Last Night on American Idol: Pia Toscano Shines in Season 10, Week 1

Last night on American Idol, Season 10, it was time for the Top 12 women to see what they can do. Like the night before, the top 5 from this group, plus one Judge’s Choice, will move on to the Top 12 overall next week.

Ta-Tanysia Wilson started off the festivities singing Only Girl (In the World) by Rhianna (full disclosure, I am not a Rhianna fan). It could have been opening jitters, but she was pitchy and all over the place. She had some strong moments, but overall, she was frantic and hurried, which is kinda how I feel about most Rhianna songs. The girls that came after her had to feel pretty good about her performance. And her name is confusing as hell and hard to write. I’ll try not to hold that against her. Let’s just go with, Ta-ta, Tanysia. It’s much easier.

Naima Adedapo (really?? What is with these names this season???) sang a beautiful, soulful version of Billie Holliday’s Summertime that would have fit in any era. Her glory note at the end was a nice touch and not overdone like so many have a tendency to do. Randy said that it was too lounge-acty and that Fantasia (remember her??) nailed it in Season 3, and he’s right. But Naima did a great job with it too and he didn’t give her nearly enough credit. And Steven Tyler was really confused, saying that he really loved her a lot and he really liked her a lot. Hmm. Still not sure what he meant.

Kendra Chantelle over-sang the beginning of Impossible by Christina Aguilera, but definitely got better as the song went on. By the middle of the song, she was in her groove and she was doing just fine. Her ending was excellent, with all the heart and soul of Xtina.

Rachel Zevita sang the sultry, bluesy Criminal by Fiona Apple and vamped it up as much as she could. But she clearly was out of her comfort zone and looked like a deer in the headlights through most of it. Tyler called it “a little too Broadway”. I think it was a little too high school musical. And I mean that literally, not the movie.

Karen Rodriguez slowed it down a bit singing a duet with herself singing both the English and Spanish version of Mariah Carey’s Hero. Her voice was ok, until she hit the first glory note, which was excellent, and then slid into the falsetto, with was seamless. Going back and forth from English to Spanish was an interesting affect, possibly to garner favor with J LO (Ms. Selena herself??). And Randy was right, her Spanish sounded better. Hilarity ensued in my house when she first switched to Spanish and I thought she just had the words to the song wrong. It took a full 2 seconds for me to realize that it was a different language.

Lauren Turner mostly shouted and growled her way through Etta James’ Seven Day Fool. But even with that she stayed in the spirit of the song as she was bluesy and soulful and rockin at the same time.

Ashton Jones was OK. Her voice wasn’t awful and it wasn’t great. It was mostly, forgettable. Her biggest problem is that she’s so cocky in a Jada Smith way. She sang Monica’s Love All Over Me. After reading the lyrics, I wondered how the producers allowed it:
I got Love all over me
And I don’t want to get it off
I’m completely covered up in your love

Um, gross. I think I need a shower. Did they forget that this was a family show??
Her voice is good, but her over-confidence is a real turn-off this early in the game. She’s not the Diva she thinks she is, yet.

Julie Zorilla
made an attempt at the Kelly Clarkson smash hit Breakaway, and did an ok job with it. She has a good voice and people like her but it could have been stronger. If she picked something else she might have done better. Fair or not, anyone who sings Breakaway will always be compared to Kelly Clarkson. It’s just the way it’s going to be. Until someone comes along one day and does a better job it will be a fail. Much like anyone who sang Hallelujah was always compared to Jason Castro. But now they will most likely be compared to Lee Dewyze, because he was actually better. But it took several years for that to happen.

Haley Reinhart took on Alicia Keys Fallin’ and nailed it. Her voice was sultry at the right moments, and she used her notable vocal power at the right moments. She can tone down the growling and rolling in her voice a little and make it clearer. Her voice is strong and powerful. She doesn’t have to rely on the other nonsense. The glory note at the end was a little unnecessary, but we’re almost getting used to contestants doing that. She did play to the camera way too much. A little less flirting and a little more singing would be good.

Thia Megia sang a much slowed down version of Out Here on My Own by Irene Cara. The beginning was totally captivating. Just her in the spotlight. A cappella. It was quite effective. But I’m not sure her voice was strong enough to pull it off the rest of the song. But, her name is very, very cool. It is hard to remember that she is only 15. One of the youngest American Idol contestants ever.

Lauren Alaina, one of Steven Tyler’s favorites, and another youngster at only 16 years old, came out singing Turn on the Radio by Reba McEntire. I was very surprised that she didn’t have the coveted “pimp spot” the way the producers have been cramming her down our throats this season. She really is a natural up there on the stage. She can sing Country (if you can classify that as Country) as well as she can sing Pop, as she showed us her audition of I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing during Hollywood Week. She looks like she was made for this. She was clearly enjoying herself, like she has been since this season started. And now we know that Ryan Seacrest’s nickname is Peaches because they are both from Georgia. Now there’s something we probably didn’t need to know.

Pia Toscano got the “pimp spot” and clearly the producers knew something that we didn’t. Holy crap is this girl good. She rocked the house with her version of The Pretenders hit ballad, I’ll Stand By You and she sounded fantastic. Amazing control in her voice. The whole first half of the song she actually sounded a bit like Chrissie Hynde. How good was she? She was good enough to get a standing ovation by the audience and all three of the judges, the first one of the season. And without question, she deserved it.

Once again, the judges were overly kind to the contestants. They have to learn that it’s ok to be critical. They have to let these people know when they are not good. Telling Ta-Ta Wilson that she was “Beautiful” and that “she moved the crowd” will do her no favors. Telling Rachel Zevita that “She obviously belongs on a stage” does nothing for her. And worse, they are confusing the simple-minded sheep that rely on their input to help make their decisions in order to shape their votes.

Top 5 Moving On: (results show Thurs Night):
(they are going to play the youth card as long as they can and prove it wasn’t a mistake)