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'Idol': Chris Sligh rates the women

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Chris Sligh

‘Idol’: Chris Sligh rates the women

Standing in the Coke Room, waiting to line up on the stairs…It may be the most nerve-racking experience one goes through on American Idol. The stage manager, Debbie, comes out to get you in line, you hear the cheesy music start, and Ryan begins the monologue you have heard two or three times already and are reading off the teleprompter with him, silently pinching yourself to make sure that this is, indeed, real.

And, boom, the show starts. Your throat is dry, your stomach is turning, and, if you’re the first one to sing, your world stops as they play the video behind you that you saw for the first time two hours before in dress rehearsal. Hopefully the video doesn’t choke you up, because when it ends, you start singing. Once you are on that stage and the music starts, you’re probably okay. It’s the waiting that kills you.

But to make you wait now…something is bothering me. The judges, Ryan, and producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick have called this year’s group ”The Best Top 24 EVER!!!” Meanwhile, none of these singers has shown the vocal quality of Phil Stacey or Melinda Doolittle; none has shown the artistry of Daughtry or Blake; none has yet shown performance skills that equal Taylor’s or JPL’s. Let America decide — we don’t need you to tell us what we can figure out, and we’re smarter than you give us credit for. End of rant.

THE PERFORMANCES

There were a handful of performances I would classify as adequate. Whereas last year’s top 24 gave us incredible performances by Lakisha, Melinda, Stephanie, and Sabrina, this year’s group gave us okay performances by several, but nothing I found to be great.

My pick for best of the night was Syesha Mercado. Her ”Tobacco Road” wasn’t as good as Phil’s take on it last year, but she did the song justice. She’s a natural performer, but last night her performing simply distracted from the fact that her vocal was way pitchy. Her final note was so under pitch that it was uncomfortable. But still my ”best of the night.”

Asia’h Epperson gave us a spunky version of ”Piece of My Heart,” but the vocals were simply not there, at least to my ears. I think America will join me in giving her the benefit of the doubt, but I hope she can step it up even more next week.

NEXT PAGE: Chris Sligh’s Best of the Rest

Alaina Whitaker gave a cute Coke Room interview (in case you wondered: These are not rehearsed, though you are told the question beforehand — hopefully you can riff), showing us some personality that actually stuck around when she got on stage. Unfortunately, her vocal performance just didn’t match her spunkiness.

Alexandréa Lushington and Amanda Overmyer gave great performances, but their vocals were just okay for me. Alexandréa is spunky and a natural performer…she’ll be here for a while. Amanda is what this show needs: something different and fresh. The texture to her voice is bordering on amazing. Meanwhile, Ramiele Malubay somehow received unanimous praise from the judges. I thought her vocals were okay, but immediately forgettable. She’s good, but like the others, she just didn’t quite make it great.

Full disclosure: Brooke White was one of my favorites coming into the top 24. Last night, I thought she gave a good vocal performance, but she looked uncomfortable. In Hollywood she was so natural with a piano…I hope she comes back next week behind some keys. I want to see her artistry. But perhaps that is just me.

Now, for the not-so-good.

NEXT PAGE: See why Chris Sligh was disappointed by Carly Smithson, Kristy Lee Cook, and the other three top 12 women. Plus: See which ”Idol” veteran will be analyzing the performance shows for us next week.

Carly Smithson was sick. I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt. But the love from Randy and Paula was over-the-top crazy. She was wincingly under pitch through a majority of the song, though I will admit her ”big notes” were on. To her credit, she is normally good, but I wish the judges would simply be honest: Last night she wasn’t good. Same for Kristy Lee Cook — I think she’s a talented singer, but last night was rough to my ears.

And now, the bad. Man, I hate to say it, because I know the nerves and the pressure and the sickness can add up. But the next three I’d classify as ”bad.”

Joanne Borgella was shaky throughout her performance. I think she’s a fine singer, but last night was really rough. Same for Kady Malloy — I thought her performance last night was atypical for her. She showed no spark, no drive, no personality. But the worst of the night was easily Amy Davis. I’m not sure that there was one note in tune in the whole song.

In conclusion, I will say again: I’m not sure the hype has been proven. The best ever? Hmmm…I’ll leave that up to you. I don’t see it yet. But, as I said yesterday, I’m excited to see how these singers grow.

Chris Sligh finished in 10th place in season 6 of American Idol. One of the show’s most memorable contestants, he recently signed a record deal with Atlanta-based independent label Brash Music. His first album, Running Back to You, will be released on May 6, and his first single, ”Empty Me,” reaches airwaves later this week. He regularly blogs on his own website, From My Mind to Your Eyes.

NEXT WEEK: Season 3 finalist Jon Peter Lewis shares his take on the performance episodes.

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