American Idol: Sudden Death, Top 20 Girls week 1

Although Idol actually returned a few weeks ago, the competition really starts tonight! For the first time ever, Idol is switching up the process of selecting their top 20 finalists. Normally, we would be forced to sit through an agonizing “Green Mile” episode, in which we watch the contestants walk down an endless hallway to meet their fate. However, this year features the “SUDDEN DEATH” round! Here, our top 40 contestants perform in front of America. After each conestant has performed, the judges simply decided who to take through to the semi-finals.

Now…this year, I’ve done something that I’ve always wanted to do. I didn’t watch the auditions, nor did I watch Hollywood Week. Not only is this the most agonizing part of the show for me, but my work schedule has conflicted with my weekly dose of reality TV. Tonight  I will be forming my opinions of the contestants based solely on their performance. Each year, a few contestants squeak by based on an overly dramatic sob story, or a particularly strong first audition. Well…this season, I’m gonna hate on those contestants like Jennifer Lopez hated on Haley Reinhart!
Now…although I couldn’t tell you the name of a single contestant yet, I did watch a few tid bits to get a feel for the new judging panel. I have to say that the new panel was initially refreshing. Then it turned into a cluster of  Mariah’s catty divaisms, Keith’s frat boy antics, Randy pretending to be Simon, and Nicki Minaj just being Nicki. Thank the good lord for this hot mess of a judging panel! I’ve never seen anything so horrible and entertaining at the same time!

Anyway, onto out first batch of tributes! Tonight, the ladies took the Las Vegas stage to prove their worth. Overall, it was a solid round of performances, but few stood out as being a front runner.

Jenny Beth Willis – Heaven, Heartache, and the Power of Love

Going first is a tough thing to do, especially when you’re dressed like one of the lesser faeries from one of those god awful Tinkerbelle movies. Seriously, what is it with country girls now dressing like pixies? Jenny offers a relatively thin vocal performance. You know what’s a great way to show off your singing voice? Choose a song that’s half spoken verse. This was overall a weak performance that put Country Pixie right at the bottom of the fodder pile.


Teena Torres – Soulmate

Idol has had trouble getting a solid rnb diva on the show lately. These types of singers usually make the mistake of singing endless Whitney songs that they just can’t sing. However, Teena might be the first real contender in this genre! Her song choice allowed her smokey tone to shine brightly on this smouldering ballad. She really came off as a legitimate RnB singer! She is very marketable in her niche, and I can see her going far in this competition! Unfortunately, her biggest problem is that she looks like struggling lounge singer at mediocre martini bar somewhere in downtown Atlanta. Girl needs a makeovah!


Adriana Latonio – Ain’t No Way

Resident Piony found! Based on this fact alone, she’s guaranteed to knock it out of the park, and make it into the finals. She turns in rather old fashioned performance that doesn’t do much to dazzle. Sure, the vocals are spot on, she has tons of soul, and her control is masterful…but how does this girl market herself? The judges were generous with their praise. I was left bored, but she does have potential.


Brandy Hotard – Anymore

I’d just like to point out that this girl’s last name is “Hotard.” Seriously? Seriously, that’s her name? Okay…that is the greatest thing ever. From now on, whenever I get into an argument with a girl, I’m going to bust out the word “Hotard.” As in, “Girl, you a ratchet hotard!” Oh? Her performance? Yeah…I’d rather just talk about her hilarious last name.


Shuba Vedula – Born This Way

As if Lady Gaga isn’t already over the top enough, Shuba decided to turn born this way into a Bollywood-piano-ballad complete with an overdose of Christina Agularia-esque runs. While there were some solid vocal moments, it all came off as a bit too much. It was like she threw everything she had at us, and absolutely nothing stuck. This was just another case of a risk that just didn’t work out.


Kamaria Ousley – Mr. Know It All

There’s always one! Thats right…this was the train wreck of the evening! Her tone was off, her pitch was off, and she completely missed the song’s big notes. It was bad, and its badness was further amplified by her gitter space cadet outfit. Yikes!


Kree Harrison – Up to the Mountain

Kree sauntered onto the stage in typical PTA mom attire. Once the weepy ballad started I thought she would definitely be cannon fodder. And yet…there was something endearing about this performance. It was a great  song choice, and she delivered it with pure passion. She resisted oversinging, and really channeled the song’s emotion. It was pure, powerful, and natural, and it definitely stood out as one of the top performances of the night.


Angela Miller – Nobody’s Perfect

The award for best song choice of the night goes to Angie! It was contemporary, powerful, and emotional! Also, it allowed for some great vocal moments, which she really nailed! Angela has a great voice, great charisma, and is completely marketable. She is the total package, and at this point, the one to beat. However, I will say that she needs to work on her stage presence a bit. She smiled her way through a very dark song, which came off as a bit disconnected. The judges proceeded to judge a performance she gave weeks ago, and I roll my eyes. That contestant that’s skating by on their history like Britney and Christina? It’s Angie.


Christina Isabelle – God Bless the Child

After a night full of old fashioned, pagenty performances, did we really need another? Even though Christina was better than most of them, going so late in the show probably hurt her. She delivered a solid vocal performance with a lovely, husky tone. Unfortunately, the song choice was uninspired, the arrangement was sleepy, and the overall performance was sleep inducing.


Amber Holcomb – My Funny Valentine

Once the 90’s ballad riffs kicked in, I was ready to write this performance off. However, something really special happened. Amber’s vocals were spot on, and much more powerful than I had expected. Seriously, she nailed this one…while wearing blue pumps! She’s a cute young girl with some big talent at her disposal. She could be easily marketable with the right song choices. While this one proved her talent, I’d like to see her pick something younger and more currant in the coming weeks.


There you have it!
The final ranking;

10. Kamaria Ousley
9. Jenny Beth Willis
8. Brandy Hotard
7. Shuba Vedula
6. Adriana Latonio
5. Christina Isabelle
4. Teena Torres
3. Angela Miller
2. Kree Harrison
1. Amber Holcomb

The judges agree with me, sending through Amber, Teena, Angela, and Kree to the semi-finals. The only time we disagree is when they send through Adriana over Christina, but those two were neck and neck anyway. Overall, I’m pleased with the results. Amber and Angela are now at the top of my front runner list.

Let’s see what happens tomorrow when the guys take the stage!


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