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Oscars 2017
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'Idol' recap: Top 12 women get the mic

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Jeff Neira/Fox

American Idol

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban, Ryan Seacrest
Reality TV

Welcome back to Detroit, you loyal Idol fans. The ladies are up tonight, and they’re gonna have to really bring it if they’re going to want to keep up with the guys, who, for better or worse, left it all on the stage last night. Look at J.Lo’s dress. Is she stunning or what?

Lovey James is our first girl to take the stage. She’s 16 and looks just like Elle Fanning. She starts out pretty off-key on One Republic’s “Love Runs Out,” but finds it once the pace picks up. I’m not blown away, though. She hits some big notes and is certainly giving it her all, but it doesn’t connect for me. Good not great.

There was a lot of talk about how many performances were crammed into last night’s one-hour show, and I’m with you guys—it was a lot, and it left my head spinning a little. And tonight will do the same. That said, I appreciate a fast-paced show significantly more than a drawn-out one. My one frustration, though, is that we’re hearing basically no feedback from the judges. It’s a lot of nods and “good jobs,” and I’m eager to know what they really think! Guess I’ll have to wait until next week.

Adanna Duru tackles “Rather Be,” and she’s certainly killing it on the eye contact with the camera. She’s also making the same arm motion over and over again and it’s a little distracting. The song picks up in tempo and volume and, much like Lovey, Adanna really goes for it. It’s an admirable effort, but it’s too theatrical and she falls off her vocals for a bit. (Thank you, judges, for pointing out that she lost control.)

It’s always this point in the season when these kids transition to a big stage and my brain tells me that they HAVE to be superstars RIGHT NOW. They have to be good, they have to have personality, for sure, but we’ve got more than 12 more weeks of this—there’s a lot of room for growth. They haven’t even met Scott Borchetta yet! So I’m trying not to count anyone out. (Except, of course, the eight kids that we’ll lose after this week.)

Next up is Alexis Gomez, self-described “hippie Mexican hillbilly.” Oooookay. Miranda Lambert’s “Gunpowder and Lead” should serve her well, though. She’s good. Right away, Alexis blows the other two women out of the water. Her presence on stage is just as energized but feels much more authentic. She’s totally in the song. The vocal is fine. Good. She breaks one of Harry’s rules by singing with a faux country twang and he encourages her not to simply mimic the record—good advice, especially when you’re talking to a girl who’s overflowing with her personality and quirk. I liked her a lot tonight. Nicely done, you hippie Mexican hillbilly.

NEXT: What happens when you give a Keith Urban song a hipster makeover?


Joey Cook, Idol’s resident kiwi, according to Harry, takes the stage—accordion in hand, of course—and sings a surprise rendition of Keith’s “Somebody Like You,” which pleases Keith to his core. He’s absolutely giddy! So Joey, I think I said last week, has surprised me because, despite all her accordions and vintage dresses and ukuleles, she has not historically annoyed me. She’s felt really authentic the whole time. But this performance tonight, particularly her vocal, struck me as pretty affected. Major points for a crazy original arrangement and solid showmanship, but it grated on me. Am I being a scrooge? (High-five to Harry for saying, “If me and Keith had a kid, that’s what the music would sound like.”)

Katherine Winston is next, and I’m curious about her because I don’t feel like we got to know her enough during the auditions and Hollywood Week. She selects “Safe and Sound” by T. Swift and The Civil Wars (excellent tune), and oh, her voice is so pretty and quiet. No theatrics here, and I appreciate it. (Though she looks petrified.) She stumbles with her pitch, which is unfortunate—this really could have been a knock-em-dead performance with a little more strength and confidence. I hope she comes back. Harry tells her he questions the song choice because it’s risky to do a ballad. Ugh. We need some people to JUST SING, Harry.

“Who Knew” by Pink is the song du jour for Shannon Berthiaume, who still fascinates me because she’s so damn comfortable on stage and reportedly has no practice doing it. But what’s up with this performance? She’s not blowing me away like she normally does, and she really loses it at the end. Most of the performance was delivered from one spot on stage; Shannon is looking as beautiful and Kristen Stewart-y as ever, but it felt super amateur. Commit, Shannon! Pick better songs, Shannon! All three judges are in agreement. Shannon might be in trouble.

Loren Lott. Loren, girl, I just can’t make up my mind about you. She’s selected “Note to God” by Charice, and I don’t know what my deal is, but her voice does not thrill me. I recognize the talent that she has, but when she’s not belting (which is crazy, admittedly), it hits me as so nasal and borderline unpleasant. It’s not something that I can see myself ever wanting to listen to outside of this show. Is anyone with me? Why does this girl hurt my ears? The judges love it, and basically tell her she’s a frontrunner. This is not how my brain processed that performance. What do you guys think?

Shi, my perpetual frustration, is up next. The thing that frustrates me most? She’s pretty damn good. (But for the record, I’m still mad that Jelly went home last week.) So Shi takes on Rihanna’s “Umbrella” while wearing a sexy non-dress, and her voice is not there tonight. The song is too low, the arrangement is bizarre as hell, and we’re not hearing any of that tone that’s impressed us so many times before. She’s screaming at us a little bit, and it sounds like when my vocally gifted friends have had too many drinks and decide to karaoke. Which is to say, not bad, but it maybe makes everyone feel nervous. (Shi wins me over a hair with a candid “That sucks!” when the judges tell her it was the wrong song choice. Dropping the bravado a notch would be a good idea.)

NEXT: The girls get good, so stick around.


You guys know how I feel about Maddie Walker: confused about her age, which is 16. I obviously love that Maddie has selected a Shania Twain song (was she born when this album came out?), but this is not the way to celebrate your youth and present yourself as a relevant artist. This performance hurt me. It’s the most vanilla thing we’ve seen on this stage yet. Yes, I know, she’s a child, but she’s just not ready for this. The performance is flat and weird and lacks total relevance. The judges keep talking about how compelled they are by the character in Maddie’s voice, which is the number one thing that’s missing for me, so I’m at a loss.

Sarina-Joi Crowe finally takes the big stage. (She’s gone through this cycle FOUR TIMES, remember? God bless her.) Wow, stark contrast from Maddie. Sarina-Joi sings Jessie J’s “Mamma Knows Best” and has total command of the stage and camera by the time she finishes the first measure. Girl has got some crazy attitude, and she’s hitting every damn note. She sounds good and, more importantly, it seems effortless. It sure as hell makes me want more from her. That’s the first interesting thing I’ve seen tonight. One to watch. J.Lo says she rivaled Jessie J, and Sarina-Joi’s head almost explodes. So she’s had a good night!

Jax! I almost forgot about her. I knew I was missing someone. High hopes for her tonight, I hope she kills it. Nancy Sinatra’s “Bang Bang” feels like a pretty brilliant song choice for Jax, who’s sporting one glove. She starts with a beautiful, slow intro that she pretty much murders, and then the arrangement shifts into high voltage and I get immediately nervous, but she keeps up with it! That was good. But don’t do finger guns, Jax.

And they save the best for last. Tyanna is our 12th performer tonight. “Lips are Movin” by Meghan Trainor is a smart selection. You guys, this girl is so good. She’s just got it. All of it. Simple as that. She gives me chills! Fantastic. I don’t even know what else to say.

So Sarina-Joi, Jax, and Tyanna really saved the evening, but I gotta say, there are a lot of guys that I’ll miss if they go home, and only a handful of the ladies who I want to stick around. Step it up, ladies. Make this your season.

Who’s at risk this week? From the women, I’m gonna say Shannon, Shi, Katherine, Adanna, and Maddie. For the men, Daniel, Trevor, Adam, Riley, and (it pains me to say this), Rayvon. Share your picks below!