“American Idol” aired part two of its Motown showdown Thursday evening, this time with the Top 12 girls (of the Top 24 finalists) performing in the venerable Fillmore theatre in Detroit. The episode, like Wednesday’s, had its good, bad, and mediocre-to-promising performances. But at the end of it all, America was left to choose eight out of the dozen to move into the Top 16. So who was best and who went bust?
Michael Slezak at TVLine noted Feb. 26 that, taken with some of the stellar performances from Wednesday’s Top 12 guys’ episode, several standout routines by the girls could see Season 14 “on the brink of what could be the most closely matched season in show history. (And yes, I remember Seasons 5 and 6 — where any member of the Top 4 was positioned to receive that luxurious confetti shower.)” And he could very well be correct. That is, if these girls (and those guys) continue to put forth the same, or better, calibre of performances that they’ve displayed so far.
So who were the four best singers for the girls? Of them all, one truly stood out, but there were some very close runners-up.
Best of the night belonged to Jax. This little blonde showed delicacy and power with her version of Cher’s “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down).” It was all control and showmanship. Too bad she didn’t have the pimp spot (last performer), because she certainly was a showstopper.
Speaking of which, Sarina Joi-Crowe could have been positioned as the last singer as well. Her rendition of Jessie J’s “Mama Knows Best” was especially enjoyable. It is still difficult to believe that this is the singer’s fourth go-round on “American Idol,” but at least she’s in the running now. And with singing like that (Judge Jennifer Lopez told her she “rivaled [Jessie J] on that one”), well…
Joey Cook broke out the accordion again and showed us what originality and effortless showmanship can do for the truly talented. She performed Judge Keith Urban’s “Somebody Like You,” giving it such a twist as to make it her own. She’s such a quirky character, it might ultimately become her downfall on the show, but for the purpose of getting to the Top 16, she should be a shoe-in.
Tyanna Jones held the pimp spot and laid down a great performance. It wasn’t quite up to par with Jax’s or Sarina Joi-Crowe’s, but it was a standout performance and, if it hadn’t been for the other two girls’ roof-blasting numbers, her version of “Lips Are Moving” (Meghan Trainor) would have suited as a show-ender.
Now, on the other end of the singing spectrum, there was some stiff competition for worst of the night. That would begin with a dead heat run-off for poorest performance between Shi Scott and Shannon Berthiaume. The former tried to go all sexy with Rihanna’s hit, “Umbrella,” but didn’t quite get there. Where she got was shouty: Loud and flat-noted. The latter was a dark mess of garbled lyrics and half-hearted theatricality.
Maddie Walker’s cover of Shania Twain’s “Love Gets Me Every Time” was flat and lifeless vocally, her antics on stage pat, cutesy, and seeming poorly rehearsed, hesitant. As Lyndsey Parker at Yahoo Music pointed out, Walker sounded “like a pageant girl, and when she tried to emulate Shania’s sexy sass, it felt flat.”
Lovey James also came off like a pageant pro. She started off her rendition of OneRepublic’s “Love Runs Out” a bit too low on her vocal register. Although she showed the power of her voice in the song’s choruses, they didn’t make up for the often flat verses.
Now, those were the best four and the worst four. But the girls in the middle could go either way. Adanna Duru’s cover of Clean Bandit and Jesse Glynne’s “Rather Be” was great vocally, but her performance was over-the-top bad. Alexis Gomez did a real sassy version of Miranda Lambert’s “Gunpowder and Lead,” but there was nothing original about it. Katherine Winston did Taylor Swift’s “Safe & Sound” in a way that came across as very Sarah McLachlan-y: Not bad but not overly memorable. And Loren Lott’s rendition of JoJo’s “Note to God” started off so poorly (nasally, pitchy, and nerves-tense quivery) that only her powerful last two-thirds of the song saved her from being among the worst. (Truthfully, she could easily tie with Shi Scott and Shannon Berthiaume for worst — if not for that song-saving ending.)
So who makes it through. Well, for that we’ll have to wait a week. Results this year on “American Idol” are to be announced prior to the following week’s performances. After watching the playbacks, there are going to be some rather anxious girls on next week’s Top 16 reveal.
“American Idol” airs on Fox Television weekly on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8 p.m. (EST).