We open with a sudden death round, with the first ten semi-finalist girls singing before a live audience for the first time this season. Five ladies will remain after tonight’s cuts are made. The way Ryan Seacrest describes it, the losing girls will immediately be pricked with a highly poisonous needle after being eliminated. It’s Idol in Vegas and I’m all in!
Bizarrely enough, tonight, Randy Jackson is the most ostentatiously dressed judge of the evening in his red jacket with white piping. Keith Urban tells the ladies what he’s looking for in a singer. I’d rather hear what he’s looking for in a life partner.
The first ten ladies are introduced to us and Angela Miller gets the most noticeable applause from the audience. Jenny Beth Willis gets to go first, looking like a G-rated version of Dita Von Teese. Her choice is a country song I don’t recognize. Keith calls her performance “effortless,” Nicki Minaj said she thought it was a little underwhelming and we get to hear the audience react to the judges for the first time. I love the critiques of the critiques! Randy echoes Nicki’s sentiment. Mariah Carey gives her the critique to be more dynamic but loved the last note.
Next up is Camp Mariah graduate Tenna Torres. Her selection is a the Natasha Bedingfield song “Soulmate.” She’s too drama and nasal for me, but we’ll see what the judges say. She throws in the Mariah hand wave for good measure. I’m sure that will earn her points with Mimi. I get the feeling Keith is just going to be nice to every contestant. It’s cheapening his praise for me. Nicki likes Tenna too. I’m so off with this one, but Nicki is so right that Tenna needs to toss that wig, girl. Or at least go back to the side-part. Randy gushes about her too and I’m clearly not getting something. Mariah expresses a similar sentiment and it’s looking good for Trembling Tenna Torres.
Seventeen-year-old Adriana is from Alaska and I’m pretty sure this is the first time we’re seeing her. She’s singing my favorite Aretha Franklin song, “Ain’t No Way.” I’m feeling her red dress and loving how she approaches the judges confidently. Mariah starts to sing backup. Ooh, chile. Personally, I liked her a ton better than Tenna, but we’ll see. Randy and Keith both stand to applaud. Keith loves it and Nicki promptly asks her to give her height and compliments Adriana on her stage presence. The little ladybug earns a congratulations! Randy and Mariah love it too. Ryan makes a short joke. Way to own yo stature, Ry-Ry.
Louisiana native Brandy promises us “sass” and “personality.” I’m intrigued. She’s certainly got legs and knows how to use ‘em. Surprisingly, she comes out with a ballad. I thought for sure she’d hit us with some rowdy Dixie Chicks or Kelly Clarkson. Also, is that a jumper or a dress? I’m so easily distracted. Keith didn’t feel she had the emotional connection and I have to agree with my husband. Nicki agrees with him completely and calls it a “pageant delivery of a song.” She’s on point. Randy also delivers a truth bomb, but Mariah gives the nicer version of what all the other judges said. Brandy’s explanation for not connecting with the song certainly had sass as she says she’s not used to begging for someone to come back like the lyrics do in the song. I have to give her points for that and throw her a “Girl, I feel ya!”
Shubha is back and I remember that she models her voice after Christina Aguilera. For her performance, she takes to the piano and surprisingly (to me), she takes on Lady Gaga‘s “Born This Way.” But then, unsurprisingly, she does the Christina Aguilera version of it. Uh oh, Shubha. Don’t dance. Still, it’s definitely entertaining. Judge number one, Keith, rightfully points out that her performance had a bit too much going on. Shiny pants much? Nicki announces, “Prepare to boo again!” and I cheer “YES!” Her take on Shubha of Xtina meets PSY is dead on. Randy says this in a bit nicer way. Mimi again, sugarcoats it but essentially says the same thing.
Kamaria is from Oakland and she’s already had a pretty successful career as a background singer. I expect big things. I recognize her from the Swagettes but sadly, she starts off flat. I’m bummed because I enjoy her stage look and presence. She sings Kelly Clarkson’s “Mr. Know It All.” Rightfully, Keith points out that her song choice wasn’t a great match. Nicki also loves her look but wasn’t totally charmed with the voice. Randy calls her out on her pitch and I feel I should be a judge. Once again, Good Cop Mariah basically says the same as Randy, only nicer. But we all agree that her outfit is adorable, as is she.
Contestant Kree Harrison is one of my faves because I enjoy her performances, but also because she looks like Kiwi actress Melanie Lynskey, who starred in one of my all-time favorite movies, Heavenly Creatures. (There’s an unnecessary peek into my dark psyche, but I digress.) In this performance, I’m reminded why I like her: Her voice is strong and her emotional connection to the song is clear. She’s got a Kelly Clarkson vibe. Nicki and Keith, my current brain twins, rise to their feet. Keith gushes about authenticity and Nicki declares that she is in love. Randy calls her a “natural born singer.” Mimi calls her “unaffected” and tells her she “sang the hell out of that song.” Yay, Kree! Also, if that is all her real hair, I will be doubly impressed.
Young’un Angela Miller puts on her big girl red lipstick and black formal shorts. Again, she brings the huge, pretty voice. The only complaint I have would be that’s it’s a tiny bit over-theatrical. But then again, following Kree “Realness” Harrison does that to a person. Keith really gets me guys. He tells Angela to pull it back, because, clearly, we are soulmates. Nicki loves it too but can’t get past how awesome the original song of Angela’s was during the solo performances in Hollywood. She’s her own biggest competition! Randy tags her as one of his favorites. Mimi also loved Angela’s original song and punctuates it by saying, “You had me clothed in goosebumps and bathed in tears.” Her amazing description of her reaction literally evokes the exact same reaction from me.
Isabelle lost a ton of weight and after seeing her “before” pictures. I reconfirmed for myself that I can “smell” a nose job like nobody’s business. She delivers an appropriately Vegas-style version of “God Bless The Child” and I surmise her favorite color is bronze. Keith and Nicki like her but Randy calls it a pageant performance. Mimi also wanted a smaller performance too. Kree is definitely the one to beat tonight.
Amber Holcomb is a teen from Houston who made it to Vegas last year, where she got cut. She is determined to come out of her shell and takes to the stage to sing “Funny Valentine.” I love her classic R&B style. This girl could have torn up early ’90s radio. She might currently be my second fave, after Kree. And that dimple! Too cute! Keith praises her rendition as “timeless.” Nicki loves her “legs for days” and vocals. Randy agrees and reasserts that she needs to keep her confidence up. Mimi said she “wanted to smack [her],” it was that good. Butterfly smacks from heaven!
Return from commercial break for cuts.
Jenny Beth Williams sadly didn’t make it, but takes it like a champ. Pretty “Too Proud To Beg” Brandy also goes home. Tenna Torres, after a torturous speech from Randy, learns that she is staying. Sadist in a red coat! Kree Harrison is a shoo-in. They can’t even eff with her at this moment and she knows it, y’all. Mimi is such a bad liar and can’t even keep a straight face until she tells her she’s going through. But more importantly, Kree gets a hug from Keith. Just let it wash over you, girl.
Isabelle is sadly going back home to Georgia. Angela Miller gets the news she’s staying from Nicki. Stylish Kamaria gracefully accepts her fate of going home. Sad face. I liked her. Amber better be going through, that’s all I’m going to say about that. Mariah attempting to lie is kind of my new favorite thing in the world. Amber’s going through!
Adriana and Shubha await their fate and confess that they are show besties. Aww, they’re pretty adorable. I’m going to say Shubha’s going home. And I’m right. Luckily, though, she’s young and will probably come back next year. So don’t toss out those shiny pants just yet, honey!
Tomorrow, let’s hear it for the boys!