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Freelance entertainment writer, martial arts instructor, and mother of two.

American Idol 9, Feb. 23 – Too Many Playing It Safe


I feel like I’ve been saying this the entire season of American Idol so far … finally! It just seems like it’s been on for three months so far and that we’re finally getting to the performance stage. In reality, we’ve only been on six weeks or so. It’s really not that out of the ordinary. It just seems like it. I’m not sure why it seems so long, but it’s either because we’re on season 9 and it’s all becoming rote, or we’re just anxious to see how this is going to work with Ellen DeGeneres instead of Paula Abdul. In reality, if it is indeed our least season with Simon Cowell, I’m glad it’s taking this long.

Ryan Seacrest gets down to it right away and mentions that Simon had said it was a girl’s year, even though he makes it sound like he’s going to address the rumors of Simon leaving. Simon thinks the mix of girls is interesting. The rehearsals have been both good and bad. Kara DioGuardi thinks America knows this group of Idols much more than in the past. Randy Jackson offers the advice to the girls that it’s make it or break it, and they have to either be great or get mad at themselves. It’s up to them to wreck the stage with their vocals.

Ellen is excited and tells the girls not to be mad at themselves. She says now they’re looking at what’s going to keep people glued to the television. She mentions she’s sitting next to Randy because there was a problem when she was sitting next to Simon. He wants her and it just isn’t going to happen. He has wandering hands, and no one’s going to be believe her, so she shows the tape of Simon handling her leg.

Up first is Paige Miles, 24, of Naples, FL, She’s a preschool and after school teacher. She went from having to wipe snot off kids’ noses to living her dream. The favorite moment for her so far was her final Hollywood performance with Michael Jackson’s backup singers. She thinks she “seriously went to another planet.” Tonight she’s singing All Right Now, but it’s really not a great choice. The vocals aren’t the best, and all I can do is think of David Cook singing it a few seasons back.

Simon goes first and asks how old Paige is, then says out of all the girls, he thinks she has the best voice. He wouldn’t have chosen that song, though, as it’s a wedding singer type of song. She could have come out and sung something totally original and made a huge impression. Paige also needs to believe in herself. Kara disagrees, thinking the song was brilliant, as she was able to put her soul into it. Her only criticism would have been the chorus.

Randy kind of agrees with both Simon and Kara. The song is a group song, and that’s why Paige didn’t do great in the chorus. She did show her powerful voice, though, and blew the doors off. Ellen agrees and disagrees with the other three, saying to come on first, Paige has to be so nervous. She was so there and has a great look and sounded terrific. Ellen was worried during rehearsal, but Paige pulled it off. Paige admits to Ryan that she’s sewn into the dress and has been waiting to pee for five hours. Wow.

Ashley Rodriguez, 22, of Chelsea, MA, is a student. During her audition Simon made fun of her choice of song, Jordin Sparks’ song Battlefield, yet she didn’t know she saw it on TV. That was then the last song she sang for Hollywood, which she felt was her defining moment. Singing Happy, Ashley starts a little shaky and whispery. Once she kicks it in, she has a great voice. I think the song fit her very well, and she has a great look.

Kara calls it a big song to take on by a contemporary diva. Ashley had some big moments with some big notes, but there were moments that weren’t great. Moving forward, Kara wants to see her take on songs they wouldn’t think she’d do and do something different with them. Randy calls Kara correct, and says she’s always going to be compared to the big singers, so it makes it difficult to say this is who I am. Ellen agrees. She love Leona, and it’s a great song, but it is predictable. She wants to see her step out and do a whole different vibe. She wants her to take a risk. Simon found this version clumsy and didn’t like the arrangement. He thinks Ashley is going backwards from the first time they met her. He doesn’t see her as a contemporary artist. He’s afraid she’ll be in trouble after tonight.

Up next is Janell Wheeler, 24, of Orlando, FL, a wine sales rep. Simon wasn’t her biggest fan in her original audition, so her biggest goal was to impress him in Hollywood, and she was shocked to do just that. She wants to now show America this is where she is supposed to be. Janell is singing What About Love, and Heart is always difficult to do on the Idol stage. Carrie Underwood pulled it off, but that’s Carrie Underwood. This just doesn’t sound good at all. She’s pitchy as hell.

Randy tells Janell it wasn’t his favorite song choice of hers, and he actually likes her voice, but it didn’t work for her. It’s a huge song, making it hard to bring something different, unique, and original to it. Ellen liked the song choice and felt Janell sang it really well, although there were a few notes that were off. She also thought she sounded good. Simon thinks she gave it 100% effort and delivered 65% . It was okay, but when she thought it was going well, she got too excited. There were moments that he did like her voice, though, and again it comes down to song choice.

Kara likes Janell, but agrees the song was way too big for her. Ann Wilson is one of the best rock vocalists ever. When you do a song like that, it takes everything that’s distinct about your voice and makes it go away. Ryan asks Randy what songs the girls should be singing, and his advice is to pick songs that can’t be compared so easily to the original singers.


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