The American Idol judges always talk about how song choice is so important, and they’re right. This is what I was thinking during lulls in the entertainment value of the performances from the girls side of the ninth season’s Top 24.
Paige Miles I think this season might be kind of special, after all. I thought she was good, not great, but it’s nice to see black girls this year reaching beyond the obvious (see Haeley Vaughn below). Free’s “All Right Now”? Rock on!
Ashley Rodriguez Leona Lewis’s “Happy.” Poor thing. If you want to impress Simon, stay away from songs previously sung by his pet project, Leona Lewis. Also, for god’s sake, don’t forget to sing your ass off!
Janell Wheeler My Orlando, Florida, hometown girl! If you’re going to mess with Heart, leave “Alone” alone, and she did. But “What About Love”? Why not something from Heart’s golden age, like “Barracuda”? Or maybe not. I don’t think her voice could tackle the twists and turns of “Barracuda.” There’s always “These Dreams.” Nancy Wilson sang lead on that one, so at least Janell would have been spared the comparisons to Ann Wilson, whom Kara correctly tagged one of the greatest female rock singers ever.
Lilly Scott I like her on sight, but she always looks slightly bored and underwhelmed. The Beatles “Fixing A Hole”? ¡Que interesante! Thank God, looks are deceiving. I love her! Her voice isn’t typical Idol fodder, but then neither are the voices of Amy Winehouse and Duffy. Were they Idol wannabes instead of platinum superstars, they probably wouldn’t even make it to Hollywood. I do somewhat agree with Simon’s complaint about her lack of star quality. That might have something to do with my first sentence here.
Katelyn Epperly More Beatles. And I like it. Two things: I like girls covering songs made famous by boys. And are we exiting the era of the big ballad singer? Song stylists — the musical equivalent of character actresses — are in.
Haeley Vaughn I cringed when Ryan Seacrest said “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” because I hate the song. But I like what Haeley’s doing to it, even those strange bum notes at the end of each line. Look at her. This, folks, is star quality at work.
Lacey Brown I love Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” so much that any decent voice would do it justice for me. But I think at 24, Lacey is lacking the weary resignation to really make it soar. Cutesy and Stevie Nicks just don’t go together, as Taylor Swift proved on Grammy night. For once, Kara is right on the mark, suggesting Sixpence None The Richer and The Sundays as being more suitable styles for Lacey’s voice.
Michelle Delamor Oh, dear! Why is this 22-year-old girl made up to look 40? I feel a clichéd Idol moment coming on. This time looks are not deceiving. Michelle does a serviceable “Fallin'” by Alicia Keys, but haven’t we seen and heard it all before?
Didi Benami “The Way I Am” by Ingrid Michaelson? What’s that? Most people (like me) probably don’t know the song or the singer, so there’s nothing to compare her to. She’s so Brooke White from a season or two ago. She’s starting to grow on me as she progresses with the song, but can you imaging her winning?
Siobhan Magnus Another girl singing a guy’s song, Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game.” This song has never been able to keep me awake, and sadly, neither is Siobhan’s performance of it.
Crystal Bowersox Oh my God! She just totally dissed American Idol and admitted that she’s only doing it for the money! In spite of her immediate unlikeability, I found her version of Alanis Morissette’s “Hand In My Pocket,” a song I don’t like, to be actually kind of likeable. But I thought her harmonica playing was more impressive than her singing.
Katie Stevens Hahaha!!! I knew someone would criticize the 17-year-old for singing an Anthony Newley/Leslie Bricusse song (“Feeling Good”). I think Simon was right when he described the performance as “pageanty,” but I can’t believe that Kara just stole Randy Jackson’s word (“pitchy”). Speaking of Randy, it’s interesting that he would compare Katie to Jordin Sparks, another 17-year-old who blew the judges away three seasons ago with “I (Who Have Nothing),” which is actually two years older than “Feeling Good.”