American Idol Recap: This Is 40 [Updated]
Thirty-nine talented young singers stand on the precipice of superstardom. And so does one kinda crazy chick who has only one drum stick (musical, not chicken) as well as the potential to turn American Idol bandleader Ray Chew’s job into the kind of situation that might pique renewed interest in a revival of Discovery Channel’s recently departed Dirty Jobs.
Yes indeed, tonight’s final installment of Season 12 Hollywood Week put the women through their final paces, narrowed their numbers to a lean 20, and — if the “we need a girl to win this year, PLEASE!” intro is to be believed — gave us a glimpse at the show’s Great Y-Chromosome-Free Hope.
Certainly, the Season 12 women’s solo round contained some eyebrow-raising standouts: Melinda Ademi displayed a pop sensibility without the need for an Auto-Tune sponsorship; Kree Harrison proved that the best way to activate viewer tear ducts is by singing from the gut; and the Holy Trinity of Angela Miller, Janelle Arthur and Candice Glover continued to live up to the moderate-to-heavy pimpage to which they’ve thus far been entitled.
To paraphrase the last-named contestant’s solo number, “These! Girls! Are! On! Fiy-yahhhh!” Mmmkay?
We also saw a couple of last-minute singoffs that allowed the judges to cut four final ladies and eight final gents, leaving us with a gender-balanced Top 40 that are now headed to Vegas for the “Sudden Death” rounds in front of a live audience.
For the record, Fox has released the names of all 40 contestants advancing to Vegas, as follows:
Jenny Beth Willis
Curtis Finch Jr.
Gurpreet Singh Sarin
So let’s do a quick rundown on what we saw over the course of the one-hour telecast. Since I just finished a Glee recap and don’t want to wind up face-down on my keyboard, drooling with sleep, I’m gonna keep my descriptions to a Twitter-esque 140 characters (or dang close to it).
SHOWN ADVANCING TO VEGAS
Angela Miller, “You Set Me Free” | Have to respect a gal who can write a powerful piano-driven (worship) ballad. Could our new judges make Idol history and regularly praise a female contestant for her “artistry”?
Candice Glover, “Girl on Fire” | Took some lovely liberties with the melody, and I think I may have detected Keith Urban on the brink of throwing a Gospel hand. Amen, brother!
Janelle Arthur, “I Told You So” | For the first time this season, I thought I heard a few nerves creep in to Janelle’s vocal, but by the time she hit the final third of the number, she’d utilized that angst to vividly paint the song’s woman-done-wrong picture.
Zoanette Johnson, “Ba Da Ba Da Dah” | Q: Was this drum-playing mess really yelling at the Idol band to keep up with her on a song she was making up on the fly? Also: Is she approaching the competition as a comedy act or an actual singer? Because I’m starting to feel like the split focus is guaranteeing she’ll succed at neither. Either way, Mariah was way too generous when she said “people will be looking at this performance for years to come” — unless by “people” she meant “Zoanette” and by “looking at” she meant “repeatedly playing on YouTube during breaks from her inevitable desk job.”
Shubha Vedula, “When You Believe” | Oh dear. If this is the kind of maudlin, animated movie soundtrack cut to which Shubha is going to gravitate, then she’s going to get suck being Rated H: For Hell to the No!
Juliana Chahayed, “Landslide” | We heard all of, like, nine seconds of Juliana’s Fleetwood Mac cover, but her tone was tastier than the Barefoot Contessa’s truffled mac and cheese. (Ugh. I think I just wasted two Weight Watchers points on that description.)
Melinda Ademi, “Price Tag” | Not only does she have a spectacular pop voice, but the Season 10 audition-round standout proved that sometimes, a couple extra years of development can result in vastly improved stage presence and lyrical interpretation skills. Bonus points for excellent “hair-ography,” too.