Reality Rocks - Archive

That ’70s Week, Pt. 2: The Top 10 Idol Girls Sing

Lyndsey Parker
Reality Rocks

Last night was episode two of '70s Week on American Idol--and to very loosely quote '70s hitmakers Kool & the Gang, it was ladies' night but the feeling wasn't so right. Sure, there were a few good bloggable moments, but there was no real Wednesday Night Fever going on. The overall so-so showing by the top 10 girls only confirmed my conviction that it'll be two males battling onstage at the Kodak Theater on finale night.

All right, let's get right to it. First up was judge (if not fan) favorite Carly Hennessmithson, further backing up my "primacy and recency effect" sociological theory from yesterday's top 10 males blog. (She sang last on '60s Night, and first on '70s Night. This was no luck-of-the-draw accident, peopel.) And man, though I've made no secret that Carly is not one of my faves, I have to give her credit for taking on a Heart song, "Crazy On You." Ann Wilson is arguably one of the greatest rock 'n' roll singers ever--not just the best rock frontwoman, but one of the best rock singers of either gender, EVER. Carly trying to live up to Ann's larger-than-life legacy could have been almost as foolhardy as Luke Menard trying to take on Freddie Mercury. But Carly thankfully handled Heart way better than Luke handled Queen. There's no doubt that Carly can sing. But I still don't think she has real superstar appeal; I can understand why even with a $2 million MCA marketing budget behind her, she still couldn't make it big before. I did prefer Carly this week, in full-on rocker mode (Amy Winehouse-ish tatts on display, teeth bared, screaming her lungs out), but I still feel something's lacking here. I just don't think she has enough charisma to connect on a major level. Or on a major label.

One contestant hardly lacking in class, sass, and sex appeal is Syesha Mercado. I still love me some Syesha, but this week she was one of several contestants sabotaged by the ever-problematic issue of "song selection." A choice like "Me & Mrs. Jones" was just too subdued for her. It dragged, and dragged, and draaaaggggged, with only one big "moment" note in the entire song, at the end--and she didn't even fully nail the note, which was the biggest drag of all. This was the week that Syesha should've blamed her lack of energy on the flu or laryngitis. I do hope she makes it through, however; if she doesn't, I'll be crying like just that unnerving baby-wail she let rip during her pre-performance interview piece.

Now, on to my favorite female this season, Brooke White. You know, for the most part all the blondes looks alike to me this year. I can't keep Alaina Lee Cook or Kady Whitaker or Kristy Malloy straight. Only spunky Brooke stands out for me. And she's one of the few girls who made the right song choice last night. Carly Simon's "You're So Vain" was perfect for her, and I loved loved LOVED that she played guitar on it, too. She proved she's the real deal. Everything just made sense about her performance. This is the kind of song she should record if she wins. Or even if she doesn't win--because it's hard to imagine she won't get a record deal one way or another, once this season wraps up.

My other fave lady this season, Ramiele Malubay, sang next. Damn, she's so frickin' cute--cuter than David Archuleta, even! And she hula dances better than Sanjaya, as she demonstrated in her bio video segment. I'm not sure "Don't Leave Me This Way" was the best song for her (if she was going to go the disco-diva route, I would've preferred a sassier number like Donna Summer's "Bad Girls"), but as Randy would say, she worked it out. Ramiele won't be leaving the show this way, or any other way, for a while yet.

Kristy Lee Cook was one of the night's more forgettable contestants (except for her hideous Night At The Roxbury disco shirt), so I'll gloss over her. (Though it annoyed me how Simon advised her to "go country." Are we supposed to believe he was unaware that she used to be signed to Arista Nashville, and that she has a Confederate-flag-flying country music video all over YouTube? Puh-leeze.)

Let's move on to Amanda Overmyer. Eek! When I suggested she get a makeover last week, I didn't mean she should paint more Cruella DeVille streaks in her already copiously skunk-striped hair and get a Mafia-wife New Jersey salon blowout that makes her look 59 years old. Seriously, I could scarcely pay attention to her actual vocals because I was so distracted by her light-socket-shocked hairdo and those crazy rodeo chaps that even Cher would find too tacky to wear. So I rewound my TiVo and listened to Amanda's "Carry On Wayward Son" again, this time with my eyes closed. And it was as gawd-awful as her Halloween hair and chaps. Guess there was a reason why she relied on scatting and mushmouthing before, because apparently when she actually attempts to enunciate, her act totally falls apart. Randy said there was "too much melody" in the song she sang. Well, that's a big problem, since, you know, most singers are required to sing melodies. And speaking of "song selection," Amanda's pretty limited if she can only pull off non-melodic tunes. This is such a disappointment, because I'm a rock 'n' roll girl through and through and I really wanted a token rawker chick in this race--but it looks like I'm going to have to get my rock fix from Michael Johns and David Cook this season. Amanda was near the bottom last week, and this week she deserves to bottom out again. Overmyer may well be over.

Moving on...Alaina Whitaker revealed she's an obsessive-compulsive chick with possible disordered-eating issues, but at least her OCD quirks aren't as creepy as that guy who kept his fingernail clippings in a Ziploc baggie. Unfortunately, Alaina's confession about her insistence on keeping her food separated on her plate was the most interesting thing about her last night. Her pageant-y performance of the Olivia Newton-John Grease ballad "Hopelessly Devoted To You" started off OK, but when she strained to hit the high notes in the middle, it just got hopeless, period. More like "Hopelessly Demoted To The Bottom 2," really.

Alexandrea Lushington, one of this season's strongest chick singers, made an unusual, unexpected choice, Chicago's "Please Don't Go"--and I don't think that was a very wisedecision. She could have really stood out doing some brash, brashy disco-diva stuff (you know, Gloria Gaynor, Donna Summer, Thelma Houston), but this schmaltzy soft-rocker didn't showcase her well at all. Hopefully this won't be her premature undoing. Please don't go, Alexandrea, indeed.

Kady Malloy also bravely took on a Heart song, "Magic Man" (a classic--hard to believe Simon's never heard it),  all the better to show off her yet-unheard operatic range. But she faltered--much like chewing gum and walking at the same time, singing and descending a staircase simultaneously is a special skill, one Kady seemingly has yet to master. Her performance improved as the song progressed and she successfully made it to the bottom of the stairs, but it was still far from magic.

Which reminds me...a word of advice to contestants making their song selection for '80s Week: Stay away from Heart and Queen! Trust me on this.

And finally, there was Asia'h Epperson. Poor, poor Asia'h. First she loses her father right before the Idol auditions, and then she blows her big chance in front of an audience of millions. She got overly ambitious, singing the statement song "All By Myself" (the big, BIG number that put LaToya London on the map in season 3), and she couldn't handle it--at least not right after recovering from the flu. That first verse was rough. And the chorus was rougher, when she missed that big note by several octaves. She did rebound and nail the final notes--but it was too late, the damage was done. And judging from the crestfallen expression on her face, it seems she knew that. I think she's safe this week based on her past performances (and, let's face it, her sympathetic backstory)...but she's no LaToya London.

Phew! So now it's elimination-prediction time. I think it's going to Amanda and Alaina. Or maybe Asia'h or Alexandrea, if there's a slight upset. Women whose names start with A, at least.

And to reiterate my male-elimination theory, I predict Luke Menard and Jason Yeager will get cut. Watch tonight and see if I'm right!

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