American Idol Recap: It Moves Us All, Through Despair and Hope [UPDATED]

american-idol-season-12-womenCue your local locust swarm and saddle up the proverbial four horses, American Idol fans: The end times are definitely nigh!

How else to explain Zoanette Johnson being named by the show’s rebooted judges’ panel as one of the 10 most promising unsigned female singers in the country? Yes, Zoanette Johnson, the same chick whose tattered, Season 12 audition cover of “The Star Spangled Banner” caused Keith Urban to literally fall out of his chair — and was punctuated by an alarming booty drop.

Honestly, is it time to put down the remote control and pick up the Book of Revelations? Or could one of the following theories explain the judges’ thinking:

A) Nigel Lythgoe made sure the microprint in Keith, Nicki and Mariah’s contracts allowed him to override their common sense and good taste at least three times per season. (He is, after all, producing a TV show.)

nicki-minaj-idol-side-eyeB) By virtue of his 11 previous seasons on the panel, Randy’s vote counts for double — allowing him carte blanche approval on various contestants, no matter how aggressively Nicki throws her side-eye (see accompanying screengrab, captured at the exact moment when Randy tried to justify cutting Candice Glover in the Season 11 Vegas round). (Let’s hear it for the girl, girl, girl!)

C) The judges deliberately chose to advance a few cannon-fodder contestants into next week’s Top 20, thereby ensuring speed-dialing Idol voters will advance their true chosen pets.

D) At the end of Thursday’s telecast, the judges will give a reprieve to all five women who got axed tonight, send five additional male contestants to the guillotine, and give us a gender-imbalanced, 15-chica/5-niño semifinal round. (MAKE THIS HAPPEN, @DizzyFeet!)

E) Zoanette was put here on this Earth to disprove the old adage that you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

F) Somebody spiked the Coke cups.

Me? I’m going with some combination of A, C, F, and E — no, Zoanette wasn’t good in a note-hitting kind of way, but she definitely made me feel…something (though by morning I could just attribute it to indigestion).

Anyhow, let’s cut to the set list for the second “sudden death” episode of Idol‘s 12th season — along with my letter grades for every performance:

Melinda Ademi: Jessie J’s “Nobody’s Perfect” | Melinda showed tons of promise in Hollywood Week solo, but much like the ill-advised bottom half of her outfit tonight (black booty shorts over purple tights, with black knee-high boots!?), her “Nobody’s Perfect” was a bit of a mess — perhaps, as Mariah pointed out, due to nervousness that put a peculiar “waver” in her voice. The good news is that Vegas-week ejectees can still come back for Season 13 (a fact I confirmed with Fox publicists), which means the 19-year-old might be able to take another crack at getting her vocals to match her outsized charisma and appealing stage presence. (Conspiracy theory side-note: Anyone else find it funny that Nicki complained about Melinda having covered Jessie J more than once this year, while failing to call out the same habit in Angela Miller, who also sang “Nobody’s Perfect” last week, as well as two additional Jessie J. songs for her initial audition and her Hollywood Week a capella solo?) Grade: C+

Candice Glover: Aretha Franklin’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” | From the restrained opening verse that showcased her bell-clear tone to the sensuality (and “come to mama” hand gestures) that informed the “ooh, baby what ya done to me” bridge to the outsized runs that ended the set, Candice’s vocal was an undeniable triumph. (Bonus points for the steel in Ms. Glover’s eyes as she’s performing, too.) Perhaps more than any contestant this season, in fact, Candice brings a sense of authority to the stage that makes me feel at ease with wherever she wants to take a song’s melody. I’d be lying, though, if I didn’t admit just a slight bit of ennui with the expectedness of Candice’s song choice. Girlfriend needs to bear in mind that, since she doesn’t have a ton of room to grow vocally (I mean, how much better can her voice actually get?), she’ll have to compensate by growing artistically — and not fall into a pattern of using her No. 2 pencil to fill in her standardized test of big-voiced soul divas like Aretha, Alicia, Mariah and Whitney. Grade: B+

Juliana Chahayed: Demi Lovato’s “Skyscraper” | Every year of Idol, there’s at least one major early-season injustice that stings so badly I end up referencing it in my recaps for the next five (or 10) seasons. And I’m displeased to report that the victim of Season 12’s felony larceny was this soft-spoken high school sophomore who reimagined Demi Lovato’s booming radio ballad with a glorious tissue-paper delicacy. Sure, as Nicki noted, Juliana’s lilting upper register and acoustic tendencies meant she had the potential to be swallowed up by the massive audience and Idol house band during voting rounds, but she might’ve also had the potential to provide welcome relief from the melisma and vocal gymnastics that are certain to dominate the show from now until late May. (Oh, and I couldn’t disagree more with Keith’s aside about Juliana “struggling with pitch.”) Maybe Fox was contractually obligated to axe Juliana after she publicly dissed X Factor judge Demi by saying she’d picked “Skyscraper” after her vocal coach told her to play around with a song she didn’t actually like (hilarious, BTW), but I’m going to try to comfort myself with an optimistic outlook: Julia’s too-early exit just means we’ve already got something to look forward to in Season 13. Grade: A-

Jett Hermano: Rihanna’s “Only Girl (In The World)” | Keith was right that by virtue of turning it into a slowed-down piano jam, Jett brought out a heretofore unheard sexiness in Rihanna’s upbeat radio smash. Unfortunately, the arrangement was also in a key that stretched Jett’s voice into unpleasant territory for at least half the song. And since this isn’t Song Arrangement Idol, I can’t really fault the judges for giving the old heave-ho to the pretty legal assistant. Grade: B-

Cristabel Clack: Alicia Keys’s “No One” | It takes more than talent to win American Idol, it also takes a penis the innate ability to choose interesting songs that bring out the best in your voice. And alas, while there’s no arguing the beauty of Cristabel’s signature rasp, it’s equally true that — like a Price Is Right contestant who gets the “wah-wah wah-wahhh waaahhh” fail horn, Cristabel made altogether too many wrong choices: The rote pick of done-to-death-on-Idol Alicia Keys, the momentum-busting revelation to Ryan Seacrest that she almost dropped out of the competition because of insecurity, the unfortunate sweater adorned with images of little black bows. Cristabel’s biggest misfire, though, was essentially following the advice Randy Jackson gave to Jett: “Wear it out vocally.” Indeed, Cristabel packed so many runs into the opening verse alone and stretched her range to such shrieking extremes on the bridge that the entire performance began to crumble like a box of crackers under the weight of a Diet Coke 12-pack. (Sigh…will grocery-store baggers never learn?) Naturally, though, Cristabel’s subpar effort had Randy leaping to his feet in celebration. (Maybe he lost count of which contestants Uncle Nigel told him were supposed to get Standing O’s?) Grade: B-

Aubrey Cleland: Beyoncé’s “Sweet Dreams” | I can’t lie: I love it when contestants who’ve received the cannon-fodder edit achieve almost total pitch perfection and force the judges to reconsider their pre-conceived pecking order. Aubrey certainly did that with a cover of “Sweet Dreams” so clean and shiny, I could almost smell a hint of Lemon Pledge on it. Was the whole performance maybe just a tiny bit too sterile? Yeah — and especially compared to Jessica Sanchez’s rendition from Season 11. Would it have been nice if Nicki hadn’t focused so much on Aubrey’s looks (complete with leering cameraman’s pan from her shoes all the way up her legs and to her face)? Absolutely — because if I wanted to watch a show like that, I’d still be DVR-ing Top Model. But I’d also put Aubrey as the night’s fourth or fifth best vocal, so you won’t hear me complaining about her forward march to the semifinals. Grade: B

Rachel Hale: Grace Potter And The Nocturnals’ “Nothing But The Water” | Mariah had a good point that Grace Potter’s rockin’ blues jam might not have been the best showcase for Rachel’s ethereal tone — as Keith noted, there were moments the song got on top of her, and not the other way around — but it was interesting to see the perpetually smiling Arkansas native bring some fire and aggression on a typically ballad-heavy night. Who knows, had Rachel not performed the entire song with a “pre-K teacher greeting her students in the morning” smile, she might have forced the judges to give her the night’s fifth and final pass to the semifinals over the more-hyped Janelle. Here’s at least hoping she gives the Idol thing another try in Season 13, yes? Grade: B

Breanna Steer: Jazmine Sullivan’s “Bust Your Windows” | Like Aubrey, Breanna might as well have begun the Vegas rounds wearing white robes and chained to a rock, waiting for the Kraken to devour her in three or four gory bites. And frankly, after hearing a brief snippet of her torturing “Be My Baby” during Hollywood Week group rounds, I thought I’d be okay with the Louisiana native suffering that kind of fate. Imagine my surprise, then, when Breanna made a brilliant strategic song choice and left me snapping along with Nicki Minaj’s overheated critique: “Miss Little Lady Bug, work, work, work!” Okay, yeah, if I’m being honest, I heard an occasional wobble in pitch on some of the trickier notes of “Bust Your Windows,” but there’s a huge difference between giving the night’s most spotless vocal performance and giving the night’s most enjoyable vocal performance. And for my money, Breanna’s ability to paint vivid pictures with her voice — and her willingness to choose something with a little bit of tempo! — was far more important than the fact that there were three or four wonky notes in the mix. Here’s hoping Vegas is the start of Breanna’s comeback story, and not just a one-week blip before she’s subsumed by the pageant-queen Borg Collective. Grade: A-

Janelle Arthur: Lady Antebellum’s “Just a Kiss” | Keith gave an incredibly astute critique (damn he’s got a good ear — even underneath so much hair!) when he noted that Janelle kept trying to up the stakes of Lady Antebellum’s not-exactly-range-y melody, and unfortunately for her, the strain of her effort was evident in a vocal that felt slightly under the melody from start to finish. It was jarring indeed to hear the much-hyped front-runner collapsing beneath the weight of early expectations — though, to be honest, her final Hollywood solo on “I Told You So” had its share of problems, too — leaving me wondering if she’s on the sort of Baylie Brown/Kristy Lee Cook trajectory where the big-stage performances don’t live up to the intimacy of the small-room auditions. I wasn’t outraged that the judges gave their early favorite one more chance and let her through to the voting rounds, but if I’d been in one of those four chairs, I’d have given the slot to Rachel (who was more vocally on point) or Jett (who showed more creativity). Grade: B-

Zoanette Johnson: Elton John’s “Circle Of Life” | I don’t think words are entirely appropriate to critique Zoanette’s crazy-awful-awesome-astonishing-peculiar interpretation of “Circle of Life.” I mean, if you compare it to, say, Jennifer Hudson’s revelatory Season 3 rendition, Zoanette’s cover borders on comical. And yet while it would be easy to take Nicki’s feedback — “you’re the person we’re going to remember tonight” — and add a “because you were so ridiculous” to the end of it, I’m not sure that would be entirely fair, either. There was something undeniably stirring about hearing Zoanette’s completely earnest tale of her family’s escape from Liberia paired with a full Lion King-Zulu language intro that found Zoanette with knees bent, spinning around and inviting the entire audience into her world, as the background singers grinned coyly and Nicki raised a Gospel hand and began to tear up. Sure, the melody train derailed repeatedly once Zoanette settled into the regular English portion of the song, pounding out notes flatter than your average tortilla. But…I don’t know. I…uh…didn’t not enjoy it? Maybe I just need to use an emoticon here to get my point across. (o.O) Grade: C+

Did that make any sense? I have no idea. Which means it’s probably a good time for me to turn things over to you. What did you think of the third Vegas round of American Idol Season 12? What did you think of the judges’ decisions? Who was your favorite? Did Juliana get robbed? Did Zoanette commit a crime against music? Or are you warming to her particular brand of cray-cray? Take our poll below, then sound off in the comments, and for all my Idol-related news, recaps, interviews and videos, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

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!

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  1. donie says:

    I didn’t see the whole show but enjoyed some of the judges’ comments about song choice — not being related just to style and image, but to what would fit the contestants’ voices. And Keith dropped in singing snatches of songs very naturally, illustrating a point about song choice in one instance. Nice voice on him.

  2. Wesley says:

    By the performances tonight, it should have gone to Candice, Rachel, Cristabel, Juliana and Breanna. Though Jett, Melinda and Janelle (Melinda and Jenelle were great on certain parts but iffy on others) were also good, so why can’t we just take these 8? Aubrey cannot sing in key, yikes. Her voice is shrill and no good. Zoanette, oh boy. I don’t see the interest in her whatsoever. Just more poor Idol choices, which is why everything should go to the public.

  3. Name That Tune says:

    I’m feeling a little nostalgic tonight. There are some talented girls tonight. I’m feeling a potential return to Season 6. The season that gave us Melinda Jordin & Lakisha Jones, played by Candice((who was channeling some serious MD tonight), Breanna, & Aubrey. Through in Amber and a little Kree and this could be one great season for the girls.

    And pity the guys who get to say they are part of the group of guys who were not gonna get a chance to win.

    • Timmah says:

      Once they turn it over to the voters, it’ll be the girls that have no chance to win.

      • Name That Tune says:

        Based on what I’ve seen, I could cut 5 girls right now & still leave 5 strong girls. With 4 of those girls being pure R&B and 1 who is a mix of country blues rock and soul. That would be a satisfying group for me. But I am not from the South so my tastes always bend away from the usual suspects for this show.
        And having peaked at the final cut of the guys, whacking down to 5 guys won’t be hard. And I would still be able to give the ladies from the South something to root for.

  4. Owen says:

    Can we just state the fact that Candice was very disappointing tonight. I mean, not Janelle disappointing, but sorta sleepy…she bored me.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      I’ll say it – I was disappointed in Candice. Her performance seemed overdone.
      I’ve never been wild about Janelle – I haven’t been crazy about her in any of the seasons. And I like country music. I thought Rachel was much better tonight.

      • Timmah says:

        I don’t know what it is, but I always hit the fast-forward halfway through Candice. I mean, technically she’s great I guess, but there’s just nothing about her performances I find interesting. I also agree Rachel was better than Janelle. But they seem determined to shove Candice and Janelle down our throats, so we’d better learn to like it.

        • Dayrah says:

          Thank you! I agree. I always get that urge to fast forward through Janelle and Candice both. The performances I re-watched were Juliana and (I hate to admit it) Zoanette.

    • marie says:

      Actually, Candice has disappointed me to a degree her last two performances. She gave one very strong performance that had me saying she was way ahead of anyone else in talent, but since then, she has been merely good, not at all great.

  5. Julian says:


    Once you accept that it’s a TV show and not a vocal interview at Julliard, you’ll feel better about the outcome. Based on raw emotion alone, I would rather see her next week over super-predictable, won’t make a blip on the radar Melina or Rachel Hale. Zoanettte? That was musical theater – she could make money playing a character in her own twist on the movie, like tomorrow. Think about it for a second -or rewatch the tape. I’ve been watching AI since the Tamyra Grey crisis, and “Circle of Life” was definitely a standout.

  6. darcy the slutty twin says:

    Cannot stand Zoannette. Her singing has always been awful, crazed and overwrought. Janelle – I see why she didn’t make it in the previous seasons. Candice needs to tone it down. I’ve been disappointed by Rachel in Hollywood week, but she was good. Jett was interesting. Breanna sounded off to me.

  7. Ang says:

    Tonight was by far Zoanette’s best performance. I could see her on Broadway with more practice. That being said, I wouldn’t have put her through. My choices would have been Candice, Rachel, Breanna, Christabel and either Jett or Julianna. Janelle sucked tonight. I just knew Rachel was going through.

  8. Billie says:

    The 5 girls (for me) that should go through are (in order) 1. Juliana (robbed, loved her arrangement, her artistry)…2. Breanna (loved her swag and fun) 3. Candice (she’s consistent)…4. Aubrey (nice performance but nowhere near to the version of Jessica Sanchez and to the original though)…5. Rachel (solid, cool, somewhat between country and quirky vocal performance) or Jett (just alone for the fact that she has an intriguing artistic approach to the Rihanna song she did).

    Well I got 3 out of 5 that went through but for…

    …for Janelle…uhm…girl you should learn the difference between keeping it ‘subtle’ and performing very ‘bland’, just because you’re getting the semi-Lauren-Alaina-pimpage (what?) doesn’t mean your keeping it good, you may get to the finale just like Lauren did but I don’t think it’s fair.

    …for Zoanette…uhm…you better watch Jennifer Hudson take on that song during her ‘Idol’ run…that is how that song should be done!


    • teatime says:

      My picks would have been 1. Juliana 2. Breanna 3. Aubrey 4. Rachel and then Melinda or maybe Jett. So I only got 2 out of 5! I am okay with Candice going thru because I like her sometimes they are encouraging her to oversing so it might be all down hill from here.

  9. Chuck says:

    I think some of you all are getting yourselves too worked up about Zoanette. I agree she’s got no chance of a legitimate recording career, but aside from Rachel and maybe Juliana, both of whom are young enough to try again, who is really harmed by sending her through? You can’t deny that the studio audience responded to what she was doing. It was a zany spectacle at the end of 90 minutes of pageant songs.

    Best of the night was Candice, but I can already see that her consistent excellence is going to have trouble holding folks’ interest.

    I have generally liked Janelle, but she’s very fortunate the judges weren’t going strictly on this one night’s performance.

  10. Name That Tune says:

    After a show like tonight, it’s going to be hard waiting until Monday for Idology. There is such richness for Michael&Melinda to ponder. And we have not been to the guys yet.
    I have a feeling there will be less drama over tomorrow night’s I decisions.

  11. Erin C says:

    Juliana and Jett would have been front runners on The Voice….maybe Idol should get a clue and realize why their ratings are continuing to drop!

    • Timmah says:

      The problem as I see it is that Nigel doesn’t get anyone who is current. If Juliana had done a song that was 20 or 30 years old she would have been welcomed with open arms.

      • HTGRWHOM says:

        It’s odd but perhaps the single rarest type of all to win these shows is a current pop style artist like Melinda. For all the real world success they had in the 80s and early 90s and then again since the 2000s, the American version of idol never seems to there and even the American X-Factor hasn’t even come close. They couldn’t even let her get a try for top ten for a little variety. I still think, regardless of tonight, from what saw overall she could have done well and perhaps, with guys stacked so weakly, had the one chance to go somewhat far this year, although it’s probably true that her type would have a hard time winning Idol.

      • Name That Tune says:

        Being current is not the issue. The show is watched by women over the age of 34. And theaaudience is not growing, it’s shrinking. If you are Nigel, you can’t risk losing your fan base. Current is not where you want to be. The

        • Mary says:

          So he will lose that audience due to his manipulations and trying to control the outcome. I hate to break it to you but women over 34 do listen to current music if it is good. What young and old are tire off are the manufacture singers. I know auto tune does wonders, but lets be real, AI always had the premiss of the winner can sing live. Today music not so much.

        • Timmah says:

          Yes, the audience is shrinking, and that’s the point. Unless Nigel does something to appeal to a younger demographic, his show is going to steadily age itself right out of the key demo and be off the air in a couple of years. While shows like The Voice continue to grow.

          • deedee says:

            I agree that Idol will eventually die, but what makes you think The Voice will continue to grow? So far it has not produced a viable, popular artist. If that continues, there will be little point to the show and people will get bored. I already find the show a yawner (aside from the blind auditions, which are fun).

          • Timmah says:

            Because The Voice *is* growing, while Idol declines. The season 3 finale ratings for The Voice were up 18% over the season 2 finale.

          • deedee says:

            Oh, ok, I misread and thought you wrote that The Voice will continue to grow.

  12. Tahoe Mike says:

    I knew the moment they put Zoanette through that Rachel was going to get the short end of that stick. Zoanette stands no chance of winning the public vote, what a waste.
    Rachel Hale, and Brandy Neelly both got screwed in favor of far lesser lights. I really hope they both come back next year.
    I hate this flippin’ gender equity crap. If the twenty best you can find are all women, so be it.

    • HTGRWHOM says:

      And if they want a women to win again, then yeah send through more women instead of watering down the guys and cutting better ones and then even dumping off half the girls who showed promise trying to add even more boost to a few girls to give them a shot. Instead of that why not just send 13 good girls without cutting any for games and 7 guyes or 14 and 6 if you want it stacked, at least it will be stacked with talent.

  13. Daniel says:

    Idol is a joke by far…after tonight wow, its only obvious who wins…Kree and Ashley Miller final two

  14. Billie says:

    My theory is that Nigel has already chosen the three girls to be pimped and voted for (Angela, Candice, and Janelle…wait…isn’t it OBVIOUS?) which he also thinks aside from winning could also be marketable after the show which I think from their respective genres they are and also putting many black contestants to advance to give a high chance of winning of an RNB/soul singer this season (he stated in an interview that he wants an RNB singer to win this season (probably female), I read it pretty long time before from mjsbigblog. My prediction for the final 5 girls to advance to the ‘Top 10’ are: 1. Angela (the over-all front-runner, whether she will just poop on stage or sing ‘mediocrely’ she will still sail through thanks to her original song which is giving me more of a Colton Dixon CCM vibe than more of a potential pop hit), 2. Janelle (the chosen country singer….’subtle’ is different from ‘bland’ honey) 3. Candice (the chosen RNB singer…uhm…well I can’t say anything not nice because she’s somewhat LEGIT haha) 4. Adriana (if she keeps her consistency or even better and no sabotage, her solid Filipino-American block of voters will sail her through as proven by the ‘Top 5’ highest voted girls advancing to finals in the recent previous seasons) and 5. Kree (I know she’s going to do well…since her instinct and gut feel is the one she always uses every time she performs and without sabotaging like death performance slot or bad song choice just to give way to Angela, Candice, or even fellow country singer Janelle, she will also sail through), if Kree did not make it, it would be any of the black girls remaining (depends on the performance and the pimping), probably Amber or Breanna or maybe the model-esque Aubrey (UGH hope it’s not going to be Tenna due to her ‘Team Mariah camp’ experience or Zoanette ‘monster moment made for entertainment and TV ratings ‘ Johnson haha LOL) I think. I guess we’ll just and wait and see. :)

    • HTGRWHOM says:

      Yeah it seems like they are all out for either a blonde country girl or, if they can’t have that, a black, female RNBish type. They dumped out the white pop star with presence (something they actually haven’t really had for ages it seems) and some others and then tossed in a weird mix of guys taking many that seemed highly questionable. EVen the whole 20 split to 10 and then 5 from each ten seemed mighty suspicious and led to some sad cuts and a lot of questionable takes.
      I think Angela will be ultimately doomed coming from MA.

  15. Vetle says:

    Ranking Janelle’s performance over Melinda? wut. I kinda agree with the decision to put Janelle through, but for me, a top 5 finish is suddenly not so certain. I actually thought she had the worst performance. And I actually liked Melinda’s performance. She went a little uptempo, though there were some wobbly notes, I definitely heard a lot of solid strong vocals. She has wicked potential. I think her performance was overshadowed, thus underrated.

    I didn’t get Breanna. I like the song a lot, but I think Amber Riley’s version is waaay better (autotune I know, don’t care). The end was cool, but I thought I heard a few flat notes, especially in the beginning. Aubrey was OK, I liked Juliana more even though I found her performance kinda boring, didn’t go anywhere for me, but I love the song.

    Zoanette was crazy, and I love that she included the swahili (?) parts. I don’t think she has anything to do in this competition long-term, but I’ll give her at least one more week I guess, doesn’t really matter.

    Personally, I would have chosen: Candice (naaailed it big time), Melinda, Juliana (don’t think she’s quite ready yet), Aubrey and… I guess Janelle.

  16. Vetle says:

    But I have my trio of Candice, Angela and Kree. I’m pulling for those. I also like Amber. I could get behind either Adriana or Aubrey too. Lot of As, lol. I only care for Nick Boddington on the men’s side tbh.

  17. Bonnie A. says:

    So frustrating after Zoanette sang because I knew Rachel and Juliana who were a couple of my favorites tonight, would never make it through. Does anyone know if Rachel and Juliana can try again next year or are they already past the point where they can’t audition again?Also really loved Aubrey and don’t remember hearing her before.

    I think Zoanette made for good entertaining TV but it was killing me that she was going to get one of the coveted spots.

    And I think the way these two groups of ten were picked by the Idol producers have had major consequences on who goes through.

    • Chuck says:

      Someone tonight, I think Mariah, definitely mentioned that someone they were sending home can come back. I think this round is a lot like the “sing for your life” round in Vegas these last two seasons, in that anyone who is cut before America has had a chance to vote on them is still eligible to come back. But once you’re in the top 20 and facing the voters, it’s this year or bust.

  18. Lois Benton says:

    I tried to explain, unsuccessfully, to my husband, that, yes, Rachel gave the better performance and had a better song choice, but Janelle has the better voice. I also tried to explain that it never was about Janelle versus Rachel. Coming into this round, the closest to sure things were Candice and Janelle. Unless either were way off key and totally abysmal, they were likely going through. Rachel had to best…only Breanna and Aubrey, I guess– which she didn’t–because lots of people bested Zoannette, but she’s a cipher, in every sense of the word (look it up), so it’s best to just leave her out of the discussion. But I did like Zoannette’s opening calls, and I liked her song choice. But I did wonder where the song was; I didn’t hear words or melody. Passion is great, but it’s not everything. A loud (Loud) voice can be useful, but it’s really not that much. Singing in tune isn’t really so old fashioned. America votes next week. Don’t blink, or you’ll miss Zoannette. Really, Nigel, I don’t think the gas savings was worth the wear and tear on the vehicle. I’m sick to death of Alicia Keyes, but Cristabel Clack needed to go through. Rachel has a good spirit and did a fine job tonight, but the constant smiling, combined with the Toddlers and Tiaras photo of her as child sort of validated the discomfort I was beginning to feel from all that…smiling….

  19. Tom says:

    I didn’t like Juliana because she makes a awkward noise when sings (a sound of breath or something similar) . And please, bring back Rachel. Zoanette will be sent home soon by America and I’ll laugh.

  20. lenna says:

    mariah surprises me. she gives spot on critique, she allowed candice to say it was her own arrangement and she gave props to all the background singers. i would have advanced almost of these 10 girls instead of the guys and the other 5 girls who advanced (i dont even remember them by now…all the good ones were on this list.)
    i dont even know why the insist on the even number of boys and girls….

  21. YowzaPowza says:

    Juliana was robbed. I’d buy her CD tomorrow. Granted, I also liked Zoanette. She’s a real artist in the truest sense of the word. However, there was room for both of them. Breana and Aubrey were massively over-rated.

  22. jabi says:

    I dont know why people are so offended by Zoanette. Well I do have some ideas why… ppl are just small minded. But there was something very moving about her performance and her story. Yes she has come off as gimmicky at times but at least she had fire in her gut. I loved Nicki’s reaction and how she articulated what Zoanette’s performance represented. Also was intrigued by that 15 year old girl, but agreed that she did veer into sleepy territory at times although she has good raw talent.

    The girls I actually like made really bad song choices. Candice was anonymous and blended back into the pack. Janelle was simply awful worst of the night and Cristobelle started strong with No One (Loved the gospel vibes) but then in turned into karaoke hogwash.

    The two TP Girls (Total Package Girls lol) Breana and Aubrey made far more convincing cases for themselves and will be fighting for the r&b/pop vixen slot in the top ten with Amber.

  23. Dayrah says:

    I want to see more of Julianna. She was the best of the night, in my opinion. Why do they even let 15 year old singers audition if they’re just going to use their age as an excuse to cut them in the end? She has major talent. Her version of Skyscraper is going on my ipod.

  24. Barbara says:

    First the judges says when its convenient for them, this is a singing competition, than when someone like Zoanette signs, they say well its more than singing, okay which is it, I thought it was a signing competion, not the X factor.

  25. Barbara says:

    I mean singing competition

  26. Maria says:

    I don’t really have anything new to add about the contestants, but wanted to make an observation about the judges. I noticed that when each contestant (pass or fail) goes around to hug each judge, the only judge who can be bothered to actually get up out of his chair every single time Iwhether he’s hugging the guys or the girls) is Keith Urban. Speaks volumes about what a sincere, kind-hearted guy he is.

  27. Stamps says:

    Zoanette is repulsive garbage. I’m disappointed in the entire production. I dont want anymore of this trash television.

  28. Mike says:

    AI officially Jumps the Shark with their Zoanette selection. I probably won’t watch next week….despite being a long time fan….

  29. Trouty Mouth says:

    Juliana was incredibly weak vocally. It looked like she was performing at a school function, not on American Idol. There’s no way her performance was better than Candice’s.

  30. Jessica says:

    I think it is *stupid* to have Zoanette. The girl is a child, crazy, has ugly wigs and just because she is from Africa we put her through?? My children can belt it out louder and more talented than her. Randy himself said this was a singing competition-really? Poor band who has to deal with her. It’s hard to take this show seriously when she is put through. Why on earth can’t you have 2 country girls and let America decide? Why is Jett gone? And how did this group get stuck together when last week we put Tina through? The problem with the show is they wanting to get people in categories instead of finding talent. Bottom line is crazy chick gets people talking. Bad is still good for ratings. They knew who they were putting through before last night.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      Jessica – you must be a racist, LOL.

      Honestly- it’s the “Gilligan’s Island” of singing shows.

      • jaded says:

        Nope. But you are. Darcy’s Evil Twin. And as for gay men, a lot of gay men are more buff and more masculine than metrosexual straight men.

  31. Jessica says:

    Candice-I wouldn’t have put her through. I also can’t stand “Natural Woman”. Technically she sounds fine -but so very boring.

  32. Tim says:

    For me, for you….
    Zoanette was by far the best of the night. She is the only one that had me jump out of my chair and cheer. And it was awesome from the opening swahili to the end. I never got Zoanette before, but tonight she ruled.

    Making a strong case for themselves were Breanna and Aubrey. Neither has received much pimple, but they really showed up tonight. Breanna was my favorite after Zoanette.

    I thought Rachel Hale did really well. I want her on my TV set.

    I thought that Candice and Janelle were coasting. Candice was painting by the numbers and staying in the lines. Janelle needed to show she could sing a current song and be relevant, and the uptempo song was not a good showcase for her achingly beautiful tone. For once, I am glad that the judges considered their entire body of work, because I fear they would not have made it on last night alone.

    I thought that Juliana had a really interesting voice that drew me in. I see good things for her if she stays at it.

    So for me, I would have sent through Zoanette, Janelle, Candice, Breanna, and Rachel.
    But Aubrey did really well, too, so I can’t be mad at the judges.

  33. Stacey says:

    It was ridiculous to pass Zoanette through, and cut Rachel and even Melinda. Melinda is young. But they obviously didn’t want two country females splitting the vote. So Rachel has a path to next season top 10 if she comes back. Same with Melinda. But Zoanette was horrific. Of course they need a few mediocre girls to be able to be cut next week. But come in, passing through Zoanette means that people might like the comic antics of hers. And pass her to the top 5 girls for pure comic. She has no chance to win.

  34. Chris says:

    Although i liked Juliana’s voice, I did not think she had a great performance. I didn’t like the sound of her drawing breath so many times. She needs to study vocal technique. I think Rachel was unfairly cut. I don’t like her overly sunny disposition but when she sang that wasn’t in evidence which allowed me to really enjoy her performance. I actually thought that based on the judges’ comments she would go through since Janelle didn’t get much love from the judges. I think we can all agree that some of the girls cut both this week and last are much better than some of the guys already put through.

  35. jw says:

    Just last week, Shuba was given the suggestion that maybe she should have just stayed at the piano for her whole song instead of getting up and dancing around. And now Jett is criticized for not getting up from behind the piano and dancing around? Gah.

    • marie says:

      Yeah, I know, I caught that too and thought it was a ridiculous critique for Jett. But after all these years, I know I shouldn’t always expect rationality or consistency from the judges’ table.

  36. Annie says:

    I hadn’t seen any of the girls before last night. Based SOLELY on last night’s vocals, I disqualified Melinda, Janelle and Zoanette immediately. I figured that Candice would make it through (she can sing), Aubrey and Breanna would make it through (based on judge’s gushing and they have poise and can sing), and that the final 2 would be really tough to decide but would probably be Rachel (the country factor + good energy) and Cristabel (her last chance age-wise). Zoanette is a hoot, for sure, but those vocals were just BAD. And not in an MJ kinda way.

  37. darcy the slutty twin says:

    Candice and Janelle definitely benifited from early exposure. If this was the first time I’d heard of them, I’d give them the old heave-ho. Jannelle seemed to be off-key for the entire song. Candice managed to be boring and overwrought at the same time. Melinda was also off tonight. Her performance was comical. Aubrey was generic and really boring. Jessica Sanchez or Beyonce she is not. Christabel was OK, Jett was sexy, Juliana was sweet, Rachel was actually good.

  38. darcy the slutty twin says:

    Also, I really hated Nicki Minaj tonight with her bored/bitchy face the entire night.

  39. Tommyo2000 says:

    What I think happened with Zoanette is that that she probalby plays great live, and is almost inspirational … A bit of what I think was going on with Joshua Ledet last seaso, although I think he was miles more talented … However take the emotion out of it, as a judge should, and she should have been sent packing …

    I am glad Julianna was booted, she was good, but a bit too young and would have gotten swallowed up by the stage and pressure if she made it to top 10 … even Jessica last year had the pressure get to her, and she was doing competitions her whole life, and was built for that show … She will be better prepared next year…

  40. C says:

    I think I’m going to totally overdose on melisma every night that more than a couple of the girls sing, especially Candice.

  41. Tony says:

    Anybody else find it weird that Zoanette and Nicki are talking about overcoming tragedies and struggling to leave a place they “never thought they’d get out of,” when they both left their respective countries before the age of 5? They couldn’t possibly have had a conscious thought about their lives at that time or the struggle they might have been enduring.

    It just seemed to well composed to have Zoanette finally talk about the importance of Africa and then sing “The Circle of Life.” I just feel like the actual atrocities that are taking place throughout that continent are undermined when it’s used to benefit a reality contestant like this.

  42. Guitar Blue says:

    Perhaps item C from the recap has some validity. I have not heard if the Judges are going to have “saves” this year, but they can always diss those who they want out, and praise those that they (with Nigel & producers encouragement) want to advance.

    In above recap::: “”C) The judges deliberately chose to advance a few cannon-fodder contestants into next week’s Top 20, thereby ensuring speed-dialing Idol voters will advance their true chosen pets.”””

  43. dj says:

    I had to laugh at Chris Sligh’s tweets last night:

    Why was there a 55 year old black woman yelling Circle of Life at me on my tv?!!

    And question #2 cuz I only watched like 11.3 min of it…are they saving the people who can sing for a different night?

    I don’t know how this semifinals thing works. I’m so confused. This is night 3. This is all the bad? Cuz I saw 4 singer. All bad.

    This is why I don’t watch Idol. I feel like such an old man. I’m like ‘Why’d they ruin this?!’ And I shake my fist at the TV.

    Have you heard her sing? RT @FouSurLaColline: I don’t understand why judges have personal favorites. Nicki Minaj adores the worst singers.

  44. bbl says:

    “Unfortunately, the arrangement was also in a key that stretched Jett’s voice into unpleasant territory for at least half the song. And since this isn’t Song Arrangement Idol, I can’t really fault the judges for giving the old heave-ho to the pretty legal assistant.”

    I can fault them just fine, thank you. I would have thought Jett’s current body of work, combined with her musical knowledge, creativity and experience would make up for one less than stellar vocal performance. I guess last season’s judges had me feeling the show was about “being an artist” — whatever the hell that means. Am I still bitter the Tuneless Wonder managed to win it all last year? No. OK, maybe just a little bitter.

  45. jw says:

    People are still watching this thing? Why am I reading the recaps? On another note, by trying to force a female winner over the white guy with guitar winners of the recent past, they may have driven their audience away. There seems to be a focus on trying to get contestants who will create drama and interest. But the focus on casting rather than music, combined with the drive for a specific type of winner in the end and the continued lack of interesting songs are killing this show.

  46. I Miss Simon says:

    Man…can you imagine how different this would be if SIimon were still a judge here? Zonette wouldn’t have made it to Hollywood. Sheesh, I really miss Simon.

    • Timmah says:

      Yes, it’s sad. Basically, they’re all pawns of Uncle Nigel now.

    • Jessica says:

      For the 1st time I missed Simon last night. He may have walked off the panel-I know I would have.

    • HTGRWHOM says:

      OTOH he had LA Reid proclaiming, with a straight face, that SImon’s boy band was the second coming of the Beatles and a group that may prove to be even be more popular…. who couldn’t even make the finale. LOL
      But then again A.I. wasn’t about teams so he did act differently on this show (although he wasn’t above trying to sink people such as say Siobhan, etc.)

  47. Joe Strummer says:

    EVryone says a girl will win this year. I don’t see it. I just think all the women are mediodre to good at best. No real standout. They all are pretty boring and very similar.

    I’ll bet another guy wins this year.

    • Timmah says:

      I agree, there is no one standout girl. And it doesn’t matter how many talented girls there are, all it takes is the one guy who makes all the girl voters’ hearts go pitter-pat and it’s all over.

      • dj says:

        Unfortunately true for me so far. They seem like they are pimping Angela the most, with backup pimping of Candice and Janelle, but I didn’t get excited about any of their performances in the Vegas round.

      • MB says:

        So far the only guy I really liked was Nick who I am looking foward to hearing tonight. I just hope he delivers and isn’t disapointing like most of the supposed stand out girls. Nick unfortunately does not make my heart skip a beat so I don’t see if as this seasons heart trob. Vocally though he is every bit as good as the ” favorite girls” if not better.
        So far Nick and Kree are my favorites but also leaning towards Angela but she has not totally won me over yet.

    • deedee says:

      The boys are just as *meh* – if not more meh than the meh girls. So far I don’t see a guy who has the charm, charisma, or sex appeal to steal the women-voters’ hearts, so it’s either gender’s game at this point, I think.

  48. Mikko Makitalo says:

    I only now had time to watch the show, and I think everybody else was flat except these 4 (I put them into the order I liked them best):
    1 Juliana
    2 Candice
    3 Aubrey (what a delightful surprse!)
    4 Brea

    If I after these should have picked the 5th one, I suppose I would have picked Janell, thanks to her earlier performances (if Rachel was a bit better now, she was not anyway fabulous).

    So yes, I think that Juliana was robbed. Makes one wonder why, because she was one of the bests, maybe Jimmy Iovine said: “Don’t take her now, so that the same thing will not happen to her like what happened to Eben, and we can take her in the future” = they felt she is too young. But then they would need to raise the age limit.

    The beginning of Zoanette’s performance was very exciting, but to me it is torture to listen her, I do not think she can sing, and I think, that it’s a disgrace that they put her through.

    I am hoping that the top5 girls would be (again in my present order) Adriana, Amber, Kree, Candice, Aubrey. If it would be top6 or 7, maybe then also Janell and Angela. (and I am praying that “Vote For The Worst” do not influence in that way, that Zoanette stays and stays…

  49. Brigette says:

    Things we’ve learned: quirky white boy with guitar who makes interesting pitch choices wins American Idol. Quirky white girl with guitar who makes interesting pitch choices is “nervous” “young” and “pitchy.” Juliana’s cut honestly makes this season a joke. And then Zonette going through makes it a double joke.

    • HTGRWHOM says:

      That and also:
      And apparently a guy with charisma and stage and looks (hard for me to judge, but Nikki sure thought so at the least) but who sings poorly all the time and has a horrible tone is in without question (Elijah). But girl with the looks and stage presence for pop apparently has one half-off night after having put in some strong work and she isn’t even remotely considered (Melinda) and one person can cover Jesse J every night and yet an get praised and then same judge flips that against Melinda?
      Sounded like Keith wanted her through and Mariah would’ve gone whatever way the majority of the rest went and Nikki and damn Randy sunk her (and Nigel for making a silly partitioning of the two sets of 10 each week, in all cases).
      And Melinda was already on S10 so this was her second go around. What makes you think a third? I remember wondering where she suddenly went that season too.
      I think Juliana would’ve gone FAR had she signed up for The Voice for this spring instead.
      The timid type gets tons of praise and goes far on The Voice. Why that should not work for Idol I have no clue, why not this style too? Variety? ANd her timid is a billion times better than Charlie’s timid.
      Sounds like Nikki helped sink Juliana too. In fact I haven’t liked what she’s been doing ever since it left Hollywood.

  50. syb says:

    The three performances that stayed with me from last night were Candice for the vocal, Breanna for the deliciousness of the song and rendition, and Zoannette for the wow–isn’t that something? Since all three made it, I’m smiling. I would have taken Rachel and Jett over Aubrey and Janell, and it wouldn’t have ruined my day to see Juliana be given another chance, but I think she could use a year or two of seasoning.