is a Battlefield” by Pat Benatar
For the second straight week, Brooke White tops my list, with a daringly original version of this classic rock song. She did it unplugged, accompanied by just a guitar, and made it lovely and vulnerable. Much like David Cook
, Brooke is exhibiting signs of creative interpretation, which is very important for many of the theme nights ahead that may not fit a more narrow comfort zone.
2. Carly Smithson – “I Drove All Night” by Cyndi Lauper
Slowly but surely, Carly Smithson is proving why she used to have a record deal. The fact that she's a professional has upset me less and less because she's actually competing and getting good, honest criticism, unlike David Archuleta
. Simon Cowell
was right in saying she needs to pick better songs, not for her, but in terms of quality. Everything Carly sings is good. The trick for her is making it great, and hopefully she'll have enough time to get there.
3. Syesha Mercado – “Saving All My Love for You” by Whitney Houston
This season could be the battle of the petite girls with big voices. Syesha, Ramiele and Asiah all fit that profile, and tonight, Syesha knocked them all down with this performance. This was a very smart song choice, because she chose the same big artist as another girl, and she sang it better, so there's virtually no way she can be eliminated.
4. Ramiele Malubay – “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)” by Phil Collins
She's sweet and she's fun, and right now Ramiele's biggest problem is translating that to the stage. She's a great singer, but her personality is often slightly stifled. Perhaps her BFF Danny Noriega
can coach her into letting loose, and when that happens, she could really break out.
5. Kristy Lee Cook - “Faithful” by Journey
Much the same way Happy Gilmore begged his ball to go home, so too did the judges urge Kristy Lee Cook to go into the country world. There really aren't any other country artists in this competition, so Kristy Lee has that terrain all to herself. That's a good place to be, and if she can just find a way to take it even further, then she too can go further in this competition.
6. Amanda Overmyer – “I Hate Myself for Loving You” by Joan Jett
Simon said this was the best performance of the night, and while I hate to disagree with the wise man, I must. Amanda Overmyer's singing is simply not my style, and I suspect it's not the style of a lot of people. To that end, Amanda will never have any crossover appeal, so the only votes she will muster are from the small group who actually enjoy this type of hard rock.
7. Asiah Epperson – “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” by Whitney Houston
Last week, the judges chastised her for picking a song too big for her voice. I guess singing a Whitney Houston song was Asiah Epperson's idea of trying to prove the judges wrong. The problem is: the judges were right. Once again, she's only half as good as the original, at best, and that's simply not good enough. Adding to her woes is the fact that Syesha Mercado sang a Whitney song better.
8. Kady Malloy – “Who Wants to Live Forever” by Queen
What is wrong with Kady Malloy? On video, she seems funny and self-deprecating and an overall awesome person. Her Britney Spears impression is so good, I'm still thinking about it. Yet when she gets on the American Idol stage to perform, it's like a vacuum sucks all the life out of the room. She's a mystery, and each week, I keep waiting for her to wow us, and she never does. Well Kady, three strikes and you're out.
Predicting who will be eliminated is easy. Kady and Asiah are goners. If anyone else leaves, I will be shocked and disappointed, because the other six all offer something different and unique. Asiah is just a second-rate Syesha, and Kady is just plain bad.
-John Kubicek, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Images courtesy of FOX)