After one week, I think the women are much, much better than the men this year. I’d say there are three men with a legitimate shot to win, and about five women. Last night’s women’s lineup:
Kristy Lee Cook. This was the “Amazing Grace” girl from the auditions who apparently also sold a horse to make her initial audition. She sang Fontina Bass’s “Rescue Me.” Apparently, she also has a mild case of bronchitis. I actually thought she did fairly well. The judges didn’t seem to like her. Going first and getting railed by the judges might be too much to overcome the first week. She could be in trouble.
Joanne Borgella. “I Say a Little Prayer,” by Aretha Franklin. She did pretty well, but I really wanted to hear a fuller sound from her. Again, the judges didn’t seem to like her very much. Tough crowd, tonight. I can’t see her getting knocked out tonight, unless the rest of the lineup is very, very strong.
Alaina Whitaker. Sang “I Love You More Today Than Yesterday,” the second Spiral Staircase song this week. Not sure she was in tune for the entire thing, but she belted it out with confidence. Oddly, her voice sounded quite a bit more mature than the other two women tonight, even though she’s much younger. Young, pretty, confident, and a strong performance. She’ll coast for awhile.
Amanda Overmeyer. Hey, another Hoosier! And she’s got a nice, gruffy, throwback rock ‘n’ roll voice. Sang “Baby Please Don’t Go,” an old blues tune made famous by Van Morison and THEM. Not a whole lot of singing involved in the song. In fact, it was more a showcase for the band than for her voice. Still, it was a fun song that showed off the raspy soul that sets her apart from everyone else. I think she’ll sail. I hope so, anyway.
Amy Davis. Yet another Indiana native. Who knew we Hoosiers had pipes? Sang “Where the Boys Are,” by Connie Francis. Again, I had a better impression than the judges. She missed a few notes, probably due to nerves, but she’s got a smooth, sultry delivery. She’s a good looking girl, but she may be done this week.
Brook White. I really liked her in the audition and Hollywood rounds. She’s got a great Carole King vibe. She also looks and acts a lot older than 24. Bit of an old soul in her. I thought through the early stuff that she’d be a favorite. Definitely think that after tonight. She sang The Turtles’ “Happy Together,” and was much, much better than last night. Great personality, and she’s certainly forged her own sound. I think she’s great.
Alexandrea Lushington. Could this really be her actual name? I know, I know. I’m one to talk. Sang Blood, Sweat & Tears’ “Spinning Wheel.” She did a great job on a gutsy choice (that’s not an easy melody to master). Great moves, too. Great smile, great confidence, and great voice. My only compliant was the arrangement. The band I think distracted from a pretty good performance.
Kady Malloy. Sang “Groovy Kind of Love,” made famous by the Mindbenders, and later butchered by Phil Collins. Never a good idea to go with a ballad the first week, but she has a terrific voice, and added some nice touches to personalize it. The judges didn’t seem particularly fond of her performance. I think she’ll be fine for next week. But she should pick up the tempo a bit. Simon was a bit harsh, but he’s basically right. She needs to inject some personality into her stuff, and she’ll be fine.
Asia’h Epherson. She sang an R&F-ified version of Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart.” I like the smoky voice, and she’s got great stage presence. Something about it didn’t quite do it for me, though. Maybe it was the phrasing or the arrangement, but it took me about thirty seconds to recognize the song–and it’s a very recognizable song. The early weeks are all about personality, though, and she’s got plenty. She’ll be fine.
Ramiele Malubay. I loves me some Dusty Springfield. And she nailed it. Really, really well done. Such a big voice to come out of such a small person. One of the best of the night.
Syesha Mercado. Gotta love a girl who’s last name means “market.” I’m a huge fan, but I was puzzled by the song choice, the Nashville Teens’ “Tobacco Road.” Mercado’s all neo-soul. And tonight’s theme was the 60’s, the apex of old soul. And she picks Nasvhille Teens? Bah. She’ll be fine. But I hope puts that wail to better use. Also, she’s smokin’ hot.
Carly Smithson. Sang Tony Bennett’s “Shadow of Your Smile.” She easily the most seasoned performer among the women. But I don’t think she’s going to make the finals. She’s not likable on-stage, and unfortunate as it is to say this, I think the tattoos and the fact that she isn’t as pretty as the other women have is going to hurt her when it comes to building a base of fans. It would be one thing if she was a rock ‘n’ roll girl. But I just don’t think the audience is going to buy a torch song singers with a sleeve of tattoos. She should be okay this week. But she’ll probably need to be perfect every week to advance.
Predictions: Asia’h Epherson, Syesha Mercado, Ramiele Malubay, and Brooke White are the favorites. Kristy Lee Cook and Amy Davis go home this week.