Right after the Top 8 guys hit the American Idol stage to curry favor with their takes on Motown, now it’s the girls’ turn.
Twelve will enter the Fillmore Detroit in the Motor City hoping for a shot at the overall Top 12, but only eight will be given the opportunity.
On the male side, it was Michael Simeon, Trevor Douglas, Savion Wright and Riley Bria whose journeys came to an end. Only Savion was a surprise, but he doomed himself with a terrible song choice and campy performance. He and Michael were early favorites, and I was a big Trevor fan, but any of the three would have been a welcome inclusion over pre-tween Daniel Seavey.
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I don’t know if people are actually voting for him, or if show producers keep him around so people will tune in just to see how bad he is/when he gets eliminated. But enough about guys, because this one is all about the ladies. And hopefully, they won’t all pick Stevie Wonder songs.
It’s unclear if the great Aretha Franklin will once again be forced to open the show with a performance that reminds how amazing it is that Tony Bennett still sounds so great, but we do know that two singers will be joining Shannon Berthiaume and Shi Scott on the sidelines permanently.
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Those two are definitely out, which is a shame because Shannon continually impressed me up until the Top 12 and because I dig Shi’s fro and overall physical makeup.
Sarina-Joi Crowe, Jax and Tyanna Jones are definitely safe, and while I’d like to add her, I’m apparently in the small minority who believes Loren Lott belongs in that group as well.
Joey Cook is just weird enough to get by based solely on standing out, so I don’t think she has to worry either. And you can add Lovey James and Alexis Gomez to the middle-of-the-road-but-not-in-terrible-danger group.
That means two of Maddie Walker, Katherine Winston and Adanna Duru are calling it a day, and I’m going out on a limb and predicting that what should happen will happen. Welcome to the Top 8, Ms. Duru. Your table is waiting.
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The Live Blog Begins Now
Instead of starting off with a live number from a legend, it’s a montage of the girls over The White Stripes’ “Fell in Love with a Girl,” and Aretha fans are breathing a sigh of relief. The judges are again already seated and dressed in typical attire, so we’re jumping right into the mix.
Tyanna Jones is Safe
She’s all about her giant family, but we’re all about her giant voice. She’s singing Michael Jackson’s “Rockin’ Robin,” which is kind of like the Motown version of “Lips are Moving.” It’s solid, and the fact that it’s more of a controlled song keeps her from over-singing. But it also doesn’t show off much of her range, save the final big note. I’m not a huge fan of the choice unless she’s going to put a little edge into it, because otherwise it sounds like a kid song.
Keith exclaims that it’s a great way to kick off the show and a perfect song choice that plays to her vocal strengths. J-Lo is reminded of legendary performers and feels like it’s a blast from the past. Harry calls it subtle and strong, and he wonders if there’s anything she can’t sing.
It sets a good baseline, but the others are going to determine where she ultimately ends up in the standings.
Loren Lott is Safe
Big fan of that call, America. I wonder if her acting chops are eventually going to become a distraction, but for now, the wild facial expressions and body movements add to the performance. She’s singing “I Wanna Be Where You Are,” by Michael Jackson, and apparently Jacko is to the girls was Stevie was to the guys.
Her voice is clearly spectacular, and she’s dancing around like a nut and having fun. I’m a fan, but I still need to see her pull everything together into a truly touching and meaningful performance. She has the ability to deliver some haunting ones.
J-Lo really enjoyed it, and it made her smile. She praises Loren’s raw talent, while Harry proclaims that she has raised an already-high bar even higher. Keith thinks that with these girls, Motown is a lucky pick for all of us.
Maddie Walker is Safe
And that doesn’t bode well for Adanna. She’s singing “I’ll Be There” by the Jackson 5, and really? It’s in Maddie’s wheelhouse for sure, and while she looks the part, there are some shaky notes. I find myself wanting her to succeed, and I’m not sure if it’s a confidence thing, but there’s definitely room to improve, especially with the emotional connection of such meaningful lyrics.
Harry says she has erased any doubt that she deserves to be here, but he points out her inconsistencies with the extended notes and urges her to pay attention to the nuances of delivery and mixing up the pitch. Keith praises the song choice and compliments her for making it her own, but he could tell she was nervous and advises that paying attention to the lyrics will help her get over that. J-Lo thinks she handled the innocence of the song well and calls it a solid performance.
Lots of words from the judges for her, just like with Clark, which means they want her to stick around. That mix of look and potential has everyone hoping she can pull it all together.
All Hail Aretha
Before the next performance, we’re treated to the Motown hero’s time with the kids. She schools them on minding the business side of the industry, and she tells them that if they mess up, just wing it. But she never misspelled “respect.”
Then she name drops and pushes them to rise to the challenge before Ryan promotes her new album.
Joey Cook is Safe
This full-time street musician is mixing it up with The Miracles’ “Shop Around,” and it’s a unique spin on a classic. It’s very pin-up lounge singer-esque, and maybe it’s just because she ditched the accordion, but I’m digging it. It’s like a less crazy Amy Winehouse. I don’t know if she has what it takes to win, but this one works.
Keith asks if she’s freaking out, and he appreciates her custom music because it always suits her. J-Lo calls her uniqueness beautiful and praises her ability to bear her heart and soul, and Harry loves the artistry. But he worries that people will start to tire of her specialized look and pronunciation and that hyper-style-ization that is Joey.
Sarina-Joi Crowe is Safe
Certainly no surprise there, and now we’ll see if she’s going to start a trend of killer performances. It’s “You’ve Really Got a Hold of Me,” by the Miracles, and while she sounds good with a rough spot or two, I’m not feeling it. I can’t quite put my finger on it though, because her voice is nice and her facial expressions are filled with emotion, but eh. Maybe it’s the arrangement?
J-Lo is happy that she’s up there, and she proclaims that “Sarina sings, she just sings” and is super special and super gifted. Harry thinks she has a world-class smile, but she needs to focus on intonation, pitch and singing in tune. Which is like saying a mansion is big, large and not small. He calls the performance “consistently flat,” but she can fix it if she tries because she is capable of hearing it. Keith agrees, but he likes that she didn’t get pulled away when she hit a note that the crowd latched on to. So I guess all that stuff Harry said is what I was hearing.
Three spots left for seven girls, and we know Jax is safe. So really, two spots left for six girls.
Adanna Duru is Safe
That means something slightly crazy will happen, but as for Adanna, she’s singing “Hello” by Lionel Richie. It’s a chance for her to make a ridiculous connection and give a haunting performance, but it’s just OK. I should have goosebumps all over and be more worried about watching than typing, but unfortunately, none of those things apply. It would have ended spectacularly though, had she not missed one tiny note. Sad face.
Harry gives her an A-plus on singing the lyrics, but on the flip side, intonation all over again, and it was out of tune. Keith thinks she owned the song at the end, and that’s what he wants to hear more of. J-Lo just liked it but didn’t love it, and she emphasizes the importance of song choice.
As Adanna points out, though, it is pretty crazy that they have to make their push for the Top 12 immediately after learning they made the Top 16. Maybe they should get a moment to enjoy it?
Jax is Safe
“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell is a song that is sung often enough to be played out, but I have never heard it like this before. It’s slowed down and jazzy, and Jax is really the one in this competition who can sing everything. And she always makes it her own. Kudos.
Keith praises her artistry and the grit in her voice, while J-Lo points out that she’s a favorite but cautions about venturing so far from the original that it doesn’t work. And this, she says, didn’t work. Harry thinks she has an incredible voice and unbelievable charisma, but he agrees with Jennifer. He says that until we know who she is, she has to sing songs that will get her where she wants to go. He calls it dull, and at this point, she has to kill it.
This one will probably split America. I liked it and didn’t have a problem with her altering it so much. It’s a campy, church-y song, and I appreciated a different take that didn’t detract. You?
Only one of Shannon Berthiaume, Shi Scott, Lovey James, Alexis Gomez and Katherine Winston will be moving on and…
Alexis Gomez is Safe
It’s a shame for Lovey James, but the rest are appropriate.
Country hippie free spirit Alexis is singing “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)” by The Four Tops, and twang is back in full force as she karaokes the southern version of Motown. I’m not even sure the pimp spot can help her.
Jennifer is so glad Alexis made the Top 8, and while she’s not the type to use words like intonation, it was so out of key that it actually bothered her. Harry is also happy that she advanced, but there is a lot he didn’t like about this performance. He urges her to learn to control herself, settle down and do her thing. Keith believes her decision to ditch the shoes and go barefoot was smart, because it’s important to be comfortable. Ouch.
Top 12, Here We Come
At least from the judges’ perspective, that was a terrible second half to the show. But if I were voting, it’d be for Jax, Joey, Loren and Tyanna, in no particular order. I think Sarina-Joi is also safe, but Alexis, Adanna and Maddie had better hope they don’t rank in the bottom two of that trio.
I’m pulling for Maddie, because I’d like for her to reach her potential, but they’re all deserving of elimination. But that’s up to America, the same America that will probably put Daniel Seavey in the Top 12.
Who do you love, and who let you down? Who are your frontrunners, and do any of these ladies stand a chance against the guys? We’ll soon find out, with the end of segregation on the horizon. All hail suffrage!
You can watch American Idol on Wednesday (for now) and Thursday (for now) at 8pm on FOX.
(Image courtesy of FOX)