It was ladies’ night on “American Idol” Wednesday (February 29), and if the performances of the Top 12 females are any indication, it could be the ladies’ season as well.
Indeed, Tuesday’s shaky performances from the guys may have had fans worried about this year’s installment of “Idol.” But several ladies turned in big, show-stealing songs on Wednesday that restored faith to the season at hand. And while no female has won “Idol” since Jordin Sparks took the crown back in 2007, this could be the year a woman puts an end to that dry spell.
Fittingly, this potential female domination comes at a time when the biggest force in pop music is Adele, and the chart-topping diva’s presence loomed large over Wednesday’s show. Not only was Adele’s name was invoked several times, but two performers — Jen Hirsh and Elise Testone — took on the very same Adele song, “One and Only.” (What, one of them couldn’t switch to “Rolling in the Deep”?)
With her take on “One and Only,” Hirsh hit some of the evening’s biggest notes, and Jennifer Lopez said she “felt the feeling of the song.” Steven Tyler, meanwhile, told Hirsh, “You’ve got what it takes.”
Testone’s equally powerful “One and Only,” which closed the show, caused Randy Jackson to call her “a force to be reckoned with,” though both he and the other judges seemed concerned Testone could get lost in the mix with the other singers. “I hope America got it,” Lopez told her, somewhat worriedly.
If America doesn’t “get it,” the judges have a chance to step in: On Thursday’s show, the five top males and the five top females will be passed on to the next round, and the judges will get a chance to choose wild card contestants. Whether that will result in a Top 13 or a Top 12 was not explained on the show.
Other standouts included Skylar Laine, who threw down on the stage with a energetic, rockin’ take on Faces’ “Stay With Me.” “It’s like Tina Turner went country!” J. Lo gushed, while Jackson compared her to “Reba (McEntire) mixed with Kelly Clarkson.” Laine even took her own breath away; the Mississippi native complained at the end of her performance her dress was so tight she could hardly breathe.
Jessica Sanchez said she suffered from swollen vocal chords earlier in the week and was worried she wouldn’t be able to perform up to her usual level, but she blew the judges away with her version of Dreamgirls’ “Love You I Do.” “That girl can sing!” said an enthusiastic Jackson, saying she turned in one of the best performances of the first two nights. Lopez praised her and said she’s beyond her years, while Sanchez herself seemed taken aback from the judges’ overwhelmingly positive reactions.
Hollie Cavanagh “slayed the biggest dragon” of the evening by taking on Christina Aguilera’s “Reflection,” Jackson said, and she fared well, even if her combination of inspirational ballad and tight minidress read awkwardly on camera. “It wasn’t all perfect,” Jackson said, “but the parts that were brilliant were genius.” Lopez called her one of the competition’s frontrunners.
Shannon MaGrane — whose baseball-player father seems to still have a bone to pick with Tyler over his comments toward his daughter during the auditions — sang “Go Light Your World,” a contemporary Christian song that was “in my soul and in my gut,” she explained, although it’s not well known. But the risk seemed to have paid off: Not only did Jackson and Tyler praise her powerful vocals, MaGrane gave Lopez her first “goosies” — that’s Lopez-speak for goosebumps — of the season.
Hallie Day’s “Feeling Good” had her looking “like a star,” Lopez said, but Jackson said he wasn’t sure what direction she was headed in, awkwardly mentioning Adele and Lana Del Rey as would-be contemporaries. Day said she loves soul music and sees herself singing torch songs in the vein of — you guessed it — Adele.
Brielle Von Hugel started out her version of Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay” by sitting on the stage, surrounded by her male co-stars (including Phillip Phillips and Heejun Han). She stood up, marched across the stage and showed off what Jackson called a bit of Janis Joplin in her voice. Lopez called her “a true performer” and said people underestimate her as a contestant.
Erika Von Pelt showed off her rock side (her words) with Heart’s “What About Love,” and Tyler called her confidence “magical.” Still, the judges knew she had more to give, and Lopez urged her, “next time, let loose on us.” Jackson said her mix of confidence and restraint recalled — wouldn’t you know it? — Adele.
Baylie Brown had the misfortune of following Laine’s showstopper of a performance, and her static take on the Lonestar ballad “Amazed” felt safe and a bit boring. “I’ve heard you sing better,” Tyler told her, and Lopez called it “shaky all the way through.” Jackson said Brown “never seized control of the song.”
With her take on Carrie Underwood’s “Cowboy Casanova,” which opened the show, Chelsea Sorrell didn’t do much but recall Underwood’s more memorable version of the song. And the most stinging critique of the evening came when Jackson said Haley Johnsen’s version of the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams” “was a bit of a nightmare, for me, instead of a dream.”
What did you think of Wednesday’s “Idol”? Do you think a female will win this year? Let us know in the comments!