On Tuesday night, American Idol informed its viewers that although the group of female contestants had been narrowed down to 15, only ten of those girls would be given the chance to sing for America's vote and five would be leaving the competition.
"This is American Idol Rush Week," Ryan Seacrest declared with the sparkle in his eye that couldn't possibly be genuine after doing this for so long but no one can fake it quite like Ryan Seacrest.
The same elimination process will take place with the 15 - oh wait - 16 guys. You'll remember from last week that the American Idol judges were having such a difficult time of it they couldn't possibly choose between Neco Starr and Ben Briley and had to leave it up to America. Apparently they found their strength again because this week alone they'll be booting another third of the contestants.
And before you go bristling about how this is just another tactic American Idol is using to waste your time, think about the ten contestants who will be sent home before even having the chance to perform for America. Now that is cruel.
On the bright side, despite getting the boot before they even got out of the gate, at least they got to enjoy the pampering of American Idol Boot Camp; an Idol Workshop head up by our old friend, Randy Jackson. The workshop came complete with vocal coaches, musical directors, stylists, movement coaches, and even non-denominational spiritual advisors to help the contestants stay centered in this suddenly crazy environment.
And just when you thought the spiritual counselors were the cherry on top, American Idol brought in season's past Zen Masters, Chris Daughtry and Adam Lambert to help coach the contestants presumably on how to not win Idol but still be a bigger success than those who beat you. Although Chris and Adam didn't get a lot of camera time (and really, is there ever enough camera time for the dynamic and captivating Adam Lambert?) they seemed to be giving the mentor role a serious attempt. Let's hope they stick around for the season and add some pizazz.
Because there wasn't a lot of pizazz coming from the female contestants.
The first contestant to be rescued from the depths of tortuous anxiety, but not before JLo threw in another whine about how hard their jobs were, was Majesty Rose. Majesty chose to sing "Happy" by Pharrell. The judges all enjoyed her performance with Jennifer Lopez calling it beautiful and Harry Connick Jr. stating that he felt very fortunate that she set the tone for the night. From a viewers perspective, which can be very different than what is experienced when you are hearing contestants sing live, in person, Majesty didn't display the same kind of oomph she has in other performances. But chances are she'll make it through simply because she is as cute as a peach.
Next up was Kristen O'Connor who essentially dug her own grave by selecting Adele's, "Turning Tables." Unless someone is a truly gifted, seasoned performer they should avoid trying to tackle Adele, whose vocal abilities are something other-worldly and can't be taught. Kristen was far from proving she had any business taking on an Adele song but the judges praised her nevertheless. Harry said it was a powerful performance and Keith Urban commented on her "killer range." Thankfully, although she was also fond of Kristen's tone, JLo did admit that Kristen was off in her timing. It's likely that her timing on the show won't be much more successful.
Briana Oakley, our veteran contestant from Season 12 was up next and she took on the unenviable task of being so underwhelming that the judges just couldn't, in good conscience, continue to try and push their candy on the audience. Briana chose to do the song, "Warrior," by Demi Lovato. In rehearsals everyone told her that she was too uptight, rightfully so, but it doesn't seem as though anyone saw the disconnect between Brianna lightening it up and choosing, "Warrior," as a song. The result? Brianna attempting to sing a powerful, empowering song whilst grinning like the Cheshire Cat. Although JLo called her a young Whitney Houston, it was almost certainly her earlier performances that gave that impression.
Jena Irene, who will be using her last breaths to tell people how to correctly pronounce her name, opted to sing, "Paint it Black," by The Rolling Stones. Chris Daughtry advised her to work on her confidence and by the time she performed on stage, she was making eye contact and seemed more connected. JLo and Keith enjoyed her performance but then Harsh Harry reared his ugly head to pull another "What is the meaning of this song," like he did with Amber Holcomb last season. Thankfully, Jena fared a bit better than poor Amber.
The judges then beckoned Bria Anai who stated that she "wants to be remembered as the girl with the lips." Well, after her performance of "Wrong Side of a Love Song" by Melanie Fiona, she can rest assured that people will either remember her as the girl with the lips or the girl with the mouth, since she shouted the entire song. Harry explained to Bria that there is a difference between being passionate and shouting and Keith, proving to Bria that she should be careful of what she wishes for, added, "You overshot the runway . . .but you still have the lips."
The next one plucked from the dwindling pool of hopefuls was Marrialle Sellers, who can best be described as a Miley Cyrus wannabe. Marrialle chose to sing, "Roar," by Katy Perry. Her performance was completely over-the-top and much like her demeanor, came across as conceited and overbearing. Sure, she's excited – the poor girl almost jumped out of her shoe before pulling off one of the greatest Idol stage recoveries ever – but if she makes it through she really needs to learn how to tone down the act. Nobody likes a clown and the judges seemed to agree.
Then there was poor Jessica Meuse, poor because this contestant always seems to have the weight of the world on her shoulders, either that or she's just been singing country music for too long. True to form, Jessica performed, "Drinking Beer," by Luke Bryan. After hearing her rehearsal, Chris Daughtry stated that he didn't want her to play the guitar but Jessica did it anyway and ultimately failed to connect with her song or the audience; nevertheless, she's a talented artist and Keith hopes America gives her a chance.
Emily Piriz gave, "Paris (Ooh La La)" by Grace Potter another go after singing it in auditions and having Harry tell her that the subject matter was inappropriate for someone her age. Emily apparently felt that since she recently celebrated an18th birthday, she could be as sexually explicit as she wanted to be. Strange to see an 18-year-old rebel in such a manner. In her rehearsal footage she claimed that she was going to go home and stand in the mirror for three hours straight, attempting to channel her rocker chic. Too bad all of that mirror time didn't result in any reflection. Harry asked her if a song that starts with, "You got me down on the floor / So what'd you bring me down here for," was really what she wanted to convey as an artist, while Keith explained that artistry is not about standing in front of the mirror and trying to be something you're not.
The most poignant performance of the evening came from MK Nobilette, who gave a moving rendition of, "All of Me," by John Legend as one of her mom's wept furiously in the audience. The judges all admired MK's understated but powerful presence and Harry summed it up best when he told MK, "You belong here."
After MK's performance Ryan led Neco Starr and Ben Briley out to the stage to learn their fate and not surprisingly the country voted to keep, "Ben Briley." Anyone who was shocked by this obviously never noticed the Idol viewers' obsession with white, country boys. Does Ben play the guitar? If so, he's a shoe in for the top 5. At least Neco is finally out of his misery.
The final contestant of the night was Malaya Watson who laid it all out on the stage with "Hard Times" by Ray Charles. JLo acknowledged that Malaya is a powerhouse singer and Keith exclaimed that she makes glasses and braces look so cool. But Malaya, though she is infinitely more believable, is in danger of treading into the dangerous waters of self-promotion (bordering on self-adoration) that Marrialle is currently drowning in. But chances are she's unique enough to make it through a few more weeks, at least.
So there you have Tuesday night's Top 10 girls. Surprised? Delighted? Have a favorite girl? Sound off in the comments below and check back Thursday for a summary of the boy's performances.