Project ‘Idol’: Wednesday’s Top 12 gals perform

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imageSometimes the cliché is the only appropriate assessment: what a difference a day makes on “American Idol.” The gals took the stage with a vengeance on Wednesday, showing moxie, sass, range and star power.

The judges, particularly Randy, stepped up their critiques with more sharpness than we’ve seen, and it was a welcome change for this viewer after going too easy on the boys Tuesday night.

Naima “Exotic Flower” Adedapo (top photo). I didn’t like the arrangement, and the modified Sari that she designed was too fortune teller for me, but Naima is still a unique performer and hit a bold last note that kept me on board. She’s definitely an original, which is what I love.

imageLauren Alaina (second photo). “On the Radio” was terrific, and hit a hybrid of country-pop blues. Great arrangement of the song, and Georgia’s own rose to the occasion. They made her up too much, though, which I think betrays her age. Still a great job.

Lauren Turner. Still one of my guilty pleasures and a surprising favorite, Lauren put it all out there with a terrific, bluesy, raspy and engaging performance. She’s like a more accessible version of Janis Joplin. Dig it. More, please.

Pia Toscano. The stand-out for the evening, by a mile, goes to the former make-up artist, covering an old “Pretenders” tune. Here’s a great example of a singer taking a familiar song and turning it on its ear with a true interpretation. Soaring vocals, exceptional range and tone, and I won’t begrudge her the tacky key change. Pia received a well-deserved Standing O from the panel, and Randy was right on when he said that she put herself in a different league last night. Excellent job.

imageKendra Chantelle (third photo). Showing flashes of great tone and phrasing, she chose a big song with mixed results. I could do without the Lee press-on nails and some of the awkward movements—more on that from Haley, too—but she’s a pretty girl and has an interesting, if not off-putting, upper register.

Ashton Jones. This gorgeous and sassy gal is a great singer, no doubt, and I liked the performance. She’s got some early Whitney in her, but tonally, she’s got to focus more rather than do all those runs. We’ll see how she does.

imageHaley Reinhart (fourth photo). To think she was almost sent home during Hollywood Week is pretty incredible. She gets a grade “A” for coming out in a perfect a capella with Alicia Keys’ big song. She has good tonal quality and runs, but her bad pole-dancer movements get a grade “D.” A mixed bag for me, but I think it was better than Randy said. Still dig her.

Thia Megia. She also came out a capella, which for me is always admirable, and she sounded terrific. I wanted her to do more with a song that doesn’t really show her range. I still like her a lot, though, and think she’ll end up making the cut.

imageRachel Zveda (fifth photo). Hamstrung by a terrible arrangement of the classic “Criminal,” Rachel put us in some odd wormhole of a “Chicago”-style interpretation of this dark, sultry song. Didn’t get it. The judges were spot-on with their comments that they couldn’t see her talent in the performance.

Ta-Tynisa Wilson. As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, the contestant with the newly hyphenated name took a swing at a Rihanna song—a swing and a miss. The object of Chris Brown’s affection is still “The Only Girl in the World,” and Miss Wilson was just as flat as she’s been before. She’ll be going home.

imageJulie Zorilla (bottom photo). While I generally like her, Julie’s choice of “Breakaway” proved treacherous and flat. Do not choose a Kelly song unless you’re gonna “bring it,” as Randy said. With all the songs from which to choose, I wouldn’t have gone with that one, and Steven’s note about a higher key was right. Still, I don’t think it would have heightened her results.

Karen Rodriguez. On that same point of choosing big songs, “Hero” was also the wrong choice. I was a bit torn because Karen seemed to project her personality by making the song multilingual. Still, I was only luke-warm on it because it’s hard if not impossible to rise above Mariah on that tune.

Rachel and Ta-Tynisa are in trouble. The rest of the results are up for grabs. We’ll see what happens on Thursday’s results show.

imageWill Pollock is an Atlanta-based freelance writer, musician, photographer and artist. He is founder and director of ARTvision Atlanta and writes “Emo.Intel” for EquallyWed. Pollock is also working on a number of books, including one on emotional intelligence in men. He blogs about politics, pop-culture and other nonsense, and you can follow him on Twitter.


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