The 'American Idol' Watchlist: The Top 12 Girls (Finally!) Perform
The 'American Idol' Watchlist: The Top 12 Girls (Finally!) Perform
How long has it been since this season of American Idol began? Yeah, it's fun reacquainting myself with the auditions (and sometimes getting pissed off) but nothing beats actual singing rather than overplayed drama. Tonight, in a two-hour episode, the competition actually begins, as we start paring down the Top 24 until one of them emerges the winner. Yes, we get to vote again. Yes, we have to start treating these girls seriously now. They are the real deal.

Wait a minute--twelve performances in two hours? Oh no. I smell forty-five minutes of filler coming.

Anyway, I'm on the record as being on the girls' side this year. I have seven favorites at the moment, and four of them--Crystal Bowersox, Didi Benami, Lacey Brown and Lilly Scott--are, well, girls. I'm excited to see what they'll do tonight (and judging from the audition episodes, they'll do freaking well) but I'm keeping my options open. We all know there's a tendency to surprise: either a contestant pulls a huge one off us, or you vote someone totally unexpected through.

The only definite thing is, at the end of this week, four contestants will be eliminated: two girls, and two guys from tomorrow's performances.

But, first, to the ladies, and to the things I'm particularly interested to see tonight:

Janell Wheeler. She's got a good vocal, but we haven't really seen much of her. Among the female frontrunners, she wasn't carried by an overplayed back story, although her performances more than keep her head above water.

Siobhan Magnus. We first saw her on Hollywood week, where Kara advised her to be more fun and keep a younger vibe. But, judging from the partial song spoiler list that came out yesterday, her song choice wouldn't help. The Weather Girls' "It's Raining Men"! Really, Siobhan? I predict a disappointing train wreck. It's going to be awkward, and her getting cut is going to be a coup de grace. That'd be a sad thing--I kinda like her. (Kinda, so far.)  Of course, she can surprise me by changing things around and making the song her own, but it seems she's taking the "have fun" advice too far.

The contestants we barely saw: Michelle Delamor and Paige Miles. Now's their first, and possibly their only, chance to prove themselves. It sucks starting from nowhere and having to make a very good impression on the judges and the viewers. Then again, it happened before...

Allison Iraheta. I know, she's not performing tonight--she's performing her second single off Just Like You, "Scars", on Thursday night's results show--but I'm mentioning her now because of how she introduced herself last year: zero exposure, a surprisingly good performance, an eventual fourth place finish. Michelle and Paige better bring it.

Ellen DeGeneres.
We liked her style in Hollywood, but tonight and the next few weeks will actually test how she does on the show. It's live, so anything could happen, including her jostling with Simon Cowell. If there are a lot of sucky performances tonight, I'm sure we'll find a silver lining in Ellen's first actual outing as a judge.

But, more than anything, I'm just glad and relieved we made it to this point. Bring on the singing, ladies. And tomorrow, you gentlemen. We'll see who makes it really far.

(Images courtesy of Fox)