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'American Idol' Recap: Semi-Finals Go Live With Top Ten Girls

March 6th, 2013 11:11am EST

Breanna Steer performs in front of the judges on AMERICAN IDOL It’s clear this year that the producers want a girl to win. They’re craving it. They’re desperate for it. They’re so in need of a girl to snap the cute guy with guitar streak that there isn’t even a cute guy with a guitar to be seen this year! Or even one with much talent.
That leaves last night’s performers with the staunch task of justifying the producers’ stacking this season’s lineup in the females’ favor. So who answered the producers calls and who left them hanging?
Let’s find out, shall we?
Zoanette Sang “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” by Tina Turner
Keith Said: I love the way you perform, but I don’t know if your theatricality worked with this song choice.
Nicki Said: That wasn’t it.
Randy Said: That was a mess right there.
Mariah Said: This wasn’t my favorite performance of yours.

The Verdict:
I’m not 100% sure Zoanette knew where she was during this performance. That’s evidenced by the fact that she turned around more than Kevin Hart’s character during that 360 News sketch on ‘SNL’ this week. Seriously, pick a spot and focus on it. If only for a second.
Her vocals, however, were much more on track. After a very rough beginning where her voice and memory wandered more than her pee-dance around the stage, Zoanette settled into some real Tina and took it home like a pro at the end.
It would have been nice to see her do something a little bit different with the song as this was basically sing-a-long karaoke. But when Zoanette is doing sing-a-long karaoke, it’s more fun than just about anybody else.
Grade: C+
Prediction: Zoanette leading off? That just seems like a mistake by the producers. Couple that impossible spot with universal admonishment from the judges and you have a tough sell to make it through to the final 12. Only Vote for the Worst can save her now. (We’ll miss you, guys!)
Breanna Steer Sang “Flaws and All” by Beyonce
Keith Said: You find the right songs that show who you are as a singer. I hope that you also find a song that takes you more into your own place.
Nicki Said: That was the absolute wrong song for you. You sounded like you were straining the whole way through it. That wasn’t it.
Randy Said: It think it was safe and there weren’t enough moments in it.
Mariah Said: There weren’t many big vocal moments.
The Verdict:
I’ve never seen somebody back up so little talent with such an insufferably cocky demeanor. Like a guy at the local run talking trash when he goes 2-12 and his only defense is hard fouls.
Breanna cannot find the pitch at any point in this song. She sang it about fifteen different keys and absolutely no clue how to control her breath as she fell out on more notes than she hit. The connection to the song was non-present. This is a song about how you’re willing to accept somebody no matter what and she sang it like she was yelling it at the audience. Saying, “Look at me! I can kinda sing and you better recognize that fact.”
Everything about her was off-putting. Especially the fact that she chose to stand like a defiant mannequin for the entire performance, if you can call it that.
I’d prefer to call it an annoying dud.
Grade: D
Prediction: That was too forgettable this early on to think that she’ll be safe.
Aubrey Cleland Sang “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by Fergie
Keith Said: I wish the song would have allowed you to soar more.
Nicki Said: I love all the stuff you do that’s intimate and sweet, but when you go out of that it doesn’t quite work.
Randy Said: I love you. I love the vibrato.
Mariah Said: You have multi-platinum potential.

The Verdict:
This is a very frustrating performance because it was so close to being good. Like right on the verge, just staring at good – looking it dead in the eye but failing to take the final step to cross out of mediocre.
It was a cool arrangement – a nice funky little acoustic take on the song that felt like it was going to work from the outset – it just never quite got to where it was going to go.
The vocal was solid enough, but didn’t cross out of just being solid. Acceptable. It stuck in second gear as she failed to find a big moment or show that kind of effortless instrument that turns a good singer into a real recording artist.
So frustrated because the elements were in place, but she just couldn’t quite get the formula right.
Grade: C-
Prediction: The first big outpouring of love from the judges will likely carry Aubrey through to the next round.
Janelle Arthur Sang “If I Can Dream” by Elvis Presley
Keith Said: I love that you have this really classic country voice and blend it with modern runs.
Nicki Said: That’s my girl! You’re back. You are a little marshmallow that I wanna eat.
Randy Said: I like the old throwback thing in your voice.
Mariah Said: You came here to do your thing and you were great.
The Verdict:
Ick. If she was singing like this at the campfire, she’d soon look up to see a few marshmallow skewers left by the kindling as everybody’d scurried out of earshot as she closed her eyes to try to hit that note she couldn’t reach.
On top of the fact that she has a voice that would clear a firepit, she sang with all the verve of somebody waiting in line at the DMV. Absolutely no connection with the song or any fun had singing it, just a sullen trod through the lyrics and a merciful and reached not quickly enough.
Grade: D-
Prediction: This tiny song from this tiny country siren will get lost along the way as it came too early in the show.
Teena Torres Sang “Lost Lyrics” by Faith Hill
Keith Said: I love that song and I thought you did a really good job with it.
Nicki Said: I really love hearing you sing.
Randy Said: I like the restraint. How you gave it just enough.
Mariah Said: I love you and I hope America loves you too.
The Verdict:
Teena is just an out-and-out pro. She takes the stage with such grace and poise and instantly forms a real connection with the song. She’s not just singing along to the song, she’s actually singing it. Like it’s her song.
Here she really makes a country song her own, turning it into a seventies soul song that she delivers like a true diva. Not a wrong note, not a moment out of place, just a focused and complete performance where she never wavers.
It could have been a temporary flashback to a diva killing it on a talk show in the seventies and we’d have been none the wiser, she was just that locked in.
Grade: B
Prediction: A controlled performance like that could get lost, but I think the judges did enough to get her through.

Angie Miller Sang “Never Gone” by Colton Dixon
Keith Said: It was amazing. We’re watching a true artist.
Nicki Said: The trumpets should sound when you walk into the room. Can I just get your album?
Randy Said: A star is born on that stage right there.
Mariah Said: I’m just blown away by what you do.

The Verdict:
Pro. Pro all the way. She’s beyond this competition already. Yes, her tasted needs a little work if she’s going to choose a Colton Dixon song, but there is no questioning her talent.
She’s so in the zone when she sings. She’s not in a competition. She’s performing. She’s actually putting on a show with a performance that could be at the Grammys easily.
This year, it looks like cute guy with the guitar will be replaced with cute girl with the piano.
Grade: A
Prediction: Totally safe.

Amber Holcomb Sang “I Believe In You and Me” by Whitney Houston
Keith Said: I wish I could have heard a few less runs, but your tone is exquisite.
Nicki Said: That was a 10. Billion. Trillion. Kabrillion.
Randy Said: Amber is definitely in it to win it.
Mariah Said: You’re 18-years-old and you can sing your behind off.
The Verdict:
This is such a weird performance because she sings incredibly well. Her runs, her breath, her rhythm, her connection it’s all there. It’s brilliant the way she sings.
But there’s a problem. Her voice just isn’t as good as the way she sings. Her pitch isn’t quite there. Her tone just isn’t strong enough to play with a song like this. The notes just aren’t quite right.
And it’s so weird because she controls what voice she has so brilliantly and so effortless. She flows into her runs and each bar like she’s not even there. How she can do all that so easily is really something beyond the scope of what we normally see on this show.
Her voice just isn’t quite as good as her singing.
Grade: B
Prediction: After that effusive praise, she’s definitely safe.
Kree Harrison Sang “Stronger” by Faith Hill
Keith Said: I do love to hear you sing.
Nicki Said: You already know that you’re my wife. Your sexiness level went up another notch tonight.
Randy Said: We got another one here that’s in it to win it.
Mariah Said: How can you top that?
The Verdict:
That wasn’t nearly as good as she thought it was. Mostly because she can’t hit any of the big notes she tried to stretch out to throughout the song. They just came off as shrill alarm bells that ruined any of the good she was doing in the lower register.
The lower register was just about perfect – a very solid country twang with a pop voice behind it to make it current and fit so well with this show. Just wonderful tone.
However, that can’t undo those ridiculous attempts to go high and belt that just shrieked in irritation. If she stays low, she’s set. If she goes high, she’ll hang herself out to dry.
Grade: C+
Prediction: Looks like we have our surefire country girl.
Adriana Latonio Sang “Stand Up For Love” by Beyonce
Keith Said: I’m a little nervous about that song choice for you.
Nicki Said: I would suggest that you work a little bit and come back next year.
Randy Said: It was very safe and a little boring really.
Mariah Said: I hope everybody saw your previous performances.
The Verdict:
Seriously. Put the Disney Princess dress on her right now because that’s all this was – a girl singing at a theme park in a Disney Princess dress. The vocal was poor, the performance came from a high school talent show and the whole package just screamed summer job at a theme park.
That’s probably where she’ll be this summer, so have fun watching her before you go on Splash Mountain.
Grade: D+
Result: SAFE
Candice Glover Sang “Ordinary People” by John Legend
Keith Said: It’s crazy. It’s through the roof.
Nicki Said: (Nicki just saluted her)
Randy Said: That was ridiculous. You sang notes that people won’t be able to understand how they fit into a chord.
Mariah Said: Let the goosebumps continue.

The Verdict:
It was so good, it was boring. As in, uninteresting. Just such a safe solid vocal that doesn’t stand out at all. Look away from the TV and it’s just pleasant background music because that’s all she was able to do with this performance – just a really good vocal without anything really compelling.
Dully competent.
Grade: B-
Prediction: She got some pretty major love in the pimp spot. That’s a pretty safe formula for moving on.
Final Thoughts:
Not only was it clear that the girls are going to better than the guys this season, it’s clear who the winner is after one live show: Angie’s got this sewn up. She’s the perfect contestant for this show right now and it seems unlikely that anyone has the capabilities to rise up and beat her.
So she’s definitely safe.
As for the other four, (If there are four, I take no responsibility for the judges changing the rules and letting 6 or 9 or however many they want into the show for the next round) that’s a bit trickier.
Candice killing it in the pimp spot seems a sure bet as do Kree Harrison and Amber Holcomb completing that three-peat of judge fawning after Angie dominated the stage.
That leaves one more spot.
Easy eliminations are Adriana who basically killed the show at the end with her kiddie-kid performance and Breanna whose two-hole disaster probably won her the fewest votes of the evening. Also Zoanette. Poor Zoanette who needed to be at her Zoanettiest to handle getting over the leadoff spot and just couldn’t quite put it all together.
That leaves Janelle, Teena and Aubrey who all seem to be on about equal footing for that final slot in the finals. It’d be nice to say that Teena is the shoo-in as her performance was the clear standout amongst those girls, but how can we go against country? How can we go against Janelle?
The truth? We can’t. She’ll grab the final slot and have no chance of winning. Somebody like Teena always goes down far too early on this show and this year the part of Teena will be played by Teena.

Related: American Idol, Keith Urban, Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj, Randy Jackson, Ryan Seacrest, Starpulse Exclusives, Recaps, Television, Reality, FOX, Reality (Talent)

Photo Credits: Michael Becker / FOX

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