It has been a long time coming but on Wednesday night, American Idol finally revealed the last five of the Top 10 girls of season 12.
When American Idol first introduced their new "sudden death" concept, you may recall that this writer voiced some concerns. How would the judges really be able to pick the best of the best? What if one group was inherently more talented than the other? Sometimes being right isn't all it's cracked up to be. Well, usually it is. Probably 97 percent of the time. Maybe 99 percent. OK, being right is always pretty great but this time, it means that some of the wrong girls are headed home.
To be clear, it wasn't just the flaws of American Idol's "sudden death" process that resulted in some questionable eliminations – the judges must take ownership for the part they willingly played in their selection process. Especially the terribly misguided parts.
Before Wednesday night, it seemed as if Angela Miller might have this competition in the bag. She dominated the first group of girls, not to say Kree Harrison wasn't nipping at her heels but nevertheless, Angela seemed like the one to beat. And not just out of the girls; none of the final five boys posed much of a threat, either. But all of that changed Wednesday night. The fear that the two groups of girls would prove to be disproportionally matched came true and Wednesday turned out some stellar performances. There's definitely more than one girl from last week who should be thanking her lucky stars that she didn't have to face off against the likes of Candice Glover and Aubrey Cleland.
Candice, who had already proven to be something of a superstar in Hollywood week, continued her trajectory with her performance of, "Natural Woman." With vocals that put some of last week's girls to shame, Candice, who was cut during Vegas week last season, earned her redemption and easily made it through to Hollywood. Later, Aubrey Cleland came out of nowhere (almost literally since I can't remember seeing her once before tonight) and performed Beyonce's, "Beautiful Nightmare." A perfect song choice because for Angela Miller and some of the other early favorites, that's exactly what Aubrey proved to be.
Another really strong vocal was delivered by 15-year-old Juliana Chahayed who slowed down Lovato's, "Skyscraper," and accompanied her vocals with a guitar that was twice her size. Mariah Carey tried to convince the audience that she wrote down "celestial" in her notes as Juliana was performing. We're not buying it. Even if she spelled it phonetically, the idea of Mariah taking notes at all is implausible unless those notes simply read, "What Randy said!" But despite Juliana's angelic performance, she didn't make it through the judges' pearly gates.
While Juliana's elimination was tough to swallow, especially when one considered some of the five who made it through the week before, it was only one of the injustices of the night. The second involved the judges' reaction and adoration of Zoanette Johnson. Zoanette, who hails from Liberia and is reportedly 20-years-old (a claim so dubious it could turn anyone into a "birther") has been a polarizing contestant to say the least. With her mile high afro, outrageous makeup, clothing and erratic behavior, Zoanette is not all together different than so many of the contestants that Idol highlights when they do their "bad audition" clips. But somehow, Zoanette has endeared herself to the judges. Her over-the-top performance of "Circle of Life," had Nicki Minaj asking, "Who gonna check you, boo," before becoming overcome with emotion.
You have to give it to Nicki, though. Her "who gonna check you, boo" was far more original than just going the predictable, "Queen of the Jungle," and "Spirit of a lion," tack that Keith Urban and Randy Jackson took.
But, Lion King references aside, the judges all expressed adoration for Zoanette with all of them, except Mariah, getting to their feet. Who would have thought that Mariah would ever be the sole voice of reason? Yet there it was. Zoanette being her precarious, unstable self while Nicki Minaj was inspired to tears. With this reaction, it should have come as no surprise when Zoanette was the first to make it through to Hollywood on Wednesday.
The last straw of the evening came when the final two contestants were left: Janelle Arthur and Rachel Hale. Based solely on their performances on Wednesday, it was crystal clear who deserved to go on to the Top 10. Janelle performed a Lady Antebellum song that all of the judges agreed didn't allow her to really excel, whereas they all hailed Rachel Hale's performance and newfound confidence. Despite this, the final spot of the night was awarded to Janelle.
It was as if Idol had been planning on going rogue, when they introduced a new way for viewers to weigh in on what they thought of the judges' decisions; by using either #IdolAgree or #IdolDisagree on Twitter, viewers could make themselves heard. And they made a resounding uproar over Rachel's elimination, with 70 percent of the tweets indicating they disagreed with the judges. Hopefully knowing that the majority of the country disagreed with the decision will bring Rachel some solace.
So regardless of how you might feel about it, here are your Top 10 girls for this American Idol season, in no particular order:
- Candice Glover
- Aubrey Cleland
- Breanna Steer
- Janelle Arthur
- Zoanette Johnson
- Angela Miller
- Kree Harrison
- Amber Holcomb
- Tenna Torres
- Adriana Latonia
Who is your favorite? Share your thoughts in the comments below. Sure, we don't have anything quite as nifty as Idol's new Twitter barometer but who needs simple tabulations when you can extoll on your deepest held Idol convictions?