The Girls Top 8

The Girls Top 8 – Recap

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A picture named ParisTop8Ga.jpegParis Bennett – “Conga” by Gloria Estefan – When Paris sang Billie Holiday and the Dixie Chicks back when she auditioned, I expected great song choices from her during the competition.  But her selections have been mostly uninspired.  Last week, it was the treacly  “Wind Beneath My Wings.”  This week, it’s “Conga.”  She did a serviceable job here, but she just didn’t wow me.  She’s got great stage presence, though and she’s cute as a button.  I just wish she’d pick songs that show off her unique voice.  Doesn’t really matter–this girl’s Top 12 spot has been pre-ordained. The judges were lukewarm, but basically said “You weren’t great, but who cares! You’re through!”  Yep, she’s through.

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Lisa Tucker – “Where I Stand” by Tiffany Taylor –  Lisa is an incredibly poised young girl.  I like her pure clear vocals and the fact that she DOESN’T junk it up with runs and vocal tricks.  She does have a bit of that “pageant girl” manner that make her performances less than passionate.  It’s not that the songs are too old for her, it’s that she seems to be playing “grown up” when she sings. And that’s something she’s probably been doing all her life.  She needs to sing from her heart–she’s not quite there yet.  Randy cracked me up–in  this interview on the perils of over-singing, Randy says, “We’re looking if you can sing in tune, have an interesting tone and you actually know the melody and you adhere to it.”  Then he tells Lisa tonight,  describing why her performance fell flat, “I want you to like, slay it, all the runs the whole thing.” Contradict much, Randy? She’ll make it to the next round.  ‘Cause Simon said so. And, so shall it be.

A picture named MelissaTop8a.jpegMelissa McGhee – “What About Love” by Heart – Is there something wrong with me?  I thought Melissa was great tonight.  She was sharp at the end a bit–but I thought her performance was at least as good as Carrie Underwood’s “Alone” last season–which the judges loved.  During the critique, Randy and Paula were polite and positive.  But then Simon ripped into her.  It was so vicious and unwarranted in relation to her performance, that the only conclusion to draw is that he wants her OUT, and that it wouldn’t have mattered what she sang, or how she performed it.  I think Simon had that critique rehearsed before he even heard her sing.  The manipulation couldn’t have been more blatant.  “That last note booked your ticket home sweetheart, I think you’ve blown it.”  Simon layed it on so thick however, the strategy could backfire.  Somebody like Ayla or even Lisa, who got lukewarm responses tonight,  could end up going home instead of Melissa.

After the break, Ryan took a few minutes with Katharine McPhee to address the rumors about her quitting the show.  Yawn.  No kidding Katharine, you aren’t quitting–thanks for the bulletin. As far as I’m concerned, that rumor came and went last week.  Next? 

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Kinnik Sky –  “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys – Too bad for Kinnik that she had pitch problems during her performance.  If she hadn’t, I think she would have nailed it.  Kinnik has stage presence and can deliver a song, but the judges have been less than impressed.  Of course, not that it matters how Kinnik performed.  The producers of this show seem to have the Top Six girls set in stone at this point.  Simon told Kinnik practically the same thing he told Melissa–“you have just booked your plane ticket home.”–which was such an overstatement for a performance that was good–with a few pitch problems.  Only half-way through the show, and it seemed to be over.  Why bother with the rest?

A picture named KatharineTop8Ga.jpegKatharine McPhee – “Think” by Aretha Franklin –  Katharine’s performance reminded me of a cabaret singer, like Barbara Streisand,  singing soul.  Although her vocals were excellent–maybe her best yet,  she turned this soul tune into white bread.  Ultimately, it was boring.  Katharine does play to the camera the way Constantine did last year, but doesn’t get the flack for it that he did.  Somehow a sexy woman gazing into the camera like a lover is acceptable, but a man doing the same thing is not?  When she finished she turned from sultry singer to silly schoolgirl giggling and hopping around the stage.  It’s a little weird, but I’m betting some guys find that woman/child thing really sexy.  She got some of the best reviews of the night from the judges.  Simon said, “That was a risk, but you pulled it off, and you made it seem absolutely effortless.”  And, like he told Paris and Lisa “Once again, you’re going to sail through.”  Gee, should we even bother to watch the eliminations on Thursday?

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Ayla Brown – “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield –  This song was a departure for Ayla, but unfortunately the risk didn’t quite pay off for her.  She looked really awkward moving around the stage.  Like a basketball player trying to dance?  Hee.  Ayla has a pleasant voice, but it’s not very powerful–it was hard to hear her vocals above the music and the backing vocals.  She was out of her comfort zone here, and it showed.   But that will be her trouble.  She’s fine when she sticks with the familiar–ballads that stay in her limited vocal range.  If she stays in that box, though, she’ll get called on it.  Simon has called her “robotic” in the past, but I thought she showed plenty of personality tonight and seemed very much like a 17 year old.  Overall, though, the judges comments were kind, if not enthusiastic.  And, Ayla towering over Ryan on the seal after her performance was pretty hilarious.

A picture named 1270.jpegMandisa –  “I’m Every Woman” by Chaka Khan – Yep.  Mandisa is pretty fabulous. Yep.  She’s going to sail right into the Top 12.  The judges love her and so do I.  So when they praise and pimp this girl and tell her she’s going straight to the top like they did tonight–I’m all–you go girl.  Mandisa is totally comfortable with herself.  Out of all the women, she has the most charisma and is vocally the most consistent.  The only critical thing I can say about her at this point, is that her consistency could get boring.  But, if she keeps mixing up the song choices like she has–going from R&B to rock to country and back again, I think she’ll go deep into the competition.  She won’t win.  Nah, it’s a boys year.  But she’ll go deep.

A picture named KellieTop8Ga.jpegKellie Pickler –  “I’m the Only One” by Melissa Etheridge –  Kellie is not a great singer.  The judges even admit that she’s not a great singer.  Her post-performance critiques go something like, “whoa that was rough, but you’re just so gosh durn likable!” Kellie has gotten really far in this competition on her “personality” and  a sad backstory that involves incompetent parents (funny that Melissa McGhee’s story is at least as sad, but we never hear about it.  More on that later.)  Having said that, Kellie did ai’ght tonight. For Kellie. The performance was pretty generic–but, except for the last note, she wasn’t too shouty on the high notes and she mostly stayed on pitch. But after her performance, it was back to talking about her adorable “personality”.  How scripted did that exchange she had with Simon sound?  Simon: You are what’s known as a naughty little minx (me: did he just call her a slut?) Kellie: (putting on her best “ahhm jus a lil counchry gurl” deal) what’s a mink?  UGH.  Kellie lays it on so thick, I just don’t buy it, sorry.   And finally,  Simon tells her that she’s not the best singer, but that he likes her better than last year’s winner.  Simon telling Kellie that he likes her better than last year’s Miss Double Platinum, the girl who’s making him millions–that’s some damn pimping.  Gee, Kelly, you can’t sing, but YOU don’t have to pack your bags!  See ya in the Top 12!

Overall I wasn’t wowed with the girls tonight.  Here’s hoping the guys bring it tomorrow…