'American Idol' Recap: The Top 12 Girls Mostly Disappoint

March 1st, 2012 10:00am EST

AMERICAN IDOL: Hallie Day performs Welcome back judges! After last night, I was worried they were gone. Based on their commentary, there was no difference between any of the guys. If you didn’t watch the show, and just read my breakdown of the judges’ comments, you’d have sworn that Eben and Reed were every bit as good as Joshua. That’s how unopinionated the judges were on the first show.

Last night, they finally came back. It could be because the girls were so horrible. It could be because the producers said, “Hey, this isn’t ‘The X-Factor,’ start actually judging.”

Whatever the case, I’m glad to have them back, because I couldn’t have taken a whole season of “Everybody’s great and nobody deserves to go home.”

So who did they criticize the most? Read on to find out.

Random Thoughts Waiting for the Actual Show to Start:

Ryan just referred to ‘Idol’ as the only show that can take a High School student and turn him into a platinum selling artist overnight. If “overnight” means four months on the top-rated show in the country, then I guess that’s right. Though I feel like if you don’t go platinum after that kind of exposure, it’s a bit of a failure.

Hey! It’s the most buzzed about people in America! The top 12 girls! Like…what’s her name…and whozeit? I write a column about this show and I don’t even know who most of these people are.

What an exciting way to start us off! Here we go…

Chelsea Sorrell sang “Cowboy Cassanova” by Carrie Underwood

Steven Said: I thought you sang good, but watch your phrasing.

J-Lo Said: I’ve always loved your voice, but this song made it feel a bit nasally to me.

Randy Said: Good with that big note at the end, but I’m not sure that was the best choice.

The Verdict:

The first of what I’m sure will be many girls that I’ve never seen before in my life. Turns out Chelsea is a country chick. And not a bad one either. She doesn’t quite have the voice to overpower the song, but she does a nice job with the melody and her country growl is spot on. There’s just no charisma here and you can tell this is nothing but a total karaoke performance. I don’t know the song, but I’m sure she’s doing nothing special with it. A few nice vocal moments, but that’s about it. She doesn’t have that extra “oomph” to really get it done.

Grade: C-

Prediction: Yikes. The judges laying the wood on the leadoff hitter. She’s gone.

Erika Van Pelt sang “What About Love?” by Heart

Steven Said: You breathed wings into the song.

J-Lo Said: You are one of our power voices, but I fell you could have gone either further.

Randy Said: You showed a little bit of an Adele vibe.

The Verdict:

In a field this big, with so many eliminations, it’s always a smart move to cork your bat with a Heart song. It’s just impossible to screw these up. They’re made for people to belt on this show. In the Heart pantheon on ‘Idol’ this would not be in the upper echelon, though. It’s good. Because it’s impossible not to be good, but there’s something about her phrasing or her attitude that never connected. It was almost like she didn’t care. This is a song that you need to rip your lungs through, not just sit on the pitch and muddle through it. Again, you can’t give a bad performance of Heart song, but you can give one that’s uninspired, and that’s what she did here.

Grade: C

Prediction: I think it’s going to be tough for that to outlast ten more performances.

Jen Hirsch sang “One and Only” by Adele

Steven Said: A little trouble at the end, but you got it.

J-Lo Said: I thought you were the first person to come out here and let loose.

Randy Said: I’ve loved your voice from day one. Don’t’ forget to go to the R&B vibe.

The Verdict:

I was waiting for the moment the whole time in this performance. The moment where she really connected to the song and let her voice go big. Let herself get lost in the melody and make a pure connection. Unfortunately, that moment never came. She just kind of sat distant from the melody and sang some bizarre line of notes that seemed to relate to nothing. And it was nasally. Irritating even. I can’t believe this is the girl who gave all those sultry performances. How did she come out so sharp and so whiny? She hit one massive note, but that was so late and so drowned by poor notes that it didn’t even matter.

Grade: D

Prediction: Best comments so far, and a good song choice, but I don’t see that as very memorable.

Brielle Von Hugel sang “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding

Steven Said: You have a great sense of the blues.

J-Lo Said: You are a true performer. That was amazing.

Randy Said: I thought at first the key was too low for you, but once you sit your sweet spot, I was like, “Whoa!”

The Verdict:

Nice try, Brielle, but you’ll never be as good as this.

Nope. No way you’re going to do that with some weird mix of belly dancing, over singing, and disturbingly seductive poses that mimic a dude trying to acting sexy in a teen rom-com. At least there were points that I could barely hear her because she was singing so timidly. That definitely helped.

Grade: D

Prediction: Big raves from the judges and big notoriety from the stage mom. I think she just might make it.

Hallie Day sang “Feelin’ Good” by Michael Buble

Steven Said: Since day one, you know how I feel.

J-Lo Said: You look like a star.

Randy Said: What kind of artist would you be? (My point exactly!)

The Verdict:

Can we please retire this song from ‘American Idol’? Michael Buble is a very unique artist and one that has his entire place in the market monopolized. It’s just not that big of a spot. Nobody’s really calling for big band throwback on that level. What is the point of singing this song when it’s not current at all?

Saying that, Hallie certainly sounded sensational on this song. She dug right into the melody at the cool little acoustic stripping of it at the end and never turned back. When the music swelled, so did her voice. She’s the first girl to actually get on top of the song and own it along with the stage. She looked very confident up there. I just wish she’d picked a different song.

Grade: B

Prediction: He’s such a lovable guy and got such good marks that he’s bound to get a lot of votes.

Skylar Laine sang “Stay With Me” by The Faces

Steven Said: You were on fire. You’re a pistol.

J-Lo Said: You are a natural performer. That was a great performance.

Randy Said: I don’t think we’ve ever had someone on this stage who rocked out like you.

The Verdict:

This is horrible. Just horrible. Just absolute garbage. Nothing more than a girl fronting a crummy bar band at some dive in Knoxville singing old rock songs because the drunks in the corner will tap their toes before they tap out. It’s so amateurish and so obnoxious. If you walked into a bar on live music night and heard this at the door, you’d ask for your ID back and see if Applebee’s was still serving. Just poor.

Grade: D-

Prediction: Oh God. The poor man’s Lauren Alaina may go on a run like Lauren Alaina.

Baylie Brown sang “Storm Warning” by Hunter Hayes

Steven Said: I’m not sure if that’s the best song you could have picked, I’ve heard you sing better.

J-Lo Said: It didn’t seem like you had total control It was a little shaky all the way through.

Randy Said: It started shaky and pitchy and you never seized control.

The Verdict:

Wow. Really? REALLY? A girl who can’t sing. Like for real can’t sing. Like Simon Cowell would have torn their world asunder-level can’t sing. She was flat on every single note. Just sing-speaking the whole way through. Nothing interesting in her voice at all. She actually sounded like a sitcom character performing at a karaoke night who comically can’t sing. I can’t remember ever seeing anything remotely this bad at this stage in the game. It’s making me re-think my entire grading system as some of the previous “F’s” seem undeserved compared to this one. Wow that was horrific.

Grade: F-

Prediction: Bye bye, Baylie.

Hollie Cavanagh sang “Reflection” by Christina Aguilera

Steven Said: You hit those notes so right on that there was nothing left of the song but passion.

J-Lo Said: You’re going to be one of our front-runners.

Randy Said: You’re one of our favorites since we started this whole audition season.

The Verdict:

The only thing this performance was missing at the outset was Ice Dancing. Because it sounded like the watered down backing track that places over an Ice Dancing routine featuring the British team. The beginning was just so dull. So boring. So elevator music.

Then, the moment happened. She connected with the song about a minute in and let her voice grow. It didn’t just grow, it soared. Suddenly she seemed like a diva up there. She could have been on AC radio in the 80s with that voice. By the end she sounded like an absolute pro. What a difference the moment makes.

Grade: B+

Prediction: She’s the standout so far, and with not many left, I think she’s safe.

Haley Johnsen sang “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” by Eurhythmics

Steven Said: Some of your turnarounds aren’t perfect, but what in life is?

J-Lo Said: I hope America could hear all the special things you were doing with your voice there. I’m not sure the song was a perfect song and that the way you chose to sing it was perfect.

Randy Said: It was bit of nightmare for me instead of a dream.

The Verdict:

I’m sorry, I must’ve passed out. There’s no way in the world somebody just hot-breathed their way through a laser show and a weird techno track of an 80s song with no singing in it, right? There’s no way on Earth that could have happened right? And she didn’t just start yelling at the end, did she? I’m sure that was just a bizarre nightmare. When does Haley go on?

Grade: F

Prediction: Yikes. She’s way gone.

Shannon Magrane sang “Go Light Your World” by Kathy Troccoli

Steven Said: You started gospely and then my reality check bounced.

J-Lo Said: You gave me goosies!

Randy Said: I’m a fan. This girl’s hot!

The Verdict:

I’ve officially never even heard of this song. Or the artist. I don’t think that’s ever happened before. Unless the song was made in the last five years, of course. This is an odd performance for this show. It’s almost a torch song. Or a Broadway performance. But there’s something about it that just seems to fit. Maybe it’s Shannon’s conviction. Maybe it’s her voice. I’m not sure, but this performance totally worked even though it shouldn’t. Nothing about that seemed right for this show, but it all connected for me.

Grade: B

Prediction: She’s already popular, and that performance was good enough to get her through.

Jessica Sanchez sang “Love You, I Do” by Jennifer Hudson

Steven Said: They’re going to have to pay you the next time you sing the National Anthem for The Chargers.

J-Lo Said: The whole thing is really so beyond your years, it’s crazy.

Randy Said: I don’t know about no doctor, but that girl can really sing.

The Verdict:

At first I thought I wasn’t even going to grade her because of her vocal cord issues and her sounding almost non-existent in the opening verse. Then she dug in and let her voice out and actually flashed a pretty solid R&B tone. By the end, there didn’t seem to be any troubles at all. In fact, she seemed to be absolutely slaying the song. By golly, I think she did just slay this song. From no voice to a huge voice in two minutes flat. Now that’s impressive.

Grade: B+

Prediction: Amazingly, it seems like America loves Heejun as much as I do based on the audience reaction. I think he just might make the top 13. (I really don’t want to jinx it though).

Elise Testone sang “One and Only” by Adele

Steven Said: You blew it out of the water.

J-Lo Said: To me, you’re maybe the best singer here.

Randy Said: You’re one of the best in this competition. Boys, girls, whatever.

The Verdict:

I’m pretty sure this is an ‘Idol’ first. I didn’t think they were allowed to sing the same song on the same show. It’s bad news for Jen, because Elise did a much better job than she did. I was worried going in that Elise might turn into a badass rocker chick parody, but she comes out here with a cool mix of elegance and raw blues at the piano that heightened brilliantly when she stood up and let it out. It wasn’t a blowaway, but it was certainly solid.

Grade: B

Prediction: Giving one of the best in the night in the pimp spot is a surefire way to stick around.

Final Thoughts:

I don’t think I’ve ever given out so many D’s and F’s on one show. And I think that was my first ever “F-“. Just a lot of really horrid performances tonight. I knew the guys were better going in, but I didn’t think the girls were that weak at the bottom. I imagine it’s going to be split 7-to-6 in the boys’ favor. Maybe even 8-to-5. There’s just not much here to get excited about going forward.

I’m going to have to throw out my own opinions of the singers for the predictions, because there’s some bad ones getting through.

First of all is Skylar. The judges loved her for some reason. She’s got big personality. Her country flair is really going to play well. Plus, people seem to like that spastic nonsense she was doing onstage. They mistake it for performing ability.

Another that’s going to go through is Brielle. Similar personality strengths, and I think she stuck in people’s minds with whatever it was she did.

The other three to go through will be the good ones. Elise rocking like she did in the Pimp Spot totally punched her ticket as did Jessica in the second-to-last spot with a big vocal despite some health issues.

The last spot is going to go to Shannon. She’s already popular on this show and acquitted herself well in a late spot on the show. That means Hollie’s probably out, but she could sneak in ahead of any of these five.

What did everybody else think of last night’s show?

Related: American Idol, Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson, Ryan Seacrest, Steven Tyler, Starpulse Exclusives, Recaps, Television, Music, Reality, FOX

Photo Credits: Michael Becker / FOX

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