The American Idol ladies were very good a week ago.
Take a look at tonight’s lineup, and you have to think there’s another night of excellent performances ahead.
So will Melinda Ademi and Aubrey Cleland, Idol veterans of sorts. Not to mention talented gospel singer Cristabel Clack and country singer Rachel Hale.
In fact, tonight’s toughest job might belong to our four judges, who have to narrow the field of 10 to five deserving semifinalists.
Of course, this evening’s lineup also includes Zoanette Johnson, aka Big Crazy Barbie, aka Charisma Monster … just in case we need some comic relief, I suppose.
Melinda Ademi: She’s 19, she’s from Yonkers, N.Y., by way of Kosovo. And she’ll start off the night with Jessie J’s “Nobody’s Perfect.” Like the fact that she started off the night with an upbeat song, but the first part of that seemed a little uneven. Melinda came into her own half way through. But the comments are lukewarm. Nicki says all she could think of was Angela Miller’s version of the same song. Randy says the performance lacked moments. Performing first, my guess is Melinda is in big trouble. Grade: C+
Candice Glover: Her goal was to make herself bullet-proof in Season 12 of Idol. So far, the judges have been impressed with this 23-year-old from South Carolina. She’ll sing “Natural Woman,” a sorta predictable song. But she’s showing none of the nerves early in this performance that we saw from Melinda. Look at this, Candice merits backup singers. Well, the song might have been predictable, but there was nothing wrong with that, was there? She belted it out at the end, showing she’s learned a thing or two about how to finish a song on American Idol. Nicki says it “boggles her brain” that she didn’t make it past Vegas last year. Grade: B+
Juliana Chahayed: Idol hasn’t focused as much on young contestants this year, but here’s the youngest still standing. Juliana is just 15. And she’s going to accompany herself on guitar. She’s slowed down “Skyscraper.” Big points to the teen for taking a risk and delivering this singer-songwriter style. Very nice, sensitive performance. The vocal strayed occasionally, however, and that might cost her on a night with such strong singers. Keith thinks her nerves showed, and that’s probably true. Nicki likes the fact that she already has a signature style to her voice. Mariah called the performance “angelic” in one of her more astute observations to date. Grade: B-
Jett Hermano: The 25-year-old from Seattle works behind a desk, but says she belongs on stage. She has a ton of pop videos on YouTube, but we’ve seen very little of her on the show to date. She’ll play piano and sing “Only Girl in the World.” Hey, look at this, another unique arrangement. Well, well, well, Ms. Jett Hermano just did herself proud. Love the originality. And the vocal was spot on. Keith compliments her for bringing out the sexiness in the song. Nicki, however, raises a really good point. It felt like a big finish was coming that Jett never really delivered. Randy says she should have got up from the piano and rocked it. Grade: B
Cristabel Clack: She’s a 29-year-old gospel singer from San Antonio. And she’s been one of the most impressive singers on the show through the early rounds. She’ll sing Alicia Keys’ “No One.” She’s getting a big reaction from the judges. Honestly, I wasn’t in love with that vocal. Her voice was cracking all over the place. And I thought she went a little over the top on a couple of occasions. Nicki seems to agree, saying her rasp got out of control. Randy thinks she was on point. Keith and Mariah have nothing but praise. Cristabel will be an interesting decision tonight. Grade: C+
Aubrey Cleland: This 19-year-old is in her second straight year in Vegas, and made it to Hollywood three years ago. She’s going to sing Beyonce’s “Sweet Dreams.” Brave, girl. Wow, Aubrey looks absolutely stunning. And she starts that song very, very well. There were a couple of bum notes here and there. But all in all, that was a very nice performance. Nicki loved it. Randy thinks Aubrey could have picked a song that gave her bigger moments. Mariah calls her “limitless.” Based on the reaction from the judges, Aubrey just might squeak into those semifinals. Grade: B
Rachel Hale: In a competition crowded with country singers, Rachel had better bring it. So she picks Grace Potter’s “Nothing But the Water.” Dang, she comes off like this sweet little country gal, then she delivers that performance. Very, very nice. One of my favorites so far. It wasn’t predictable. It wasn’t a ballad. She seemed really confident. Rachel says she prayed a lot. Randy proclaims that we should all pray. Wow, the cuts are going to be tough tonight. So far, I’d love to see Jett, Aubrey and Rachel advance. Grade: B+
Breanna Steer: The teen from LaPlace, La., is going to sing “Bust Your Windows” by Jasmine Sullivan. Breanna’s got the swagger down. Shame we haven’t seen more of her to this point. Oh, she has the big glory note down, too. But on a night of superior vocals, that one fell just a little bit short. Keith says he’s convinced she would “bust his windows.” Breanna is getting rave reviews from Nicki and Randy. Both say they like the fact that she’s so marketable. Grade: C+
Janelle Arthur: The gal who’s been to Hollywood three straight years on Idol, will stake her fate on Lady Antebellum’s “Just a Kiss.” Janelle’s been one of the most impressive on Idol to date. But, that wasn’t her best performance. Far from it, as a matter of fact. But Janelle still has a ton of country charm and the stage presence to do well on the show. The judges feel the same. Janelle’s reviews are lukewarm. Grade: B-
Zoanette Johnson: Huh? She gets to close the show? Really? Now she’s the poster child for Liberia. She’ll sing “Circle of Life” from “Lion King.” Complete with a blond wig that puts any of Nicki’s to shame. Complete with odd facial expressions. I prefer Nicki’s. And complete with lyrics … well, I could barely make out one-third of the words. It was different. But different isn’t always good. Yet three of the judges are standing at the end. Ah, there we have it from Randy. Notes don’t matter. Grade: D+
Wow, if Zoanette goes through — please, no — that’s really going to limit the number of more deserving singers who advance.
My favorites tonight were Candice, Rachel, Aubrey, Jett … and I’d also like to see Janelle make it through.
Heading to the semifinals are: Zoanette, Aubrey, Candice, Breanna, Janelle.
Heading home are: Melinda, Juliana, Cristabel, Jett, Rachel.