American Idol (2011): Top 12 Girls

Tonight we’re going to continue our newfound American Idol tradition of providing feedback over the judges’ because for all intents and purposes, their work is done. It’s really up to America now. So this is what power feels like, huh? Pass the bowl of chips. And the remote. All right. So the top twelve girls, like the guys, gave their all, because giving as much as they can is no longer an option.

Ashthon Jones’ performance of “Love All Over Me” was rich, perhaps a little lacking in complete and total punch, but she has a lot of potential, and like last night’s first performance — brought to you by Brett Loewenstern’s hair — there’s just something to be said about that fabulous curly crop of hair. We don’t want to speak prematurely, but here’s hoping that during her next performance [hopefully] she’ll kick it up a notch out of the familiar.

Haley Reinhardt’s rendition of Alicia Keys’ “Fallin’” was good, not great, but like most other performances we’ve seen, it got better the longer she was on stage. It’s a song that is difficult to command, but for the most part she did. The word of the day, however, is effortless. She? Will need to brush up on that quality if she wants to stick around.

Breakaway“…also a difficult song to master. Kelly Clarkson was the first American Idol for a reason. Julie Zorrilla’s take was also good but she also seemed nervous. All in all, a very forgettable performance. We’re sure she’s a sweet girl, but this isn’t high school. Step it up.

Karen Rodriguez’s version of Mariah Carey’s “Hero” was honestly — at this point in the show — the best of the night. And that’s a lot to say for someone we barely remember during the audition process. Beautiful, not too much playing around with her vocals — just enough to keep our attention without overplaying her talent. If she doesn’t stick around, we’ll be making a fuss.

At this point it seems the girls have got wind that they need to break out the big guns because Kendra Chantelle’s cover of Christina Aguilera’s “Impossible” was sizzling. Sizzl. Ing. (And worth the icky word breakage.) She made Aguilera’s sultry side look forced.

Lauren Alaina sang Reba McEntire’s “Turn On The Radio” was spirited and on key, on point, more pop rock than country, but definitely infused with the stuff. Also a strong performance.

Lauren Turner knocked out Etta James’ “Seven Day Fool” — again, the word of the day is EFFORTLESS. And if it doesn’t feel like it, make us believe it. Turner made us believe it. Her voice pounced on that song and tore it apart. But don’t tell Ella that. You remember what she did to Beyonce. She’s the queen, all hail her, but yeah right, she was joking.

Next up was Naima Adedapo, whose little dance at the beginning confused us, but her voice? Her voice can stay. There’s an old soul in there that wants to have at the standards one by one and we want to hear it try.

This is where we start to really appreciate the judges’ position because Pia Toscano’s cover of The Pretenders’ “I’ll Stand By You” tugged at whatever was left of our heartstrings. Why didn’t she get more coverage earlier on also? It doesn’t really matter at this point, because…who were those girls at the beginning again? And what did they sing? Must have not been too important. They don’t want to be those girls right now.

Rachel Zevita’s take on Fiona Apple’s “Criminal” was creative, tweaked just enough to keep our interest in her past, her retro hair and pale skin (both awesome things; she’s got the look). Somewhat like Ms. Apple before her (who was only 18 when she wrote the song), she’s a voice beyond her 21 years that isn’t all sugary sweet cotton candy flavored bubblegum like. But will it be enough to keep her in the competition? Only time will tell…

Ta-Tynisa Wilson was hoping to bring out the powerhouse in her performance of Rihanna’s “Only Girl in the World” but even Rihanna can’t make that song sound good. (Sorry, Rihanna, but you’ve got to be thankful for your backing track and backup singers.) A better song choice would have worked wonders, and.. maybe this is premature but we’ll be sad to see her go. At least, that’s our prediction. We’ve been wrong before!

And finally, Thia Megia’s performance of Irene Cara’s “Out Here On My Own” from the musical Fame…damn! She’s fifteen? She really is amazing!

Overall, we’re impressed with the girls’ range in song choice. In many ways it almost seems that the ones that chose the seemingly more powerful songs (“Fallin’“, “Breakaway“, “Only Girl in the World“, etc) came up more than a little short, whereas those that chose the just-as-well-known but not always picked first songs performed above and beyond. It could have also been first-up jitters, but if so, that needs to be gotten over really quickly. This is the big time and if you’ve got jitters, go to acting school.

Let’s find out who’s going home!