Feb. 21, 2013 at 10:14 AM ET
From the first audition, the theme for season 12 of “American Idol” has been how great the girls are. After five years of seeing guys with guitars stand with raised arms and confetti raining down on them at the finale, this is supposed to be the year where the women get their revenge.
If Wednesday’s episode is a sign of what’s to come, however, don’t bet on that happening.
The “Idol” singers went back to Vegas, but this year, it was for a “sudden death” round as opposed to last year’s kitschy group performances. Ten women took the stage in a “plausibly live” episode, sang one solo, and then waited for the just-add-water instant decision making from the judges over the final 25 minutes as they determined which half advanced and which half went home. They’ll repeat this three more times until either the 20 singers for the semifinals are selected or until the entire audience falls asleep.
Wednesday’s episode was heavy on ballads and light on star power, and there wasn’t one performance that anyone will remember by the time Thursday’s episode starts. Though many of the more prominent female vocalists were on the sidelines (the other 10 sing next week), the top men will hardly be quaking in their boots when they watch this one again.
The singer with the best chance to win was Angela Miller, a no-brainer to advance to the live shows. Even though she again came out with confidence and showed off her voice well, she sounded better singing her original in Hollywood week. She might actually be the rare singer who isn’t right for the competition because covering other people doesn’t bring out her best.
Amber Holcomb made an impression closing the show, and benefits the most from the new format. Since she’d gotten very little airtime before Wednesday, she needed this to build an audience. The judges also loved Kree Harrison, and her voice seems more versatile and rich than the rest of the country singers, but she might be someone who gets lost once the live shows starts.
Beyond those solos, the most memorable number was Shubha Vedula’s “Born This Way.” The arrangement was disjointed and distracting, and she doesn’t have much future as a dancer, but it was also original and entertaining on a night that needed someone to shake things up. She seemed a safe bet to advance, but instead was one of the final two singers onstage with one spot remaining and saw BFF Adriana Latonio get the final spot.
The biggest surprise was that Camp Mariah survivor Tenna Torres advanced. Hopefully Wednesday marked the first and last time she picked a Natasha Bedingfield song to cover. Also, Nicki Minaj hopes that she’ll come out in a different hairdo next time.
Besides Vedula, the other notable singer to get eliminated was Isabelle. Maybe the lack of a last name made the difference. The rest were no-brainers: Jenny Beth Willis and Brandy Hotard were forgettable, and Kamaria Ousley didn’t even hit that bar.
This also was an early clue in what we can expect from the judges on the live shows, and that was more optimistic. We got some actual feedback, both positive and negative, and everyone managed to stay awake the entire two hours.
But please, producers, keep Mariah Carey away from the table games in Vegas. She has the worst poker face in “Idol” history, and watching her try and create drama as she delivered results was painful. Though, sadly, not as painful as some of what we saw onstage.
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