American Idol 11 Review: The Top 12 Girls Perform

Last night on American Idol, it was the Women’s turn as the Top 12 ladies competed for America’s vote. Like the night before, when the Top 12 Men performed, (plus the bonus performance of Jermaine Jones), America will vote for their five favorites, plus the Judge’s Wildcard selections.

Also like the night before, the girls got to choose any song from any genre. Sadly, that didn’t do well for the men’s group. Going into the night, I hoped the women’s group did better, and overall, they did.

I will say that with a Haylie, a Hallie, a Hollie, and a Baylie, this recap was confusing as hell. I thought my head was going to explode trying to remember who was who. My only hope is that most will be weeded out on Thursday night, if for no other reason than to make the next recap easier for me, which is all I really care about. I say bring back Siobhan. Only one of those, ever. And I knew who she was.

Chelsea Surrell: Chelsea hit the stage first, singing Cowboy Casanova, by Carrie Underwood. Very country. Not even a chance of crossover. Lots of nerves showing, and very jittery. A little flat in some spots, pitchy in others. Jennifer Lopez pretty much told her what she thought of her by telling her that it sucks going first. Not hard to read between the lines on that one. She won’t be around next week.

Erica Van Pelt: Erica went for one of the ultimate power ballads, Heart’s What About Love. Very ballsy choice for her first week out of the chute. She started out great with the first verse and I thought she was really going somewhere with it. She did OK on the bridge but just couldn’t bring home the power note on the chorus that the song calls for. And that’s not to say she failed, because it still sounded great. Like the judges said, if she just pushed a little more she really could have nailed it. Still one of the top three of the night.

Jen Hircsh: Jen went for Adele’s One and Only and it was good, but she seemed to be holding back through most of it. It just wasn’t very memorable. Her voice was rich and full and remained in key and she never faltered. My one problem I had was during the run in the song, she was a little screamy and pitchy. The rest of the song was great, in the right key, and a very good song selection for her. I just wish there was something more to it.

Brielle Von Hugle: Brielle was one of the best female contestants during the entire auditions. Last night she took on the classic hit, Dock of the Bay, by the late, great Otis Redding. She started off in a too-low register and I wasn’t sure where it was going. By the middle of the song, she had growled her way into a great, bluesy tune. By the end, it had the potential of being one of best performances of the night, and it might have been if not for the faulty beginning.

Hallie Day: Hallie sang the awesome blues hit, Feelin Good, by Michael Buble’. And she did a great job with it. I loved the sultry feeling that she brought to the song, making it sound like it came out of the 1950’s. She showed great strength and control and command of the stage.

Skylar Laine: Skylar sang Faces Stay With Me, and somehow made it a country song. This is somehow reminiscent of when Country Kristy Lee Cook made Eight Days A Week a county song (this will always be the bar setter for me), but this one sort of worked. It’s very hard not to compare her to Reba, because she not only sounds like her, but sings like her as well. All of that being said, for a sweet country girl, she showed that she’s not afraid to rock it out. That will take her far in this competition.

Baylie Brown: Baylie sang Lonestar’s powerhouse ballad, Amazed. She started off quiet, way too quiet for that particular song. Honestly, I don’t think her voice is strong enough to carry this song. Both Steven and Jennifer started their critiques by telling Baily how pretty she is. Never a good sign.

Hollie Cavinaugh: Hollie sang Reflections by Christina Aguilera . She showed off a couple of nice long notes with her big voice. Taking on a Christina song is no joke, and she made the most of it. She wasn’t perfect, not by a long shot. She hit some flat notes, but overall, it was good. I don’t think she was good enough to make the cut tonight, though. Five out of 12 is a biiiiiig cut. If it was a larger number being advanced, she’d have a good chance, but not with only five moving forward.

Haley Johnson: Haley took on Annie Lennox and the Eurhythmics’ hit Sweet Dreams. She started too low and stayed there. Halfway through the song she tried to rock it out and it sounded like a lot of screaming. It wasn’t a very good song choice and it will hurt her. There really wasn’t anything good about this performance.

Shannon Magraine: 16- year old Shannon sang Go Light Your World by Kathy Troccolli with a single spotlight shining on her, and she looked nothing short of elegant in her long white gown. She showed tremendous control and power as she went from one range to another. And in what has become a certain Idol stamp of endorsement, she gave Jennifer her first “goosies” of the night. After the last few lackluster performances, Shannon was stellar.

Jessica Sanchez: Jessica was one of my favorites during the auditions, (her Group performance from Las Vegas of Buddy Holly’s It Doesn’t Matter Anymore with Deandre Brackensick who made the Guys Top 12 was pure musical genius), and for a 16 year old, she was a pure powerhouse. Jessica sang Love You, I Do by Jennifer Hudson from Dreamgirls and she picked up right where she left off. This girl knows exactly what she’s doing up there on that stage. It sounds like she’s been doing this for years. In the words of ESPN NFL analyst Chris Berman, “She. Could. Go. All. The. Way….”

Elise Testone: Elise sat at the piano (the only female to use an instrument last night) and sang Adele’s One and Only. Yes, the same song that Jen Hircsh sang about 90 minutes earlier. Only Elise sang it much differently and much better. She was raspy and in tune, bluesy and jazzy the whole way through. Given the choice between the two, I’d pick Elise’s version, and if I had to take one over the other, I think Elise is a better singer.

So, overall, I think the girls were far better than the guys were, and if the guys don’t improve quickly we may have our first female American Idol Champion since Jordon Sparks won in Season 7.

GOING HOME TONIGHT: Chelsea, Jen, Brielle, Baylie, Hollie, and Haley.