'American Idol' Recap: Looks Like A Girls Year – A Complete Rundown Of Sudden Death

February 22nd, 2013 11:07am EST

AMERICAN IDOL: Chris Watson. performs in the Sudden Death 10 Guys. 10 Girls. 20 Performances. One technical glitch that put all of it onto one post the next day. This mammoth ‘American Idol’ recap can suffer no further delays or it may burst the 5,000-word bubble. So let’s get to it.
Jenny Beth Willis Sang “Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love” by Trisha Yearwood
Keith Said: Great way to start the show, but not thinking that was the best song for you.
Nicki Said: I liked your voice, but I didn’t feel like you came alive until the end.
Randy Said: Felt jerky. You never got in sync with the band.
Mariah Said: You could be more dynamic vocally during the verses.
The Verdict:
Just absolutely nothing compelling about Ms. Jenny Beth. She’s got no voice, no stage presence and bores her way through a country tune with fire of somebody you wish would stop interrupting your meal at a country-themed restaurant where you weren’t expecting there to be live music.
This was as cookie-cutter bad as it gets. She did nothing with the song, showed no vocal range whatsoever and muddled through to the predictable big belting note that didn’t make any sense at the end and didn’t fit the song.
This is the type of performance that always failed in the top 24 shows. And now it fails in this sudden death round.
Grade: D-
Result: GONE
Tenna Torres Sang “Soulmate” by Natasha Bedingfield
Keith Said: I thought it was really good. I like the diversity in your voice.
Nicki Said: There’s just no tone like that in the business right now. I loved your performance. But lose the hair.
Randy Said: This is the start of the night! This is how you do it!
Mariah Said: You could be more dynamic vocally during the verses.
The Verdict:
Yes, she’s at the top of the ‘Idol’ age limit (28), but it didn’t feel like it. It felt like she was about 65-years-old. In a good way. In a way that she’d been dominating Motown stages and recording studios for the last forty years and just decided to stumble onto the ‘Idol’ stage after a bad divorce.
She put an insane soul spin on this Natasha Bedingfield song and was so deeply connected to it that it felt not only like she wrote it, but like she lived it. And maybe she did.
No matter what – this was a stalwart-level performance from somebody just starting out. Fortunately, she hasn’t met her end yet either.
Grade: A-
Result: SAFE
Adrianna Latonio Sang “Ain’t No Way” by Aretha Franklin
Keith Said: It was so damn good.
Nicki Said: Tiny little thing that commands the stage.
Randy Said: This girl’s a pro!
Mariah Said: A-plus
The Verdict: SAFE
I have to question the song choice here. It’s clear Adrianna has a good voice and she sang it well, but when you’re tackling such a longing soul song, you need to put a little stank on it and make a bit of a mess – striving for technical perfection just sucks the life out of it and leaves it feeling flat.
That’s not to say it was altogether bad, it was extremely well-sung, but it just wasn’t the type of performance that song required.
Grade: B-
Brandy Hotard Sang “Anymore” by Travis Tritt
Keith Said: Your voice is good, but there was an emotional connection inconsistency.
Nicki Said: Why are you smiling when singing about your tears? That was a pageant delivery of a song.
Randy Said: It didn’t tell me enough about who you are.
Mariah Said: I would do more songs focusing on your vibrato.
The Verdict:
I don’t know what’s going on with the country singers tonight, but through four performances, they’re being obliterated by the R&B ladies.
This was not quite as bad as Jenny’s performance as Brandy at least delivered an interesting vocal, but it was very similar in that she was totally disconnected from the song and just sang along with the record in an incredibly dull and predictable performance. Absolutely no originality and absolutely no reason for the judges to keep her. So they didn’t.
Grade: D+
Result: GONE
Shubha Vedula Sang “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga
Keith Said: On one hand it was confusing, but I love your voice.
Nicki Said: There’s something comical about your performances. It’s like a mash-up of Christina Aguilera and the Gangnam Style guy.
Randy Said: There were way too many runs. I wish you’d stayed at the piano. But you have a lot of potential.
Mariah Said: It was too forced.
The Verdict:
Shubha put an interesting spin on this song, I think I even heard a sitar. Well, she did for the first fifteen seconds that is. After that…Well I have no idea what happened.
Shubha got up from the piano where she was delivering a cool and slow performance of this dance-pop hit and got up to shift the song into a twitchy and boring classic rock version of the song that fell in between the beauty of her slowed-down version and the fun of the original in a befuddling mix of about nineteen different genres and tempos that just became…weird.
Grade: D+
Result: GONE
Kamaria Ousley Sang “Mr. Know-It-All” by Kelly Clarkson
Keith Said: It was unnecessarily theatrical.
Nicki Said: You put a throaty twangy thing on it that didn’t work.
Randy Said: It just never caught on. There’s nothing redeemable I can say about it.
Mariah Said: You’re marketable, but I don’t feel it was the right song choice.
The Verdict:
Ugh. The thing I hate about ‘The Voice’ is that everybody on the show is a ringer: They’re all actually professional singers that you just haven’t heard of. They’re either session singers or backup singers. It’s basically rigged from the beginning while this show is all about undiscovered talent.
Well, Kamaria blew that out by highlighting her career as a backup singer for a number of top 40 groups. She doesn’t need to win and after that boring and pitchy performance she doesn’t deserve to either.
I expect a lot more from a pro. If she’d told me in her intro that this was her first performance ever, I’d have found it a lot more believable because she was so far off the pitch and so confused by the rhythm it felt like she’d never sung before.
Grade: D
Result: GONE
Kree Harrison Sang “Up to the Mountain” by Patty Griffin
Keith Said: You embodied the soul and blues of country music so purely.
Nicki Said: I’d be very scared if I were the other girls.
Randy Said: Here is another natural-born singer.
Mariah Said: You sang the hell out of that song.
The Verdict:
Another country girl goes down. Though they keep climbing a few inches at a time up that mountain to being tolerable.
Kree actually had some very solid vocal moments in this tune, but they were lost in a manic performance that felt like she was fighting against the song and just desperate to find her next moment of brilliance. Those moments did come, but they weren’t consistently there and the performance just lacked that overall control that it needed to really soar.
It’s clear she has massive vocal talent, but this performance just didn’t have the cohesion you’d expect from a real pro. Hopefully she can put it together in the next rounds.
Grade: C+
Result: SAFE
Angela Miller Sang “Nobody’s Perfect” by Jessie J
Keith Said: You have huge talent. I have a feeling I’ll have more chances to give you more compliments.
Nicki Said: You’re a top contender in this competition. Don’t overdo it.
Randy Said: I think America’s witnessing the building of a superstar right there.
Mariah Said: Your potential is just limitless.
The Verdict:
Earlier we had the classic cookie-cutter bad ‘Idol’ performance. This was the cookie-cutter good ‘Idol’ performance.
At the beginning, it kind of sagged. Angela seemed a bit overwhelmed with the stage and totally disconnect from the song. She was smiling like a spokesmodel for crissakes. This from the girl who obliterated her final Hollywood week performance.
Then it built. And built beautiful. Angela fell into her own and by the end, you couldn’t even remember the shaky beginning as she matched the fervor of the orchestra with that same gigantic voice we heard last week. With the buzz she’s building, she definitely seems like the favorite right now.
Grade: A-
Result: SAFE
Isabelle Sang “God Bless the Child” by Billie Holliday
Keith Said: To every guy who never invited you to prom, let that be a key to the side of his car.
Nicki Said: You’re up here shining.
Randy Said: You have a big voice and huge talent, but it was a bit old-fashioned for me.
Mariah Said: Your vocal could have been over any song.
The Verdict:
I refuse to use more than fifty words on an egomaniac who goes by one name (when it isn’t even unusual) and has such poor enunciation of a classic that I couldn’t even tell what song it was that she was making a pitchy mess of until about half-way in.
Grade: C-
Result: GONE
Amber Holcomb Sang “My Funny Valentine” by Rodgers and Hart
Keith Said: It was just so great to watch. You made that old song timeless.
Nicki Said: That vocal was at the top of the class.
Randy Said: You made the most important run the greatest.
Mariah Said: I love your interpretation of that song.
The Verdict:
If Isabelle was old-fashioned, this was a dinosaur. This was the type of performance that they should have turned the screen black and white for and shown in through an old top-load projector. Why in the world would you sing this song? And if you’re going to, why would you put an elevator music arrangement on it? It was just an entirely confusing choice every step of the way.
The vocal wasn’t horrible. It was pretty solid despite some major enunciation issues that made it seem a bit dreary, but I just can’t get over the song choice. She’ll have the chance to match her vocal ability to the right song next time.
Grade: C
Result: SAFE
Paul Jolley Sang “Tonight I Want to Cry” by Keith Urban
Keith Said: Don’t underestimate the quality in your voice. Don’t overcompensate with other performing.
Nicki Said: It seems like you’re in your head so much that we’re not feeling that raw emotion.
Randy Said: You have the potential to do it all in the country world. You’ve got great potential.
Mariah Said: It’s nice to see you’re able to have flexibility with the genre.
The Verdict:
I’ll take my Paul Jolley with a side of sitting on a stool and some soft spotlighting, please. Wait, you mean that’s going to come out really creepy? Send it back! Send it back!
The recipe didn’t come out right for Mr. Jolley here. A really weird song choice. I’d never heard it before, but it sounded like a strange mix of Bette Midler and somebody you want to punch out a college party. Paul sang it like the latter with a touch of over-achieving High School musical kid thrown in for good measure.
A very cabaret performance that was over-trained and overdone by Jolley. His voice was in the okay-good range, but everything else about the performance just didn’t work at all.
Grade: C-
Result: SAFE
Johnny Keyser Sang “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz
Keith Said: It was good. That’s the best you’ve sung I think.
Nicki Said: You look real sexy tonight. You don’t have the greatest vocal in the world.
Randy Said: That a felt a little bit kind of just an okay performance for me.
Mariah Said: You really brought the masculinity.
The Verdict:
It’s pretty amazing when you choose a song that has a total of about four notes in it and you can’t hit any of them. Not only that, you can’t come close to hitting any of them. That you sound completely flat the entire song when we can actually hear you over the backup singers and the band.
At least he made up for it with a compelling performance. Oh wait, he just stood there in an unbuttoned dress shirt and sang the song terribly. That wasn’t compelling at all. At least he almost forgot the words at the end. So there’s always that.
Grade: F
Result: GONE
JDA Sang “Rumour Has It” by Adele
Keith Said: I wish I would have felt a little less counting steps.
Nicki Said: You are a superstar performer, but your vocal was a little whiny.
Randy Said: You need to think a little bit more about the vocal. I felt no originality.
Mariah Said: I felt like your confidence level was major.
The Verdict:
JDA has been the big enigma throughout the competition. We’ve always seen him lurking in the background of the performances, but I can’t remember ever hearing him sing. It’s exciting to finally have the mystery revealed.
And, in true drag queen fashion, our luxurious French cosmetic salesman (who looked more like a cross between a pirate and 1,001 Arabian Nights for his performance than he did a drag queen) delivered a complete and utter burlesque performance. Complete with the stripping, over-stylized choreography and singing what amounts to a gay anthem, JDA didn’t leave any burlesque out of his performance.
Though, keep in mind, this is a pop-singing competition, not a drag musical and as good a burlesque performance as that was, this is about becoming a pop star, and that was a performance you can see in about fifteen different drag clubs in West Hollywood on any given night not a transcendent vocal performance that’s meant to stand out.
Grade: C+
Result: GONE
Kevin Harris Sang “(Everything I Do) I Do it for You” by Bryan Adams
Keith Said: I think tonight was very good.
Nicki Said: Every single solitary musical choice you made tonight was perfection.
Randy Said: It was a total karaoke performance.
Mariah Said: I would have loved to hear you sing a song where you could do what you know you can do.
The Verdict:
Nothing can be said about this performance of any consequence without mentioning the outfit. Kevin decided that a patterned bow tie and vest was the best ensemble to make his national TV debut. It definitely made him look like a backup singer in a bad 70s R & B group. Or a singing waiter.
I hope he never attempts the latter because there will be a lot of people unable to keep their food down with Kevin’s off-pitch warbling in their ears. His falsetto sounded like he was mid torsion and his main register was wobblier than somebody drunkenly serenading his high school girlfriend.
He matched that with the energy of a shower curtain and the personality of a bathroom door. Soggy and bogged down without an ounce of fun. When you’re boring that’s impossible to overcome on this show. When you’re bad and boring, that’s just a nightmare.
Grade: D
Result: GONE
Chris Watson Sang “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding
Keith Said: The voice wasn’t the best it could have been and that wasn’t the best song to show off your voice.
Nicki Said: I want to marry your vibrato. I love everything about you.
Randy Said: The song goes nowhere for you. You don’t take it anywhere or do anything. I was bored
Mariah Said: For me it wasn’t your best vocally, but certain things have overridden that.
The Verdict:
I’m going to let my real-time thoughts do the talking here:
What the hell is this?
What is he doing to this song?
Why is wearing a sparkly biker outfit?
Seriously, what is he doing to this song?
Why is there so much twirling?
He must be dizzy.
Maybe that’s why he sounds drunk.
Why does he have a weird attitude all of the sudden? This is a song about relaxing?
Did he just forget the words? It’s the same refrain over and over?
Seriously, what did he do to that song?
Grade: F
Result: GONE
Devin Velez Sang “Listen” by Beyonce
Keith Said: You were in the song and showed me Devin.
Nicki Said: You made a good choice to sing in Spanish. I’m proud of you.
Randy Said: I love you. I thought it was amazing.
Mariah Said: I feel like at the end of the performance you were critiquing yourself on certain things.
The Verdict:
I’m not sure if I should start with the bathrobe sweater or the fact that this is the definition of a high school show choir cabaret performance.
Let’s go to the performance. So over-trained. So little connection to the song. He’s just singing notes. That’s all he’s doing. 900,000 people in this country can just sing the notes. It’s so disconnected that he slips into a different language, which to me just shows that he doesn’t care what he’s singing about – that he’s so far off the words don’t matter. Just the notes.
And he comes out with the classic performers pose, like he should be on the end of a ship or something while he’s singing a sad and soulful song. It’s just so wrong. I don’t care how nice his voice is. Sing the song. Don’t sing the notes – it’s so dull and so uninspired.
Oh, and he was wearing a bathrobe sweater.
Grade: C-
Result: SAFE
Elijah Liu Sang “Talking to the Moon” by Bruno Mars
Keith Said: It was a fairly shaky performance, but you look like a pop star.
Nicki Said: You are a super-duper star. I would sign you today.
Randy Said: This was not a great vocal. You had no moments in that song.
Mariah Said: You’re extremely marketable.
The Verdict:
Wow. This kid flat can’t sing. Like at all. Every year it seems like there’s a performance in the top 20 or 40 that seems like it would be suspect to just get through to Hollywood, or even wind up on the blooper real.
Well, here’s this year’s. Complete with this youngster dressed like a mine Bruno Mars for some reason. Like he’s trying to fool people.
Well, when you fail to hit any note, have absolutely no sense of the pitch and forget a few lyrics, you don’t need to worry about fooling anyone. Just making them want to run away from you.
Grade: F
Result: SAFE
Charlie Askew Sang “Rocket Man” by Elton John
Keith Said: It’s like if Freddie Mercury had a love child out of Woodstock.
Nicki Said: It’s rock star. It’s fresh. It’s crazy.
Randy Said: It was a bit stage school for me.
Mariah Said: There were other moments where you did more for me.
The Verdict:
Ever wonder what it would be like if the Moody Blues couldn’t sing and were even more pretentiously theatrical? Well, you don’t have to wonder anymore because we have Charlie Askew in his diamond belt, tuxedo top velour pants and weird cane.
Plus, we have his inability to sing. Like at all. I thought a few of these other guys were bad, but Charlie is just garbage-awful. I don’t think he was even close to the pitch at any points and there were moments where I wasn’t even sure that he was singing, it just sounded like he was trying to speak the words to himself.
Then he reached for a falsetto and his face seemed ready to explode while his voice actually managed to get worse. There’s nothing to like about this guy.
Grade: F
Result: SAFE
Jimmy Smith Sang “Raining on Sunday” by Radney Foster
Keith Said: I thought you did a really good job of it tonight.
Nicki Said: I thought it was a good vocal, but I was a little bit bored.
Randy Said: I don’t think it came together. I don’t think it was great.
Mariah Said: It wasn’t your best vocal, but I think there’s something about you that America can still see.
The Verdict:
This was like a creepy guy in an 80s video dating service tape decided to embarrassingly sing in the middle of his profile. That’s what he looked like and he may have actually sounded worse with an atrociously boring country muddle-job that would have been horrifying if it weren’t so dreadfully dull.
Jimmy had a chance on national TV and he chose to just make it as absolutely boring, safe and disconnected as possible. I just don’t understand the point of doing something like that. It’s just such a waste of a moment and an opportunity.
Grade: D-
Result: GONE
Curits Finch, Jr. Sang “Superstar” by Luther Vandross
Keith Said: Your voice is beautiful and I’d love to hear more of it.
Nicki Said: You are well on your way. It’s your time.
Randy Said: Your voice is unparalleled.
Mariah Said: You know what you did and I love you for it.
The Verdict:
It may be softened perspective after a night of bad performances, or it could be that Curtis is actually the real deal, but this soul daddy just delivered a beautifully brilliant a soul performance as one could expect to hear on an amateur singing competition.
He owned it like a total pro. Singing the runs when he needed. Making a mess when appropriate. Absolutely selling the sex and the soul in the song. He seemed like he’d been around forever despite being only 25 and had the poise and mastery over the music of somebody who should have a track on one of those soul compilations they advertise on late night television.
I know I’d buy a copy.
Grade: A-
Result: SAFE
Final Thoughts
To keep it brief: Girls 1, Guys 0 – and it was by TKO in the first round. If these were the top ten, I’d expect the girls to be in the final five with only Curtis giving the guys any real shot at making it through this bit of female dominance.
It’s clear the producers want to snap their cute guy with guitar streak and have a lady win for the first time since Jordin Sparks. After the first sudden death round, the odds are supremely stacked in the female’s favor.
Check back next week to see if the girls continue their reign over season 12, or if the guys can make things a little less lopsided.

Related: American Idol, Starpulse Exclusives, Recaps, Television, Reality, FOX, Reality (Talent)

Photo Credits: FOX

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