Thursday, February 14, 2013

"American Idol" 2013: Hollywood Week, Part 4: The Top 40 revealed, kind of

Posted By on Thu, Feb 14, 2013 at 9:34 PM

After Wednesday night’s semi-baffling all-girl group rounds the ladies were shaved down to 20 via final solo auditions. Some of these were quite impressive, and the show is definitely pushing the, “Is it time for a girl to win the competition again?” line. Hell yes, it’s time! Stop sabotaging all your top female talent and maybe that’ll happen one of these days.

Angela Miller is getting the heavy pimping treatment, for sure. Thankfully she seems to deserve it. She performed an original creation, “You Set Me Free,” and the vocal was terrific. Lot of personality, even while sitting behind the piano. There’s a strong Sara Bareilles thing going on there, and that is 100 percent a compliment. This girl is a major talent and I PRAY that she clicks with the viewers, because she’s the real deal. The judges were blown away. Mariah complimented the song, the voice, the passion. NickiMinaj said that Angela wasn’t necessarily in their Top 5 before today, but by doing what she does, she totally changed their minds.

Candice Glover did “Girl on Fire” and she took it a little dirtier than the original. There are a lot of good things about Candice’s voice, but she HAS to watch her pitch. She slides off into slightly flat way more often than she should. Big voice, lots of power, but she has to focus on tone.

Janelle Arthur let me down a bit with “I Told You So.” She was so amazing Wednesday night, but the intro to that song was too low and it didn’t show off her wonderful, warm voice. I just think she’s so much better than that performance. But it was still OK. Nicki likes that Janelle always keeps it subtle, and called her a country superstar.

I am living for Zoanette Johnson. She had a song in mind, got rid of it, and then made up a whole new song called “BaDaBa Bump” on stage, instructed the rest of the band on what to do, and she got in behind the drum kit. It was a stupid song with Zoanette basically just singing whatever she was seeing. She yelled at the band that they were going to fast, and she lost her drumstick, and then she played drums some more, and then she…keened. That’s the only way of describing it. A high-pitched sound that wasn’t a scream, wasn’t really singing. NickiMinajsaid “I am honored to be part of ‘Idol’ this year so that I can say I was part of the Zoanette Era.” YES!

Kez Ban performed an original piece on guitar. I don’t know if Kez Ban is actually sick -- she referenced this last night -- or if her voice is just naturally extremely raspy. I don’t know if the show gave us her entire performance or if they edited it down to just like 20 seconds, but it was very brief. There were some interesting moments in there, but ultimately it was just too avant-garde for this show, and Kez Ban knew it. The judges told her that her journey was over (they handled that with a lot of class), and Kez Ban took it very well, explaining that her mom loves the show and she just wanted to make her proud. She said she would love to have any job on the show, be it gopher or confidence booster. Cute segment and I thought everyone came off well.

Ashlee Feliciano really lost me in the first half of her audition, which had these weird whooping notes that did not sit with me. But the end she went into an impressive falsetto. Randy told the women to get some pep into their song choices. Please! Tired of the wah-wah. Ultimately she was eliminated.

Melinda Ademi thankfully did “Pricetag” by Jessie J, and she did a pretty good job selling the pop-star thing. Let’s hear it for someone with a pulse.

Kree Harrison did “Stars” by Grace Potter, and she has a really tragic story about losing both of her parents to two different accidents by age 19. Good lord, that’s awful. She kind of threw away the verse, but she came to life on the choruses. There’s a lot of good raw material with her voice, but she is going to have to really work hard to harness it all. Keith Urban said that he fought for her multiple times in the competition, and it’s because she has an amazing quality in her voice. Both Nicki and Mariah commented on her sincerity and honesty.

There were 24 left, and there were three more brutal cuts right then and there -- the girls did not seem pleased. And then there were a few last-second sing-offs, including Stephanie Schimel. She bombed during group round and for her last chance she did Phillip Phillips’ “Home,” which sounded really nice once the band dropped out but kind of drunk up until then. Also singing for her spot was Rachel Hale, who was just on the cusp of flat during her entire final audition. Stephanie got cut in favor of Rachel. Can’t say as I agree with that.

After that it switched back to the guys. The judges also asked several of the guys to sing again. Adam Sanders did “Taking Chances” by Celine Dion, and it was really screechy in the upper register and went pretty seriously off key. That’s disappointing, because I loved his initial audition. Josh Holiday did “Georgia on My Mind” and it was really cabaret. And apparently he split his pants. Stay classy, show.

Ultimately, Adam -- and a bunch of other guys, including poor David Leathers Jr. -- were cut at the last minute.

So we had a Top 40, although they didn’t identify them by name. Next week we go to a NEW Sudden Death round in front of a live audience. So this is new. I thought we were at live voting. Boo…

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