Sweet! We will be in Las Vegas for the next few weeks in Idol Land. I must admit that I slept a bit during last week’s girls’ night out in Hollywood since much of what we were shown was one big group drive-by: a blur of missed words and nerve meltdowns. There was even a montage of ladies singing to their hands as they struggled to read the “cheat sheet” lyrics they’d scribbled. What a disappointing mess. To get us up to speed, here are the highlights from the ladies in Hollywood:
- Angela Miller sang an original song she wrote called “You Set Me Free.” That is a risky choice and one that paid off as she received a standing ovation from the judges. It is a well written song and because of her connection to it, she sang it with abandon. I wonder how she’ll do with the material of others because that is what this show is about. She is like Brooke White from 2008—female singer/songwriter on piano, but with a far better vocal ability.
- Candice Glover did “Girl on Fire.” Ugh. Why would you sing that song? She added runs and makes it so much more than it needed to be. She has a strong soul voice, but I wish she’d picked a different song. I could have done without some of the excess. Keith praised her for “making it her own” and sounding like a much bigger record. *head keyboard*
- Shubha Vedula sang “Miracles,” the Whitney and Mariah duet. Yeah not sure you should go for something in front of the original artist unless you can kill it. There are some moments that were interesting in her voice, but then she hit a high note that felt false in emotion if that makes sense.
- Kree Harrison is a perfect example of someone with a stunning voice, but who isn’t consistently emoting star quality. She was forgettable in the group round, but figured out how to step it up in her solo. I’m still a fan.
I will also say that we were plagued by inconsistent judges. Zoanette Johnson performed a made up song while playing the drums. She screamed the majority of it then stopped to chastise the band and backup singers for messing the song up in tempo right in the middle. They let her into the Top 40. Kez Ban bombed out on an original song and was instantly booted.
All caught up? Okay let’s rock into our fun this week.
What I’m loving about sudden death is that 10 singers will perform and five go home at the end of the show. Oh yeah. Crank on the pressure and make folks fight for it. Game play also comes in as the contestants are allowed to choose any song and genre. Pick wisely and you highlight your voice’s best qualities. Pick wrong and you flame out. Jimmy Iovine is on hand to be the tie breaker in case the judges end up stalled on a contestant decision. I like most of Jimmy’s brutal assessments so I’m good with this rule.
How the girls shake out:
- Jenny Beth Willis starts us off with a country ditty (I later learn it is “Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love”). I agree with the judges. Wrong song choice and she fights with some notes. Nothing stands out about her as a country singer. I won’t remember I saw her by 10:00 pm.
- Teena Torres is the girl who went to Camp Mariah back in the day. First thing I see is that her new-found hair is fighting with her face to the point of distraction. Next is that I have no clue what she’s whinny singing. As it goes on, I think it is supposed to be a Natasha Bedingfield’s “Soulmate.” I remember her first audition being more enjoyable than this. I couldn’t listen to that voice for another song let alone an album. Ah ha ha. Nicki tells her to lose the hair because the hair she had originally made her look younger. The panel’s queen of wigs has spoken. Next.
- Adriana Latonio sings “Ain’t No Way” and is from Alaska. She is portraying a lot of emotional connection to the song content for a 17-year-old. She reminds me a bit of Jessica Sanchez from last year both in appearance, vocal style and killer confidence. I mean she’s 17 and going after an Aretha Franklin song like it is child’s play. I’m hoping she doesn’t turn the corner of cockiness and make me want to pummel her with pillows.
- Brandy Hotard is another country singer and her song is “Anymore.” With all the pimping of the girls as being the “best yet” for an Idol season and, as Ryan said, having more girls in the Hollywood rounds than guys, I’m wondering if the hope for a female winner is to get the next Carrie Underwood. If so, pick one with talent. Nothing special comes out of Brandy’s vocal for me. She is like a pageant contestant smiling and singing away. Keith hits it from the lack of honest emotional connection and boo-ya Nicki calls it a pageant performance. I typed it first. Brandy admits to having a problem connecting to the song—well then you should have picked something else.
- Shubha Vedula is fascinating in that she chooses to start her performance playing the piano and sing the first lines of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” slow. We can hear some strong depth from her voice. She then gets up and the song picks up a bit in tempo. Then it goes off the tracks with an arrangement that hops in timing and rhythm. Granted I won’t forget the performance, but I want to. Keith says she “crammed a lot into the song” and that it was “confusing with so many things going on.” Yep. Overdone.
- Kamaria Ousley goes for Kelly Clarkson’s “Mr Know It All” and is off-pitch from note one. Oh my. Worst of the night so far. My ears. My soul. Wrong song.
- Kree Harrison is next, singing “Up to the Mountain,” and I’m rooting for her because her voice is beautiful and experienced. Strike one is what she’s wearing. It is a shapeless shirt over what looks like stretch jeans. This is not an “I’m serious and trying to win this thing” outfit. Something for a rehearsal maybe. Not a sudden death performance in front of a live audience. I still like her voice for the more soulful take on country that she brings.
- Angela Miller has a beautiful voice and star quality. I agree with Randy that she’s a current fave of mine as well. Yet her singing “Nobody’s Perfect” isn’t as connected as when she sang her own material. Makes sense yes, but that is a concern for the structure that is Idol.
- Isabelle drags out “God Bless the Child.” This song for me during auditions is like “The Greatest Love of All.” I don’t want to hear it. There is nothing fresh that can be mined. Isabelle is trying too hard and skewing some notes and pressing too loud. My girl Mariah says that it would have worked better with a simple arrangement. *pulling my chair up closer to the judges table* Isabelle is meh for me.
- Amber Holcomb goes for “My Funny Valentine.” Remember what I said in the last point? This song is on the way to being a hang it up song for me. She’s singing her heart out on the notes and technically doing a great job, but she’s smiling away. That throws me a bit. The judges (minus Nicki) give her a standing ovation. She is one of the best tonight.
Okay before the judges name the five they will keep, I’m going to make my list: Adriana, Amber, Kree and Angela are easy calls. Spot five is tough because the others turned in meh to bad performances. Based on vocal potential, I’ll go with Shubha.
The judges’ picks to advance: Teena, Amber, Kree, Adriana and Angela (see picture above).
Four out of five. I’ll take that.
Shout out your thoughts. Did the judges get their sudden death choices right? Who is your favorite of the night? How do you think the guys will do?