American Idol girls semifinals: Song by song grades
We have super voting on American Idol for the first time ever.
We have experts predicting a girl will win Season 12.
And I’m not talking about the judges.
But most of all tonight, we have the ladies themselves, who were impressive during the Vegas round.
Well, with one noteworthy exception.
Hang around and I’ll be doling out grades for all of tonight’s performances.
After the show, I’ll be back with a recap, focusing on the best and worst, who should stay and who should go.
Zoanette Johnson: The 20-year-old from Tulsa, Okla., has to start tonight’s show. That’s usually a major disadvantage on these two-hour voting shows, unless you’re really memorable. Of course, this is Zoanette. So she just might be. She’s tackling Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got To Do With It.” Wow, this is rough from the word go. And not to turn fashion critic, but who told Zoanette fishnets would be a good idea? Can anyone say really bad karaoke? This should certainly end the Zoanette era on Idol. And, gal, a big glory note at the end isn’t going to salvage that off-key, all-over-the-place vocal. Wow, and there were so many deserving gals who could have had that spot. Nicki flat out tells her: “That isn’t it.” Grade: D
Breanna Steer: The 18-year-old “Bust Your Windows” gal from LaPlace, La., also has the disadvantage of performing early in the show. And we hadn’t seen much of her prior to last week when she impressed the judges with her style and her sass. She’ll sing Beyonce’s “Flaws and All.” I’m pretty sure I would have preferred an upbeat song from Breanna. She looks that part again, but this is a bit of a subdued performance from someone who wants to be remembered at the end of the show. Decent vocal, big note at the end, but we’re going to hear lots of those tonight. Watch Randy comment on the lack of moments. Nicki says it was the wrong song and she sounded like she was straining through the whole performance. Randy: She lacked moments. TOLD YOU! Grade: C+
Aubrey Cleland: This 19-year-old from Oregon is one of the mystery contestants. She looks like a model — in fact, she and her mom once won a national mother-daughter model search. But we barely saw or heard her the last two years even though she made it to Hollywood two years ago and to Vegas last year. Whoever’s giving Aubrey fashion advice gets an A+. Classy and stunning. She’ll sing “Big Girls Don’t Cry.” I’m pretty sure I can hear a hint of nerves in Aubrey’s voice. But all in all, that was a perfectly fine vocal. Especially liked the tone she showed on the ending. Punch one ticket for the finals. Hey, she pleased the difficult to please Nicki. Grade: B
Janelle Arthur: Interesting. Two country gals on the show and the 23-year-old from Tennessee — who’s seemed to be a favorite to this point — has to go first. But she’s a sweetie, saying she “was scared to death” that she’d get eliminated after the criticism of her song choice last week. Hmm, well, Janelle, not sure this song choice was much better. The judges are clearly looking for current. And you’re serving up Elvis’s “If I Can Dream.” Well, you know what, she sort of pulled it off. That ending was really powerful. She’s getting rave reviews from the judges. Randy likes the traditional country sound in her voice. No doubt, Janelle is one of the more endearing Season 12 contestants. Grade: B–
Tenna Torres: The 29-year-old from Queens will tackle Faith Hill’s “Lost.” Little surprised. She has lots of great pop songs on YouTube, I thought she might go upbeat rather than tackling another big ballad. Well, her hair looks nice tonight. Right, Nicki? Tenna displays a big voice, but there were times she seemed like she was shouting rather than singing. Randy compliments her for not oversinging, which is exactly what I thought she did in spots. Mariah compliments Tenna for the richness in her voice. Nicki liked her boobs. Translation, I think: Tenna was showing a little skin and still looked classy. Grade: C+
Angela Miller: The 19-year-old from Beverly, Mass., has been tabbed as a favorite by all sorts of folks. She swears she hasn’t peaked yet. She’s taking a bit of a risk, singing Colton Dixon’s “Never Gone.” A risk because it’s not as well known as most of the songs we’ve heard tonight. She’s back behind the piano. OK, so there might be a reason she’s the favorite. That was really good from beginning to end. She’s got a big voice. It soars when it needs to soar. Most of all, she sold the song. The best of the night, so far. Says Nicki: “The trumpets just sound when you walk in the room, little girl.” Randy proclaims “a star is born.” Wonderful reviews and well deserved. Punch another ticket for the finals. Grade: A– (Only because someone might do a little better. I reserve the right to upgrade it later.)
Amber Holcomb: The gal who got to close the first Vegas performance — and was impressive doing it — has the unenviable job of following Angela to the stage. But she proclaims, “I’m more than legs,” referring to a comment Nicki made two weeks ago. She’ll sing “I Believe in You,” a Whitney Houston tune. Seriously, I’m going to give a bonus to the contestants who sing something other than a big ballad. That performance brought the judges to their feet. Not sure I get it. Nicki is telling her Barbs to vote for Amber. Randy pulls out his old “in it to win it” line. Mariah calls Amber one of her favorites. I must have missed something, because I really wasn’t thrilled with that performance. A few nice notes, no truly clunker moments. But not something I’ll remember tomorrow. Grade: C
Kree Harrison: Now the 22-year-old from Nashville gets her turn. She was the flat-out best in the Top 40 round. Another Faith Hill tune — “Stronger.” And Kree sounds great from the opening note. Where did Idol hide this girl in the early episodes of the season? She is one heck of a country singer. And she showed off a heck of a range on that song. Keith loves to hear her sing. Nicki is obsessed. Randy just can’t help saying “in it to win it” again. He even pulls out the ol’ “you could sing anything” compliment. Hey, if anyone’s going to give Angela Miller a run for her money, it might be this young woman named Kree. I’m with Keith: Love the tone of her voice. Grade: A
Adriana Latonio: This gal from Alaska is 17 and the youngest singer left in the competition. She’s going to tackle another big ballad, Destiny’s Child’s “Stand Up for Love.” Adriana looks great. And she does have a big voice for such a little lady. Wow, and she just delivered the biggest glory note we’ve heard all night. That said, she might be in a little over her head vocally in this competition. I think she would have been much better off if she had gone young and fun in the midst of all these big ballads. And the comments from the judges are lukewarm. “You needed to come in and slay it,” says Randy, “and that did not happen.” Nicki suggests she come back next year. Unfortunately, Nicki, folks who make it to the semifinals can’t unless Idol changes the rules. Grade: C–
Candice Glover: Not at all surprised the 23-year-old from South Carolina is getting the pimp spot. She’s been a judges’ favorite since the word go, but hasn’t been able to generate the same buzz some of the other contestants have. They want to give her the best possible chance to get through tonight. She’ll sing John Legend’s “Ordinary People.” Well, folks, this will be interesting, because I don’t like the song choice. I don’t like the vocal. I feel like she was trying to do too much with the song through the verses. No denying, Candice has a really nice voice, but I was not in love with that performance. She’ll get rave reviews from the judges though. Keith calls it “superb.” Randy calls it “ridiculous.” Grade: B–
Strong show, but I certainly would have liked to hear someone other than Zoanette sing something upbeat.
Recap coming soon.
But, at first blush, I’m hoping voters keep, in this order — Kree Harrison, Angela Miller, Aubrey Cleland … and probably Candice Glover and Janelle Arthur.