Hey, you crazy cats! ‘Member those times when I used to blog? Yeah. Me neither. It’s been a while. Let’s do ourselves a favor and brush right on past my writing delinquency and instead focus on more important things…like the first night of the “real” American Idol!
We’ve endured the oddball auditions that made us cringe with secondhand embarrassment. We’ve seen interview after endearing interview of the contestants, their wacky families and the hardship they’ve had to overcome to make it this far. We’ve seen them go up in flames during group week. We’ve paid our dues. The road has not always been easy or fair, but tonight we were rewarded for our efforts with performances from the top twelve girls. That is, unless you’re like my parents who completely skip all the rigamarole and only tune in when the show really starts. I personally think that’s a little like eating dessert before dinner, which I wasn’t allowed to do, but whatever. And I have to say after watching the show…twelve is a lot.
Let’s take just a moment to pay our respects to the oft-talked about judging panel. The yin to Ry-Ry’s yang, if you will (and I will). Big changes swept through the judges twirly chairs at the end of last season, leaving Paula Abdul ousted and Ellen DeGeneres taking up the “kindly judge” mantle. After watching all the audition episodes and Hollywood week, I feel confident in saying this: Paula Abdul, who? It was refreshing to be able to listen to the judges talk with normal cadence…not once did I hurl things at my television and tell a judge to just “spit it out, already!”. I liked the lack of drama between Simon and the other judges and the guest judges brought a little sumpthin’ that was a nice change. When Ellen joined us in Hollywood week, she brought a calming presence, a level head and a quick wit to the table. I submit to you that we couldn’t have asked for more. Ahem. Moving on.
Name: Paige Miles
Song: All Right Now by Free
Why you remember her from the auditions: You don’t. (I vaguely remembered her purple hat, though.) I honestly couldn’t remember this girl.
Why you remember her after her performance night: The only thing that comes to my mind is that she was sewn into her outfit. Sheesh. That’s committment.
First Performance: Well, let’s just put it in Randy-ese…she didn’t blow it out the box. After listening to her sing, I got the impression that she was trying really hard. While no one can deny that she’s got a big voice, there were a lot of vocal run-type things and I wasn’t that taken with her. If we lost her on Thursday night, I’d move on with nary a tear.
Name: Ashley Rodriguez
Song: Happy by Leona Lewis
Why you remember her from the auditions: She sang Jordin Spark’s song, Battlefield. Twice. Even after she knew that Simon didn’t like it. That’s guts…Also, I remembered her last Hollywood audition being just uuunder the pitch and the clip they showed confirmed it.
Why you remember her after her performance night: She had some ROCKING lip gloss. I have lip gloss envy.
First Performance: I don’t think her performance or personality was very memorable. I think I’d like the song if Leona Lewis sang it, but her version seemed to stray from the pitch and fade into obscurity.
Name: Janell Wheeler
Song: What About Love by Hart
Why you remember her from the auditions: Her first performance, guitar in hand was worthy of an iTunes single and won Simon over. The rest of Hollywood week was full of lost voice drama.
Why you remember her after her performance night: You might not. She delivered a performance that was shaky on pitch throughout.
First Performance: I agree wholeheartedly with the judges who told her that she sang a song that was too big for her. She needs to take it down a notch, but she’s fairly likable. I have to say, though, I’m surprised she snuck into the top 24. While I loved her first performance during Hollywood week, she’s not done anything since then to suggest that she has staying power.
Name: Lilly Scott
Song: Fixin’ a Hole by The Beatles
Why you remember her from the auditions: How could you NOT remember her? Her platinum blond hair and quirky peacock feather earrings served as only the tip of the iceberg of what set her apart from the other contestants all through the audition process. She’s cool. She’s chill. She’s original.
Why you remember her after her performance night: Lilly’s performance was the turning point of the night. With three dud-ish performances before her, she entertained us by taking the stage and owning it.
First Performance: While some might compare her to Megan Joy Corkey, I think she’s a much better vocalist, artist and performer. I personally loved her contemporary folk-ish charm and thoroughly enjoyed her performance. I don’t think anyone can deny that she’s definitely a front-runner in the competition. That said, there are two potential pitfalls for our good friend, Lilly:
1. Lack of eye contact throughout the performance. She does this little quirky thing where she closes her eyes and scrunches her face up. I think to connect with the audience, she’ll have to show those peepers a little more. Of course, former Idol contestant David Archuleta had the same problem (eye close but minus the scrunch) and we all know how that turned out. So maybe it won’t be an issue…
2. Connectivity to the audience. She’s got her sights set on being a music artist, and I doubt there’s anyone in the competition who would deny that that’s their goal as well. However, she loses a little bit of the relatability of the other contestants and I hope we’ll learn more about her to combat that.
Name: Katelyn Epperly
Song: Oh Darlin’ by The Beatles
Why you remember her from the auditions: You might not remember her, but you definitely wouldn’t forget that mane of hair that she rocks. It’s super curly and could swallow a headband whole.
Why you remember her after her performance night: If you’re like me, Katelyn’s performance was surprising. She stayed on key, added her flair, and managed to pull off a leather (or pleather?) dress.
First Performance: I didn’t agree with the judge’s lukewarm assessment of Katelyn. Now, I didn’t expect much from Katelyn, not being overly familiar with her throughout the auditions but I was really impressed with her control and her grasp of the song. She gave a killer performance and now she’s on my radar.
Name: Haley Vaughn
Song: I Wanna Hold Your Hand by The Beatles
Why you remember her from the auditions: Her mom and sister joined her in her first audition and Haley definitely seems to be 16 years old. She wears a perpetual big smile, has a little bit of a lisp, and has a personality that could border on annoying, but right now seems to be living in the cute zone.
Why you remember her after her performance night: I got the distinct impression that she was playing dress up as she sang The Beatles’ classic. Her smile never left her face and she exuded the flouncy buoyant spirit that we’ve come to expect from the youngster.
First Performance: The judges deemed her “bold” and “unpredictable” and I’m on the same wavelength. There’s no denying the girl’s got talent and a lot of it for someone so young. We’ll have to see if she can calm down and settle into an identity but I give her props for what she attempted tonight.
Name: Lacey Brown
Song: Landslide by Fleetwood Mac
Why you remember her from the auditions: She got all the way through Hollywood week last year only to be dropped as Megan Joy took the spot on the roster.
Why you remember her after her performance night: I thought the church event coordinator delivered the most likeable interview spot chronicling her disappointment from last year and her excitement about getting so far this year. She also sported some Allison Iraheta-like tresses.
First Performance: Classic. Poor Lacey was taken down by a wrong song choice. The song, while being lovely, just wasn’t a great showcase for her voice and lacked a clear verse and chorus for those not extremely acquainted with it. I think nerves added pitch problems that weren’t helped by the slow tempo. The judges really came down on her, but I can’t help rooting for her to succeed. She won me over for now.
Name: Michelle Delamor
Song: Fallin’ by Alicia Keys
Why you remember her from the auditions: I don’t think you do. I certainly don’t remember her from Adam. Or, I guess in this case, Eve.
Why you remember her after her performance night: After a kind of awkward interview with Ry-Ry in the red room, we learned that her family has been with her every step of the Idol journey.
First Performance: Well, whatever this girl’s problem, it isn’t pitch related. She stayed solidly on key for the entire song–a song, I might add, that many have tried and many have failed. She was a polished vocalist, but for lacked the originality that the judges kept bringing up (probably in hopes of releasing the contestant’s inner Kris Allen). I’m interested to see more.
Name: Didi Benami
Song: The Way I Am by Ingrid Michaelson
Why you remember her from the auditions: The waitress defined herself throughout the audition process with waterworks befitting Niagara Falls. (Not to say that if I was in her place I’d do any differently, mind you.) She also rocked a Kara Dioguardi penned song, “Terrified”, that was the opposite of the unfortunate “No Boundaries” incident of 2009.
Why you remember her after her performance night: Um, because it was AWESOME. My favorite of the night by FAR.
First Performance: She was completely believable with her rendition of the song and gave off the “be my BFF” vibe that America likes. I thought the pacing was brilliant…she didn’t rush and the performance felt controlled, full of personality, smooth, confident and charming. This girl has some chops. And, she looks like that chick from Ugly Betty. See below to approve or disapprove.
Name: Siobahn Magnus
Song: Wicked Game by Chris Isaak
Why you remember her from the auditions: I remember her first from Hollywood week mostly because of an unfortunate outfit choice. I believe it was a hot pink 80’s prom dress with leg warmers and topped off with a denim jacket. I also remember she had the pipes to belt out her last song during Hollywood week with a force that kind of shocked me and led Simon to say that she might be the dark horse of the competition.
Why you remember her after her performance night: Where to begin? Random oddities strewn here and there gave us these nuggets: She’s a glass blowing apprentice. In a post Kris Allen world, she doesn’t know what the phrase “dark horse” means. Oh, boy.
First Performance: Her rendition of Wicked Game was strong, but nowhere near as strong as her final Hollywood Week performance. I was mostly distracted by the large and clearly fake flower that had been attached to the side of her head. I think she’s a gifted vocalist, but somewhat nasal-y in parts and clearly on a different planet than the rest of us. That’s okay. We excuse that in artist-y types.
Name: Crystal Bowersox
Song: Hand in My Pocket by Alanis Morissette
Why you remember her from the auditions: I think she was pretty tough to miss. The dreadlock rockin’ mom celebrated her progression through the Idol ranks by getting a tatoo on her back and can most definitely hold her own on her trusty guitar. Gave one of the best performances in Hollywood week that I’ve ever seen, despite the yellow teeth that grossed my mom out.
Why you remember her after her performance night: Her singing performance also featured her doing a harmonica interlude and her yellow teeth magically turned white.
First Performance: Ah, the much-lauded Crystal. She’s wicked talented and I’m not even approaching the line of denying it. I liked her performance of the song, but am feeling a “I’m way too cool for Idol” vibe. Also? There are better ways to provide for a child than becoming a music artist. Sure, the money will be rolling in but you’ll be rolling out on a tour bus and shoving your child into the public eye. So, it seems that I have a few underlying issues when it comes to Crystal, but I do think she’s cool and am interested to see where she goes from here.
Name: Katie Stevens
Song: Feelin’ Good by Michael Buble
Why you remember her from the auditions: I lovingly refer to her as the Alzheimer Grandma girl. I think you probably remember her because of that, too.
Why you remember her after her performance night: Her voice is super mature for a 17 year old and she picked a song that was a lot older, too, according to the judges. Plus, she closed the show, so you probably remember her best!
First Performance: I like Katie. Katie is likeable. I think she’s got a powerhouse of a voice but needs to find a younger sound, so I pretty much agree with the judges. I think a wardrobe change could help her a lot, too…if she didn’t seem like she was on her way to prom, she probably could have avoided Simon’s “pageant” comment.
So, there we have it. We’ve come out of the first set of the top 24 virtually unscathed. My favorites? Didi, Katelyn and Lilly are my top 3 at this point. Who do I think is going home? Well, I think we could lop off the first three singers of the evening and call it good, but they’re only planning to send 2 home on Thursday night so my votes would be for Ashley and Janell to go home. We’ll see if America agrees with my assessments, but what do YOU think?