Thursday, February 22, 2007

American Idol '07: It's Ladies' Night, and the feeling's right

What a difference a night makes.

Tuesday on American Idol, we were treated to a veritable parade of the overmatched and talent-deficient, when the top 12 male contestants took the stage. Wednesday, the top 12 female hopefuls took that stage back, and collectively blew the roof off the sucker.

My faith in humanity is restored.

Let's meet the ladies, in performance order:
  • Stephanie Edwards. It's never a gift to be first on stage in this sort of thing, but Stephanie came out with sixguns blazing. She'll get branded by some as another diva-style singer — and this year's class is filled with those — but in fact she has a rich, flexible voice that can do a good deal more than just belt. Her voice has personality, which is a difficult quality to achieve. She set the bar high.

  • Amy Krebs. And then Amy came out, and yanked that bar back down to earth. She's everything Stephanie isn't — bland, colorless, and a relentlessly average singer. Amy sang "I Can't Make You Love Me," and seemed determined to prove the lyrics accurate. She will, however, make a speedy exit.

  • Leslie Hunt. Leslie was okay, but just okay. She struggled to hold her own against a song ("You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman") requiring a much more dynamic voice than she possesses. On top of that, her awkward, ungainly stage presence — she moves like a marionette — detracted from what little excitement her vocals produced. Seems like a nice kid, but in over her head.

  • Sabrina Sloan. She's a spitfire, this Sabrina, plus she can really sing. She knows how to handle the mic and work the stage. She definitely came to perform, and did it with flair. She's also the prettiest of this year's contestant class, which has nothing to do with singing, but certainly doesn't hurt.

  • Antonella Barba. Another contestant who picked a bigger song than she was able to sing effectively. She wasn't horrific, but she wasn't memorable either. There's also something undefinably irritating about her stage manner. Hopefully, she won't be around long enough for me to figure out what it is.

  • Jordin Sparks. Jordin's been a favorite in our house since she appeared on America's Most Talented Kids a few years ago. Her father is former NFL star Philippi Sparks, and Jordin has inherited her dad's imposing physique. She started a bit rough and low in her range, but holy cats, did she ever bring it home at the end. Jordin probably has as much natural talent as anyone in the field, and is a sweetheart to boot, but at 17, she's awfully young.

  • Nicole Tranquillo. What was that? Nicole's all attitude and spastic facial mannerisms, without much polish to back it up. She sings with a strident, choppy delivery, and makes faces as though she's either angry or constipated or both. I think there's a voice in there somewhere, but all of the naked aggression makes it hard to tell.

  • Haley Scarnato. Two words: Pageant girl. Haley performs with the obvious, mechanical stagecraft of someone who's been overpraised and overcoached. She's excessively theatrical, and sings with that stereotypical Broadway-style delivery that high school talent shows are riddled with. Also, kid, if you're going to sing a Jim Steinman power ballad, you'd better have a voice like Meat Loaf. And you don't.

  • Melinda Doolittle. Perhaps the most surprising competitor in this Idol class, Melinda's a soft-spoken, self-deprecating little woman with powerhouse pipes behind that mousy exterior. She'll go as far in this field as her personality will allow.

  • Alaina Alexander. Ugh. Just... ugh. Doesn't belong here. Doesn't belong singing, anywhere. Enough said.

  • Gina Glocksen. Gina is this year's edition of Season 3's Amy Adams — the quirky girl with the oddly colored hair and tons of brass. Whereas Amy seemed fun and endearing, however, Gina appears arrogant and a bit nasty. I like her voice (despite the ten-cents-flat climax note) and her stage presence, and I give her credit for choosing a song no one would have expected from her ("All By Myself"). But lose the 'tude, Miss Thing.

  • Lakisha Jones. If Gina is the new Amy Adams, Lakisha is the new Mandisa, with a dollop of Fantasia tossed in for good measure. She's got a titanic voice and knows how to use it. If volume alone counts for anything, she'll hold her own with anyone here. She brought passion and thunder to the stage in a wheelbarrow. It'll be interesting to see her sing something requiring more nuance and less bluster.
Early prediction: This year's American Idol will be female. All six of the women who make the Top 12 will be better than even the best of their male counterparts. I'd say the primary challenge for the ladies could be finding a distinction among several essentially similar talents. Someone who's a bit different from the pack could run away with it all.

Some tough calls here, but I think the top six from the distaff side will include, alphabetically:
  • Gina.
  • Jordin.
  • Lakisha.
  • Melinda.
  • Sabrina.
  • Stephanie.
We'll check back in a few weeks to see how I fared.

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2 insisted on sticking two cents in:

Blogger Ocha offered these pearls of wisdom...

Get the contracts out, Melinda Doolittle without a doubt is already the American Idol.

7:32 PM  
Blogger Louise7 offered these pearls of wisdom...

Good news for you Melinda Doolittle fans! She’s set to release her debut album titled, Coming Back to You on Hi-Fi Recordings in January 09. Produced by Grammy-nominated producer Mike Mangini (Joss Stone, Run DMC, The Jonas Brothers), Coming Back to You was recorded with a team of live musicians in Nashville and New York City.

The first single, “It’s Your Love” will be released to radio in October.

“Keep yourself updated with Melinda’s career at melindasbackups. is a web site owned by Melinda Doolittle. Melinda’s Backups™ is a non-profit supportive association inspired by Melinda and authorized by her to operate this web site on behalf of her fans.

9:34 AM  

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