There is a lot of female talent on American Idol this year. They seemed to have so much that they created a new plan to decide it differently this year. They let us see them making all the choices instead of just letting us see them telling people, “Thanks, but no thanks.” Here’s twenty good performances, with a few that were definite standouts.
Jenny Beth Willis, 17, is from Owensboro, KY, the bluegrass state. She performs at churches and festivals. She calls it insane to be singing for Keith Urban, Nicki Minaj, Randy Jackson, and Mariah Carey. Tonight she sings Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love. She has some great energy and is really cute with this song, but with this field of female singers, I’m not sure if it’s enough.
Keith has mixed feelings between thinking it’s not the best choice of song and loving the infinite confidence Jenny Beth has, and he thinks the range of the song at the end was more than enough for her. Nicki liked her voice, but she didn’t feel she came alive until the end when she gave them the beautiful smile. She felt the audience was showing more excitement than her, although she chalks it up to possible nerves.
For Randy it felt a little jerky and like Jenny Beth could never get in synch with the band. He doesn’t think it was her best performance. The end note was great, but he wishes the rest of it were as good. Mariah felt it was a very nice performance, but she thinks she could be more dynamic during the verses and perhaps play with it a little to give them that presence. She also really liked the first time she sang the word “love and took it low” and liked that in contrast to the last note, a winner.
Tenna Torres, 28, Queens, New York. She’s a promotional model. She went to Camp Mariah when she was younger and actually got to sing for her back then. Her story is one of the underdog. With her age, this is her last chance for Idol. Tonight she sings Underdog and sounds great but seems to make it a little too dramatic like she’s overplaying it a bit.
Keith calls it a beatuiful song for Tenna to do, yet it’s a deceptively big song to do that takes a lot of ocntrol that she mostly had. He partiularly liked the control at the end and the diversity the song allowed her voice. Nicki asks why Tenna looks sad, and her answer is because it’s a sad song. She reminded Nicki why she fell in love with her voice before, and a lot of her fans were angry for her liking her voice, but she thinks they’ll see it now. Something about her tone reminds her of the 1990s R&B singers. She does think she is aging herself with her hairstyle though.
To Randy this is the start of the night and how you do it. She came out and was controlled. There were only a few notes wrong, but she connected with the emotion of the song with a beautiful voice and beautiful delivery. This is what becoming American Idol is all about. She knows Mariah loves her and Mariah doesn’t want to be redundant, but it was all Tenna, and she gave every bit of her emotion, so she understands why she says she was trying to be there with the emotions. She wasn’t even trying, just naturally giving a beautiful, pure performance. She admits that she didn’t even look at her boyfriend all day just to keep with the emotions.
Adriana Latonio, 17, Anchorage, Alaska, who knows people think of igloos and sled dogs when they think of her state, feels it’s a beautiful state. She wants to show people that even a small town girl can go somewhere in her life. She sings Ain’t No Way and does a stunning job. She has the emotions and the natural singing that they said Tenna had. I felt it more here.
After the male judges give Adriana a standing ovation, Keith tells Randy the night has now started. Adriana’s emotions and everything else completely belied her age, and she was completely channeling into everything the song needed. It was hard for him not to react, because it was so damn good. She tells Nicki after being asked that she is five feet tall and confirms that she is Filipino. Nicki mentions her she wrote in her notes, “Little tiny thing, but commands the stage from the second she walks out.” She did not see one ounce of fear in her. Apart from a great vocal, she almost seems like she’s already been doing this.
Randy says Adriana walked out like that because she’s born to do it. That kind of confidence at 17 …. and to walk out and come that close to them, along with the last note when she hit it at the end was “good looking out,” as he thought, “This girl’s a pro.” She tells Mariah it went better than she thought it would. Mariah notes it’s the Queen of Soul she was singing, and it can be rough to have it not turn out the way you want it to, but she loved the way she came through with her version of the song. Mariah enjoyed the first half of the song where she took her time. A+.
Brandy Hotard, 26, Fort Allen, Louisiana, is a site nurse. She’s worked since she was 16 to be on the show. She knows she can do that and wants to show the sass that she has and the personality she can bring. Tonight she sings Anymore and sings really well, but seems more intent on sounding good than giving a good emotional performance.
Keith loves that she sang that song, as it’s an old Travis Tritt one, and he’s never heard a girl sing it, but it works on that level. His only issue with it was an emotional connection inconsistency. It’s a heartbreaking song, and there were times Brandy seemed happy about it, and others when she was back in it. He wished she’d stayed in place with it, as she has the voice to do it. Nicki asks Keith to stay out of her head, as he took the words right out of her mouth. She jotted in her notes to ask why Brandy was smiling when singing about tears and resistance. It was a pageant delivery of a song and didn’t feel real. She’s not coming out there to smile at the judges but to be a realistic, believable artist. Jimmy Iovine is there to sign people. But she looked beautiful.
Randy seems to echo the sentiment, saying Brandy didn’t have the connection to the lyrics. She has a big voice, which is why she’s there, but it didn’t tell him enough of who she is or what type of artist she wants to be. She can sing, but because she didn’t connect emotionally, he’s not sure who he’s really looking at. Mariah says it didn’t bother her whether she was smiling or not, as she just saw a beautiful person singing. But, she has seen her more emotionally connected, and she’s wondering if it’s a new stage thing because of the audience. When she opens up her voice it’s a million dollar moment, and should do more with that in mind. She’d love to see her do an album of classics.
Shubha Vedula, 17, Mt. Pleasant, MI, won $35,000 for her school one year in a competition. She wants everyone to see her as someone unique who they can look at as an idol. Tonight she sings Born This Way sitting at the piano, singing a slower version of the song. She has a giant big voice and puts it to use standing up and launching into the song full force. I’m not sure if the song is right for her though.
Keith tells Shubha that she crammed a lot into the song as far as the kind of song it was, and on one hand it made it confusing, but on the other, he loves her voice and it came powering through and it will be what helps her. Nicki prepares the audience to boo, then tells Shubha that there was so much going on. Every time since her audition, there almost seems like a comical thing there, as while it’s powerful, it’s a matchup between Christina Aguilera and Psy. Wow, that’s rough.
Randy comes to Shubha’s defense a little and says he agrees with them a little on one hand as at 17 she has unbelievable talent but doesn’t need to add runs into everything. Yet, the potential in her is great, and he would have loved it if she stayed with it at the piano. He likes her potential for 17 years old. Mariah agrees with Randy and also would have preferred her staying at the piano, as there was something less forced then, but she also wanted to please the audience. She needs to find the right balance.