Although Wednesday's American Idol episode was about choosing five of the 10 female finalists, this episode also gave viewers the first glimpse into what they can expect from the judges from here on out. Up until this point, the judging (along with show) has been a choppy, fragmented and highly edited process; but as contestants are sloughed away, the remaining contestants and the judges begin to earn more air time.
While Randy Jackson is a fixture on the American Idol panel and has changed little over the years (aside from his attempts to be a bit harsher with contestants, an homage to his fallen comrade Simon Cowell) this was the first opportunity for viewers to get a sense of what the new judges might bring to the post-audition shows.
Keith Urban, whose appointment to the American Idol bench once seemed like a desperate attempt by Idol producers to create their own version of The Voice's Blake Shelton, has really proven the cynics wrong by developing an authoritative but compassionate voice on the panel. No one can tell a contestant that they were horrible with quite the same level of affable charm. And it's safe to say that no judge has ever truly enjoyed good music with quite as much demonstrative delight as Keith Urban.
Nicki Minaj's style, while decidedly less tactful than Keith's, is unpredictable and entertaining. To tell Kree Harrison, who performed in an outfit one might wear when going to do the laundry, that she was "sexy" is nothing if not unpredictable. To tell poor Shubha Vedula that her performance was comical and then compare it to a mashup of Christina Aguilera and Psy, the singer of Gangnam Style, has to be the most entertaining critique in American Idol history.
And then there is Mariah Carey.
Mariah Carey was made to sing. Talking? Uh, not so much. Being the last of the four judges to offer her critique of the female's performances, Mariah struggled to find anything to say that hadn't been said before. So instead of offering unique perspectives she tried to elaborate on everything Randy said. For example, when Randy told Isabelle Pasqualone that her performance of "God Bless the Child," sounded old-fashioned, Mariah told Isabelle that if she had chosen a different arrangement, her song would have sounded different. Well, thanks for that behind the scenes look into the music industry, Mariah. And while it may be hard to believe, Mariah's attempts at being funny were even less successful than her attempts at being constructive. Usually the cringe-inducing moments of the show are compliments of the contestants; on Wednesday, Mariah gave them all a run for their money.
Now on to the flawed process of narrowing down the remaining 20 females to the American Idol top 10. For some reason, which obviously must have more to do with schedules or ratings than it does with logic, Idol has opted to divide the 20 females into two groups of 10. Each group will then perform in what Idol is calling their "sudden death" round.
In the sudden death rounds, 10 girls will perform and then five of those 10 will be eliminated. Then in the next episode, the second group of 10 girls will compete for their place in the top 10. With this format, the top 10 are not a true representation of the most talented of the 20 girls. If all 10 singers in one group were fantastic and all 10 from the second group were dreadful, the top10 would be comprised of 5 excellent and 5 dreadful singers. With such a long and drawn out audition process, one would think that the producers would want to facilitate the judges in choosing the best of the best, not the best of two arbitrarily assigned groups.
After hearing 10 contestants perform on Wednesday (half of which who got precious little, if any, air time before this round) the judges chose the following five females to continue on to the live shows:
- Angela Miller: The judges all pretty much ignored her performance on Wednesday and instead talked about her final performance in Hollywood, which Nicki stated, "Nothing would ever compare to." Not sure that Angela considers peaking in Hollywood to be the compliment that Nicki intended.
- Amber Holcomb: Amber performed a rendition of "My Funny Valentine," a song that was saw its Idol glory eight seasons ago when performed by Constantine Maroulis. Despite a dreadfully old-fashioned arrangement, three out of the four judges gave it standing ovation.
- Tenna Torres: Tenna chose Natasha Bedingfield's, "Soulmate," prompting Randy to call Tenna's performance the start of the night. How could Randy forget Jenny Beth Williams's hot pink cow-girl getup so quickly?
- Kree Harrison: Kree performed "Up to the Mountain." Nicki explained that with a voice like Kree's it is OK that she doesn't dress suggestively. This jury is still out on whether her voice was quite stunning enough to make up for her "running errands on a Sunday morning" attire.
- Adriana Latonia: Adriana delighted Keith with her performance of, "Ain't no Way." But Adriana's advancement was bittersweet since it meant that she claimed the final spot of the night, leaving her Idol BFF Shubha to take the walk of shame.
So there you have it - half of your final top 10 females. Who were your favorites of the evening? Share your thoughts in the comment section below - because four judges just aren't enough!