'American Idol' Top 10 female semifinalists take to the stage
By Christopher Rocchio, 02/28/2008
If American Idol's remaining female semifinalists weren't aware of the importance of song choice, they are now.
Idol's seventh-season Top 10 female semifinalists continued their push for the finals during last night's Fox broadcast, singing songs from the 1970s.
While a few were able to deliver memorable performances, the majority were criticized for their poor song choices -- a constant theme throughout the episode.
"You got to know what you sing best," said Idol judge Randy Jackson before the girls even took the stage. "It's about whether you sing ballads or up-tempo songs best, and what song's really going to work for you melodically. Hopefully the girls show it through because the boys were on fire [Tuesday] night. Girls have got some pressure."
The following is Reality TV World's recap of the performance broadcast in the order which the 10 female semifinalists sang. Also included are comments from each of the three judges -- Randy, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell -- as well as additional information about each performance.
On Thursday night beginning at 8PM ET/PT, two male and two female semifinalists will be eliminated based on home viewer votes cast immediately following this week's performance episode broadcasts.
Song: "Crazy on You" by Heart Randy said: "Yo, yo, yo. So Carly, you picked the rocker this week -- figured you'd come out rocking, right? It was good toward the end for me -- towards the middle, towards the end -- the beginning was a little rough for me. There was some really kind of sharp pitch problems, like you over-hit some of the notes. Singers with big voices like yourself with big ranges, I find with the lower notes, give you more problems than the big notes because you can belt them out. But I think by the middle of the song you got it together. So it was alright." Paula said: "It's great to see that you are healthy... You can tell you love Heart. It takes a fine singer to sing those big notes... Carly you are an amazing singer and you did an amazing job. It's great to hear you back healthy." Simon said: "Carly, first off I thought it was a much better performance than last week. (cheers) You're panting? You're really out of breathe aren't you? Big, big song. I still don't think yet you've chosen or connected with the right song yet. I think you are -- I'll put it on record -- an incredible singer. I don't think any of these girls can touch you vocally. But what you haven't done is chosen that one song that's going to give you the absolute moment. And at the point you do -- I think you're going to be around for a long time -- I think you're the girl they've all got to beat. I generally do." Additional Info: Simon reiterated his "observation" that David Archuletta was the won to beat... While viewers knew Carly owns a tattoo show with her husband, she's also employed at an Irish pub, where everyone who works with her is also Irish...She called the pub her "home away from home," but said she also feels at home on the Idol stage... Carly professed her love for Heart and said "Crazy on You" is her "favorite song ever." "I'm very happy I got to sing that on American Idol," she said... Paula suggested Carly go "crazy on" Simon.
Syesha Mercado, a 21-year-old from Sarasota, FL who currently resides in Miami, FL
Song: "Me and Mrs. Jones" by Billy Paul Randy said: "Listen, I don't think this was a great song choice for you for me. You've got that big, belting voice too like that singer who you saw before -- Carly. So pick songs that you can do that on because when you do that, everything sparkles. When you do those soft little moments like you were doing in the verse, you seem uninterested. It just goes nowhere for me. So always pick something that you can use what you got. Give 'em what you got girl! That wasn't what you got. It was just a little taste of what you got, so it was just alright." Paula said: "On the softer notes, that's when you tend to go off. But when you power, it's like piercing through. It's great. You fall off pitch a little bit when you go into the softer notes. I like what you did though. I like the interpretation of what you did and the choices you made." Simon said: "I thought it was a bit indulgent. The song obviously wasn't written for a girl, so it was probably a bit of a silly thing to have done that. (boos) Thank you... I was put off as soon as you started it. It's not a song that's really designed for your voice any ways. You can't really do that huge note at the end. I don't think that was a particularly clever choice for you. I don't." Additional Info: Syesha instead sang, "Me and Mr. Jones"... Syesha's appeared in "a lot" of commercials in Miami and also can do a "pretty good" baby cry... Randy called the baby cry impression "wild"... Syesha changed the song's arrangement a little bit. "I just made it my own," she said.
Brooke White, a 24-year-old from Mesa, AZ who currently resides in Van Nuys, CA
Song: "You're so Vain" by Carly Simon Randy said: "It was a great song choice for you, because I always thought that you had this whole Carly Simon vibe jumping off. So I think it was really good. I don't know if you brought anything different to it, but I liked it." Paula said: "I feel like this was the perfect song choice for you. It just totally suits you and your voice sounded... I like what you did with it. I think what you brought to it was familiarity and everyone was digging it. I really loved it." Simon said: "I absolutely loved it. It was the absolute perfect song for you. It was one of the rare occasions where I felt the artist had genuinely chosen the song. It absolutely connected -- I thought you sang it very well -- the song didn't sound old-fashioned. This is the reason why we put you through into the latter stages." Additional Info: Brooke attended beauty school -- but didn't finish because she discovered music -- meaning she's a beauty-school drop-out. "Not a high school drop-out though. I did finish high school."... Though she was unsure about doing it, Brooke performed with a guitar... After Brooke's performance, Simon could be heard telling Randy and Paula, "I love the way she was at me when she sang the song." After the judges comments, Simon admitted he "actually did" think the song was about him. "When you are that vain, and you hear a song about being vain, you still like the fact that the song's about you," said host Ryan Seacrest. "No but I think it was," reiterated Simon.
Song: "Don't Leave Me this Way" by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes Randy said: "Listen, this was a little rough for me because I thought you were really good last week. This was just okay for me vocally. You can really sing, but the song choice for me is weird. I mean the 70s -- my favorite time in music -- there's so many dope records that went out. To choose that and sing that and it's just kind of okay for you, it wasn't my favorite choice for you. It was just really okay. (boos) Just keeping it real!" Paula said: "Ramiele, you're also one to beat here. Your vocals are truly amazing. I feel kind of the same way, it just was a song that you powered through the same notes... I feel like you didn't get to perform your magic. Having said that, you do have truly one of the most amazing vocals." Simon said: "Astonishingly I agree with Paula. The trouble with that song is, I've heard it so many times at ghastly weddings and stuff like that. I thought you were much, much better last week. I thought you showed more personality. I thought you stood out more. This was one of those performances which I'm not going to remember so well. (boos) You can boo all you want, I'm trying to be constructive. I think you're terrific. I think you're one of the Top 3 best singers in the competition (cheers), but I think it just wasn't one of your bests." Additional Info: Ramiele revealed she used to Polynesian dance when she was little and even gave viewers a brief demonstration on some simple moves... In addition, she also dances Filipino cultural dances... Following the judge's comments, Ryan said, "Well Randy make a note. We won't be hearing that this spring at the wedding, that song." The comment -- a reference to Simon potentially marrying girlfriend Terri Seymour -- made Simon spit whatever he was drinking back into his cup... Ramiele revealed she changed her song choice "like four times" because she picked some really slow songs, and was worried about being called "Lullaby" instead of "Malubay."
Song: "You're No Good" by Linda Ronstadt Randy said: "All I can tell you is that's a 100% improvement over last week. (cheers) I thought it was a better song choice for you. I thought you did it really good. I was looking for some break-out moments and it didn't really quite get... It seemed you would go for some higher notes with your range. But I'll tell you what, it was pretty in-tune. I liked it." Paula said: "Again, you're back, you're back, you're back. It's good to hear you this way. It was a good song choice for you. Real good. Fit in the pocket." Simon said: "I couldn't even remember what you sang last week, which tells you it didn't work. I think this week I agree with the guys, it was a huge improvement. My only worry with you at the moment is I don't know how to label you at the moment. I don't know what type of singer you really, really are. I have a feeling that if you were to go down more of a country route, you're gonna find it much easier to make a statement, which I'm not sure you quite did with that song. But you've got real potential." Additional Info: Kristy described herself as a "tomboy," adding she loves everything from fishing and sports to riding horses and camping. "I'm definitely a tomboy at heart," she said... Kristy's mom and boyfriend were in the studio audience... Last week, Kristy said she was "on five antibiotics"... "I'm a total country girl," she added. "If I'm here next week, then I'll prove it."
Song: "Carry on Wayward Son" by Kansas Randy said: "Alright so, you know for me man, it wasn't the right song choice for you. Way too much melody. (boos) It's true. Here's the deal, here's what the problem is with that song -- great Kansas song, love it -- it has too many instrumental breaks in there for a singer singing a song. I don't want to hear the band play -- they're dope -- but I want to hear you sing. Also, there was way too much melody in there for a bluesy girl... The verses were very pitchy. Not quite the right song for you. wasn't the right look, wasn't the right look." Paula said: "I know you're worried about, 'Ah, I'm not going to do too much [Janis Joplin].' You've got to do what fits right and what feels right, and not worry about anything else. You are special. You are needed in this competition., You are brilliant, brilliant artist. This was not the right song for you." Simon said: "Amanda I'll tell you what I felt, I thought actually in your film, you came across very natural -- very cool. Then everything felt contrived, from what you wear, from this terrible hair, to the indulgent song. (boos) Everything. None of it felt natural or real, it was like you were in your own little world. Actually quite an ugly song, and I couldn't wait for it to finish. I really, really didn't get that. If you want the popular vote, you're not going to get it by doing that." Additional Info: Amanda's mom and friend were in the studio audience... Since most people already know Amanda's a Harley-riding nurse, she revealed she's also a "book worm" and was shown reading the "music business book"... Paula commented she was impressed by Amanda's dance moves... Paula agreed with Simon, and called Amanda "beautiful" without the "excess makeup" and Randy suggested "keep it bluesy rock."
Song: "Hopelessly Devoted to You" by Olivia Newton-John (Grease) Randy said: "I like that song, I love Olivia Newton-John. I don't think that was the right song for you either. The versus were really pitchy -- and even when you belted, you've got a strong voice too -- but even when you belted the song is so restrained it didn't really let you go there and you over-shot it a little bit and it was a little sharp. I don't know, wasn't my favorite for you." Paula said: "I think you did a real good job Alaina. I forget how you are and how mature you are at the same time. I don't think it was as bad as you did. I think you did a real good job." Simon said: "Alaina I like you. My problem is that it's almost as if your grandmother prepared you for this audition -- told you what to wear, how to do your hair, what to sing -- everything about you. It's very, very old-fashioned... I know that the theme is 70s, but I think there is a way of being 16 or 17 and actually making yourself current. That's where it was all a bit pageanty for me if I'm being honest with you. On a positive note, I actually think you're one of the dark horses in this competition. I like you more now then I did a couple of weeks ago. But you've got to sort yourself out and become relevant." Additional Info: Alaina revealed she doesn't like it when the food on her plate touches each other, which might be "weird," but a far cry from when she previously used a different fork for each food... Alaina said the song as one of her "favorites"... Alaina express a liking for her outfit, and Randy agreed it was a "cute outfit." "You know, I'm not good at these types of things," said Ryan, speaking about fashion. "Yes you are," said Simon. "This is something you know a lot about." Ryan then called Simon, "the fashion god who wears the same thing every night."
Song: "If You Leave Me Now" by Chicago Randy said: Here's the problem for me, it was just so safe for you. You've got mad vocal skills, you're one of my favorite performers in this whole Top 20. So for you to make a safe choice -- you should never make safe choices -- you should always challenge yourself because you've got that nice bridge between the chest and the falsetto. It was such a safe, kind of boring choice to me." Paula said: "I still feel that you did let go and did do your own arrangements and you stretched it. You made it your own. I've never heard a female take on that song, so I was really... (cheers) very impressed. I've been impressed with you from day 1 because I've always said you're relevant and important in this competition." Simon said: "I was a big, big fan of yours in the early stages of the competition. I think you're struggling right now. That song has never been covered, and I don't think it's ever been a hit outside of when it was originally released for a reason. It's absolutely stuck in its time period and there's nothing you can do with the song and the problem is, you were inconsistent on the song. You were in tune, out of tune. You looked uncomfortable with it. It just wasn't you. You look terrific, but it was boring." Additional Info: Alexandra revealed she was "supposed to try out" for the Atlanta Fire Department, where her father was employed for 18 years... In addition, she has previously sung at Ground Zero in New York City... Following her performance, Randy asked Alexandra what she thought of it. "It's over," she answered, which drew a laugh from the audience... Alexandra said she's trying to stay consistent and apply the criticism. "I still feel like I'm the underdog in this situation," she said... Ryan said he could understand the nerves when performing in-front of 30 million viewers. "30 million? Wow!" said Alexandra.
Song: "Magic Man" by Heart Randy said: "Some very interesting song choices going on up here for me tonight. I love that song -- I love Heart, once again, Carly sang it earlier -- it just never found the pitch from you coming down the stairs. The verse, you just never quite found the notes for me. You never settled onto the note. It didn't work." (boos) Paula said: "When you powered, you sounded great. (cheers) On the low notes, you lost a little bit... Most important thing in this competition, really define yourself as the artist who you are. I'm not quite sure yet that you've found that right song." Simon said: "Yeah Kady I think I'm struggling as much as you're struggling here -- very, very frustrated. Everything you do on film is fantastic -- when you do your impressions, I thought the opera was very good -- and then you come out here with almost like someone trying to impersonate [Christina Aguilera] now, singing at the back of your throat with a sing I've never heard before that has no melody. I just don't think it went anywhere... I don't know what it is. First time we saw this girl, absolutely loved her. It's a hard thing to give you constructive advice at the moment other than -- as we've said so many times tonight -- you've just got to find the right song. That, one million-percent, was the wrong one." Additional Info: Kady said in addition to her impersonations of Brittany Spears, Shakira and Cher, she can also sing opera, which she's been doing since the age of 9. "I think it really helps me out on stage," she said. "When Simon finds out I sing opera, he'll probably just roll his eyes."... "What a surprise, I think you sing opera very well," commented Paula... Kady said she "loves" "Magic Man." "This whole time I was up her, I was just having fun," she said. "Just having fun with the song."... Ryan made Kady thank him in her Brittany voice.
Song: "All By Myself" by Eric Carmon Randy said: "I know you've been sick, I saw you sitting here the other night with your mask on and the whole nine and all of that. But I've got to tell you, very difficult song to sing. [Celine Dion] sang the everything out of it -- but I gotta tell you what -- highest degree of difficulty, you did a really good job with it I thought. Nice." Paula said: "It's all like, 'Please' and then it was like, 'Tada! You did it!' It was great, it was great. You had problems in the low parts, the low notes. But you know what, the ending, that's when it counts on this song... You brought it home." Simon said: "It is one of the diva songs of all time and you have got to be one heck of a singer to pull that off. Unfortunately, you're not. (boos) Look, you nearly did it. But the truth is, you're not that good a singer, so you shouldn't have attempted that song. You've got to be incredible. You almost got away with it, but the song was too big for you. In my opinion, it showed you up, and I think it was a silly decision. Sorry." Additional Info: "Asia'h revealed she was a cheerleader throughout both middle and high school, which helped prepare her for Idol since it requires enthusiasm, spirit and personality... Simon additionally told Asia'h, "you've got to know your limitations," and then turned it into a jab. "Something you've managed to do quite well in your career," Simon told Ryan. "That's why you're on the red carpet."