American Idol 11: Girls’ Semifinal

And now, 12 mostly interchangeable teen and twenty-something girls face off for the right to be smoked in the first few weeks of the finals… somewhere between 5 and 7 of these girls will make it to the finals.  Hopefully, they solve the Hollie/Hallie/Haley/Baylie conundrum before too long…

The problem, of course, is that the audition shows are so badly designed that we get absolutely no chance to invest in the semifinalists, as often, they aren’t even shown for more than a minute or two during the whole process.  If Idol limps into season 12, they really need to cut back on audition shows and do a showcase show before the semifinals – show us each singer’s audition and one of the Hollywood/Las Vegas performances.  Give us a reason to give a damn.

Anyway, here we go…

THIS… is American Idol!

After the Mark Thompson intro, we get into a bit of a recap – and yes, for reasons nobody can explain (RATINGS!!!), Ryan did announce that tomorrow’s results show is a two-hour slog.  Oh, yay.

Chelsea Sorrell – “Cowboy Casanova” by Carrie Underwood
In the first 15 seconds, she establishes herself as better than most of the guys, which is why Idol inexplicably buries her in the leadoff spot… solid voice, good presence, works the stage.  Good job, but will she be remembered in two hours time?  And, of course, since she was good, the judges tear her up.  Go f’n figure.

First break… fortunately, since I’m on DVR, it’s my first FF… hey, was that a backstage clip?  Don’t remember those from last night… and really, two hours for the bloody results?  <McEnroe>YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS!!!!</McEnroe>

Erika Van Pelt – “What About Love?” by Heart
Another solid singer, better than most of the guys, and likely to be bulldozed because the voting audience hates strong women.  My only problem is that it was a very static performance – no stage work.  If she gets through, she needs to work on that.

Two good performances to start the show… let’s see if it continues after the… break. 

Jen Hirsh – “One and Only” by Adele
In her B-roll, she mentions her boyfriend and her winery, and she’s doing an Adele song (the most overdone artist this season).  I don’t think the performance matters, the audience will hate her already.  That said, this wasn’t quite up to the first two performers – not bad, but might not be enough to get her through in the voting.

Brielle Von Hugel – “Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay” by Otis Redding
Oh, right, the girl with the stage mom from Hell Staten Island… oh, dear… well, she and mom can have a nice flight back to New York.  She blew it within the first few seconds – weak, wavering, too Noo Yawk, and frankly not interesting… I haven’t looked to see who VFTW is backing, but she might have gotten the nod off of this mess.   She only gets through if the judges decide that Stage Mom is worth keeping around.

And after the break, we enter the Hallie/Hollie/Haley Zone…

Hallie Day – “Feeling Good” by Nina Simone (also Muse, Michael Bublé)
Technically a good performance, but I don’t feel good about it (sorry).  Really felt like something was missing – a connection to the song or audience or anything.   It seems like an Idolbot performance… I suspect she slips into the “might get voted in / might get saved” zone…

More from the Zone (associate member: Baylie) after this… break…

Skylar Laine – “Stay With Me” by Faces
Interesting song choice (a 40-year-old rocker by Rod Stewart’s Faces) that she managed to put a country/rock twang into.  I like the energy, and she made an effort to pull the crowd in.   Pretty good performance, she’s definitely having fun up there.  I think that’ll get her through.

Baylie Brown – “Amazed” by Lonestar
Oof… the “grandpa’s little girl” B-roll is promptly sabotaged by a wavering and wandering opening to the song… she kind of got back on track, but with the overproduction and heavy backing track, she didn’t really impress here. 

Turning the corner, I’m thinking Chelsea, Erika, and Skylar deserve to get through… let’s see how the second hour goes… after the… break… (more from the Haley Zone)…

Hollie Cavanagh – “Reflection” by Christina Aguilera
Stronger-than-expected voice from that little country girl… but I don’t think she’s got the chops to take on Xtina.   Definitely pales in comparison to some of the higher-energy performances.  Might be a darkhorse for the 5th spot or a judges’ save, especially with the Idol Glory Note toward the end.

Last “Haley Zone” wisecrack… now.  We reach Haley Overkill after this break…

Haley Johnsen – “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” by Eurythmics
Oh wow… another song you need guts and chops to take on… she dove in pretty much headfirst (just like the vault she did in the B-roll)… and again, I think she wasn’t quite up to the song, but she fared slightly better than Hollie.  Now you have to wonder if America will mix up their Hollie and their Haley… another possible “judges’ wildcard” selection.

Up next, the 16-year-old that caused Steven Tyler to utter the most quoted inappropriate line of the auditions… remember “hot and humid”?  Oh, and look, they choose not to remind us of this by having Ryan interview Joe Magrane (ex-baseball pitcher and Shannon’s dad)…

Shannon Magrane – “Go Light Your World (Carry A Candle)” by Kathy Troccoli
Wow.  Takes guts to do a Christian song nobody’s heard of… she gave it a good ride, and she’s probably going through anyway, but it didn’t do a thing for me.  Powerful voice, but I don’t care about the song at all.  

Turning for home, right now, I’ve got Chelsea, Erika, Skylar, and Haley in my top five, and Shannon going through one way or another… can the Pimp Spots make a difference… after the break? 

Jessica Sanchez – “Love You I Do” by Jennifer Hudson
Wow, not only is Jessica in the Pimp-minus-one Spot, she gets the Product Placement Zone interview… AND she gets the play-for-sympathy… and she’s got the Pinoy vote going for her… and she gets a song by Idol’s official R&B Diva… oh my, do they want this girl in the final 13 BADLY… fortunately for her, she’s got what it takes to pull this off.  I think she elbowed her way into the top five… and then some.

OK, Jessica’s in.  I’m moving Haley close to the “needs the judges” line…  and I suspect that we may reach Adele Fatigue… after the break…

Elise Testone – “One And Only” by Adele (AGAIN?)
VFTW’s “Elise Testosterone”… why did the producers let her do the same song Jen Hirsh did 90 minutes ago?    I think it did to her what it did to Jen… pull her up just short of the Five.  Weird and wandering vocal might not be enough, even with the Pimp Spot.  Given her placement, I suspect a judges’ wildcard is at least possible.

My Five: Chelsea, Erika, Skylar, Jessica, Haley (the VFTW pick)
Judges’ options: Shannon, Elise, Hollie
Wouldn’t surprise me: Brielle (just to get the Stage Mom)

I’ll have thoughts about tomorrow’s ridiculous two-hour results show late tomorrow night… remember, it’s the top 5 guys and top 5 girls from the vote, and then Nigel Lythgoe’s the judges’ wildcard choices…


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