After watching the top 12 "American Idol" girls compete on Wednesday, I'd like to propose a rule: All songs by Aretha Franklin, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, and Whitney Houston are banned from the semifinals. All it ever gets you is a judge saying the song was too big for your voice and a chorus of eye rolls from the viewers at home.
Despite the Aretha overload, though, I think it's safe to say the girls are absolutely killing the guys at this point. While there was a bad performance for every good one on Wednesday, the good ones were great — and even the bad ones were rarely dull.
I'm keeping the Paula crazy-ometer at a 4 out of 10. She got gushier with the girls, but overall, she mostly made sense. Also, is Seacrest not closing with "Seacrest out" this year, or am I just missing it?
To see which girls I think are safe and which are headed home, read more
Stephanie Edwards (at right): Boy, did she make a splash. She's smooth, she has presence, she can sing, and she totally attacked her performance — something most contestants can't pull out until a much later round. I feel like less of a fool for picking her as my winner now.
Amy Krebs: OK, she was one of the dull ones. Her performance was just eh, and she seems to have about five notes that sound good. Simon says she has the personality of a candle and that she's too forgettable to win but then goes overboard beating up on her hair and clothes, so maybe she'll get some sympathy votes.
Leslie Hunt: She's the reason behind my proposed Aretha rule, because her "Natural Woman" rendition sounded a lot like karaoke. It didn't help that she had her backup singers join the chorus, thus proving she couldn't pull it off alone.
Sabrina Sloan: I'm not sure what she sang, but it was one of those diva songs with lots of power notes. She did it well, though I don't think she trumped Stephanie. She said she picked her song because after five years of watching "Idol," she's learned that ballads don't work as well as up-tempo songs; she's right, but her blatant calculations make me like her less.
Antonella Barba (at left): I'm getting a distinct Drop Dead Gorgeous-era Denise Richards vibe from her. She "sang" "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing," and it was excruciating. The judges panned her, and she didn't seem to understand why, which bugged me even more.
Jordin Sparks: She's frighteningly poised for 17. She didn't really settle into her song until the end, but that's just fine; I figure we'll be hearing a lot more from her.
Nicole Tranquillo: I thought she was going to jump through my TV and punch me. That was some aggression! It was brave of her to take on Chaka Khan, especially when she seems so quiet. Randy said the song was "too urban," and I thought she got shrieky in parts, but I'll give her credit for going against type.
Haley Scarnato: I cannot like a girl who sings the Celine Dion song that has Meat Loaf in the video. Just can't do it. She doesn't really have the power to pull it off, and Simon says it sounded like a lounge singer at a fancy hotel. Well, at least it was a fancy hotel.
Melinda Doolittle (at right): I'd love her for her facial expressions alone; I had the most fun watching her of anyone all night, save maybe for Stephanie. She has a strong voice, and it's obvious that she's a professional.
Alaina Alexander: OK, I propose another rule: If you're going to choose a rock song, you'd better rock. Her version of the Pretenders' "Brass in Pocket" actually made me long for ScarJo's karaoke performance in Lost in Translation, which is to say it was pretty weak; I actually thought she'd run out of breath.
Gina Glocksen: She is capable of rocking, but instead she sang "All By Myself," which ... no. It was fairly dull until the last 30 seconds, when she really turned it on. She got sassy with Simon about whether she'd hit the power notes, but my untrained ear thought she got it.
Lakisha Jones: Singing "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" — gutsy or tacky? Discuss. The judges, Simon in particular, are ready to anoint her the next Idol, but I'm not buying it yet; there's no denying she has a great voice, though.
Who Should Go: Antonella and Amy
Who Will Go: This is tough. I'd guess Amy and Alaina, but Haley and Leslie aren't safe either. I'd be surprised if any of those four made the top 12.
Photos courtesy of Fox