American Idol, Week 3: The Top 8 Girls

Another night of AI, another evening of contestant “revelations” and make-or-break performances. Will the girls once again prove that the boys suck and they rule?

Jordin Sparks: She came out rockin’ with Pat Benatar’s Heartbreaker, but right from the start, the song seemed like a poor fit. It sounded like she messed up the words in the beginning, and all of that growling and stomping around struck me as a bit forced. Randy and Paula—anxious to keep people from flipping the channels like last night—poured on the praise (“Wow that was hot, that was dope.”) Simon gave her a dose of reality, telling her (rightly so) that it was a bit shrieky and manic. All 3 judges said they fully expected her to be around for a long time, but I’m not so sure. Going first in the lineup has been the kiss of death for many of the contestants: unless you hit it out the park and make a big impression, voters are going to forget how you did by the end of the show, and are less likely to call in for you. Jordin may be in big trouble tomorrow night…she’s got to hope a couple of other girls lose their way and tank tonight.

Sabrina Sloan: Her revelation was that she had big dreams of being the next Katie Couric, until she found music. She trotted out a soulful, bluesy Mary J. Blige song, but sounded sharp throughout, like she was shouting the high notes rather than hitting them (something Randy acknowledged when he said, “I wish there had been a bit more melody in that”). Paula then poured on the hyperbole about what a great great great voice Sabrina has (Paula, please, go back to sleep, or wherever it was you were hiding at the start of the show). Simon said it was a bit robotic, and that she needs to inject some personality.

Antonella Barba: Forget about those racy girl-on-girl pics floating around the internet—Antonella’s BIG secret is that she plays the violin. Ah well…let’s face it, anything she said would have been anti-climatic after all the dirty laundry this girl has had aired on the web these past few weeks. She tackled a Corinne Bailey Rae song (Put Your Records On), which was a smart choice, since she could speak most of it instead of reaching for notes that she can’t hit. The audience—usually willing to jump up and dance wildly at the drop of a hat—was oddly sedate and quiet during her performance….made me wonder if they’ve been sipping from Paula’s red Coke cup. No surprise that the judges gave her tepid praise…it’s clear they are ready for Antonella to go home. Simon said it as plain as he could, “You’ve gone as far as you can go.” When Antonella tried to explain away the fact that she is clearly out of her league, Simon snapped, “Let’s get real here.” I couldn’t agree more. Short of getting out a big hook and dragging her off the stage, the judges did everything they could tonight to ensure Antonella’s departure. Unfortunately, I still don’t think it’ll be enough. She’s this season’s Jasmine Trias, without the annoying Hawaiian flower behind one ear.

Haley Scarnato: Haley shared some cute video of herself as a child gymnast, a pursuit she gave up when her body “gave out” and she turned to singing. After tonight’s performance, I started wondering what she’s going to pursue next now that her voice has crapped out, too. She sure looked pretty, but that was about it…there was absolutely nothing memorable in her performance. As Randy said so eloquently: dawg, it was pretty much in tune, but had no pizzazz…there was no “Yo” in it. Simon was more brutal: he thought it was “horrible, like a terrible ghastly high school performance.” He also said that she hasn’t made enough of an impression this season to pull in the votes. Whew…at least Jordin Sparks is probably safe now.

Stephanie Edwards: Her big secret is that she’s been singing since she’s 3 years old, but that she used to be really shy. Y-a-w-n. Tonight’s show is not going well….no one is stepping up to show much personality, and the performances all seem a little off. Midway through the song, Stephanie found her footing and hit some good notes, ending off strong. Randy was honest in saying that her version of the song couldn’t hold a candle to Chaka Kahn’s original, but as Simon pointed out, she’s certainly deserving of a spot in the Top 12.

LaKisha: Our girl revealed that she is terrified of animals–a normally fatal-flaw with me that I am totally willing to overlook, based on her performance of Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing.” It had all of the big notes of the original, without the weird facial expressions that I hated from the video. Her version was more subtle and less showy than Whitney’s, and that alone deserves a pass into the next round. It wasn’t LaKisha’s best performance this season, but it was still strong, and oh my, did Simon just give her a positive comment on her appearance? By gosh, I think he did. He was right though…she looked beautiful! A side note: LaKisha seems to have dropped her surname (Jones) this week…who didn’t see THAT coming?

Gina Glocksen: Gina trotted out all of her odd (and somewhat disturbing—a stuffed pickle?) good luck charms for her opening montage. Ugh. Try as I might, I just can’t force myself to like this girl. I’m still not buying this whole “rocker persona” she’s adopted. The red streaked hair, fishnet arm wrap, pink bra peeking out from under her sheer skull & crossbones shirt…it was all a little too much for me. Simon made her cry when he said he hopes she makes it through to the next round…at this point I think he’ll say anything to get people NOT to vote for Antonella. She has a good voice, but I don’t believe for a second that she’s our next American Idol. I think they want her to advance so that they have someone to sing something “edgy” for the Idol Top 12 CD compilation, instead of a Celine/Mariah/Whitney ballad.

Melinda Dolittle: OMG, oh no you din’t! You did NOT just reveal that you have OCD to 30 million people? I love it. Good for Melinda! She came out and owned the stage with a confidence and sass that no other contestant has shown yet this season. Girl can SING, and she rocked it tonight. I just wish she’d ditch the wide-eyed, deer-in-the-headlights, “Oh golly, you mean, you really liked it?” schtick, ‘cause she knows damn well she blew everyone else away tonight. Even Ryan did his own version of “Snap Out of It!” when he told her, “Don’t look so scared! Own it!!”

I think nerves got the best of the contestants tonight, and only LaKisha and Melinda can consider themselves truly safe from elimination. The real question is: if Antonella ISN’T sent home tomorrow night, what else can the judges possibly do (short of hiring someone to drive her out to a remote farm and leave her tied to the gate) to get this girl out of the competition?

Check back tomorrow night for the results!

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