American Idol Recap: The Iron Ladies

skylar laine idolSome days, it’s depressingly easy to take the cynical approach to recapping American Idol: Like when Randy makes a “doo-doo” joke, or Steven bats over .500 in using “beautiful” to describe the night’s performances, or J.Lo serves her patented “intense/meaningful” facial expression with all the practiced ridiculousness of a RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant.

But after Wednesday night’s installment of Idol — during which the Season 11 Top 12 women took the stage — an altogether different kind of emotion is the order of the day: Earnest excitement.

Oh, sure, Randy still managed to deliver jaw-droppingly misguided/embarrassing references to Lauryn Hill, Beyoncé, and Lana Del Ray. And there was certainly a higher percentage of catastrophic caterwauling compared to Tuesday’s night telecast (featuring the Top 13 guys). But a trio of electrifying performances from Jessica Sanchez, Elise Testone, and Skylar Laine — and four additional rock-solid vocals from Erika Van Pelt, Holly Cavanagh, Hallie Day, and Jen Hirsh — were enough to make me optimistic about sacrificing every Wednesday and Thursday night over the next three months at the Church That Fantasia Barrino Built.

So let’s break down all 12 ladies’ performances with an eye on which five are most likely to advance to the finals during Thursday’s results-show telecast. (For the record, the top five vote-getters from the men’s and women’s pools will advance directly to the finals, with the judges filling out the remaining three spots with their Wild Card selections. And let’s give a moment of thanks to the judges for trying to offer a bit of constructive criticism, and to Randy — Randy! — for admitting he and his cohorts were “a little lenient” with the guys on Tuesday.)

Chelsea Sorrell, Carrie Underwood’s “Cowboy Casanova”
“Next time.” Those might be the two saddest words in the English language when they’re spoken by an Idol semifinalist who hasn’t quite processed what 20 million viewers already know too well: In 24 hours, Ryan Seacrest will be putting her Idol dreams to sleep with a syringe marked “your journey ends tonight.” But you can’t really blame Chelsea for wanting to believe she’ll somehow get another chance to prove she’s finals-worthy. Her “Cowboy Casanova” wasn’t dreadful; it was just stiffer than a bowl of brutally beaten egg whites. Chelsea hit most of her notes, but she delivered the entire song with a tightly clenched jaw and half-closed mouth that turned the lyrics into a strange syllable salad, with a line like “run for you life” turning into “run for you uhhhhh.” Adding to the uncomfortable vibe: The sight of Chelsea’s heaving bazooms trying to bust their way out from beneath her black, sequined shirt-dress. There’s nothing wrong with being a wrestling fan, but the main event shouldn’t be occurring underneath your blouse, sister!

Baylie Brown, Lonestar’s “Amazed”
Speaking of breast-binding fashion, Ryan reported that after her performance, Baylie told him that the criss-crossing salmon-colored tourniquets at the top of her ball gown actually made it hard for her to breathe during a disastrous cover of Lonestar’s “Amazed.” Unfortunately for the audition-round favorite, though, it was her — and not the Idol styling team — who hit a lower percentage of notes than a drunk, blindfolded frat boy playing a game of Whac-a-Mole. “You’re very pretty,” said Steven, sprinkling a spoonful of sugar over the bowl full of Shredded Dreams cereal that Baylie received as a consolation prize. Chin up, Baylie! You can always try X Factor — and maybe the third time on a reality singing competition will be the charm for your wayward nerves.

Haley Johnsen, Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”
“I’m gonna prove you wrong next time,” Haley said to Randy, following a grisly rendering of a classic Annie Lennox number in which her vocals were flatter than a penny on a railroad track and her sense of rhythm was less convincing than Season 10’s Paul McDonald in a choreographed dance routine. Alas, “next time” for Haley will occur next Friday night at 2 a.m. in a Portland, OR, karaoke bar. Maybe if she uploads it to YouTube, the Dawg will take the time to watch it and post some encouraging words in the comments section? Yeah, probably not. (Side note: I have to give 10 points to J.Lo for this exquisitely generous put-down — “I’m not sure the song and the way you chose to sing it were perfect.”)

Skylar Laine, Faces’ “Stay With Me”
I think I became a fan of this Mississippi firecracker from the minute Ryan was forced to phonetically sound out the words “muddin’ around on her ATV” — you know Seacrest doesn’t speak hillbilly — during Skylar’s intro package. But even so, I was wholly unprepared for the explosive energy she brought to the Idol stage for her cover of “Stay With Me.” Who cares if the song isn’t the rangiest animal in the country songbook? Who cares if Skylar’s outfit looked like a faded costume from the 1977 Icecapades Christmas Spectacular? When she did that bouncy little dance at the mid-way marker — just because there was so much ferocity and feeling in her body that she couldn’t possibly get it all out through her vocals — I literally let out a howl from my living room couch, seal-clapped like I was Paula Abdul, and hit the rewind button on my DVR for a second serving. Skylar completely embodied the raucous energy of Faces’ ode to a one-night stand, didn’t miss a single note, brought the entire risky number right to the precipice of disaster, and yet never lost control of it. Plus, she didn’t have to defensively declare “I had fun” like so many Idol contestants before her. As they say in any basic writing seminar: “Show, don’t tell!”

Jessica Sanchez, Jennifer Hudson’s “I Love You I Do”
If this is Jessica’s voice with a sore, swollen throat, then Los Angeles may expeirence gale-force winds when the spritely teenager returns to full power next week. Not only was the kid under the weather, but the sound mix for her performace was the worst of the night (on a night where the sound mix was an utter failure). I like that there’s a slight bit of crazy in Jessica’s delivery — a bombast that’s so casual, you wonder if she’s even aware of her vocal strength — and I like that she actually went with an uptempo number for her opening salvo. My super-gay iPod is already all kinds of excited for Jessica’s next decade’s worth of dance remixes!

Elise Testone, Adele’s “One and Only”
I’d be on Team Elise just for the fact that she wove her room-service flowers into her hair for her first nationally televised performance. But the sandpapery beauty of her voice, and the emotional break she experienced as the enormity of the moment hit her on the line “I promise I’m worthy” may have been the first step in a very special Idol journey. (OMG, I hate that I just used “Idol journey” in an unironic way. I told you this performance night made me earnest!) If Elise doesn’t make the Top 13, I won’t mention Haley Reinhart’s “Bennie and the Jets” in my recaps for the rest of the Idol season. How’s that for confidence in the Lady Testone?

With Chelsea, Baylie, and Haley doomed, and Skylar, Jessica, and Elise practically guaranteed spots in the Top 10, that leaves us with six women competing for two additonal viewer-driven berths in the Finals. These include:

Jen Hirsh, Adele’s “One and Only”
“Two Adele ballads enter! One Adele ballad leaves!” That was the vibe of the ThunderDome twist Idol producers brought to ladies’ night. (Reportedly, contestants submitted lists of songs they wanted to sing, and the producers made the final choice.) In the case of Jen, they not only gave her the same song as her rival Elise — and a WTF “field of wheat” backdrop! — but they signaled to the world which rendition was “better” by putting Jen in the dreaded No. 3 performance slot, and saving Elise for the end-of-episode pimp slot. And for once, I can’t really argue with Uncle Nigel’s favoritism. While the ladies certainly have two very different vocalist styles — Elise is the street fighter to Jen’s ballerina — there was something a little sterile about Jen’s version, and a shrillness to her glory notes, that detracted from her rock-solid pitch and undeniable power. And thanks to the head-to-head comparisons, I’m pretty sure Jen will now need a Wild Card to have any hope of surviving into next week.

Brielle Von Hugel, Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay”
In all honesty, Brielle’s Idol dreams ended the minute the producers chose her for the Hollywood Week She-Beast edit, and even if she’d been possessed by the spirit of Kelly Clarkson singing “Stuff Like That There,” she’d still have had to contend with the worst backdrop of the night: A literal image of a dilapidated dock with some waves rolling in. I half-expected to see a dead fish drifting behind Brielle’s head, just to complete the awfulness. As it was, Brielle’s vocal was solid, if not spectacular, and Steven was right: Her delivery of the word “Georgia” was the highlight of the performance, and most likely, her entire run on the show.

Erika Van Pelt, Heart’s “What About Love”
Erika’s chances of winning America’s vote will depend on whether or not viewers respond to the gorgeous, husky tone if her voice, and the effortless power she brings to the table, or her unfortunate mother-of-the-bride jacket and color-within-the-lines choices on Heart’s mid-’80s hit. Personally, I’d really love to see Erika get the chance to grow as a performer, get a little more confidence in front of an audience of millions, and see if she can become a dark horse contender for the crown in the pattern of Jordin Sparks or David Cook or Kris Allen. But methinks Randy’s dismissive critique — “Yo, if this girl DJs half as good as she sings!” — and lethal No. 2 performance position might relegate her to an all-too-early exit.

Hollie Cavanagh, Christina Aguilera’s “Reflection”
Speaking of sigers who should improve with a little more experience, how ’bout young Hollie, who looked so petrified at the start of her song that I wondered if J.Lo had donned a Medusa mask when the cameras weren’t looking? Said stage fright may have been the cause of some of Hollie’s peculiar inflections in the opening half of a Disney princess ballad, but there was no denying that when the Season 10 “Green Mile” reject went for the glory notes, her monster voice was big enough to threaten, if not slay, the Xtina dragon in the room. I’ll confess I couldn’t bring myself to vote for any singer who’d choose such a saccharine ballad — and the literal backdrop of Hollie singing into her own gigantic reflection didn’t help matters, either — but she’s way too talented to only get a one-week run on this show.

Hallie Day, Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good”
Hallie wins a special demerit badge for breaking out the “I had fun” sound bite in Week 1, but honestly, I’ve never heard any contestant sound so glum while saying it. Of course, the same can be said for her rendition of “Feeling Good.” Yes, the vocal was spot-on, and Hallie brought a certain sensuality to the table that makes her distinctive from the other women of Season 11, but her energy was so muted — practically zombified at times — that I wanted to greet her refrain like Cam on Modern Family: “Are you feeling good, Hallie? Are you?” Combine that peculiarity with her off-putting choice of cerulean blue pants, silver-and-white sequined top, and ill-fitting black jacket, and the gentle waitress from Baltimore is probably about to have her lunch eaten by a certain pageant-type from Florida. Speaking of which…

Shannon Magrane, Kathy Troccoli’s “Go Light Your World”
“Representing the Sunshine State — a young lady who comes from an athletic lineage, and enjoys singing and volleyball and being tall! She’s all about bringing hope to the hopeless, and lighting the candle from within, and wearing her hair in a potent cloud of AquaNet: It’s Miss Hillsborough County, Shannon Magrane!” Literally, if this girl makes Randy Jackson think of LAURYN FREAKING HILL, then he should be institutionalized in a Hospital for the Criminally Tone Deaf. And yes, J.Lo, I got goosies, too; from the abject terror of being introduced to one of the most mawkish ballads ever to muck up the Idol stage. No. Me. Gusta.

Your turn. What did you think of the Top 12 ladies. Which five will sail thorugh to the finals without the help of a wild card? Take our poll below, then hit the comments to expand on your opinions!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Erin says:

    Slezak! The outfits were dreadful! Yes, the semi-finalists provided their own wardrobe, but wow! I haven’t seen that many sheer black fabrics since Alannah Myles….in other words, I’m glad you picked up a little bit on the fashion angle…

  2. Word Money G says:

    Slezak! How can you fail to recognize that Shannon Magraine will absolutely be moving on simply by choosing to deliver a Semi-Contemporary Christian tune? Brilliant move. If the only thing that differentiates you from the other teenage girls (besides your freakish size) is your song choice, do what Shannon did – get the God vote. Remember who votes. Teenagers and people from rural Alabama.

    • Louie says:

      She have Kristy-Lee Cook’d her way into the top 10
      As Simon would’ve said “You’re a very smart girl”

    • Yo says:

      Oh gawd, that was a god song?

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        Yes, it’s Christian Contemporary song. Let me just say as a Christian (AND I have family in Alabama, LOL) I like the song; however, I didn’t care for her performance. Being a practicing Christian is not a bad thing, and I don’t have a problem with singing songs of that nature on “Inspiration Night” but I didn’t think it was particularly appropriate last night. Just my opinion.

        • Ben says:

          Darcy, you should have your own blog. Also as a practising Christian, I have no problem with the song at any point in the contest, but the choice aint going to influence where my vote goes. There is truth in the fact that song choice is important (even the theme is, in picking this I guess she picked something she had a genuine connection to, so it prevented any feeling of disconnect). But you still have to sing the song you pick well to get my vote.

        • Yo says:

          I like Christianity, but using faith to win a contest cheapens it and is in bad taste, although those who do it are often quite sincere. I agree on Inspiration night; that is the place for it. Inserting religion in a general competition ain’t kosher; it’s cheesy and often panders to a faction of the audience.

    • Sookie says:

      I though she was singing about a Ken doll, ” I will hold out a Ken Doll…” I am not quite sure the “helpless” need a Ken doll and I don’t know what it has to do with lighting the world. Must be a Florida thing.

    • Tim says:

      That was a mind-numbing performance though. I thought I was watching the talent portion of the Miss USA pageant.

  3. Cnuck says:

    I wish we could download these performances from iTunes already (unless we can and I’m missing something). I seriously want that Elise Testone performance on my iPod. Now.

  4. blingedup.susan says:

    1. Elise Testone!
    2. Erika
    3. Skylar

    And that will be it for me.

  5. TVAddict says:

    Team Jessica Sanchez!

    I love how Idol introduced us to her….just her amazing voice without shoving her down out throats.

  6. Lo says:

    Should be Erika, Elise, Hollie, Jessica, and Skylar going through, with Hallie and maybe Shannon deserving wildcards

  7. Janie says:

    slezak you said “If Elise doesn’t make the Top 13, I won’t mention Haley Reinhart’s “Bennie and the Jets” in my recaps for the rest of the Idol season. How’s that for confidence in the Lady Testone?”

    The way you worded means that if Elise DOES make the top 13, you WILL mention Bennie and the jets for the rest of the season.. well you said you like elise and you loved haley.. so that really isnt saying much for your confidence in elise :) I think you meant to say if Elise makes it into the top 13, i wont mention bennie and the jets.

  8. Ash says:

    Slezak — Idology HAS to be longer this week. There is no way you will be able to cover the boys, girls, and the wild card tonight in 10 minutes. Please make this happen. K, thanks.

  9. Name That Tune says:

    Should be safe:
    Hollie Day
    Erika VP

    On the Bubble:
    Jen H
    Hollie C

    Beauty Pageant Contender:

    Show Them The Exit Door:

    Candidate for the Haley Rheinart Underdog Award:
    Haley J

    Most Likely Shocking Pia T “too early” exit:
    Hollie C

    Country Idol Contender Award:

  10. Caroline says:

    AMEN! Lol.

  11. muffy says:

    The worst backdrop of the night was definitely the great big eyes. They totally freaked me out.

    The best of the night – Skylar, Jessica and Elise. Although Skylar better be careful, she needs to lighten up on the good ole country gal bit before it gets super annoying.

    • Yo says:

      The country gal thing is okay if it is sincere and there isn’t a flag draped over a little ole country church in the bio. This is an election year and I am a woman: I am not gonna be forgiving.

    • Sookie says:

      I agree the creapy eyes staring out from everywhere and then they would blink… totally freaked me out.

  12. Gorm says:

    If Eben Frankewitz makes it through by virtute of simply being young, white and having bangs there will be heck to pay.

    That said, I’m getting on the Heejun & Skyler Laine bandwagons here and now. Feel free to join me, despite the fact that the Heejy-Jeejeey’s wagon might not be rolling past 9:55pm EST.

    Also, I’m off the Deandre Bandwagon until he proves himself a little more. He’ll have at least another week to flip the mane around, need a little less falsetto and more chest voice sangin’.

  13. Stephie33 says:

    Skylar won me over last night; I’d barely noticed her before. She has the spunk and grit of a fun girl I’d like to go line dancing with! Also a big fan of Jessica and Hollie (here’s hoping she can “wrangle” those nerves!)…

  14. Joe says:

    My wife said to me when Chelsea was singing, “I think she’s wearing triple spanx, the poor girl can’t breathe!” That might explain the heaving bosom and the poor vocal.
    Jen Hirsch was not good Slezak. Come on & just admit you like her from earlier rounds and want her pushed through. Nothing she did last night was worthy of advancement. The producers basically pitted her against Elise and Elise crushed her like a grape (pun intended).
    Skyler stole the show. I’ll admit rewatching her performance. That was pure joy to watch. With her, Josh and Jessica in the mix I’ll at least watch the coming weeks.
    Why didn’t someone tell the girl singing Sweet Dreams to stop singing it? It was awful. Outside of Creighton Fraker dancing like John C. Reilly listening to Dirk Diggler sing in Boogie Nights it was the worst performance of the night. And that includes Bailey “I waited 5 years for this?” Brown who barfed up her chance to become the next Kimberly Caldwell and all that that implies.
    Shannon was so “pageanty” I was hoping Ryan was going to hand her a bouquet and a tiara when he came out.
    Erica was season 3 American Idol just like Adam Brock. It they could turn back time they would have both lasted a few weeks way back when.
    Hollie Cavanaugh is the dark horse. She’s the one producers can take from shy kitten with a radio ready voice and mold her into the next American Idol. She’s Wittle Wauren w/o the scent and look of country fried steak. Watch out for her. Nigel has plans folks.

  15. Lol says:

    “Skylar’s outfit looked like a faded costume from the 1977 Icecapades Christmas Spectacular”

    HaHaHa…Perfect description!

  16. Malcolm says:

    I guess I’m the only one who didn’t like Skylar’s performance. Some of her physical affectations kind of bothered me and I guess I didn’t care too much for the song. But I’ll admit I won’t be sad if she stays.
    Jessica started off weak but then slayed it at the end! Hollie had a similar run through her song though Jessica’s was a bit more memorable. Poor Erika…she was solid but I have a feeling she’s going to be leaving us. Though Elise was better than Jen, she was kinda pitchy and her voice cracked at times, so I don’t think she was that much better. I’m hoping Jen gets through still. I think she would make the comp a bit more interesting.

    • Tim says:

      I don’t get the Skyler love either, I think she’s an ok country singer but nothing special. Guess I will have something to disagree with Slezak about after all.

    • Selena says:

      I agree with u. Too twany for my taste. And she is a lot like reba. My least fav country singer

  17. Malcolm says:

    Oh, and I just wanted to say that I love you fellow TVLine Idol watchers. You have sense and it shows in the polls. Regardless of the results, you guys are testament that there is some sense left in the voting public.

  18. Louie says:

    Yeah, you can always tell when J-Lo digs a performance when she has that “me gusta”/struggling on the toilet look on her face. I think she only did that for Elise

    • IdolFlash-7-9-35 says:

      Good. I like to hear that. I read that DialIdol predicted her barely missing the Top 5, so if the judges love her that much, they’ll put her in as a Wildcard.

      • Lo says:

        I really wouldn’t put too much faith in Dial Idol this season. With the amount of voting through cell phones, texting and online, it’s really not that reliable.

      • Ben says:

        Agree with Lo. Dialidol was already clearly dead last year, but given it is showing almost the complete opposite results to every other poll you can find anywhere on the internet, how can we possibly trust it? If Eben and Brielle get voted in, I’ll withdraw. If they don’t, remember that Dialidol is dead, and go to other places instead.

  19. Jason says:

    There was not one contestant completely on pitch last night! The closest was probably Brielle. Maybe Shannon. SKylar was on pitch but the song had three notes so anyone can do that. SO in my opinion none of the girls should be eliminated on the pitch issue. I think something was happening with the sound mix that messed up the girls pitch. So that being said Haley and Brielle’s pitch problems should be forgiven. You guys are being brutal on them and BRielle because they are the beautiful ones and people are always brutal on the beautiful ones on this show. Haley and BRielle were my favorites and I think Bailey should get one more chance. All th others either performed forgettable ballads. Six that should go through based on commercial potential, possible artistry, and in the interest of not boring us to tears with ballads every week (you see how well that worked for Pia) should be Haley, Brielle, Skylar, Elise, HOllie, Jessica.

    And Adam Brock is the spitting image of michael Slezak

    • somebody says:

      Even though Baylie and Haley had rough nights, the case for them is:

      1. Only three last night showed even a trace of a hint of any sort of star singing potential (and we will be lucky if even one of the three actually follows through) so there are plenty of free spaces.

      2. Most of the rest were neither terrible (although there is one who I thought was but I dare not mention by name again) nor great and few were interesting in any particular way. They were just mediocre to decent enough but boring. So what if week after week they put on a decent performance? In the end, if there will be nothing interesting about it and it won’t be great then why waste two hours watching competent but whatever singers who have neither the look nor the creativity or magical voice or anything special at all?

      3. Nobody seemed to be more affected by the nerves of being up for the first time before the big crowd than Baylie and you know she would be on a major upward trajectory next week. At least there is a chance she could be something different next week. If she gets it together, she has a nice tone and some potential. She has the look more than anyone in the competition and the personality. Since so few others showed any great promise why not give her a second chance just to see what she is capable of? Maybe she really brings it. If not, well whoever else would’ve been in the slot would’ve been nothing more than a decent, competent but forgettable performance, so who cares?

      4. Haley will at least try to make things interesting. Even in the worst case scenario, if she repeats last night, maybe you have somewhat of a wreck, bit at least it is interesting in a weird, quirky way. I’d rather see something go weirdly wrong than yet another average OK not bad, not great, not interesting, not anything much regular old good enough performance, that is totally boring. And in the best case, she delivers something genuinely interesting carried off very well and then you really have something. She also has the look too.

      If you had tons of girls who did amazingly well last night and who showed all sorts of interesting promise, then it’s too bad for Baylie and Haley but since there is so little hint of anything special from anyone else and you have at least three entirely free slots why not give them a shot again? You are giving up nothing really. All I predict is tons of perfectly decent (with a few horrendous and/or annoying) but instantly forgettable performances from whoever gets in instead of those two and that is the more boring scenario by far. Plus having those two make it in would realllly tweak those who need to be tweaked.

      outta here

      • John says:

        And as you said, there were pitch issues and strangled bleats and such coming out of most of the rest, at times, too anyway.

      • Ben says:

        There was nothing redeeming about Baylie or Haley. I can only assume you are a male who finds them hot. Baylie (no offence to a girl I like) would be absolutely ripped to shreds by her competitors. Please, just no.

    • Forwarders says:

      Troll – there was nothing redeeming about Baylie or Brielle.

  20. Kiki says:

    Hey, Michael! Glad to see you easing up in general…when you’re so hard on Randy, it comes across sometimes as “I-take-this-stuff-too-seriously.” The past two seasons, you’ve started to sound elitist and hard-nosed. And bless your heart, I can certainly tell that you’re not from the South. We appreciate people like Randy. He adds a hefty dose of fun, but I’m still able hear in his critiques some really helpful observations for the singers. I hope his mea culpa will allow your heart to soften a bit toward him.

  21. Cat says:

    I LOVED Erika’s voice. So many of these ladies feel they have to shriek out a glory note that just comes straight from their throats. Erika has a beautiful, well-supported almost classical sound–the mellowest I think I’ve ever heard on an Idol female contestant. I hope with all my heart that I get to hear more of her singing.

    • M Girl says:

      I agree about Erika’s voice. I just watched her again on YouTube. Smooth, strong, effortless. I seriously bet that her matronly fashion style will cost her votes. Pity.

    • TheBeach says:

      Agreed. Erika’s tone is simply beautiful. I also really like Elise. I’m guessing the grandmotherly over-blouse was an effort to cover up Erika’s large back tattoo which might have turned off some voters (although that didn’t seem to hurt Carly much).

  22. Paige says:

    I don’t know if the judges don’t know who Miranda Lambert is or have never seen her perform because they have yet to state the obvious. Skylar is like her in every way. Don’t get me wrong, she is great, but she is not exactly original and that gets to me a bit! I do hope she goes far in the competition because she deserves it! I hope America sees how fantastic Hollie is. I am really hoping she’s the dark horse in this competition (Allison Iraheta style). I know she has some show stoppers in store for us this season! I also hope America loves Elise Testone because her voice is FANTASTIC!

  23. Ben says:

    Your recap is 100% accurate Michael. Although, I wish that you’d retire your need to start every recap by bagging the judges. It’s getting as old as the judges comments themselves. They say the same useless stuff every week and they are not going to change – we get it already.

  24. Louie says:

    After watching last night, I said to my friends that only three had memorable (for good reasons) performances, and they were the three that Michael mentioned above. I’m glad to see that I really don’t have a tin ear (even though the judges keep trying to convince me otherwise).
    I’ve been a fan of Jessica’s since the group performance, a fan of Elise’s since the SFYL, and Skylar just came out of nowhere for me. I was so anti-country since last-season’s country lovefest that I was biased. Even before her performance, I was like “oh… this b****”. And then by the end I was rooting for her.
    What a turnaround.
    I don’t care who from the girls advance as long as those three are the first three who get the first three slots.

  25. DZ says:

    They should just have a sing off between Joshua and Jessica and cancel the rest of the season.

  26. Selena says:

    AM I the only one that doesn’t like Sylar?

    • anon says:

      One of the few here, but no, not at all. I’m astonished she has such a fanbase here, of all places.

      • Tim says:

        I gave her another listen because I thought I was missing something. Nope, annoying twang and head-shake still there. As far as country singers go, I’ll take Lauren Alaina any day.

        • Mark says:

          Skylar’s vocal ability is kinda meh. On that score, she’s no… Lauren for example. Her performance ability is not only light years ahead of Lauren Alaina, it appears to be light years ahead of nearly everyone this year. They almost all do shtick. She is the real deal on stage.

  27. Leila says:

    Skylar may have tons of energy, but not real soul or life experience. I’ll take Elise Testone.

    I’m still annoyed that Phillip Phillips is being considered the best of the guy’s night. He changes the melody of every song he sings to the point you can’t recognize them, and make them all sound the same. Guys night was boring, but I see potential on Joshua and Deandre.

  28. marie says:

    Yes, Haley Johnson would probably have made prettier music had she simply growled like a bear. As it was, her performance was grisly.

  29. jessiesk says:

    OMG I knew as soon as Shannon came out in a white dress that she was working the virgin crowd. And the pan to her mother singing along. Yes she was totally going for the God vote. Wasn’t she the one that Steven was hot for?
    I was really hoping Haley Portland girl would do better then trying to do her version of Florence and the Machine on a song that shouldn’t be sung in shows like this.

    • Louie says:

      The problem is, even if she had sung in tune, it wasn’t a song or performance that someone should do right out of the gate. It was more like a song you’d do when you’re already established.
      The judges were kinda right in that if the singer can push a little more, then do it. That’s why I think most of the contestants do their runs and high notes and vocal acrobatics. And once they establish that, yes they can sing, and the audience is behind them, then go ahead and take some risks.
      It’s all in the game! (Shannon knows how to play)

      • Louie says:

        btw, I was talking about Haley and the Sweet Dreams song in my comment

      • Sookie says:

        It seemed that Haley was singing in a totally different key than the band was playing. I wondered if she couldn’t hear herself but she didn’t say anything. Maybe the eyes freaked her out too.

  30. SallyinChicago says:

    Ok slezak you absolutely make comment about the following:
    1) who dressed those women/girls? The 16 yr olds looked like they were 40. And all the bling and sparkles in the dresses hurt my eyes
    2) What song catalog are they chosing from?
    3) Who decided to let Haley, Hallie, Holly, Halli, and more than enough blonds through? Did they not see more brunettes & redheads in the auditions? or black people? Can they see Black or brown?

    Overall, my faves: Jessica, Elyse and Skylar (Dollie Parton=2.0)

    • Carol says:

      Until they make the top 13 (and then get the help of stylists), I believe they choose/supply their own wardrobe. Also, they could choose any song, so there was no specific theme.

  31. TheBeach says:

    I consider myself relatively knowledgeable about both current and past singers but I have to confess I have no clue who Kathy Trocolli (who Shannon covered) is.

    • mailmanjimmy says:

      she sang Christian music in the 80’s and the tried a pop career, she had a couple of hits but don’t think she has recorded music in ages.

  32. raftrap says:

    Still don’t know which of the girls to pick, but as always great recap, “I had fun” (never fails). Gotta say that I loved Jessica Sanchez with Paige Miles Syndrome, the difference is that when Jessica isn’t sick she’s still pretty good.

  33. Erin says:

    “If Elise doesn’t make the Top 13, I won’t mention Haley Reinhart’s “Bennie and the Jets” in my recaps for the rest of the Idol season. How’s that for confidence in the Lady Testone?”

    OH MY GOD, DO YOU PROMISE??????????????

    • Earthling says:

      Get over yourself, already. We know you don’t get the Haley Reinhart bandwagon thing, but holy cow! What happen to you lately, cats get you in your dreams or something. Maybe you had some strange experience that makes you scream at the sound of Bennie and the Jets. You got something to share, spit it out.

  34. Tahoe Mike says:

    I don’t get the love for Jessica. Maybe I was just worn out by then, but she just did noting for me.
    I thought that Hallie Day sounded the best I’ve heard her. I think that girl’s backstory is even sadder than they told it in the audition rounds. Last night was the first time that I’ve seen any light in her eyes. She is a pretty girl,and talented singer, who has a thousand yard stare that says she has seen some ugly parts of life.
    I’d be careful about writing off some of these girls so quickly. Remember that it’s really good, and really bad performances that get the votes. The average ones are the ones who get ignored.
    There are no words vile enough for Randy.

  35. Ryan says:

    Skylar really surprised me last night. Don’t know if she’ll be a contender for the title but I can see her sticking around for a while.

    I was also really surprised with Hollie Cavanagh. Some of her performance was a little rough, but the parts she nailed were amazing. If she cleans it up a little and loses her nerves I see her as a dark horse that could go to the end.

  36. D says:

    Has anyone mentioned before that Jessica Sanchez was a contestant on the first season of America’s Got Talent? YouTube her singing “I Surrender” during AGT. She was already amazing then at 10 years old!

  37. Paramour says:

    first of all….fire the entire wardrobe staff that had any meaningful input.

    • Carol says:

      no, all contestant-chosen until they make the top 13

      • aravis says:

        Since they select their own clothes at this point, you’d think they’d have ones that fit and aren’t so tight they constrict their rib cages, wouldn’t you?

  38. Sookie says:

    Loved Skylar and I don’t even like country music. I just hope they don’t turn her into the southern hick stereotype like Kelly Pickler.
    I didn’t even realize that Elise and Jen sang the same song, Elise was that much better.
    I don’t understand the love for Brielle. I think she sings flat half the time. The beginning of Dock of the Bay was so low I couldn’t make out the words.

  39. Ana Muti says:

    I will mark this day on my calendar as the first time I’ve ever been in total agreement with Michael. I’m soooo not country, but I know a star when I see one, and Skylar is one for sure. She made listening to her country twang fun.

  40. Haley The Growler says:

    If Michael Sleazak swallowed a large black woman, the result would be Adam Brock.

  41. Erika says:

    Oh dear God, I hope Elise make the Top 13, because I couldn’t handle Slezak NOT mentioning Haley in every recap. GO ELISE! SAVE THE GROWLER (IN RECAPS)!

  42. MichelleR says:

    How did Haley say she was going to prove Randy wrong next time even make any sense? Presuming she has the opportunity to sing again, does she think that the next performance will be so magically good that it will, somehow, make this performance better?

    She needs to listen to the actual criticism, and not read in things that aren’t there. He didn’t say they made a mistake in selecting her, or that she can’t sing — he said this time was no good. Her next performance has nothing to do with nothing.

  43. Steve says:

    Like most everybody else, I thought the girls as a group totally blew the guys out of the water. BUT… let’s not declare a female winner just yet. Surely I’m not the only one getting a faint whiff of Season 9 deju vu here, where we had a incredibly strong lineup of Top 12 girls (Crystal, Siobhan, Didi, Katelyn Epperly, Lacey Brown, Janell Wheeler, Lilly Scott). Two months later, we had a Top 5 made up of Crystal and four dudes. I have my fingers crossed that things might be different this year — giving two or even all three wild card slots to the ladies would be a good start — but I’ve seen so many of my female favorites get the early boot in the last few years, I’m not sure I want to jinx anything by predicting a winner with estrogen just yet.

    • Danny says:

      AGREED. It makes me nervous for a bunch of them. I adore Skylar, and will be furious if she gets cut, but I kinda get Pickler vibes from her, meaning the second she gets pushed out of country….yikes. Hollie is amazing, but she can’t pick songs like Reflection too often, or she’ll just be Katie Stevens with a better voice. And Jessica is a brilliant vocalist, but how I feel about her kind of reminds me of how I felt about Lil Rounds at this point. The past two seasons I’ve been more excited about the women, and been disappointed both times. That being said, I would love to see a 4 girls, 1 guy top 5 for once.

  44. Justin says:

    I agree with much of what you said. However, I thought Brielle and Jen were both TERRIBLE. I had the distinct impression that Brielle had absolutely no clue what the song she was singing was even about and while Jen might have “range” her voice is shrill and flat out unpleasant to listen to. I hope both get kicked to the curb tonight along with Chelsea and Baylie.

    While Haley J. was indeed very bad, I actually wouldn’t mind seeing her perform again just because I heard some potential there (though I am about 99 percent sure she stands no chance of moving on after that disaster of a performance).

    Shannon was indeed incredibly overrated. Terrible and obvious song choice to get the Southern fundie vote and the vocals were mediocre at best. Hallie was also just middling for me.

    Elise, Erika, Jessica, Skylar and Hollie were all good. I’m gonna be a bit irked if they don’t make it, though I suspect if they don’t get the votes they’ll get Wild Carded through.

  45. Nik says:

    Shouldn’t it be The Church That Kelly Clarkson Built? Love Fantasia but let’s be real: Kelly is the biggest star to come out of Idol AND the original winner.

  46. Ben says:

    Based on my analysis of multiple sources (not my opinions, just compiling various systems and polls from all over the internet), my predictions:

    Dead certs:

    Girls: Jessica Sanchez, Hollie Cavanagh, Elise Testone, Skylar Laine
    Guys: Phil Phillips, Colton Dixon, HeeJun Han, Joshua Ledet

    People who might get that 5th spot:

    Girls: Jen Hirsh, Shannon Magraine, Baylie Brown, Erika van Pelt
    Guys: Reed Grimm, Deandre Brackensick, Aaron Marcellus, Jermaine Jones, Eben Frankewitz

    (Baylie and Eben are well out on most sources – 11th or 12th for their gender – but enough project them as around 5th that they remain a chance – a lower chance than the other names above, but still a chance).

    People for whom wild cards is the only chance:

    Girls: Hallie Day, Haley Johnson, Chelsea Sorrell, Brielle von Hugel
    Guys: Creighton Franker, Adam Brock, Jeremy Rosado, Chase Likens

  47. Barack Palin says:

    I found last nights episode entertaining, even if with the amount of blondes I thought I was watching “Aryan Idol”. But I think after tonight the blonde quotient will diminish. I feel bad for Jen Hirsh-not only did Elise cover her song better, but during her performance I kept looking to see if Sandy Duncan was walking in the wheat field. “Sweet Dreams” should officially be considered a cursed song after Haley’s performance last night, coming onthe heels of Tiah Tolliver’s “X-Factor” debacle. Thought Skylar, Hollie, Jessica, and Elise were the best. And I enjoyed one of my favorite pastimes-watching Amazonian female contestants towering over Ryan Seacrest.

  48. Fairy says:

    No. Me. Gusta. Indeed. I dunno WHAT he’s thinking half the time, honestly.

  49. Hrfe says:

    I absolutely hate that there is going to be an even-gender switch. There should be more girls in the top 13 because there are better female singers. Ugh.

  50. patty says:

    Shouldn’t that have been the church that Kelwood built? ;)