American Idol – Episode 9-13 Review

Tonight’s the night when we finally get to hear if this year’s contestants are entertainers or karaoke dreamers. No more will the producers get to hide them behind quick cuts and highlights. It does get frustrating seeing certain people advance without them singing a note on the show. It’s hard to predict who truly has the goods which is why there hasn’t been a talent rundown here. After tonight, we’ll have a sense of the ladies that survived the Kodak Theater slaughter.

One person who didn’t get to sing in Hollywood and vanished after being on the stage with the Top 24 is Chris Golightly. His little contract issue has killed his chances. He claims the deal was canceled, but the producers of the show don’t care. He’s gone. He swears he’s going to sue. Maybe he might have been able to get away with this mess if Fox wasn’t already smarting from the cheating scandal on the unaired, but heavily promoted My Little Genius.

The show opens with Ryan announcing this is not a stage, it’s a platform for launching someone into stardom. Shame they didn’t insert footage of Taylor Hicks over one of those rockets that explode after countdown. He introduces the 12 girls. They look like they went shopping at Target. Nobody seems to have clothes from home. The stylists aren’t being held back this season. Ryan points out that 2 women will be eliminated after this show. The judges are introduced. They have stuck Ellen on the far end of the table from Simon. The Coke cups are back. Ryan makes Simon nervous by asking about the newspaper reports that he declared it was the girl’s year. Guess he feared a quizzing about his new girlfriend that he might marry. But can a woman get closer to Simon than his t-shirt collection? Ellen has had her lighting tweak, but she really looks ultra-nervous. Ellen says she’s not sitting next to Simon because he wants her. She tells him that it’s not going to happen no matter what he does with his wandering hands. She has them run a tape of where they insert jokey hand play footage that’s not there. It’s funny on an afternoon talkshow.

Tonight’s theme is songs from the Billboard Charts. Wow. That’s a major theme of songs that were released as singles and were hits. We won’t hear an B-sides from the Violent Femmes.

Paige Miles lays into “It’s All Right Now” by Free. They got cowbell working overtime here. She’s not commanding the song at the start. There’s a few sour notes, The back up singers are handling it better than her. This is a bad song and a bad performance all around. She does the above the head clap and slaps the top of the microphone. Ouch. She goes for the big note at the end, but it’s not all right for her. Simon asks her age. She’s 24. Simon thinks she has the best voice of all the girls. He calls the song a wedding singer song. He thinks she’s going to be fine. Kara disagrees and believes she put her soul in a rock song. She claims she slayed in the verses. Randy thinks it’s a sing-along song, but she blew them away. Ellen thinks Paige had no nerves and she pulled it off. Really? Were they overwhelmed by the cowbell? Paige can’t get off the stage fast enough since she’s sewed into her outfit. She needs to use the bathroom. She did sing like someone who need bladder relief.

They just ran a commercial featuring two teen girls on a trampoline. The message is about not screwing up your lives by getting knocked up. Are these people nuts? They’re denying these girls a chance to star on MTV’s Sixteen and Pregnant and Teen Mom. If you’re a high school girl, there’s a career in getting knocked up. Just make sure you call MTV first to make sure you can pop out that meal ticket during their production cycle.

Ashley Rodriguez talks about how she and Simon don’t see the same way on Jordin Sparks’ “Battlefield.” Tonight she gives us Leona Lewis’ “Happy.” Another singer who won fame thanks to Simon. She works the fierce ballad angle. She’s flashing too much teeth between the note. It’s kinda bland like a biscuit without jelly. Kara thinks she had nice moments in hitting some notes. She had too many not great moments. Kara wants her to do songs that they wouldn’t think she’d sing. Randy mentions Leona is Simon’s girl. He felt it was an impersonation. Ellen thinks it’s predictable. She wants a whole different vibe. Ellen’s ears are distracting. Simon finds it clumsy and doesn’t like the arrangement. He feels she’s going backwards. He thinks she’s in trouble. The room is dead till Ryan gets the fake applause going.

Janell Wheeler wears an off the shoulder weird purple semi-toga thingie with tight jeans. She wants to light up on that stage and show America this is where she belongs. She’s chosen “What About Love” by Heart to stake her claim to stardom. She’s doing the goofy hand gestures. She’s not sounding like a lost Wilson sister. She also has a clunker moment on the chorus. She doesn’t have enough husky notes for the underlining moment. Randy hates the song choice since it’s a huge song. He likes her voice. Ellen likes the song choice although she had a few bad notes. She likes Janell. Simon feels it’s a 100 percent effort, but only delivered 65 percent. Simon thinks she’ll survive. Kara thinks the song was too big for her. Ryan asks Randy what song should she choose. Randy says any song you can manipulate so you don’t sound like the original singer.

Lily Scott got her hair improved so it’s not so flat. We learn how she was living in her car and playing on the street. She’s like Jewel without the bullrider. She sings The Beatles’ “Fixing a Hole.” Was this a single? She does mix the song up in her way. She attempts the sex kitten purr on the chorus. Ellen thinks this is what they’ve been talking about. She loved it. Simon thinks it’s the best so far since she sang sing she liked the song. He’s not feeling the star power from her. Kara declares she’s believable. Lily should be on the Soup for busting on Ryan for being so short. The song was never released as a single as far as I can tell. So much for this theme being about songs that are from the Billboard charts. Guess it’s good enough if the song was on an album that charted. Maybe someone will do Yes’ “Close to the Edge.”

Katelyn Epperly is still buzzed that Shania Twain loved her. It’s another Beatles track with “Oh! Darling.” The Beatles didn’t put it out as a single, but it was a #15 hit for Robin Gibb off the soundtrack to the hideous movie about Sgt. Pepper. It seems to air on cable around 3 am. Katelyn does a nice job without going to over the edge with the notes. Not a standout performance, but not a painful embarrassment. Simon liked her. Could it be the leather ‘80s dress? He thinks she needs a little work. Kara declares she knows her voice when she switches it up. She hates the makeover into a hair metal tart. Randy is happy she was concerned with the tone and melody instead of making runs. Ellen wasn’t sure if she was pushing too hard, but she paid attention.

Haeley Vaughn got her nose pierced before going to Hollywood. Her comes another Beatles track. This time she does “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” She does it like a lost Osmond. It’s so sugary even with a little country hoot on the chorus. This is a novelty cover. Kara thinks she didn’t hit all the notes, but was having fun on the stage. Randy likes her unpredictability and young. He hates the top of her vocals. She needs to drop a key. Ellen thinks she shines and has a great voice. Wow. That’s nothing. Simon says it verged on terrible. He hated her singing so much. He questions the lack of country singer in the performance. Ellen corrects herself that it was a “hot mess.”

Out of the first six, only Lily Scott seems good. All the performances are on iTunes. Why? You’re better off spending your money on the original artists performing the songs in these early rounds.

Lacey Brown appears to have just escaped from a fabric store. Her top wrap looks like it was borrowed from a set of drapes. Her choice is the soft rock “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac. She sings, “Landside.” This is so nasal. It’s just not touching or emotional. It’s just there. Randy thinks it’s terrible and pitchy. Ellen agrees. Simon finds it depressing and indulgent. Kara swears the song didn’t work. She hopes America gives her one more shot. Simon compliments Lacey’s eyes. Simon looks completely bored at the table. He’s probably thinking over studio designs for X Factor. Lacey’s a chopping block candidate.

Michelle Delamor was a corporate singer before this moment. Was she hired to vocalize the hold music? She belts out “Falling” by Alicia Keyes. She gets it started right. She gets a good soulful tone. She vocally flirts with a few notes. The backing vocals work well with her leads. She’s smooth and nails the dismount. Ellen declares it fantastic. There’s talk of her playing it safe, but it is the first night. You don’t need to crash and burn for reaching too far. Simon wasn’t wowed, but thinks she did enough for the first round. Kara thinks she wasn’t technically perfect, but she’s can get there. Randy thinks its a tough song and she did it. He wants risks.

Didi Benami busts open the geek girl anthem “The Way I Am” by Ingrid Michelson. She does it rather torchy without any playful flourishes. The songs is about buying a guy Rogaine. Simon calls the song dreary. He doesn’t feel a spark. He does like her voice. Kara thinks song is good, but Didi changed the song to make it hers. Randy wants to see the star factor. You mean an X Factor, Randy? Ellen thinks she has a great voice, but it was lowkey for a first impression. She’s in the middle of the dull pack.

Siobhan Magnus is a glass blower on Cape Cod. Does she like Cape Cod Chips? A big change up with her doing Chris Issak’s “Wicked Game.” There’s a rocky start with the vocal sounding out of the mix. It’s a lilting song and she attempts sweeping vocals. But it’s not working. They should have changed up the music to make it almost a metal anthem. She’s got a voice that can handle it. It’s good, but could have been so much better. Kara liked it. She feels the connection when Siobhan is on the stage. Randy thinks it worked best on the second verse. Ellen loved it. She felt entertained instead of a singing competition. Simon calls her a funny little thing. He likes, but doesn’t love the song. She should be back for next week.

Crystal Bowersox gets to show us her baby one more time in the flashback. She’s in the competition to win. Her acoustic choice is Alanis Morissette’s “Hand in My Pocket.” She does grab control of the song and does the harmonica moment. She’s got a bit of Ani DiFranco in her voice. It’s not a bad abbreviated performance. Randy likes the honesty in her. Ellen feels she adds something fresh to the show. Simon demeans her by declaring she’s one of a thousand subway buskers are doing. She rebukes him by pointing out they won’t let her do original songs. Kara feels she has greatness in her. What will it take elevate her beyond the coffeehouse? Sanka songs!

Katie Stevens is a high school student with the Alzheimer suffering grandmother. No update on her health. Her pick is “Feeling Good” as recently charted by Michael Buble. She does have a big voice that puts force behind the song. She doesn’t take it anywhere. Not as impressing. The song is a Broadway showtune. Will Simon attack that aspect. Ellen felt the song was old for her. He wants her to be 17 and younger. Simon agrees. The song became annoying to him. Kara thinks she was pitchy. Randy thinks she was pushing too hard that it was making it sharp. He wants her to young it up.

They do the montage and you can’t hear Paige Mills highlight. They fix it for Ashley. But damage might have been done. Here’s the rundown where they played.

Lily Scott & Michelle Delamor

Siobhan Magnus, Crystal Bowersox & Katelyn Epperly

Katie Stevens, Didi Benami, Ashley Rodriguez & Janell Wheeler

Paige Miles, Lacey Brown & Haeley Vaughn

The picks for the chopping block should be Lacey Brown and Haeley Vaughn. But Paige Miles having her highlight botched might knock her into the bottom two.

For all Ryan’s hype that this was the most talented group yet, the dozen performances seemed about the same as the last few years. Wednesday night is the guys. Hopefully there will be a better number of hits versus dunks.

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