In-progress post after the jump ...
This has been one of those days where every online visit seems to hit fresh "Idol" gossip (and lots of posts on TMZ). But I am trying to -- want to -- focus on the vocal presentations.
Standard opening comments from Ryan. Credits. More Ryan. Intro of the judges. Ryan says there's talk Randy is too nice this season. Randy says the women better bring it tonight. Paula is asked for her thoughts about '80s music. She speaks, sort of, but Simon is also needling her as she speaks. Simon is asked who should step up. He says everyone, that no one is safe.
Asia'h Epperson. Embarrassing moment: Roller-skating mishap. Song: "I Wanna Dance With Somebody." Whitney's always a risk. And she's bleating a lot. Good energy. I like her. But the voice isn't what it might be. C plus. Randy notes that he recorded the song for Whitney, it was a tall order but "you showed and proved that you deserved to be here." Paula struggles to get the English translation of her communiques from Mars. Finally gets out that Asia'h nailed it. Simon calls her "second-rate Whitney." Asia'h says she'll take second-rate Whitney. Simon affirms she is good enough for top 12.
Kady Malloy chats with Ryan. She thought she was going home last week "but thank you, America." Moment: a bad ninth-grade audition. Song: "Who Wants To Live Forever." Wide shot of the judges indicates a certain inattention. And this song, with all its Freddie Mercury resonance, has been turned into a big ballad, well sung but unremarkable. Another C plus. Randy thinks it was a pretty good job, although the smaller notes were not well supported. Paula thinks it was her best performance to date, and she likes the soft parts. Simon thinks it was better than last week but thinks she's robotic, with "a massive lack of personality." She argues that it's a sad song. He says you can still show emotion. Ryan asks Simon for elaboration. Simon declines, with irritation.
Amanda Overmyer. Moment: burning a pool. Song: "I Hate Myself for Loving You." She's singing more than usual and trying to command the stage more. But not great. C. Paula gives her a standing O. Randy says that's the Amanda the judges first loved and declares "well done." Paula says her face is beautiful and that he liked her. Simon thought it was fantastic. She smiles and reminds us how young she is.
During the break, I am thinking about what a bad spot she is in, though. The judges are determined to make her the bluesy-rocker chick. And would probably kill her if she ever tried a ballad. But if she has to stay in this rock niche, she's never going to show how well she can sing -- if, that is, she can sing well.
Carly Smithson. Moment: Got her leg stuck in a railing at a bar. Song: "I Drove All Night." And she is just blowing the doors off. I hate all the pro-ringer stuff but that's an A. Randy says she keeps smashing it every week. Paula tries to do a Randy impression, quite badly, then says there aren't enough adjectives for her singing. Simon says it was a bad song choice but that she made the most out of it. And that she can sing the phone book.
Kristy Lee Cook. Moment: at 7, she pretended she was a dog. Song: "Faithfully." She's putting a heavy country bend into it. OK but not my fave. B. Simon brings up his Journey connection. Loves the song and likes that she put "a country kind of lilt to it." Paula says it could be a country hit and "I have nothing but positivity." Simon approves of the country influence -- which he has pushed before -- but that she's still too forgettable.
Ramiele Malubay. Ryan makes a joke about her short legs. Moment: left her picture for a boy she liked, and he laughed at it. Song: "Against All Odds." Immortally, and sadly, associated with Scott Savol. Needless to say, this is better, although the breathy beginning seems forced and she's not killing the chorus. Well, a little. C plus. Randy mispronounces her name (and she corrects him), likes that she went back to a big vocal but believes she is thinking too much while singing. Paula loves her innocent, pure voice; Randy is needling her some, which rattles Paula. (Mutts, indeed.) Finally says she deserves to be in the top 12. Simon found it very old-fashioned and a bit predictable. Ryan prompts her to tell some story about her and the song, and she won't spill. Meanwhile, Danny Noriega is wearing her glasses.
Ryan chats with the judges. They must be running ahead of schedule. Paula says Simon has been talking about something with a moth and a melon ball, I think. I have given up trying to track Paula's comments.
Brooke White. Moment: grabbing a guy who turned out not to be her dad. Song: "Love is a Battlefield," backed by acoustic guitar. Unexpected, and it shows off a lot of the drama she can get into her voice. B plus. Randy liked it and the way it let him focus on her voice, "definitely very interesting." Paula, Randy notes, choreographed the Pat Benatar video. Or she worked on it or something. Paula admits she doesn't know what is going on. But she thought Brooke did it very well, although she missed the band. Simon was happy without the band, and thought Brooke gave a great performance.
Syesha Mercado. Moment: Wrote a letter to a guy and he ratted her out to a teacher. Song: "Saving All My Love For You." So we open and close with Whitney. I like some things she does with her voice, but she also hits these notes that hurt my ears. C, I suppose. Randy, aware time is running out, says good. Paula says sophisticated and lovely. Simon says predictable but good. General agreement she could be top 12.
Recap. Judges' short comments, some praise but Simon says not as good as the guys, but gives Amanda a last endorsement.
OK, so I keep Carly and Brooke for sure, Kristy, Syesha with reservations, Asia'h ditto and Ramiele, although Ramiele's kind of a coin flip over Kady. And that kicks Amanda out, too. I have liked her in the early going but I think she's doomed.