Guide to the Top 12 Girls
Tonight, the girls battle it out for a spot in the Top 12. Will they out-sing the guys? Tune in to find out.
Check out my guide to the Top 12 Girls after the jump.
And, don’t forget to join my Idol pool. The deadline for this week’s picks are 8 pm ET, Thursday night.
Alaina Whitaker 16, Tulsa, OK – Auditioned in Dallas – I had to re-read what I wrote about Alaina’s audition in my Dallas re-cap. I honestly didn’t remember her. I still barely remember her, which doesn’t bode well for Alaina. So many blonde wanna-be Carrie Underwoods in this year’s crop, who can keep track? She sang a Faith Hill song and Simon said, “I don’t think you’re as good as you think you are.” We haven’t heard from her since, so count on Alaina being cut during the semi-finals unless…I dunno, Kristy Lee Cook comes down with a strange malady? More on Alaina: She is currently a junior at Metro Christian Academy, and has performed at festivals throughout Oklahoma and at school functions. She and her older sister won a regional singing contest last year, winning the opportunity to record a 3-track CD.
Alexandrea Lushington 16, Atlanta, GA – Auditioned in Atlanta – Alex has been performing as “Miz Alex” Lushington since she was 7 years old. She’s appeared on Showtime at the Apollo and BET. Her audition in Atlanta was featured, but we saw more of her 90-plus year old grandmother than her performing in the audition room. What we heard sounded pretty good, and her music on her myspace page (since taken down) is impressive. You can check out her videos here and here. She’s another contestant who’s going to have to impress right away to survive in the competition. More on Alex: She is currently a junior at Douglas County High School, where she sings in the school choir and is a member of the drama club. Alex also plays the piano.
Amanda Overmyer 23, Mulberry, IN – Auditioned in Atlanta – Amanda is a respiratory nurse/biker chick/rawker with a penchant for 60’s/70’s West Coast blues-rock. She sang Joplin’s “I’m a Mean Woman” and channels her–maybe too much. I’ve yet to hear a really distinctive sound from Amanda. She may be able stick-out far enough from the crowd of 24 and carve a little niche for herself. Baby-boomers’ may fall in love with her retro sound. In between her initial audition, and Hollywood week, she was in a horrific car accident. Her car was totaled, but she managed to escape with a few broken ribs and some stitches.
Amy Davis 25, Cedar Lake, IN – Auditioned in Dallas – A little eye candy for the guys? Sure why not? What Amy lacks in vocal prowess, she makes up for in a slightly exotic (thanks to her Japanese grandmother) and sexy look. Her attributes are on full display in her modeling portfolio. After her middling performance of “Blue Bayou”during her initial audition, both Randy and Simon remarked how they liked the potential in her voice. Uh huh. More about Amy: She is a graduate student at Purdue University where she previously earned a B.S. in Horticulture (impressive!). She’s performed with numerous groups, including the Amy Davis Trio and Echoes of Pompeii, a Pink Floyd tribute band. She’s also performed with cover band, 6th element.
Asia’h Epperson 19, Joplin, MO – Auditioned in Atlanta – Who could forget Asia’h’s heartbreaking initial audition? She struggled through a performance of “How Do I Live” after dedicating it to her father. He was killed two days before her audition in front of the judges. While the audition wasn’t perfect–it was packed with emotion. Moved, all three judges advanced Asia’h to Hollywood. There, her performances were stronger. She also displayed a plucky and winning personality. Tragic backstory + talent + likability = good chance she’ll advance to the Top 12. It helps that TPTB seem to really like her.
Brooke White 24, Van Nuys, CA/Mesa, AZ – Auditioned in Philadelphia – Before auditioning for Idol, Brooke was a nanny. She claims never to have seen an R-rated movie (she and her husband are Mormons). She performed “Just Like a Star” by Corrine Baily Rae, and her singing voice is as pure as she is. In other words, a little bland. In Hollywood, she appeared fragile and insecure. She goofed up a bit at the piano during a performance of Carole King’s “Beautiful” , but she was fast-tracked to the 3rd day anyway. Singer/songwriter types usually don’t get very far on Idol (see Leming, Josiah), but the producers have given her ample screen time and chances–which helps her cause. It will be interesting to see how America reacts to Brooke’s less showy, more personal style. Two years ago, Brooke released an album on a small, independent label, available on Amazon and some other online retailers. You can watch a video for her song “Free” here, and a live version of “Say Goodbye”.
Carly Smithson 24, Dublin Ireland/San Diego – Auditioned in San Diego – Carly Hennessy Smithson’s story begins back in 1999, when she traveled from Dublin, Ireland to the States with her dad to break into the music business. She eventually landed a 6 record contract with MCA, but things went terribly wrong. The debut album and single failed, costing the label 2.2 million dollars in the process. You can watch the video from her single “I’m Gonna Blow Your Mind” here. In 2006, she’s back in the States, tries out for Idol, impresses TPTB so much, that Simon mentions this incredible “Irish Girl” to the press. Visa problems keep her from competing that season. Carly comes back to audition for Idol 2 years later with a visa and a new name (courtesy of her American husband) and she’s finally able to compete. Meanwhile, the blogosphere has gotten a hold of her story, and a controversy erupts whether somebody who has already been signed to a major label contract should be allowed to compete on American Idol. The controversy rages before her initial audition is even broadcast. When we all finally get to see what the fuss was all about–well, Carly, she’s a bit of a let down. Decent voice, but nothing earth-shattering. She’s sort of a poor gal’s Kelly Clarkson. Her MCA contract is not part of her Idol backstory, which only adds to the controversy. Will Carly suffer from a viewer backlash, despite tons of screen time and lavish praise from the judges? Or will America turn a deaf ear to the controversy and advance Carly to the Top 12? And, what would Idol be without a big, fat juicy controversy?
Joanne Borgella 25, Hoboken, NJ – Auditioned in Philadelphia – Joanne is no stranger to reality show competition. In 2005, she won Mo’Nique’s FAT Chance on the Oxygen network. Here is her audition tape from FAT Chance. She’s also a plus-sized model, gracing the cover of PLUS Size Magazine. Joanne’s Idol backstory has her battling people who would deny her a career in show business due to her size. I don’t mean to be rude, but that backstory would have a lot more resonance if Joanne were white. I’m just sayin’. Her initial audition, “I Love You” by Celine Dion revealed a sweet voice that’s not huge in the upper register. She could get swallowed up by the big Idol stage. But hey, she survived singing the National Anthem at Madison Square Garden before a college championship basketball game, she could survive to the Top 12.
Kady Malloy 18, Houston TX – Auditioned in Dallas – Kady demonstrated an uncanny ability in her initial audition to do vocal impressions. Her Brittney Spears and Carrie Underwood turns were dead-on. But, how distinctive is Kady’s sound? Considering the fact that she’s competing with several other female country-clones this season, it appears that her chances of breaking out of the pack of this year’s bottle-blonds is going to be tough. You can listen to some songs Kady self-released here. Her bio says that she’s been singing in local restaurants and attending community college. She also plays the tambourine. Yeah, that’s really in her bio. Heh.
Kristy Lee Cook 24, Selma, OR – Auditioned in Philadelphia – Like Carly Smithson, Kristy was signed to a major record deal when she was just a teen. According to Kristy’s CD Baby bio, her label, Arista, put her album on hold, and then dropped her. In 2005 she released the CD Devoted on an independent label and produced a video of the title track/single. When Kristy auditioned, her backstory was that she lived out in the wilds of Oregon, and had to sell her best barrel horse (SOB) to raise money for her trip to Philadelphia to audition. Her package conveniently left out her show business history. Kristy Lee wows the judges with “Amazing Grace” during her initial audition, fumbles the first few days in Hollywood, and then it’s back to “Amazing Grace” to power her way into the Top 24. TPTB love her, but will she be able to handle the pressure and potential backlash? In addition to singing, Kristy raises horses and plays the piano.
Ramiele Malubay 20, Miramar, FL – Auditioned in Miami – Ramiele was born in Saudi Arabia and spent her early years in the Philippines. Ramiele’s role model is fellow Pinoy and Season 3 contestant Jasmine Trias. Well Jasmine did make it all the way to 3rd place, Heh. So Ramiel’s song choices have favored the Queen–Aretha Franklin. Amazingly, she’s not swallowed up by these huge songs. Between the producer pimping (they seem to love Ramiele) and the Pinoy vote, she’s got a good chance to make the Top 12. More about Ramile: She has been singing since she was 12 years old. Before Idol, she was attending school and was a hostess at a local sushi restaurant. She also plays the piano and guitar.
Syesha Mercado 21, Miami, FL – Auditioned in Miami – Syesha was a contestant on ABC’s failed (it was pulled after a couple of episodes) reality show The One. She’s kept busy doing commercial work–she recently shot a Ford commercial (things that make you go hmmm). Syesha’s initial audition was a screamy mess. Her first Hollywood audition was also Screachy McScreamy, but those problems were blamed on throat issues. Finally on the last day, Syesha belted out a decent performance of Aretha’s “Chain of Fools”. Time will tell how she’ll fare with the pressure of the competition. If she manages to make the Top 12, I can imagine performances that are hit and miss–sorta like Season 5’s Katharine McPhee. Syesha does not seem to have a handle on her instrument. More on Syesha: She was a member of The Drum Studio All-Stars band and has a strong background in theatre and dancing.