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 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%
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk