The female singers finally took center stage on American Idol Wednesday night.
Early on in the Hollywood Week episode, Angela Miller stepped before the judges proclaiming, “It’s a girl’s year,” and adding that it’s been too long since a gal prevailed on Idol.
My sentiments exactly, Angela. As in five years too long.
Especially considering every Grammy ever won by a former American Idol contestant has gone to a female, a streak Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood extended Sunday night.
Especially considering the wonderful female singers Idol advanced to Hollywood for Season 12 (check them all out here.)
But, as the night and the episode wore on, this also became painfully clear: It’s often easier to shine solo than sparkle in a group setting.
Let’s just say harmony and harmonies sometimes proved elusive for the Idol ladies.
So, since three-quarters of Wednesday’s episode was devoted to the groups, let’s dole out some group awards.
Best group performance: The very first group to perform was the Swaggets, including Kamaria Ousley, Denise Jackson, Melinda Ademi, Candice Glover. The latter three are Idol vets and it showed in their performance of “Hit Em Up Style,” featuring a huge glory note from Candice. Keith Urban said it best: “You just put it all together.”
Worst Group Performance: A tie between Almost Famous (Lizz Weiss, Daysia Hall, J’Leigh Chauvin and Savannah Votion) and Handsome Women (Alisha Dixon, Liz Bills, Courtney Calle and Shira Gavrielov). Both groups tried to sing “Somebody That I Used to Know.” I stress tried. They failed. Miserably. Somehow, Daysia and Liz advanced. No one should have. Savannah vowed not to return to Idol (gee, I’ll miss the stripper clothes). Shira swore the judges got it wrong (watch it back, darling).
Most tortured song: The Gotye-Kimbra mega hit won record of the year at the Grammys. Suffice to say the Idol versions would have never made the radio in the first place. “For You” (Stephanie Schimel, Holly Miller, Kalli Therinae and Alex Delaney) tried too. Marginally better than the two above, but full of blown lyrics. Just ask Stephanie. “Why did they let me through?” she wondered after she and Holly advanced. “I totally botched that thing.” Hey, at least she was honest.
Most fun performance: They showed up in cowgirl boots and ready to have a good time on the “Sin Wagon.” After all, it was quite appropriate: Their group was named Raisin’ Cain. The quartet consisted of Brandy Hotard, Morgan Leigh Boberg, Jenny Beth Willis and Lauren Mink. Lauren sounded especially great. We met her in Season 11, but hadn’t seen her yet this year.
Most Wasted Potential: That honor goes to Urban Hue for its version of “American Boy.” Kiara Lanier, Tenna Torres and Seretha Guinn were all featured in audition episodes where they sounded great; Jett Hermano has an impressive collection of pop videos on YouTube. But nothing jelled. “Is it finished?” Nicki asked, when the music stopped. “I hope so,” Keith answered. Fortunately, the judges saw past the mess and decided to give Jett, Kiara and Tenna another chance.
Most confusing elimination: The Dolly Chicks took on “Sin Wagon” too. And I thought Brandy Neelly sounded great. But she was sent home while Haley Davis, who went to bed while the other gals rehearsed and who read her lyrics from her arm, advanced. Oh, well, Brandy wins the best attitude award, vowing she’d return to wow the judges another year.
Most baffling saves: Call this one a tie between Zoanette Johnson and Janel Stinney. Janel forgot the words when the Dramatics performed “If I Die Young,” but Nicki somehow found that “so endearing.” Janel’s Idol dream should have died young right there. Zoanette’s supposed to be bubbly Miss Positive, but threw a pretty big drama fit as part of the Poo Snaps. The worst part, she still hasn’t sung a serious note. What is she doing on my TV screen?
Most Over-rated Performance: That came from the Misfits, whose version of “Be My Baby” was hailed by the judges as the day’s best. Nooooo! Not by a long shot. Oh, Janelle Arthur sounded fabulous. The aforementioned Angela was pretty good. Breanna Steer was way too over-the-top. Then there’s Kez Ban, determined to steal the show in the most dysfunctional manner possible. Somehow, they all advanced. Which brings us to …
The solo award for the night’s biggest joke: It goes to Kez Ban. When we first met her in Chicago, she asked Idol if her clip was going to turn into a joke audition. If so, she wanted no part of it. Then she heads to Hollywood and proceeds to make a joke of herself, acting like the planet’s most hyperactive drama queen. Janelle, Angela and Breanna deserve gold stars for patience for putting up with Kez Ban and not coming off worse on camera. And, hey, maybe they should even thank her. Thanks to Kez Ban’s antics, they got tons and screen time and even got to close the show.
But let’s end on a bright note.
Better make the semifinals: Isabelle, whom we met in New York; Janelle, whom we met in Charlotte; and Candice, whom we also met in Charlotte. We saw them each sing solo and in their group round, and they were standouts on both occasions. Rachel Hale, another country singer, was also among the most impressive soloists. We didn’t see her group performance.