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American Idol Fodder

American Idol: The Wonderful World of Odd

When all is said and done, and this season of “Idol” comes to a close, I think there is one thing people will remember about the female contestants- they sure are quirky! We’ve got Chris Isaak-singing glass-blowing apprentices and gray-haired jazzy-folksters. And don’t forget about that girl with the harmonica! Yup, it’s all about being unique this year on “American Idol.”

And the contestants aren’t the only ones who are acting a little different this year, as the judging panel has started to morph into a completely different entity. Long gone are the days when Simon and Paula would pick on each other, Paula would get up and do one of those loopy standing ovations and Randy would recite the word “dawg” like it was the Pledge of Allegiance.

Now it’s like we’ve slipped into an alternate universe. Simon looks eternally bored, Kara feels comfortable swearing on live television (to a teenager, no less!), Randy has somehow memorized a thesaurus of things to say other than “dawg” (with spot-on critiques I might add) and Ellen is the little ray of sunshine in the corner. This isn’t your older sister’s “Idol;” it’s like “Idol 2.0: The Next Generation.”

After listening to tonight’s singers take the live “Idol” stage for the first time, it was apparent that nerves had come into play. There were plenty of shaky hands and warbly voices. But some singers rose above the rest. Looking back at how it all went down, here’s how the Top 12 Girls would shake out if this was the final determination for who would advance to the final Top 12.

On to the Finals (a.k.a. The Powerhouses):

Lilly Scott- The gray-haired 20-year-old from Colorado makes a statement without saying a word. You may remember her from such outfits as the one in Hollywood with the peacock earrings. But funky clothing choices aside, she’s also got a great voice. It’s like a strange mash-up of Feist and Lily Allen, with some old-school jazz thrown into the mix. Her choice of The Beatles’ “Fixing a Hole” was weird, unexpected and ultimately a good choice. The judges said she’s honest, though Simon still wants to see some star power. I think she’s a shoe-in for the final Top 12.

Katelyn Epperly- The 19-year-old Iowa student has yet to completely wow Simon, but she did a pretty good job with The Beatles’ “Oh! Darling.” Simon noted that she tends to scream at certain parts, but with her powerful voice, when she’s good, she’s very good. Ellen felt it was too forced, but that she has a memorable voice. Katelyn has a great shot at moving on (though Kara seemed to want to give her a makeover, for some reason).

Didi Benami- The singer from Tennessee, who will be filling the honorary Brooke White look-alike spot this year, sang Ingrid Michaelson’s “The Way I Am,” taking some interesting twists and turns with the melody. The judges all agreed she has a good voice, but wanted a little more “oomph.” Simon complained because he thought she, and several other singers, were trying to sound too much like pop-singers Duffy and Adele.

Siobhan Magnus- She’s the strong-voiced glass-blowing apprentice who picked out a strange song and somehow made it work. Siobhan sang Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game,” which started out with some very odd low notes, but it came together as it went along. Simon is calling her this year’s dark horse, and I agree she could build momentum as the season continues.

Crystal Bowersox- She’s the definition of quirky. The 24-year-old from Ohio loves to sing with her eyes closed, while strumming a guitar and humming on a harmonica. I thought her rendition of Alanis Morissette’s “Hand in My Pocket” was nice, though there were a few notes that sounded off. Simon said he could her thousands of people like her at subway stops across the country, but Randy really liked her originality. She’s my favorite contestant this season, but I’m going to deduct a few points for spending too much time on that harmonica solo.

Michelle Delamor- How can you sing a cover of Alicia Keys and not automatically be compared to her? Of course, she wasn’t as good as Keys, but she was still pretty awesome. This 22-year-old corporate singer from Florida was extremely professional on stage and if she takes some risks like the judges recommended, she could do really well.

Almost Made the Cut, But Didn’t (a.k.a. Try Again Next Year)

Lacey Brown- I really want to like Lacey more than I did. Her take on Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” was a little depressing like Simon said, and I kept waiting for her to find herself. I think she needs to embrace that almost-warbly country tone in her voice and go all out with it, instead of trying to copy what Lilly Scott is doing. If she sticks around, she should take Kara’s advice and do something extremely poppy like a song from Sixpence None the Richer or The Cardigans.

Katie Stevens- This 17-year-old student from Connecticut has a lot of potential. Now if only she’d stop acting older than she is, maybe I’d start to really like her. Simon hit the nail on the head when he said her performance of Michael Buble’s “Feeling Good” sounded like something her parents chose for her. As I watched her sing, she seemed a little too much like an extra from ‘Glee.”

Leaving on a Jet Plane (a.k.a. Don’t Know If They’ll Be Back Again)

Haeley Vaughn- The self-proclaimed pop-country princess was all over the map on The Beatles’ “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.” When she wasn’t screaming the notes, she was hitting all the wrong keys. I agree with Simon that it was a mess, but don’t underestimate the legion of tweens who may vote for the bubbly singer.

Last, and possibly least, are the ultimate forgettable trio of Paige Miles, Ashley Rodriguez and Janell Wheeler who opened the show. I only remember bits and pieces of their performances, like Paige telling Ryan that she was glad the song was over so she could go and pee, or Ashley trying to outsing Simon’s protégé Leona Lewis, or Janell shrieking her way through a Heart song. But none of them put forth anything the audience is going to remember.

So, what did you think of the season’s first live episode? Is Ellen proving to be a suitable replacement for Paula? Should Kara get the boot after swearing on air? How did the female contestants stack up tonight? And who are your picks to move forward? Post your comments below and rest up because we’ll do this all again on Wednesday as the Top 12 Guys sing on “Idol!” –Chris Sardelli

Posted by Chris on February 24, 2010 12:18 AM
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