American Idol 12: Once More Into The Breach (Top 10 Girls–Vegas Round)

OK, I’ve decided to blog series 12 of American Idol.  Not sure why (other than stubbornness), but given that VFTW is retiring after this season, I may do the same.

Housekeeping first: most weeks, the recaps for the Wednesday (and occasional Tuesday) shows will be posted right after Seacrest tosses to Your Late Local News, and the Thursday results shows will be posted later in the evening. 

To be honest, I’m not really sure what I’m getting into.  Nicki Minaj annoyed me so much during the first week of audition shows that I boycotted all of the non-voting rounds after that.  I’ve heard a lot about Zoanette from VFTW, but other than that… not a lot of information.  And I like it that way.   I’m diving in with a clean slate.   So here we go…

THIS! is American Idol!!!

Live from the Beatles LOVE Theatre in Las Vegas, we’re cutting down the final 10 girls to 5 (or so – there’s an expected “swerve” coming this week that may bump it to 6).  With two hours, 4 judges, and 10 singers… this could be a long night. 

I’m skipping over the judges’ prattling about the talent and the journey and the usual derp that you get at the start of a new season.  I should warn you… I plan to skip over the judges quite a bit this season. 

Wow.  Now you can vote instantly, 50 times, from the AT&T mobile app.  Fortunately, I think as much of AT&T as I do of the Idol judges, so I won’t be downloading.

Ooops… no break, here we go…

Zoanette Johnson (Vote For The Worst pick, Tulsa, OK)
”What’s Love Got To Do With It” (Tina Turner)

VTFW is going to be royally pissed – Idol is tossing their first pick into the Death Spot.  But I can see why.  This girl wouldn’t know a key if you sent her to a locksmith.  She’s brutalizing the song – it’s really only listenable when the backing singers get involved.  I am truly surprised that the judges put this sideshow act through this far – you have to figure the audition process was better than this trainwreck, or they liked her energy more than her voice.  Thing is, VFTW support might be enough to get her to the top five.

First commercial break…

Breanna Steer (Laplace, LA)
”Flaws And All” (Beyoncé)
As boisterous (and out of control) as Zoanette was, Breanna comes across as focused and calm.  She’s got a very nice, sweet voice – but the performance does come off as a bit too karaoke… a bit too much like Mrs. Carter.  She hit the obligatory Idol Note at the end – but not the very end, and she kind of lost control after the big note.   Overall, though, it was a good performance – but you have to wonder if it’s memorable enough to survive the next two hours.

Looks like we get a break after each performance.  This means I may do the shows live off DVR starting about 8:45pm… the better to skip commercials…

Aubrey gets a visit to the Bright Red Product Placement Lounge…

Aubrey Cleland (West Linn, OR)
”Big Girls Don’t Cry” (Fergie)
Took a second to realize what she was singing – definitely stripped down the intro, and put the focus on her voice.  This was a good idea – I think she’s got a chance to go deep in the competition.  While she didn’t quite “make the song hers” (to beat the Idol cliché to death), she didn’t do a straight karaoke version.   Not a blowaway preformance – however, I have no doubt she’ll make the Top 10.

Yeah, another break.   Color me surprised.  Meanwhile, out of curiosity, I downloaded the Idol iOS app.  It has crashed once in the first 5 minutes, and is currently featuring a number of anti-Idol tweets on the main screen.  And there’s no obvious way to get a list of the Top 20.  Go Idol!

Wait… the Thursday results show is 90 minutes?  Are you KIDDING me?

Janelle Arthur (Oliver Springs, TN)
”If I Can Dream” (Elvis, among others)
Ambitious song choice… clearly, she wants to make an impression with an Elvis Comeback ‘68 track.   Problem is, I think the song was too big for her… and she kind of shrank from it.  Good voice, OK stage presence, but nothing that really jumps out (except, of course, the Idol Note).   I’m not sure she can necessarily dream of getting back to Los Angeles, though.  She needs a little luck.


Tenna Torres  (Queens, NY)
”Lost” (Faith Hill)
OK, she’s from my old neck of the woods.  Hoping for the best… she’s got a pretty voice and a nice look… but she’s chewing the song up… she’s trying too hard, I think.  The good part is that Idol voters love over-performing, and are going to vote in droves for this.   I have some initial misgivings about her, but she’s almost certain to make it through to L.A.   Too bad the judge from outer space decided to focus on her chest instead of her singing…

If the tease is correct, someone’s about to flush their chances right down the drain by doing a “hit” from… one of last season’s also-rans.  Seriously?

Angie Miller (Beverly, MA)
”Never Gone” (Colton Dixon)
OK, so we’re pandering to the #messengers?  Apparently, this is the girl who dared to sing her own song in Hollywood – so she puts herself behind a piano and does a second-rate Idol ballad?  This would probably be a strategic mistake – but she rose above the song, and you can see that she’s got the chops… she’s cute, she’s got a really good voice, and is definitely marketable.  She’ll get through here, and might be the one who “leaves too soon” in the top 10, and then finds her way after Idol.

And we’ll get our first Whitney Houston cover of the voting rounds… no goats, though.  Really, go watch the goat version of “I Will Always Love You” on YouTube.  OK, back to our show… and another visit to the Bright Red Product Placement Zone with Amber and her stepmom (who, apparently, nearly KO’ed Seacrest during the auditions).

Amber Holcomb (Houston, TX)
”I Believe In You And Me” (Whitney Houston)
Even after all the Whitney covers on Idol, it still takes guts to cover her.  So we know Amber’s got guts… and I give her credit, she didn’t go right into vocal histrionics… the first part of the song was measured, and showed her vocals off, before she dove into the runs that Idol voters swoon for.  If she brings this kind of restrained power to every performance, and starts to unleash it later in the season, she could be around for quite a while.  May be the best of the night so far, and she’s absolutely into the Top 10.  (#inittowinit #shutuprandy)

So I’ve got Aubrey, Angie, and Amber as “into the Top 10”, and Tenna “almost certain”, with three singers to go.  OK – my math is probably off, but I still suspect a swerve to put 6 girls through.

Kree Harrison (Nashville, TN)
”Stronger” (Faith Hill)
A solid, measured, restrained performance – definitely seeking to showcase herself rather than diving into vocal gymnastics.  I don’t have a lot to say because I just enjoyed the performance.  She sounds, looks, and acts like a star – so yeah, I think she’s into the Top 10.   Let’s put it this way – I rewound the DVR to listen to her again.  She’s one to watch – not just on Idol, but down the road…

This is going to be a tough vote.  At least one of the girls that goes home probably shouldn’t…

Adriana Latonio (Anchorage, AK)
”Stand Up For Love” (Destiny’s Child)
Uh oh… tell me she’s not this season’s Jessica Sanchez… nope, she’s got more stage presence.  But she’s not quite the singer that some of the women before her were… she may have made it to Idol a year or two too soon.  Either that, or this wasn’t the song to showcase her.  I suspect this was a swing and a miss… she’s got the talent, but this song may not make enough of an impression.

And we have reached the Pimp Spot… it’s usually a ticket to the Top 10 to sing last, so let’s see what happens…

Candice Glover (St. Helena Island, SC)
”Ordinary People” (John Legend)
Interesting song choice… but give her credit, she’s holding up to the implied pressure of closing the show.  It’s her own take on the Legend hit, but not so far that we don’t recognize the song, and we get to see Candice’s range.  In short – she nailed it, right down to the understated Idol Note.

Aaaaand… Randy foreshadows the “swerve” by saying that they need a wild-card because there’s too much talent here. 

Given that they may need 11 finalists to fill out the schedule… and that the mantra is that this is “a girl’s season”… well, you do the math.

The Recap

Heading through: Aubrey, Angie, Amber, Kree, Candice.
Wild Card: Tenna.

I don’t think VFTW can get Zoanette through, no matter how hard they try.

The top 10 guys go live tomorrow night… as long as we don’t have a snowpocalypse here in Richmond, I’ll be back, too…


Author: Rob Hoffmann

Occasional blogger, slightly less occasional improv player/ref/tech, full-time computer techie, radio producer (basketball, mostly), generally nice person (if you ask me).

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