Live posts while the show is in progress, after the jump ...
Intro of "the ladies." Carly's going first, Asia'h is last. Asia'h looks different. Introduction of the judges. Ryan begins a discussion of song selection. Randy: "You've got to know what you sing best." Warns the women because "the guys were on fire last night." Paula was also pleased with the guys. Ryan brings up Simon's comment about Archuleta; Simon says it motivates the others.
Carly Smithson. Little known facts: She works in an Irish bar, and she loves to clean and cook. Song: "Crazy on You." She's ... professional. Competent. But she's not all that exciting and she screeches a bit on the intense parts. C plus. Randy says she picked a rocker this week; she says "I love Heart." Randy found the beginning a little rough, but by the middle of the song "it was all right." Paula is happy that Carly is healthy and thinks "it takes a fine singer to sing those big notes. ... You are an amazing singer." Simon thought it was much better than a week ago but notes that Carly is out of breath. He thinks she's the best vocally but she hasn't found the perfect song for herself yet.
Syesha Mercado. She's done a lot of commercials in Miami, and she does a pretty good baby-cry. Song: "Me and Mrs. (well, Mr. here) Jones." Weak start. Goes big, but drops too far back before she's at the end of the line. Are we going to find out that she's been sick? Pushes it second time around. But -- and I like her generally -- it's a C. Randy liked the commercial but doesn't think this was a great song choice because when it was soft "you seem uninterested." Paula says she goes off track on the soft notes, too, but she likes what Syesha did. Simon "thought it was a bit indulgent," not least because the song "wasn't written for a girl." And it wasn't designed for her voice.
Brooke White. She went to beauty school. (Didn't finish.) Looks as if she's beginning to straighten her hair. Song, with guitar: "You're So Vain." Kind of swallows "gavotte." It's very -- dare I say it? -- karaoke. She has a nice face, but her voice is doing nothing. C minus. (Simon's mike picks him up saing she was looking at him as she sang.) Randy calls it a great song choice but he's quickly changing the subject into whether she was looking at Simon. Paula thinks it was a perfect song choice and she likes what she did with it. Simon "absolutely loved it." I am baffled, though not for the first time in "Idol" history.
Ramiele Malubay. She used to do Polynesian dances. Song: "Don't Leave Me This Way." She builds tension well with the early start, then amps it up, but the amping isn't emotional. It's, again, competent. C plus. Randy wasn't thrilled. Neither was Paula. Simon brings up the ghastly-weddings parallel. But they all say she's a terrific singer, even if she isn't tonight. Ryan prompts her into admitting that she had a hard time picking a song and changed her pick several times.
Kristy Lee Cook. She's a tomboy. Song: "You're No Good." More blah. What has happened to the women -- or are they saving the best for the last few? C. Randy calls it a 100 percent improvement over a week ago but he didn't get any breakout moments. Still, he liked it. Paula says "you're back you're back you're back" and she liked the song choice. Simon says he can't remember what she sang last week and this is "a huge improvement." But he doesn't know what type singer she is; nudges her toward country, and says "you've got real potential." Ryan brings up how sick she was a week ago. And she indicates she will do country next week if she's still on the show.
We're in a break before Amanda Overmyer and I am having one of those "how manipulated is this show?" moments. I know, a lot. But right now I'm seeing the women as a group being like the guys were a week ago, while the guys stepped up to the level of the women a week ago. Which is terribly tidy, isn't it?
Amanda Overmyer. She's "kind of a bookworm," reading biographies of rock icons and music-business books. (The show pixeled out some of the cover of one book she wore.) New hair: Very Cruela De Vil. Song: "Carry On Wayward Son." Bad bad start. Very hoarse. Her worst performance so far, and I'm a fan. D. Randy says "it wasn't the right song choice for you." Too many instrumental breaks and "way too much melody." Paula likes her dance moves and "you are a brilliant artist" but this wasn't the right song. Simon thought she was more natural in the bookworm video and too contrived (including bad hair) in the performance. Paula says "you're beautiful without all the excess makeup." Ryan adds "she's better than the song was for her." Randy wants her to stay bluesy rock.
Alaina Whitaker. She doesn't like the food on her plate "to touch each other." Song: "Hopelessly Devoted to You." Well, ONJ didn't make this all that interesting to begin with, so the bar's not that high for Whitaker. But it's a boring song, and she goes all wrong in the big part. Yet another blah. C. Randy says it wasn't the right song for her. Paula thinks she "did a real good job." Praises her maturity. (?) Simon says she's very old-fashioned, almost as if her grandmother prepared her performance. "It was all a bit pageant-y." But he likes her more than he did a couple of week ago. Ryan leads a discussion of fashion.
Alexandrea Lushington. She was a poster child for the Atlanta fire department. Song: "If You Leave Me Now." Oh, this is just wrong. Treacly song, and she's not embracing its basic mushiness, and you can sense it in the wobbly vocal. D minus. After it's done, she looks as if she failed. Asked what she's thinking, she says, "It's over." Randy mentions her "mad vocal skills" but calls it a safe, boring choice. Paula thought she did her own arrangement, and she's important in the competition. Simon says he was a big fan of her in the early stages but she's struggling now. And he thinks the song is "absolutely stuck in its time period" and there's nothing to be done with it. He likes her look but thought she was boring. She maintains that she chose the right song and is trying to be consistent.
Kady Malloy. She sings opera. Song: "Magic Man." Lot of Heart this year. She stumbles on the steps. Oh, I am sooooooo bored tonight. Should have brought a book. Maybe I can borrow one from Overmyer. Intermittently competent vocal and absolutely no ... magic. C minus. Randy thinks there have been very interesting song choices but she didn't find the notes. Paula liked her power vocal (which I thought was rocky) and she likes her singing opera. She insists Kady has hidden talents but that she needs to define herself. Simon says he is struggling as much as Kady is; loves her on film and then comes across as a Christina impersonator. Admits he has never heard this song. Did Heart never cross the pond? Ryan lets her go out with a little of her Britney impression.
Asia'h Epperson. She was a cheerleader. Interesting transition from her look on video to her look onstage. I like her better on the video. Song: "All By Myself." Bad start and she almost seems to gulp during the first chorus. Even the big chorus is only so-so. What has happened to these singers tonight? C, and I feel as if that's generous. Randy brings up the illness defense but says it's a difficult song and she did all right with it. Paula, as expected, is praising. Simon calls it one of the diva songs of all time (there's been a lot of allusion to Celine Dion, as if CLEVELAND'S OWN ERIC CARMEN never existed). Says she isn't a good enough singer to pull it off. "You've got to be incredible."
Recap. The lines are open.