March 2, 2011
TA-TYNISA WILSON kicked things off with a good decision-- rock a song everybody knows and most voters like. Rihanna’s “Only Girl” was a decent choice, but it would have been better if she had actually hit the notes better.
NAIMA ADEDOPO ushers in the uncomfortable question of whether someone with serious looks issues can win this thing. During her very nice take on “Summertime,” all I could think of was two words: dental work. I got past these issues with Crystak Bowersox last year, but Crystal was a singular talent. Naima is not.
KENDRA CHANTELLE took on a big challenge with Christina Aguilera’s “Impossible.” The judges loved it, I thought it was good, not great. Nice stage presence, though.
RACHEL ZEVITA is an odd chick, which is either a plus or a minus. It’s a plus if the notes get hit and the arrangement is good. The total rehash of Fiona Apple’s “Criminal,” was, well, interesting, which is not a small thing. But it was not particularly successful. However, voting her off could be hazardous; she gets my vote for contestant most likely to come back with a gun if dismissed.
KAREN RODRIGUEZ may well have been pandering to the Hispanic audience (and maybe even to J-Lo) by devoting some of Mariah Carey’s “Hero” to the Spanish language. If so, hat was some successful pandering, because I rather loved it.
LAUREN TURNER gets points that I always give when people step outside the safe zone of mega-familiar songs. “Seven Day Fool,” a ‘60s Etta James record revived in ‘07 by Canada’s Jully Black, is a nice pick. But then you have to knock it out of the park. This dropped at the warning track.
ASHTHON JONES is just a doll, and I want her to do well. Monica’s “Love All Over” wa s nice pick, and she did well. Weak competition may vault her into the Top 5.
JULIE ZORRILLA made a very bad decision in running out there with a Kelly Clarkson record, especially the ambitious “Breakaway.” She simply was not up to the task.
HALEY REINHART gave me the first opportunity to wonder if Randy has lost his mind. How do you not love her take on Alicia Keys’ “Fallin’”? A mildly hokey and amateurish stage presence do not matter when you belt it like this. Best of the night so far, but that’s not saying much.
THIA MEGHIA’S home run with Irene Cara’s “Out Here On My Own” (from the 1980 “Fame” soundtrack) would have been remarkable at any age. But this girl is 15! The night is definitely picking up much-needed steam.
LAUREN ALAINA was my early pick to maybe win it all. Now I don’t know. Another baby at 16, she’s more of a stage natural than Thia, but I think she can do better than this A-minus take on Reba’s “Turn On the Radio.”
PIA TOSCANO was sort of under the radar for me. Not any more. Superb job on a great Pretenders record, “I’ll Stand By You.” Strong last four singers pull this night out of mediocrity.
Top 5: Pia, Lauren, Thia, Haley and Karen, with my wild-card hope going to Ashthon.