These Are the Gals the Judges Chose as Finalists?!

It’s the women who don’t seem to fit the mold who are making the biggest impressions

Last Updated: March 4, 2010 @ 6:00 AM

After getting an extra day to practice due to this week’s scheduling switcheroo, you’d expect the ladies to blow the men out of the water. Well, they definitely blew ,,, something. Don’t be so crass; I’m talking about their chances! They are blowing their chances. There are obviously some phenomenally talented women in the group — stars, even — but watching last night’s performances just made me want to cut the fat and get to this year’s Top 12 already.

What is unfathomable to me is that out of the thousands of people who auditioned, these were the singers that the judges chose. I realize that in the grand scheme of things, we’re only looking for one American Idol. But, come on. Haeley Vaughn compared to Crystal Bowersox? Let’s at least try to make the competition a nailbiter. 
My biggest complaint with the girls is that while many of them seem to have the whole package — a good voice, the looks — it’s just not translating to star power. The “it” factor is missing. In fact, it’s the women who don’t seem to fit the clichéd pop star mold who are making the biggest impressions. Perhaps America is tired of being forcefed its celebrities and is ready for regular people with real talent — the kind of people who wouldn’t have a chance at stardom otherwise.
The other predicament is the prevalence of pitch problems. (Alliteration is fun!) No, seriously, it is a singing competition after all. Both the guys and the ladies seem to have excessive problems staying in tune this year. (It’s pitchy, dawg.) Perhaps if they’d hit the notes, we’d have an opportunity to hear Ellen give more criticism than “it was pitchy but it doesn’t matter ‘cause I like you.” Though, to be fair, she is also fond of “I forgot I was watching a singing competition and I was just entertained” or variations thereof. 
CRYSTAL BOWERSOX: “Long As I Can See the Light” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
This was, without a doubt, the most anticipated performance of the evening, if not for Crystal’s talent, then for the drama she faced with her medical issues (reportedly stemming from diabetes) the day before. As you probably already know, the girls were scheduled to perform on Tuesday but producers pushed their night to Wednesday after doctors said Bowersox was too ill to participate. Well, if this is what she sounds like during recovery, she might as well take an extended medical leave and show up in time to perform in the Top 3. Believe the hippie hype. Even Simon’s a fan. Whatever good luck trinkets she’s got in that dragonfly satchel — they’re working for her. Not working for me? The dreads. I love that she’s being herself but makeover week cannot come soon enough!
HAELEY VAUGHN: “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus
I didn’t think it was possible for anyone to be more annoying than Miley Cyrus. Vaughn’s rendition made Miley’s performance in “The Hannah Montana Movie” look like a night at the opera. While Kara thinks that she has the “Alex Lambert factor” going for her, I beg to differ. People root for Lambert because he’s doesn’t quite believe just how talented he is. Vaughn, in contrast, has more confidence than her talent allows. Perhaps she should spend less time making headbands (gluegun fumes) and work more on her vocals.
LACEY BROWN: “Kiss Me” by Sixpence None the Richer
Lacey Brown is kind of like the nice girl next door who can sing. She’s not a star (despite those piercing blue eyes). In fact, I’m shocked that she made it through Hollywood Week last year as well. Clearly the judges see something in her that I haven’t yet. I’m not sure that it was the right move for her to take Kara’s song suggestion last week so literally, even though she claimed that “Kiss Me” was already on her list. If she makes it past this week (big “if”), it will be interesting to see what she chooses as her swan song — er, I mean “next song.” Maybe she should stick to refurbishing antiques.
KATIE STEVENS: “Put Your Records On” by Corinne Bailey Rae
Ellen hit the nail on the head when she said that she doesn’t want to hear something that she’d hear in her dentist’s office. That’s the thing with little Katie. I would enjoy her voice as background noise if I were shopping in the produce aisle or maybe even getting my bikini line waxed because it calms you so much that it almost puts you to sleep. While she has a good voice, there is nothing about it that excites me. Don’t blame age; Jordin Sparks was a teenager when she won and she had charisma, looks and the talent to back it up. I just need to see more from this girl. It is sad (in more ways than one) that the most interesting thing about her is the fact that her grandmother has Alzheimer’s. 
DIDI BENAMI: “Lean On Me” by Bill Withers
For me, Benami is one of the strongest female contenders this year and I think that the judges were a lot harsher on her than she deserved. I mean, she’s no Tim Urban, despite last night’s teary-eyed stare. Sure, she’s not really an R&B singer and there were some (surprise!) pitch problems here and there but I think she tried to make the song her own. She is one of the few girls whose tone I really enjoy and I actually picked up the phone and voted for her. I hope it helps; I can think of more than a few girls who deserve to go home before she does.
MICHELLE DELAMOR: “With Arms Wide Open” by Creed
I’ve got to hand it to her; the judges wanted to hear something unexpected from Michelle and she delivered on that front. I mean, is any audience ever prepared to hear someone sing Creed? What’s next? Nickelback? But you know it’s bad when Randy starts out with “the most positive for him” — the outfit. Ouch. Michelle is one of those contestants who has it all on paper — the looks, the voice and, apparently, the “outfit.” But she is yet another girl who bores me. I do like the fact that she tried to sing something other than a Mariah or Whitney song, but you’ve got to do more than turn a rock song into a soul ballad. If you’re going to mix it up like that, you’ve got to make it unforgettable.
LILLY SCOTT: “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke
Scott is one of my favorites this year. She may not have the strongest belt or the best “outfit,” but she is perhaps the most authentic as an artist. Other contestants seem maddeningly obsessed with “tricks” to please the judges. Should I take a country song and make it rock? Maybe I’ll sing the song the judges mentioned last week. Or I’ve got it! I’ll sit on a stool! (That one seems to win out a lot.) You get the feeling with Scott, though, that she knows her voice and that she chooses her songs effortlessly, without worrying too much about what the judges expect. In fact, I don’t think the judges know what they’d like to hear from her until they actually hear it. I can’t wait to see what she pulls out of her hat next week.
KATELYN EPPERLY: “The Scientist” by Coldplay
This girl is growing on me more and more each week. The fact that she is the only contestant who’s played the piano so far really makes her stand out. (Let’s just hope that her skills are not limited to the 3 or 4 repetitive chords she showed off in this song.) Also making her stand out? Her voice. She pulled off a tune by the Beatles last show and had success with Coldplay this week — neither an easy feat. (Need I remind you of Matt Giraud’s disastrous performance of “Viva La Vida” last year?) Kara said that while she’s a fan, she wants Epperly to decide who she is as an artist. That critique makes a lot of sense on one level. Then again, why limit yourself if you can do well in so many genres? I don’t see the judges telling Michael Lynche to definite himself as an artist. I can’t wait until the theme weeks this season, as that is when Katelyn should really shine.
PAIGE MILES: “Walk Away” by Kelly Clarkson
The problem with Miles is that I forgot all about her and her performance as soon as Siobhan Magnus took the stage. She didn’t get any screen time during the audition rounds and it’s really hurting her. In fact, before last night, I couldn’t tell you one thing about her. And today? Well, now I know that she likes to color. Like, with crayons. not helping, Paige! Though Simon says that she has the best voice of the ladies, it doesn’t matter because her personality is forgettable. Also not helping was the fact that she sang a song written by none other than Kara DioGuardi, who defined it as an angry song, not a smiley song. Whoops. Oh, and it was recorded by Kelly Clarkson. Will they never learn?
SIOBHAN MAGNUS: “Think” by Aretha Franklin
Speaking of Kelly Clarkson, the song that put her on the map was also an Aretha classic, “Respect.” If Magnus impressed the judges with last week’s “Wicked Game,” then her performance of “Think” blew them away. This glass-blowing apprentice is so quirky and socially awkward that I sometimes wonder if she has Asperger Syndrome. You know how Dustin Hoffman was really good at memorizing in “Rain Man?” Well, maybe Magnus is a singing prodigy who can’t interact properly with others. Regardless, it’s working for her. Yes, there were a few really bad parts toward the beginning but that note at the end excused everything. Dark horse no more, she is definitely one to watch.