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‘Idol’ girls just wanna have fun on ’80s night

Two contestants sang Whitney Houston songs and will likely survive, while Phil Collins' “Against All Odds” may prove the undoing of Ramiele.
/ Source: msnbc.com contributor

For the second night in a row, the “American Idol” judges were faced with a controversial candidate who’s been in the news for something other than musical talent. Again, the judges sent the clear message to the viewers that if the singer’s transgressions were that offensive, it was up to them to vote the miscreant off.

When given the chance in her introductory video on Wednesday to cite her most embarrassing moment, Amanda Overmyer did not mention getting busted for a DUI in 2006 despite the fact that her mug shot is all over the Internet. Instead, she predictably chose to leverage the ’80s theme by picking a rock song to belt out, going with “I Hate Myself for Loving You” by Joan Jett and The Blackhearts.

The judges could have criticized her for being predictable and failing to move outside her comfort zone, but instead they tripped over themselves trying to praise her.

“That’s the Amanda we loved when we first saw her,” Randy Jackson said.

“If I’m being honest, I thought it was fantastic. You absolutely nailed that song. It was the perfect song for you,” Simon Cowell added.

At the end of the show, Simon called Overmyer’s performance his favorite of the night. Clearly, the judges hold no grudges for old legal troubles.

Smithson, White impressThe biggest criticism for Carly Smithson’s rendition of “I Drove All Night” (covered in the ’80s by Cyndi Lauper) was that she didn’t pick a song worthy of her vocal skills.

“Once again I don’t think you chose the right song,” Simon said. “It’s just not a great song, and it doesn’t give you what you deserve because you are a million times better than that song.”

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Randy and Paula Abdul were tepid in their praise, with Paula saying that she would have liked to seen the band more involved. Simon, however, totally disagreed, and called it her second great performance in a row, so it’s likely that she’ll be back to do something similar again next week.

A pair of singers who chose Whitney Houston tunes also likely did well enough to advance. Syesha Mercado closed the show with “Saving All My Love for You,” and because the judges spent a good chunk of the night going off on random tangents that had nothing to do with the performers, the show was running long and they had very little time for Mercado. The judges’ comments in their entirety were:

  • “Good. Good,” from Randy.
  • “Sophisticated. Loved it,” from Paula.
  • “A bit predictable, but good,” from Simon.

Thus proving that the entire show could be finished in about half an hour were it not for the commercials and filler.

Asia’h Epperson, meanwhile, was first up on the evening and chose Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.” The 19-year-old did a nice job picking a fun song and grooving to it onstage while she sang. Paula was standing and dancing throughout, and gushed, “You nailed it. You really nailed it.”

Simon usually slams teenagers for not acting their age, and he couldn’t do that here. However, he did manage to snipe that “at best, it was second-rate Whitney Houston” before acknowledging that it was good enough to make the final 12. However, singing first can make a performance seem forgettable by the end of the show, so Epperson will be sweating it out until Thursday.

Trio in troubleEpperson has less reason to worry than three of her fellow competitors who didn’t do as much to stand out from the pack.

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Kristy Lee Cook made Randy happy by singing “Faithfully” and allowing the judge to reminisce about his days with Journey and how great a singer Steve Perry was. But once the trip to nostalgia-land was over, Cook’s performance itself was eminently forgettable. Though it wasn’t bad enough to leave her in danger on its merits, it might not be enough to keep her from being eliminated.

Kady Malloy entered the night living on borrowed time, having been on the brink of elimination a week ago and acknowledging that she thought she was going home then. Perhaps ironically, she chose to sing Queen’s “Who Wants to Live Forever,” written for the 1986 film “Highlander,” which is about people who survive a lot longer than they have a right to before ultimately meeting in combat until only one survives.

All three judges agreed that it was her best performance, but that’s faint praise considering her struggles thus far. There can be only one “American Idol,” and odds are small that she’ll make it to the final 12.