American Idol: Episode Thirteen of Season Nine--The Top 24 Females

2/23/2010 Posted by Admin

American Idol: Episode Thirteen of Season Nine

The Top 12 Females Hit Some Rough Notes

By our guest blogger, Catherine Fuentes

All season I’ve been saying two things: I love the live competition and that the females are the most talented part of this season of "American Idol." The first live episode with the Top 12 girls made me scratch my head on both accounts. I should not be singing the praises of all of these females all season, and tonight concluded that Andrew Garcia will be the eventual winner of the season when he didn’t even perform.

The girls? They didn’t bring it.

The inherent problem with the first night of the live competition is how open ended it is. The theme, as it is every other season, is to sing a Billboard hit past or present, and nine times out of 10, the contestants pick a song of a diva or someone they aspire to sound like. To most contestants, this live performance is a chance to prove to America why the judges selected them in the first place, and to many, that means putting on the best Mariah impression they can. The problem with this is that no one is at diva status yet and they can’t handle the powerful songs they chose. Instead of choosing to sing a song that makes them sound like a particular singer (tonight being Duffy and Adele), this should be a time to take a risk because they have such wide range of choices--as the contest narrows down, each episode is designated by a musical theme, thus limiting the song choice of the contestants.

Of course, early on in the competition isn’t the best time to take a huge risk, but it is worthwhile to take a step out of the comfort zone. Before the episode started, I said that as a female, I think it’s wise to sing a song performed by a male, because there will be no attempts to poorly mimic a voice. My choice if I would ever grace the "American Idol" stage would be to sing a Beatles song, and I was not shocked to see three of the 12 girls choose this path themselves.  Out of the three who chose Beatles songs, there was a huge range in quality--from potentially best of the night to potentially the worst.

Katelyn Epperly, singing one of my favorite songs of all time, “Oh Darling,” was easily the best of the three. Before she performed, I told a friend that I didn’t think she was any good and that I wasn’t sure why she was still around. By the end of her performance, I was eating my words, since she was easily one of the best of the night. She has a big, powerful voice, and while it was the first time I remember liking her voice, I’m excited to see what she does next. However, I do agree with Kara DioGuardi that her makeover was a bit much.

I’ve always liked Lilly Scott because I think she has a unique voice and sense of style, and believe, at the risk of being totally cliché, that she’s the breath of fresh air the show needs. True to form, she picked a lesser-known Beatles song with “Fixing a Hole” and I felt that she was so distinctive, so wonderful and she made a correct decision in choosing a song that represented her beautifully. I’m not sure if I agree with Simon in that she lacks star power, but I do believe she’ll be singing in future weeks.

Finally, Haeley Vaughn sang “I Wanna Hold Her Hand,” and I felt it was absolutely terrible. I do not like Haeley Vaughn, and other than her initial audition’s surprisingly amazing Carrie Underwood cover, I have not liked Haeley Vaughn. And I can’t quite put my finger on it, because the girl is talented, and she is likable. I just don’t think she’s as talented as the other females in this contest and I think that she’s too immature to last. And after tonight’s butchering of one of the most classic songs in pop music history, I don’t think she will last very long. The one problem with choosing to sing a Beatles song is if you ruin it, it’s a serious musical crime.

Perhaps the part of the episode I was most interested in seeing was the performance of Paige Miles, who, up until tonight, had been a complete mystery. Despite making it to the final 12 females, Paige had not yet been featured on a single episode of "American Idol." I had no idea what Paige sounded like or what to expect, and I was incredibly impressed by her performance. I think Paige has a great voice, but picked a terrible song in Free’s “All Right Now.” Picking a terrible song was the theme of the night, however, so I like Paige’s performance more now than I did while watching it live.

Two contestants I’ve always liked--Didi Benami and Crystal Bowersox--both gave safe, but good performances, and I would be shocked and appalled if they didn’t continue on. Didi sang Ingrid Michaelson’s “The Way I Am” and Crystal chose Alanis Morisette’s “Hand in My Pocket,” which makes sense, since both girls are near voice clones to the originals. I think that Didi will be able to more effectively sing songs in different genres and styles than Crystal will as the show progresses. Simon is right, as he was every time he spoke throughout the episode. As talented as Crystal is, she’s no different than every female coffeehouse or subway musician, and when the episodes start taking genre themes like Motown Night, Latin Night and Michael Jackson Night, I don’t think Crystal will be able to step up to those challenges the way Didi will--although I genuinely hope she can.

Otherwise, I thought Ashley Rodriguez gave a fine performance, but another textbook example of wrongly picking a lofty diva song. I agree with the judges’ assessment of Katie Stevens--the prematurely mature 17 year old who needs to embrace her youthful and fun personality, but that ultimately, she likely has the best voice of the season. I felt that Michelle Delamor’s performance was surprisingly excellent, as was Siobhan Magnus’ perforance, and that both will be sticking around for some time.

Two females go home on Thursday, and I think they should be Lacey Brown, who absolutely butchered Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide,” and Haeley Vaughn.

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  1. Maria said...

    Catherine is so great! I totally agree. What the hell was it with tonight? Maybe tomorrow will be better.

  2. Christine said...

    Adele and Duffy are my favorite singers but the only one who pulled off their sound last night was Lilly. And I agree with your thoughts on choosing the Beatles...every time one of the ladies starting singing a Beatles song my dad shook his head and said, "Simon isn't going to like this." Ha!

  3. Anonymous said...

    You really think Haeley is going home? I think the people whose stories the producer's had us following throughout auditions and Hollywood week have a one up on people we had no clue existed until last night. And I totally agree with you about Andy Garcia--he's got that X factor that no one had last night. And good insight on the Alanis girl--she probably won't be able to hold her own on disco night