It was ladies night and Jennifer Lopez celebrated in a beautiful, sparkly dress. Randy Jackson, Steven Tyler, and Jennifer were ready for another night of performances, and I was ready to see which girls would be stand-outs.
The most upbeat song of the night is usually placed in the number one spot, and that belonged to Ta-Tynisa Wilson. She chose Rihanna's "Only Girl (In The World)," which is a tough song to sing, especially while dancing around the stage. I liked how she made use of the stage and I liked her dress, for what it's worth. Steven said, "The song sang you, and you sang the song beautifully," which seemed a tad contradictory, but I think that means he liked it. Jennifer thought it started shaky, but that Ta-Ty recovered well. Randy didn't think she brought anything new to the song, and Jennifer stood up for Ta-Tynisa and explained that Ta-Tynisa got the crowd moving, which is a sign of a good performer. The dawg isn't easily moved.
Want to know where Naima Adedapo gets her one-of-a-kind dresses? She designs them! She sang "Summertime" which is never a good idea on the Idol stage where Fantasia had one of the most memorable moments in American Idol history, but Naima made it her own. Beginning her performance with some interesting arm choreography, she showed a lot of personality, strong vocals, and she danced for the judges. Jennifer called her an exotic flower, which is what Naima means. Randy thought it was too much of a lounge act performance, and of course he compared it to Fantasia. However, he was glad she nailed the note at the end. Steven compared Naima to an early Ella Fitzgerald and said this is what America needs right now.
Kendra Chantelle worked in bathtub sales before American Idol. That seems like a much less glamorous lifestyle. I wasn't familiar with the Christina Aguilera song she performed, "Impossible," but she hit some really high notes that I thought were impossible. It's bold to take on a Christina song, and the only thing I wasn't wild about is her really long whitish nails. Randy loved Kendra's vibrato, which he humorously imitated, and he compared her to Lauryn Hill. Steven thought everything about her and her performance was hot, and Jennifer believed that we've only scratched the surface with Kendra.
I questioned why Rachel Zevita was wearing a fringed poncho, but she busted it open to reveal a cute little black and red lace dress. She knocked over the microphone stand and started sauntering around the judges' table. All of the sudden I realized she was singing a very different version of Fiona Apple's "Criminal." While I appreciated her originality, it was risky to completely redo the song. Steven Tyler loved Rachel's strut and thinks that may Broadway could be this New Yorker's niche. Jennifer reminded Rachel that this is the first time America will really get to know her style, and busting out a Broadway-style performance for the first time at this stage was an unusual choice. Randy said he didn't recognize the Fiona song.
When I heard the first few notes of Mariah Carey's "Hero," I became nervous for Karen Rodriguez. Idol watchers know that if you sing Mariah, two things are going to happen: Randy's going to say that he worked with her, and then he's going to say that it's too big to take on. But, Karen not only sang it well, she alternated in English and Spanish. It was a really nice touch and a way to show her versatility. I suggest that she pockets that and if she makes the show she shouldn't bust out the Spanish for 4 or 5 weeks when we've forgotten about that trick up her asymmetrical sleeve. Jennifer was nearly speechless and showed off her "goose pimples." Randy thought Karen sounded even better in Spanish, and Steven said that she's one-of-a-kind and should collaborate with her new Idol BFF, Jacob Lusk.
Housekeeper Lauren Turner took on Etta James' "Seven Day Fool," which was fitting for her job with lyrics like, "Scrub your dirty floor...I wash your dirty clothes." Lauren is someone who kind of snuck by for a while without me realizing how good she was. Randy loved the power and her bluesy, soulful flavor. He compared her to Amy Winehouse meets Florence + The Machine. I didn't hear the resemblance with either of those English ladies, but that's not bad company. Steven said it was "a perfect, full, complete sentence." Jennifer said that Lauren's voice is undeniable, but she needed to get up in the camera more. Lauren looked at the camera and replied, "I'm sarcastic, America!" Wait...was that sarcasm?
Ashthon Jones selected a Monica song, and I remembered that early favorite Anoop Desai performed a Monica song for his first performance for America's votes, and they didn't vote him through. As she sang, "Love All Over Me," she did a good job of getting up in the camera's face and interacting with the crowd. Her outfit made her look like she had the world's smallest torso, but she's cute regardless. I like her better than I liked that song. Steven said she had the "confidence of Queen and you sing so sweet." Queen Latifah? Freddie Mercury's Queen? Queen Elizabeth? I guess all of those queens are confident. Jennifer said she has all the makings of a diva and incredible confidence, to which Ashthon confidently remarked, "I got it from you!" Her imitation of the way Jennifer cocks her head was perfect! Randy likes Ashthon but thought that she's bigger and broader than the song she chose.
Julie Zorrilla decided to take on a Kelly Clarkson song on Kelly Clarkson turf. She looked beautiful, but a tad prom-like or pageanty. There was a lot of arm movement that went on as she sang "Breakaway." I guess she was acting out the "I'll spread my wings" lyrics. At one point her arm knocked her updo. She was an early standout in the competition, but this performance wasn't quite as good as the other stuff we've heard from Julie. Jennifer liked it but wanted to see more of a connection between Julie and the story of the song. Randy pulled out his go-to phrase of the night, "You didn't bring anything different or new to it." Did you know that Randy knows Kelly Clarkson? Steven believed the song would have suited Julie better if she brought it up a few keys.
Haley Reinhart sang Alicia Keys' "Fallin'." Why does everyone always sing this song on Idol? I liked Haley's sass and the way she switched octaves with ease, although at times it seemed like she was almost over-singing it. Again, Randy didn't think the song was right for Haley. He wanted something that shows off the husky voice the judges fell in love with. Steven disagreed and said it had the right amount of style and sexiness and told Randy, "If I agreed with you we'd both be wrong." It was nice hearing Steven stand up. Jennifer mentioned the many colors in Haley's voice, but she'd like to see Haley not think about every little step and just commit. Jennifer has been giving good advice tonight!
Thia Megia created a moment for herself on stage. With just a single spotlight casting down upon her, Thia started off a capella for Irene Cara's "Out Here On My Own" from FAME. Thia was -15 when that movie came about, so I wondered if the song was in the 2009 remake. Coincidentally, Karen Rodriguez and Pia Toscano attended the Fame School. Steven started by saying, "Sometimes a person's pitch can be so perfect it doesn't matter what song they sing, and you did just that." Jennifer appreciated the beautiful, quiet moment amongst eleven other big performances. Randy said Thia reminded him of Michael Jackson! I don't see it, but that's huge. Randy remarked, "The mark of a great singer is the quality of the tone of their voice not the runs or the power." Thia should be feeling good about the risk she took!
Lauren Alaina kicked up her boots and sang Reba McEntire's "On The Radio." Although I wasn't too familiar with this song, by the end of the night I had the song stuck in my head. It looks like Lauren studied videos of old Idols; she has some of the same performance qualities. Jennifer told her 'Little Lauren' that she doesn't even have to try. Randy added that she has a natural gift and he doesn't think Lauren knows how good she is. He then compared her to a combo of Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, which is what I have been saying all along. Steven said she kills him, he loves her, and she's the best. Hey, you'll always have "I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing." Lauren Alaina introduced us to "Peaches Seacrest." I think that name is gonna stick!
The night ended with Pia Toscano, who we hadn't heard a whole lot from. I was completely blown away by her performance of "I'll Stand By You" by The Pretenders. Pia always seems very put-together and professional when she sings. When she was finished performing, she got the first standing ovation of the season from the judges. Pia's parents were crying and so was Ashthon, aka Jonesy. Randy said that Pia's performance just put her at the top with some of the other great Idol performances they've had on this stage. Mr. Tyler gave us a new Steven-ism, and he didn't have to use the curse bubble for it: "After Monday and Tuesday, even a week says WTF." How does he come up with this stuff?! Jennifer noticed that Pia was saving this performance for when it counts and said it was out of this world. This was possibly one of the most important performances of Pia's life, and she nailed it!
I thought the girls were awesome, but we'd find out what America thought in Thursday's 2-hour results show. Who do you love?
Ta-Tynisa Wilson: "Only Girl (In The World)" by Rihanna
Naima Adedapo: "Summertime" by Ella Fitzgerald
Kendra Chantelle: "Impossible" by Christina Aguilera
Karen Rodriguez: "Hero" by Mariah Carey
Lauren Turner: "Seven Day Fool" by Etta James/Jully Black
Ashthon Jones: "Love All Over Me" by Monica
Julie Zorrilla: "Breakaway" by Kelly Clarkson
Haley Reinhart: "Fallin'" by Alicia Keys
Thia Megia: "Out Here On My Own" by Irene Cara (from Fame)
Lauren Alaina: "Turn On The Radio" by Reba McEntire
Pia Toscano: "I'll Stand By You" by The Pretenders
Rachel Zevita: "Criminal" by Fiona Apple