Thursday, 28 February 2013

Las Vegas Round 3: Five More Girls

Doubling down? Is that like halving in Vegas-speak? What Ryan Seacrest means is that the last ten girls will become five who go home and five who finally get to be approved or rejected by the public in a week's time.

Performing will be Melinda Ademi, Candice Glover, Juliana Chahayed, Jett Hermano, Cristobel Clack, Aubrey Cleland, Rachel Hale, Breanna Steer, Janelle Athur and, oh dear, Zonette Johnson.

Melinda is first and, once you get past the bright lilac tights there's a very attractive and marketable girl on stage - like Katie Melua with caffeine. Nobody's Perfect was a going nowhere track for her but she's good and has a gentler touch to her that most others haven't shown as well as an excellent presence. Judges not that complimentary which seemed a bit harsh. Nicky very short and almost delivering a coded 'No' but I have a feeling Keith will fight for her.

Candice Glover has been one of the favourites since the start, especially with Randy. Natural Woman is very 70s and quite restrained compared to what she's blasted us with to date. She's good, not someone I'd want to hear on the hour every hour but she has to be in with a good chance and that was a flawless, albeit uninspiring performance. Everybody seems very happy so we can assume that, whatever they say, the four judges will be putting her straight through.

Juliana Chahayed was someone who really impressed me in the last round. She's quite different and stands there in a simple cream dress with a guitar. Spell-binding stuff. Her version of Skyscraper, totally stripped bare, was excellent and she has real control. That was a 'moment'. Lukewarm crowd response who clearly must have come on a bus with Candice. She's 15. Love her originality. Nicky says she's timid and seems to be saying that will not help with so many belters in the likely competition. I disagree and, for a change, liked Randy's confirmation that she is different and actually that could be to her distinct advantage. Interesting. I think she'll get through and, even if the Vegas audience aren't big fans she will appeal to a large fan base and do well in the public vote thereafter.

Jett Hermano. Now that's an Idol type of name. Great version of Only Girl In The World. Sitting at a piano and looking very classy this a one serious contender. Again, she is original and very professional. In fact she could cost Juliana her place but Nicky and Randy don't seem to get it. Mariah is in one of those width-emphasising dresses again.

Cristobel Clack is not attractive and has a rough voice but she knows where to find the notes and what to do with them. Terrible backing and earrings. She worked hard with the song - not one I recognised - with runs almost everywhere as she realised she needed to do something at the end but I still wasn't sure she fits my idea of an Idol winner. Keith was impressed. Nicky wasn't. Randy yes. Mariah makes the point that this girl has already sung all over the world and, strangely, bigs up the backing singers at precisely the time when they deserved the opposite. She seems to want to keep her but I wonder? If Cristobel stays then that's trouble for Jett, Juliana and even Melinda.

Aubrey Cleland is lovely. The crowd love her too but I'm not so sure, apart from the marketing image (cue obviously male camera guy to pan from shoes up a slender tanned body in a nicely very non-pc way!). We hear a lot about the 'package'. Her version of Beyonce's Beautiful Nightmare goes down extremely well with the judges and it was nice but not exceptional. I get the distinct feeling that she's through, More trouble for the original artists, I fear. I would like to see her in the final Top 20 but in place of Cristobel.

Rachel is good solid Country with soul and they need someone for that audience which comprises a huge amount of advertising revenue and voting dollars. Not a song that worked for me at all but no doubt Keith will have loved it. She's a bubbly and cheery girl from a small town and just seems to enjoy performing. It was neither here nor there, though, and he picks up on that. She has Janelle to contend with, coming up next. She drops the religious thing on us by telling Nicky she's been praying a lot and that gets Randy on a zealous let's all pray mission, followed by Mariah who also seemed to want to keep the gospel viewers who will have been doing the Lordy thing on their sofas in Chapel Country. Maybe merging Country and Chapel may get her through but it won't be on that performance. I just don't think that would have reached the Billboard Top 100 whereas several others tonight would have hit the Top 40 with a bullet.

Breanna Steer has escaped my attention for a lot of the previous weeks, apart from the tight black leather. She looks quite harsh tonight but has one of the more modern performances with something about Bursting The Windows Out Your Car. That could be taken in more ways than one. Different again. A difficult night coming up. Nicky suggests she form a group with Aubrey Cleland - that tells me she doesn't expect her to go through. Randy would sign her today. Does that mean he's voting for her tonight or looking to pick her up a bit more cheaply if she goes? Mariah genuinely doesn't know what they're going to do which is a nice bit of honesty.

What a pair to leave us with! Janelle is the Country girl in my book. Wobbly start, though, to Kiss Goodnight which simply didn't come across at all well. She was off-key and never was able to recover, despite attempts to do so. That could be a great shame as she is absolutely stunning - the classic American girl who could sell records just by being on the cover. Keith says he felt for her and seems to have noticed that. Nicky also was upset by this lacklustre performance but, for the first time tonight, says who she's voting for. Randy is all over the place as he starts but says how she's his favourite Country girls and seems to be willing to forgive and forget. Mariah says the same. I can see them putting her through so she looks like being one very fortunate girl tonight, especially when she looks at the rerun!

In complete and utter contrast is Zoanette Johnson. Oh boy, what's she going to do? Play it down and serious or do something bizarre? She's a fun character and, yes, may initially be good tv but I really think she has to go now or she'll be occupying space that one of the others needs and is likely to more with as things progress. So whatever she does, that's going to be my verdict.

Plug for Liberia and I guess her homeland will have heard this. She starts off in what I assume is her native language with a remarkable African-theme version of The Circle Of Life. In places she's good. In places she's dreadful. Goodness only knows what they'll do with her. I fear the worst, though. Nicky gets quite emotional. Randy nails it with his comment about people asking 'What the hell are they doing keeping her in?' and then justifying it. But is all this emotion and representation of people like her really a good way to decide who will be in our charts, on our screens and on our radios later this year? Put her in a show or something but no, not Idol. It's been fun but let the others get a chance to shine now, even if they don't have quite the personality or 'cause appeal'.

Janelle and Candice I put in the definitely through category. Then I would choose Juliana and Aubrey with Jett just getting in. Cristobel and Zoanette may get the judges' vote, though. So two excellent girls could suffer.

There could well be a Jimmy Iovine moment coming up. No. Not necessary.

Zoanette is first to get the news - probably best to get this over with, one way or another! Oh dear. she's one of the five.
Melinda doesn't. Shame but understandable.
Julianna doesn't. Now that is disappointing and is the casualty I was most concerned about.
Aubrey is second to get through. Deservedly so.
Cristobel doesn't.
Candice is third through. Predictable.
Jett loses out to Breanna - I wasn't expecting that.
Then it's between Rachel and Janelle and it's Janelle that wins out.

Let's hope the public vote sorts them out next week. A tough night for this group - those left now really have to prove they can justify the faith put in them.