American Idol Season 12 Review “First Ten Semifinalists Perform LIVE”

With this week of “American Idol,” we move into three days a week for the first time, which is a bit much, but there is a method to their madness, I suppose. In this next phase, the remaining twenty singers will perform live, once again picking their own songs, and will even further be whittled down, with five each going home from the guys and the girls’ teams.

In the end, only ten will be left standing, and they will be the ones going onto Hollywood from Vegas. Further, from here on out, the choice is left up to the viewers, not the judges. So, we only have ourselves to blame from now on, I suppose. I’ll list my predictions for the top five below, but first, let’s take a look at the ladies individually.

First up- and likely first out, if American has any sense at all- was Zoanette Johnson. Hey, don’t get me wrong, it was fun while it lasted, and I found her pretty amusing all around. The drum jam thing was an undeniable hoot, and that “Lion King” ditty was likely as good as she’s gonna get. But if we’re going by tonight’s performance, I’d have recommended the judges themselves be voted off the show if they had said anything other than her rendition of Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” was utterly horrific.

Keith talked around it, as he is wont to do; Nicki and Mariah tried to sugar-coat it as they are wont to do; but only Randy had the courage to say what we were all thinking: it sucked. Nice knowing you, Zoanette, but nothing short of an internet hoax-type/ hacker voting bomb can save you now.
Or maybe “westing,” whatever that is code for, Ryan. Was it a signal to the masses? We shall see Thursday when the results arrive.

Next up was Breanna Steer, doing Beyonce’s “Flaws and All.” I really like Breanna. I think she’s arguably the best at picking the perfect song for her own individual style and identity, and knows who she is better than near anyone else in the top ten, save maybe Angela. Yes, she could have used a song with bigger moments as some suggested, but it was the best song for her particular brand of sexiness, with just a hint of danger.

Alas, given the high caliber of talent on display elsewhere, I fear she might be overshadowed by others, so she may be done. If, however, she were to stay I would be fine with that. But I don’t think it will happen. That said, I would happily buy a single by her if she did more in the vein of the stuff she’s done to date, and maybe even the whole album if I liked what I heard.

Aubrey Cleland was next and she did a capable take on Fergie’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry.” Everyone likes her and thought the song a good choice, though Keith thought it could have used a bigger moment somewhere to show off her vibrato more. Randy compared her to Rihanna, but Breanna would have actually been a better frame of reference for that. Aubrey is competent enough, and if the competition weren’t so stiff, she’d be in no problem- but it is. She’s cute, but vaguely forgettable.

Janelle Arthur was after, and I’ve made it known I thought they should have picked Rachel Hale over her among the country girls. Hell, even Janelle herself seemed to agree with it, marveling that she didn’t get cut after the largely negative criticism she got. She picked a better song this time and sounded less “new” country than the traditional variety, which was indeed a step in the right direction. Nicki said that she was “a little marshmallow that I wanna eat.” Alrighty then!

I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it, either. However, I will allow that, as she represents the most obvious ploy for country lovers and her performance was good enough for grits, that it’s possible she might squeak by, at least if there isn’t backlash among Rachel lovers. (Also, Ryan, let’s just leave the wacky comments to Nicki, m’kay?)

After that, things improved vastly, most of the chaff out of the way in earnest. Teena Torres tackled a new country belter, Faith Hill’s “Lost” and showed Janelle how it was done. Yes, new country and trad country are completely different animals, agreed, but Teena’s take was both honorable to the source and added a layer of soul to the proceedings that wasn’t there in the first place. In short, she made it her own, where Janelle did her song a bit more straight-forward. Nothing wrong with that, but it might be enough to siphon off a few of Janelle’s votes.

Everyone loved it, loved her, and loved her outfit- Nicki even paid tribute to her boobs, for God’s sake. It was a flawless vocal, the best of the night so far, by far. If she doesn’t make the cut, there’s something wrong with America’s ears. She was brilliant, and I don’t even particularly care for Faith Hill, mind you. I think she’ll be okay, but like I said: stiff competition.

Angela Miller was next, and I’ve made no secret that I love her, love everything she does. That opinion did not change tonight. She also made the class move of covering not an “Idol” superstar, but an also-ran: Colton Dixon’s “Never Gone.” (Full disclosure: I lived in Murfreesboro, TN for a time & Colton was from there as well.) It was a beautifully done rendition, and right in her wheelhouse, sounding exactly like the sort of thing we would expect her to write herself, going by her previous original. Loved it, and if she doesn’t get through, I will not be amused.

Amber Holcomb did not come to play around, taking on the diva herself, Whitney Houston, with “I Believe in You and Me.” It was her best performance to date, and a perfect song choice for her voice. It seemed pretty effortless, which is saying something, considering the source. Was it on a par with the original? No. But a valiant effort, nonetheless. I want to say she’ll be okay, but we’ll see.

Kree Harrison was up next, and she tackled another Faith Hill track, “Stronger.” I thought this was great, and if it didn’t grab my attention quite as much as Teena’s Faith track, it came pretty close. I think if Janelle gets cut, this will be the next country hopeful. She’s new country all the way, but here’s the thing: I think she could sing anything you put in front of her. She has a natural talent that’s just there, plain and simple.

She’s the kind of singer they say things about like “She could sing the phone book and it would be amazing,” even though that would totally suck. Stick to music, sweetie, and you’ll be fine. And hey if “Idol” doesn’t pan out, you’ve always got the “wife” to fall back on. I don’t think she’s going anywhere. She may well be the dark horse in this competition.

Adriana Latonio is cute as a button, looks like Miss Alaska personified, and if she were competing in that particular competition, she might just have a decent shot. As it stands, her take on Destiny’s Child’s “Stand Up for Love” was solid but didn’t really go anywhere until that money shot last note, which was great, but not enough to rescue the whole thing. It was a bit beauty pageant, down to the dress. I think she’s adorable and a solid singer, but she’s overshadowed by this particular pack of ladies. Sad to say, this will likely be the end of the road for her for this particular talent show.

Last in line, but not least in spirit was Candice Glover. Holy crap, did she sing the pants off of John Legend’s “Ordinary People.” I don’t hate the song, but it’s always been a little snoozy and staid to me. Not so with Candice at the helm. Home run, all the way. Another one where, if she doesn’t make it to the final five, there’s something rotten in Denmark. Or America, rather. Like Nicki didn’t say, and didn’t have to: bar, raised.

So, here are my predictions, in no particular order: Angela Miller, Candice Glover, Teena Torres, Kree Harrison, and Amber Holcomb (by the barest of smidges). If Amber doesn’t make it, maybe Breanna will squeak by, but chances are, it will be Janelle if it’s not Amber. The first three are pretty non-negotiable, though. If Kree gets clipped, it will be because her personality isn’t as shiny-happy as the likes of Janelle and Amber, I suspect. I wouldn’t argue if the judges were able to save Kree or Amber if they didn’t make it, though. Don’t they have some sort of wild card thing they can do if they see fit?

What did you think of the ladies of “American Idol”? Do you agree with my assessments? If not, make a case for yours below in the comments!