‘American Idol’ Top 10 Girls Night: Zoanette In The Danger Zoan
They say anything can happen on live television, and never was that old adage more apt than it was this Tuesday—and not just because judge Nicki Minaj complimented busty contestant Tenna Torres’s cleavage on the air (a bold move that would make even flirty old man Steven Tyler blanch), or because she told the viewing public that another contestant, Kree Harrison, was her "wife." No, the most unpredictable part of “American Idol’s” first live episode of the season actually came during its first five minutes, courtesy of—who else?—zany Zoanette Johnson.
Tuesday’s top 10 girls show opened with Zoanette, the wild lion queen of Season 12, so of course it was time to expect the unexpected, no matter what. But c'mon, even with that being said, I had at least expected Zoanette to remember her lyrics.
At the start of the show, Zoanette, resplendent in a new Ronald-McDonald-red wig, strutted out singing Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got To Do With It.” At least I think that's what she was singing. Honestly, I'm not even sure if she knew what she was singing. While the Tina classic should have been the perfect showcase for Zoanette’s natural fire and funk, she unfortunately turned the tune into “What’s Words Got To Do With It,” mangling the verses beyond recognition and sounding even less coherent than she had during her infamous Hollywood Week improv.
Wow. Just wow. I’d witnessed similarly egregious acts of lyric-flubbing during earlier phases of the competition—I still wake up with night sweats from bad dreams about the horrific performance by the Turbanator’s B Side during this season’s group rounds—but not at this crucial stage of the game. A performance like this in the TOP TWENTY live semifinals? This truly was bizarre.
Zoanette’s ridiculously mushmouthed, seemingly unrehearsed performance will most likely be her undoing, since she was polarizing to begin with and she got the “death spot” this week, singing first. You see, this is the week that America’s voters, not the judges, will finally start making the decisions, and it seems pretty improbable that viewers will be as forgiving as judges Keith Urban and Mariah Carey were this Tuesday. (Keith and Mariah oddly didn’t mention Zoanette’s lyrical memory lapses at all, and instead gently, somewhat passive-aggressively called her “interesting,” “special,” “exhibitionistic,” and, um, “a bundle of festivities.”) Randy Jackson and Nicki Minaj were more brutal—Randy told Zoanette, “That was a MESS, babe,” and Nicki, usually Zoanette’s most vocal cheerleader, told her, “You know I love you, but that wasn’t it. You gotta really be on key and stuff.” (Editor’s note: And remember lyrics and stuff, too.)