I thought the judges were pretty harsh tonight. Seems like they’re a bit jaded, or forgetting that they’re judging the first round, not the finals. Overall, not a bad round of performances for these girls’ first time before a massive national audience.
Here’s how I’d rank them:
Sang: Fixin’ a Hole
Should Have Sung: I have no complaints.
Performance: Best of the night. Not sure what Simon’s talking about. She has plenty of star power. She’s confident, poised, and has her own sound. Don’t know how far her retro vocals will go with Idol voters, though.
Should Have Sung: Tina Turner’s “Private Dancer”
Performance: I’m not an Alicia Keyes fan, but she was great. Polished and confident. “Too commercial” was a strange criticism from the judges. To come out that strong and seemingly nerve-free this early was an accomplishment.
Sang: Oh Darlin’
Should Have Sung: This was a great choice.
Performance: Fantastic. Sexy, sultry, terrific stage presence. Kara was right about her knowing her voice, wrong about her look. I thought it fit the song rather well.
Sang: The Way I Am
Should Have Sung: “What I Am,” by Edie Brickell.
Performance: The judges were way too hard on her. This was a great first performance. Different than the others, and a stripped-down arrangement. The arrangement smartly put lots of focus on her voice, which is pretty unique.
Sang: Hand in my Pocket
Should Have Sung: Bob Dylan’s “Shelter From the Storm”
Performance: I like Bowersox quite a bit, but this was a little disappointing. Song choice was too predictable. Also, the harmonica’s a nice touch, but if she’s going to play it, she needs to play it correctly. It was off last night. Her terrific voice, phrasing, and inflection overcame both, but I figured she’d have been one of the front runners after the first week. She came up a bit short of that.
Sang: Wicked Game
Should Have Sung: Pretty good choice.
Performance: Had some doubts when she first came out. Lower register was off key (I think she had a mic problem, too). But recovered really nicely. Strongest finish of the night. But I’m also a big Chris Isaac fan.
Should Have Sang: John Hiatt’s “Have a Little Faith in Me”
Performance: She was good, if a little boring. She has a very good, but very generic voice. Needs to pick some unconventional songs to stand out. It’ll probably help that she’s hot.
Sang: What About Love
Should Have Sung: Alanah Miles’ “Black Velvet”
Performance: Verses sounded great, but she didn’t have the chops to bring home the big chorus. Both the song and the band got away from her. I like her, though. And like Rodriguez, her looks will help her through if she breaks off a couple weak performances early on.
Sang: Feelin’ Good
Should Have Sung: Maybe some Dusty Springfield?
Performance: She’s good. Another contestant the judges were way too hard on. They’re probably right that she needs to go younger and more playful next time around, though.
Sang: All Right Now
Should Have Sung: I thought the song choice was pleasantly quirky, but she should have slowed it down, or quieted the band for a more stripped-down arrangement.
Performance: Not very memorable. She didn’t enunciate the lyrics well, and her voice was drowned out by the band. Seems like a common problem in the early rounds with people who pick songs with a strong guitar line. Strong finish, though. Still, she may be gone.
Sang: I Want To Hold Your Hand
Should Have Sung: Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”
Performance: I’ve been perplexed by the judges’ fascination with her up to this point. Is it the novelty of a black teenage girl who wants to be a country star? I find her annoying, and Simon’s description of her last night as a smiling wind-up doll was spot-on. I’m sure she’s a nice kid. I just don’t get the appeal.
Should Have Sung: Anything else.
Performance: I think these last two were the only really bad performances. This one was all over the place. The choice to sing parts in duet with a male backup singer was a terrible one. She also lost her place, and was off-key throughout the song. Too bad. She had some good moments in the preliminary rounds.
Prediction: Brown and Vaughan should be gone. But Vaughan got so much publicity in the early rounds, she’s probably established enough of a fan base to get through. So I think Brown and Miles go home Thursday.