American Idol: The Girls Struggle for "Wow" Factor

In the first week of American Idol competitions, we saw a slew of talented girls, any of whom looked like they could go the distance.

Not the case this week. Last week's stunners fell short of expectations, leaving the field pretty wide open.

The common theme of the night seemed to be poor song selection. Like the lads on Tuesday night, the ladies got to choose any song from the 1970s. But almost to a tee, the girls selected songs that either didn't fit their style, lacked pizazz, or were simply too ambitious.

Now, I'm on record as saying that I think the '70s was one of the cheesiest music decades ever. But it is an entire decade. So it seems strange to me that so many of the girls would struggle with choosing a tune to croon.

So how'd they do? Here's my take:

TOP THREE:

Brooke White: Frankly I consider this an upset victory, but a well-deserved one. Brooke played guitar and sang Carly Simon's "You're So Vain." The song really suited her, and she clearly had a lot of fun singing it. At the time, I wouldn't have pegged Brooke as the best of the night, which says a lot about how unsensational everyone else was. Randy thought it was a great song choice. Paula thought it suited her too. Simon "absolutely loved it" and thought it was the perfect song as well. But she was the only one to get that kind of unanimous assessment from the judges.

Carly Smithson: One of my top three picks from last week, Carly kicked off the show with Heart's "Crazy On You." Her vocals were smooth, but the performance didn't knock my socks off. Randy thought the beginning was a little rough. Paula noted that Carly was recovering from some illness. Simon thought she was better than last week, but didn't choose the right song, although he maintains that she's the one to beat among the girls.

Asia'h Epperson: Another of my top picks from last week, Asia'h squeaks in this week by the hairs on her chinny chin chin. Asia'h sang "All By Myself," obviously to show off her powerful voice. I thought she missed a note or maybe choked at the start, but she recovered nicely and really belted it out. Randy thought she did a good job with a difficult song. Paula said she brought it home in the end. Simon disagreed and thought it was too big a song for her.

MIDDLE OF THE PACK:

Kristy Lee Cook: Kristy would have made my top three if Asia'h hadn't really finished strong. Kristy sang Linda Ronstadt's "You're No Good." She looked great on stage and really comfortable. She tried to rock it, although she didn't bring much new to the song. But overall, her vocals were solid. Randy thought Kristy was 100 percent better than last week. Paula thought it was a good song. And Simon said it was a huge improvement, but can't decide if Kristy is rock or country or what.

Ramiele Malubay: Last week's clear winner in my opinion, but not this week. Ramiele sang "Don't Leave Me This Way." Once again, the little girl showed off her huge voice with some big notes, but not a lot of range. And she seemed a little subdued in between the big parts. Randy didn't like the song choice, neither did Paula. Simon thought she was much better last week. I agree.

Syesha Mercado: In her pre-interview, Syesha showed us a commercial she starred in, and her impression of a baby crying. Fuh-reak-y. Then she sang "Me and Mr. Jones," switching the gender from the original. I can see why she picked it, since it lulls you in, then hits you with big vocals. But the in-between moments were lackluster. Randy (surprise) didn't think it was a great song choice. Paula thought she fell off pitch. (Huh? Paula actually had a criticism?) Simon thought changing it from Mrs. to Mr. was silly and off-putting.

Amanda Overmyer: The rock-and-roll nurse tried to belt out a version of "Carry On My Wayward Son." But I couldn't get past her hair, which looked like an octogenarian lion's mane. Amanda definitely has power in her voice, and she still has that husky thing going on, but I wasn't wowed, and she seemed uncomfortable on stage. Randy said it was (surprise, surprise) not the right song. Paula avoided saying anything bad by telling her she could dance. Simon thought it was contrived and agreed with me about the horrible hair.

BOTTOM THREE:

Kady Malloy: Kady was rightfully in my bottom three last week, but almost doesn't deserve to be this week. She sang Heart's "Magic Man," and although she didn't look very comfortable, it wasn't horrible by a good stretch. Maybe the worst thing about it was that she brought nothing original to the song. Randy said she never quite "found the notes." Paula thought she sounded great when she powered it and has hidden talents. Simon decided it didn't go anywhere for him, whatever that means exactly.

Alaina Whitaker: Sang "Hopelessly Devoted to You." This isn't just a karaoke song, it's a sing-at-the-top-of-your-lungs-in-the-shower song. Kind of a hairbrained choice if you ask me. Alaina started slow, but picked up toward the end, although I think she was out of tune. Randy called it (surprise, surprise, surprise) the wrong song. Paula liked it more than Randy. Simon said she looked old-fashioned and "pageanty." That's not a real word, Simon, but I think I understand what you mean.

Alexandrea Lushington: Definitely at the back of the pack for me. Alexandrea sang "If You Leave Me Now." Overall it was a flat performance and she didn't bring anything new to the song. At the end she went into some sort of off-note tailspin. Her outfit didn't do much for me either -- some kind of cargo pants and a vest. Randy called it a boring song choice and accused her of trying to play it safe. Paula, for some reason, was impressed. Simon thought she looked terrific but was also bored by the rendition.

After David Archuleta's incredible performance Tuesday night, I'd say some of these gals need to get their act together... and quick. They have their work cut out for them.

Thursday night we find out the next four to say farewell.

Ethan Morris: "Not always right, but never in doubt." Go ahead and write me.