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‘American Idol’ season 11 recap: top 12 girls

Who did you like best tonight? (Pick up to three)

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2012-American-Idol-11-Top-24-PHOTOS-Jessica-Sanchez

Jessica Sanchez is a shoo in for the top 13.

Clearly, Nigel Lythgoe told the judges tonight to be more critical than they were last night. He even had Ryan Seacrest feed Randy Jackson a question about it so Randy could acknowledge they were too “soft” on the guys.

The women, in the end, showed more highs and lows than the guys, who were relatively consistent overall. It was nice to hear the judges even occasionally be critical. (Yes, the word “nightmare” came out of Randy’s mouth twice!)

The highs were easy to pinpoint and these ladies will likely go through tomorrow: Jessica Sanchez, Skylar Laine, Hollie Cavanagh, Elise Testone. The fifth in will probably be Erika Van Pelt, who I enjoyed tonight but performed in the sketchy second slot tonight.

The lows were godawful bad and are all guaranteed goners: Baylie Brown, Brielle Von Hugel, Haley Johnson.

Biggest disappointment: Jen Hirsh, based on her earlier audition numbers. She wasn’t as sharp as she could have been. And Baylie also let nerves get in the way after seemingly solid performances during the audition rounds.

In a rare instance that has happened only a couple of times before on “Idol,”  two singers sang the same song: this time it was Adele’s “One and Only.”

Going in, I thought this mix of 12 was perplexing. There were a surfeit of blonds: eight in total. For the first time, there was not a single African-American female. It didn’t help there were ladies named Haley, Hallie and Hollie. This is like season one when we had A.J., EJay and R.J.

My personal ranking of the 12

1. Skylar Laine (”Stay With Me” The Faces) – I am not just about the voice. I am also looking for personality and stage presence. She is not the best vocalist but she picked a song she could wrangle, turning the “Idol” stage into a her own personal big honky-tonk. She committed to the song and even hit a surprisingly strong last note. So I give her top ranking for taking a chance and running with it.

2. Jessica Sanchez (”Love You I Do” Jennifer Hudson) – I’ve been weary of her.I think she has a tendency to over sing, to over-emote, to just take things to 11 when it isn’t necessary. But she picked the right song to get away with that no-holds-barred approach. Indeed, for a 16 year old, she sings with maturity and technical skills well beyond her years. She stamped her ticket to the top 13.

3.  Erika Van Pelt (”What About Love” Heart) – I wasn’t sold on her until tonight. She came out smoking with a hot rendition of a classic Heart song. While the judges claimed she held back at points, I thought she did the song justice and gave the night a much needed rock kick in the pants. Her biggest problem was singing second. That’s a terrible spot to get votes when you have 12 singers.

4. Elise Testone (”One and Only” Adele) – She received the coveted pimp spot, which is extremely helpful at this stage. I had a hard time remembering her to date and I don’t find her a terribly compelling personality but she gave this song a far more nuanced, consistently authentic take than Jen Hirsh.

5. Hollie Cavanagh (”Reflection” Christina Aguilera) – I hate hate hate this song. It would be on my Disney iPod from Hell. Cheesy lyrics. Cheesy arrangement. Cheesy melody. Yuk. But Hollie sang it with confidence. So far, she has one of the best female voices this year. She has a sweet personality and that will help her get votes, too.

6. Hallie Day (”Feelin’ Good” Nina Simone) – People on the live blog said she looks far older than her 24 years. She indeed looks a bit worn down by life but she’s still cute. As for her singing, I thought she opened the smoky beginning portions well but when she opened up partway through, she lost her way. She didn’t have control of the song all the way through. But it might have been good enough to get her through. (In 2010, Votefortheworst noted that this song has not helped most past contestants.)

7. Shannon Magrane (”Go Light Your World (Carry Your Candle)” Kathy Triccoli) – This is a Christian song that is well known in certain circles but not others. She sang it well but to me, the melody felt trite and not terribly compelling. I’m not sure she made this memorable enough for people to vote for her in big numbers. She’s blurring already in my mind in this sea of blond hair.

8. Jen Hirsh (”One and Only” Adele) – She came in with one of the stronger resumes based on her earlier performances. But she stumbled a bit here. She felt too theatrical and didn’t sing the song with what I felt was true conviction. She also missed some notes. She should have attacked it with more fervor.

9. Chelsea Sorrell (”Cowboy Casanova” Carrie Underwood). She isn’t a bad singer but she placed herself in an untenable situation doing a basic karaoke version of a song sung by one of the most popular “Idols” of all time. She lacked the power, timing and stage presence to make the audience go “Wow!” And since she performed first, she was long forgotten by the end.

10. Brielle Von Hugel (”Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” Otis Redding) – She was never the best singer. She needed to show off her personality. This song was a horrendous pick. It’s a pensive, laid-back, soulful tune and she sang it like it was “Fame” or a big show tune. She didn’t get this song at all. She just sang it loudly after a poorly enunciated, low-pitch opener that evoked Mikalah Gordon circa 2005. I wanted this Staten Island teen to go further simply because she’s memorable but this performance will leave her swimming with the “Idol” fishes.

11. Haley Johnson (”Sweet Dreams” Eurythmics) – She took a major risk and I’m certain Vote For the Worst will be rooting for her after this train wreck. Yes, Randy Jackson called it a “nightmare” and “train-wrecky.” She was off key at times. The arrangement veered all over the place. She hit a few decent notes but there was no consistency or flow to her delivery. A big honkin’ mess.

12. Baylie Brown (”Amazed” Lonestar) – None of the guys Tuesday had a performance that would be deemed disastrous. This was a disaster. She was all nerves. She was taking liberties to the melody in very unflattering ways. She failed to show off what I thought were powerful vocals. She sounded weak. She was so bad, Steven Tyler resorted to saying, “You look pretty,” the Paula Abdul-esque way of complimenting someone who sang poorly. She came to the big stage and blew it.

Ratings down

Ratings Tuesday night continued to match what has been happening all year: a major downward spiral. The show drew 16.11 million viewers and a 5.1 18-49 rating. That compares to 14.89 million viewers for “The Voice” and a 5.4 18-49 rating Monday.  In other words, “Idol” is drawing more overall viewers but they are older. “The Voice” is now beating “Idol” in the coveted 18 to 49 year old demo.

Compared to the similar episode a year ago, “Idol” is down 24% from a year ago in overall viewers and nearly one-third among 18-49 year olds. The comparable episode a year ago drew 21.3 million viewers and a 7.5 18-49 rating.

Cover it Live polling

Six performances were generally well liked, six not so much. More than 200 people were on the live blog for much of the second hour, doubling the number on Tuesday night. Thank you for your support!

% voting yes, % okay, not voting, % didn’t like it

Jessica 86, 10, 4

Hollie 70, 24, 6

Skylar 62, 35, 4

Hallie 60, 31, 9

Erika 52, 30, 19

Elise 50, 50, 0

Jen 20, 44, 36

Chelsea 17, 39, 43

Shannon 13, 35, 53

Brielle 7, 11, 81

Haley 6, 6, 89

Baylie 3, 9, 88

Other random polls from the night:

Boys vs. girls. Who did better: Boys won 63% to 37%

Baylie was voted worst 52% vs. 24% each for Brielle and Haley

Where was everyone from who was live blogging: metro Atlanta: 42% Rest of Georgia: 13%, Rest of the Southeast: 13% Rest of the U.S.; 26%. Outside the U.S.: 3%

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By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk

174 comments Add your comment

JTesla

February 29th, 2012
6:39 pm

Hopefully, the judges got a stern lecture and will actually offer some honest opinions. Nah, that didn’t happen, but I can dream.

Vote for Haley Johnson

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Deirdre

February 29th, 2012
7:43 pm

You going live tonight Rodney?

Deirdre

February 29th, 2012
7:44 pm

Never mind, it just showed up.

Harriett

February 29th, 2012
8:23 pm

So is anyone blogging here?

Deirdre

February 29th, 2012
10:06 pm

Harriett…we were all on the slow blog on the live blogging page. I wondered where you were!

RxDawg

February 29th, 2012
10:50 pm

The girls have some really strong candidates. There’s about 4-5 that are good enough to win it all in my opinion. But some of them were awful and make me wonder why there were even there?

Chelsea let me down the most. I really had high hopes for her. I thought she had a very pure and lovely country voice but she flat out stunk tonight.

The top girls IMO are Jen, Jessica, Hollie, and Shannon.

RxDawg

February 29th, 2012
10:51 pm

Oh, one more thing… why the hell are the judges so into Deandre? WHY!? It sounds like he’ll get saved as a wild card for sure.

JTesla

February 29th, 2012
11:00 pm

“Haley 6, 6, 89″

But you guys still voted for her right?

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Chelsea

February 29th, 2012
11:44 pm

I thought the women overall were very strong tonight. It is gonna be a tough call for america. My favorites were jessica sanchez, hollie cavanaugh, shannon mcgrane, elise testone and jen hirsch. But, a couple of the other girls were pretty good as well. My bottom girls are definitely bailey brown and haley johnson. Gonna be a tough call, can’t wait to see what happens!

Dianne Jefferson

February 29th, 2012
11:49 pm

Jessica Sanchez is the best female singer they have up there this season!!!!

pattikay

February 29th, 2012
11:52 pm

What is that sound??? Oh, yeah, me turning the channel. Guys were great last night – ladies, not so much.

Colin

February 29th, 2012
11:57 pm

I could care a less about there names or the color of the skin if the ladies can sing then they should be on this stage regardless of well you know no African american chick so lets just plug one in there. that shouldn’t matter the best 12 should be the best 12 simple as that.

Seth T

February 29th, 2012
11:58 pm

Agree with Rx that the girls have some very strong contenders. and yes, Chelsea kinda played under her potential. I have to wonder if the Judges would really save DeAndre if needed – I think he is likely gone, and may be sent to the Pop Star Wanna-be pool of Next Year.

@JTesla – sorry. I didn’t vote for Haley, hope I am not in the Dawg House now – but if she makes the top 13, I promise to give her a vote. She sure is a pretty and nice girl. But, Hollie Cavanaugh and Elise Testone are my Fav’s so far, though several of the girls are good to watch and hear..

I think they should save at least 2 of the girls in the Wildcard. If it were up to me, I’d save 3 girls, since the boys get an edge from a mostly girls/Ladies voting audience – from everything I’ve read and heard on the subject.

That also bears true from the group that watches the show at my place – the girls/Ladies vote a lot more than the boys do.

JTesla

March 1st, 2012
12:00 am

Hello Baylie Brown!

JTesla

March 1st, 2012
12:03 am

So far the ladies are doing better, they wouldn’t do three female wildcards, but they should.

Just a minute, I just watched Baylie Brown, need a few minutes of alone time.

JTesla

March 1st, 2012
12:09 am

Just a reminder, I picked Hollie Cavanagh as a wild card late last week. Oh and she’s good too, I agree with Rodney that song is BAD, but she sang it very well.

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Jon C

March 1st, 2012
12:17 am

My personal ranking of the night

1. Jessica Sanchez
2. Elise Testone
3. Hallie Day
4. Erika Van Pelt
5. Skyler Lane
6. Jenn Hirsh
7. Shannon Magrane
8. Hollie Cavanagh
9. Chelsea Sorrell
10. Brielle Von Hugel
11. Haley Johnson
12. Baylie Brown

JTesla

March 1st, 2012
12:20 am

Haley Johnson: I actually liked it and not just because she is the hometown girl for me. She is different, she’s not the typical Idol singer, she’s unique and I’d like to see what she does next week.

Annie

March 1st, 2012
12:27 am

After listening to the women, who I had pegged as too similar and boring, I can’t help but wonder why the show spent weeks (like they do every season) letting us get to know many of the male contestants, whose major selling point are their personalities not their voices, but don’t let us connect with the female contestants, who as a group are better singers. The females have been the better singers for at least the past two years, but the show does nothing to showcase them as individuals, like they do males.

Jessica was amazing. I hope they don’t try to change her. She’s radio ready right now.

All of the blonds blended together, even though there were at least two who were really good. The one who sang the song from Mulan, and the 16 year old, whose father was a pitcher.

Courtney

March 1st, 2012
12:32 am

Bringing back these judges have brought an end to this show. Three stooges.

Annie

March 1st, 2012
12:34 am

Colin, It’s never been about the best 12 or the best 24. First of all you are ignoring the fact that there’s a boy girl split, so there’s always the possibility that the seventh best girl won’t make it, because her spot will have to go to a boy.

They aren’t doing a great job of it this season, but the producers usually like to get a mix of different genres, so that they will appeal to a lot of different viewers. So, they (usually) make an effort not to have too many people who sing the same style.

Last, anyone who believes that the show hasn’t had a cap on how many none white singers they cast is just dealing with their own backwards issues. It’s a safe bet that the show will never cast all black female or male singers, because they know that that will alienate viewers. They don’t want to be seen as a show that’s only trying to appeal to black people, so they limit the number of black people who they cast. This is something that has gotten worse since season 7.

JTesla

March 1st, 2012
12:47 am

“They don’t want to be seen as a show that’s only trying to appeal to black people, so they limit the number of black people who they cast”

Which is why they limit the number of blondes, because after years of being called “racist” by the likes of Elton John and many others they wouldn’t want a lot of white skinned blonde haired women. They limit it based on how they look, not on how they sing.

Conspiracy theory is conspiringly silly.

JTesla

March 1st, 2012
12:52 am

I haven’t done a list in a long while, so here it is: Top 11 girls list:

1: Baylie Brown’s dress. Actually just how Baylie Brown looked in said dress.

2: Jessica Sanchez, she’s not blonde and I liked her sound. She came across as being very mature on stage.

3: Elise Testone, she did well. She didn’t just try to copy Adele which would have sunk her.

4: Hollie Cavanagh, that was singing.

5: Haley Johnson, it was different, let’s do something different and not the same, tired old Idol.

6:Jen Hirsh, she’s not blonde and she sounded good.

7: Chelsea Sorrell, was ok. I don’t buy the “don’t do Carrie Underwood, you’ll be compared to her” line of thinking. Unless they do original songs, they will always be compared to someone.

8 : Hallie Day, Shannon Magrane, Erika Van Pelt, Shannon Magrane yeah they sang and I forgot about them.

9: Brielle, never show mom again. HATE stage mom, Brielle would be rated higher if not for her.

10: Skylar Laine, it was great, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

11: Baylie Brown’s singing

cory w

March 1st, 2012
12:53 am

my rankings are pretty similar actually. my top 3 were skylar, hollie & jessica

JTesla

March 1st, 2012
1:00 am

All three of those clowns said “DeAndra” was a stand out???????

CLOWNS! They ARE the worst judges ever. Bring on Nicole and Paula.

DanJ

March 1st, 2012
1:16 am

The girls were so much better than the boys. I really like Hollie, Elise, Jessica and Hallie. Skylar is too country for my taste. It wouldn’t surprise me to have all the wildcards going to girls. Could they bring Johnny back as a wildcard? Just curious.

Chels

March 1st, 2012
1:21 am

Hollie and Jessica are in a whole different playing field. Beautiful tone and control.

Deirdre

March 1st, 2012
7:41 am

Morning!

The girls did themselves proud last night!

First, I’m going to have to listen to Hollie Cavanagh again. Not only did I hear a number of sour notes from her last night but I kept wondering why she was yelling instead of singing. Apparently my cold damaged ears were playing tricks on me. Maybe.

1. Elise: It wasn’t just her voice that was good, it was the whole emotional connection; a rarity on Idol.

2.Jessica: Even with swollen vocal cords the girl sounded good

3.Erika: With a deeper voice than most of the guys, she sounded great.

4. Skyler: Big surprise for me here. The energy she put into her song was captivating

5. Hallie Day: She had some issues imo but the song finished well

6.Holly Cavanagh: I’ll put her here since her good notes were very good.

7. Jen Hirsch: Girl has a voice she just sounded kinda weak to me

8. Chelsea Sorrell: Good job

9.Haley Johnson: I thought she sang well but was kind of over-wrought in the song delivery

10. Shannon Magrane: Nice girl. Sings good. I just don’t like the tone of her voice.

11. Brielle: Hated it!

12. Baylie: Gorgeous off-key girl. Too bad

10.

Deirdre

March 1st, 2012
7:44 am

I have no idea who the extra # 10 might be.

Highlander

March 1st, 2012
7:47 am

Morning!

I’m with the those that think the girls as a whole did much better than the guys. (Even though most of the guys tried to make it by singing songs by female artists!)

I really wish the top 10 (or 12 or 13 or whatever) was simply the best singers, not split evenly by gender. A couple of the girls are going to lose out simply because Idol wants an even amount of guys. And that sucks!!

Deirdre

March 1st, 2012
7:48 am

BTW, for those of you who stayed with live blogging last night, I hung out with a great group of people including a number of newbies. JonC who has been searching for a group like us for years. And Skippy was great. Miss Javon is a new addition as well. There were more but I’ll have to go back and check. Not a lot of sleep last night what with the thunder roaring over us every hour.

Deirdre

March 1st, 2012
7:49 am

Highlander, Nigel has already stated that the 3 wild cards will not be picked by gender.

Highlander

March 1st, 2012
7:49 am

That’s another point in favor of The Voice. No quotas per gender (or genre, for that matter) – just puts in the better performance.

Deirdre

March 1st, 2012
7:52 am

Myrlovely and Callum also joined us last night. One of the best parts of the new season is the new additions to the blog family.

Highlander

March 1st, 2012
7:54 am

D., doesn’t matter to me that Nigel said that. It still means there will be at least 5 guys (more if any wild card is awarded to a male singer) and I simply don’t have 5 guys from this group that I think deserve to go any further.

Highlander

March 1st, 2012
7:56 am

CRAP! On my 7:49 post, make that, “just WHO puts in the better performance.”

But y’all knew that, right?? :lol:

Deirdre

March 1st, 2012
8:07 am

I actually think there are at least 5 guys who deserve to go forward. And I don’t think there are more than 5 girls who deserve it. I would pick at least 2 more girls for the wildcard spot but it really all depends on the public vote(which just loves to surprise us as you know)

SMOKEY

March 1st, 2012
8:15 am

I am sorry the girls this season is sorry with the exception of Jessica Sanchez. It needs some color. I don’t know what the judges were thinking this season. I will be watching Idol @ a minimum this year. Will continue to watch until America gets stupid and dismiss Mantasia.

Rickster must be the oldest, whitest, non-hip guy in America.

March 1st, 2012
8:17 am

Only got to watch the girls though Brielle Von Hugel…. but did watch the guys last night.

So far…. I’m not impressed with any of them. None of them made me think “wow!” None of them make me look forward to seeing them next week.

I totally disagreed with – if not every – then almost every judges “critique” I heard.

Deirdre

March 1st, 2012
8:22 am

I’d like to see the following top 10 with suggestions for wildcards.

Boys Girls

1. Joshua 1. Elise
2. Philx2 2. Jessica
3. Reed 3. Erika
4. Heejun 4. Hallie Day
5. Aaron 5. Skyler
Wildcard: Jeremy Wildcard: Jen
Hollie Cavanagh

Deirdre

March 1st, 2012
8:23 am

Oh wow, that came out weird!

Deirdre

March 1st, 2012
8:33 am

Yes, Smokey because that’s just what MLK meant in his I Have a Dream speech isn’t it. If there ain’t a black woman then boycott! Yes! The fact that there’s a couple of black guys who could win the whole show doesn’t count.

Seriously, we all heard the contestants during the prelims. Was there a JHud? A Tamyra? A Melinda Doolittle? Even a Fantasia? No

Sam-A

March 1st, 2012
8:40 am

Since I’m still having problems with names, I’ll agree with the choices of Chelsea above – I liked them all.

And glad there are others who agree with me that the girls were waaaaaay better than the boys. I think EACH girl was better than all the boys. Just so totally disappointed with the boys, and actually like most of the girls.

Don’t like the young girl with the dreadful stage mom, and cannot tolerate the judges and RoHo’s fave, that country hunter who stomped around the stage “singing” “Stay With Me”. UGH!

Thought the 16 year old FLA girl looked and sounded gorgeous, and the dress was to die for – however, it was not appropriate for this stage of Idol, and she looked so out of place last night. It was a “finalist singing an “Moment Like This” type of song”, going for the win.

If that pig-squealing kid gets thru, or the blubber-baby still apparently nursing from his Mama, I will be terribly disappointed, but not shocked, especially after the judges faves last night. Anyone notice ST didn’t really have an opinion, just parroted what the other two said!

Woodpappy

March 1st, 2012
8:42 am

Sam-A I noticed that ST never really gave a critique, he just sort of seemed out of it last night to me.

Woodpappy

March 1st, 2012
8:43 am

There sure were some gorgeous women on last night though…maybe that’s what had ST all mumbles ??

Mercedes S.

March 1st, 2012
8:51 am

Smokey, by choosing to listen to only non-white performers, you miss out on a lot of good music. I too had hoped for more of a diverse racial mix among the girls, but except for the three at the bottom of my list, there were some interesting performers last night.

I thought eight of the girls deserved o go further. My oersonal ranking of last night:

1. Erika van Pelt
2. Hallie Day
3. Skylar Laine
4. Hollie Cavanaugh
5. Jessica Sanchez
6. Elise Testone
7. Jenn Hirsch
8. Chelsea Sorrell
9. Shannon Magrane
10. Hayley Johnson
11. Bielle van Hugel
12. Baylie Brown

Branch Loveless

March 1st, 2012
8:53 am

My satellite went out last night and did not record “Idol” so I missed it. Was Baylie really that bad???
What the heck happened to her?