In seven seasons of American Idol, I've seen some bizarre things, but I'm not sure I've ever seen an episode as weird as Wednesday's '80s night. There was Paula climbing in Simon's lap, Randy babbling about Journey, Simon snapping at Seacrest — pretty much every strange thing that could happen in an Idol episode all rolled into one.
The good news is that the antics didn't overshadow the singing, which — for the second night in a row — was pretty good. Yeah, I've been ragging on the whole "most. talented. ever." line all season, but honestly? It's entirely possible that after tonight's eliminations, we'll have the strongest top 12 in Idol history.
Are you feeling as optimistic as I suddenly am about this Idol season? Don't forget to vote for which girls are going home, and to see my take on the girls' performances (and learn about their most embarrassing moments), just read more.
Asia'h Epperson — As an extra in a movie, she once rollerskated smack into the set lights. Last week the judges chided her for singing a song too big for her, so this week she . . . came out singing Whitney Houston. Didn't I declare a moratorium on that last year? That said, she seemed to handle this one better; for one thing, uptempo songs suit her well, and for another, she actually enunciated! Randy thought it was hot, Paula thought she did well with the big notes, and Simon called it "second-rate Whitney" — to which Asia'h basically said, "Sure, I'll take that."
Kady Malloy — She screwed up a Christina Aguilera song at a talent show, then kicked over the microphone and made awful feedback noise. And yes, that was her embarrassing moment, not what she did last night. The performance was "Who Wants to Live Forever," and I'm not sure she hit any of the notes in the first verse/chorus, though she seemed to get better as the song went on. Randy said she did a good job with the big notes but mucked up the little ones, Paula called it her best to date, and Simon said she still has a disturbing lack of personality.
Amanda Overmyer — She accidentally burned down a patio and a pool with an outdoor grill. Punk rock! Anyway, she sang Joan Jett's "I Hate Myself for Loving You," and it was totally in her wheelhouse. She looked way less crazy, she had some fun and strutty dancing, and she actually proved capable of hitting notes, which is sort of a new thing for her. Randy said that's the Amanda they brought on the show, Paula loved it, and Simon seemed to be winding up for a big critique but then said she was fantastic. I just wish the poor girl would smile — she seems like she's having a miserable time.
Carly Smithson — She once got her leg stuck in a railing at a bar, and her drunk friend tried to butter/oil/lather up her leg to get it out. Her "I Drove All Night" was way more Celine than Cyndi Lauper, but it's my favorite of hers to date; she hit a big range of notes, from the quiet ones to the booming ones, and for someone who I'd assumed would be a ballad singer, she's really better with the faster stuff. Randy thought she took out the big notes like it was target practice, Paula described her as a dependable dog, and Simon said she still keeps picking songs that are worse than she is.
Kristy Lee Cook — When she was seven years old, she use to pretend she was a dog, down to barking at people and drinking from her own dog bowl. OK, she wins the embarrassing moment contest. Except that's less an embarrassing moment than an embarrassing life, but — no matter. She gave "Faithfully" a bit of a country vibe, and it was nice to see her do something that was not all winking/nodding/mugging for the camera. It gave me time to contemplate how much she looks like Emily Van Camp from Brothers & Sisters. Randy loves dogs and Journey, so KLC is his new fave; Paula, meanwhile, started groping Simon, then said the song could be a country hit right now; Simon said she's still forgettable.
Ramiele Malubay — She gave a picture of herself to a boy she liked, and he laughed at it. I love her voice and still think it could be on the radio right now, but her "Against All Odds" was kind of slow, kind of boring, and frankly kind of underwhelming on the chorus; when she needed her big moment, it didn't come. Randy called her "Rommelie" and said she seems to be overthinking her songs, Paula rambled for what seemed like 15 minutes before saying she deserves to be in the top 12, and Simon said it was predictable and old-fashioned. Then things got all awkward and TMTH. Thanks a lot, Noriega.
Brooke White — She once exuberantly hugged a guy who she thought was her dad, but wasn't. So: Her "Love is a Battlefield" was slowed-down, acoustic, and pretty dramatic; she sat front-and-center on the stage and just sang it from there, with just one guitar accompanying her. I love the way she keeps changing songs to fit her rather than trying to do a classic arrangement of a big song just to prove she can. Randy didn't think she brought anything new to the song, which I think is a lie; Paula thought it was a good choice but would have liked more of the band; and Simon thought it was great precisely because she kept the band out of it and did a version that suited her.
Syesha — Wrote a note to a boy she liked with a piece of gum inside; he tattled on her for the note and then ate the gum. Argh, again with the Whitney! She took on "Saving All My Love for You" with an arrangement that was pretty much nothing but power notes all the way through. She's good at that, but it didn't make the song very interesting and actually seemed a little cheap to me. The judges were all about three-word-or-less critiques here, so — Randy: "Good." Paula: "Sophisticated and lovely." Simon: "Predictable but good."
My favorites: Brooke, Carly, and Amanda
Should be worried: Kady, Asia'h, maybe Ramiele, maybe Kristy Lee, maybe Amanda
Going home: As with the guys, I think one elimination is a given — Kady — and the other will be a surprise. I initially had Kristy Lee being booted before the top 12, so I'll say her, though based on last night I don't think she's the one who deserves to go.
Photos courtesy of Fox