‘American Idol’ 11 Recap: Top 12 Girls

The guys performed first, and the general consensus is that, overall, they underwhelmed. Do the girls have it in them to take the crown this week? Speaking of crowns, will we finally have a female winner this year, as Ryan Seacrest not-so-subtly mentioned? I hope we can. I’ve been tired these past few years having the same white male over and over again win. Where’s the Kelly Clarkson’s, the Carrie Underwood’s, the Fantasia’s?

The judges did not bring back an extra girl like they did with the guys. So here are our Top 12 Girls:

1. Chelsea Sorrell: “Cowboy Casanova”
This was a fun way to start off the night. She’s got solid and strong vocals, which is always good. It’s one of Carrie Underwood’s best songs and I was singing (or rather, lip-syncing) along. On the downside, though, she went first and didn’t distinguish herself enough from Carrie’s version.

2. Erika Van Pelt: “What About Love”
So far, the girls are coming out of the gate strong. I love hearing the kind of powerhouse voice she has. The song suited her perfectly. My only worry is that if there are stronger performances later on, she may be forgotten. I hope not.

3. Jen Hirsh: “One and Only”
Jen’s been my favorite from the early rounds. And overall, she didn’t disappoint. There were a few moments where her voice strained. But because this is a soft song, you need to show restraint and control, and Jen certainly did.

4. Brielle Von Hugel: “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay”
We were on such a roll, and then Brielle comes along and slows that down a little. She started off weak and off pitch at times. But she was definitely better during the latter half. I don’t think she’ll make it because during Hollywood Week, she and her mom were annoying and very unlikable (especially the mom).

5. Hallie Day: “Feeling Good”
Hallie had some nice moments a couple times previously. But we never really got to see her personality, and we’re still not. I think that’s what’s going to do her in. I don’t dislike her or anything, so it’s hard to say that. She needed more sass in this song.

6. Skylar Laine: “Stay with Me”
I haven’t been a big fan of her voice because it hasn’t been strong or unique. Tonight, I started to feel the same way. But as the song progressed, she came out and really showed what she’s made of. Her personality may keep her in. And is it just me, or does anyone else think she’ll be this year’s Kellie Pickler, with the strong country twang and the bubbly personality?

7. Bailey Brown: “Amazed”
I’m disappointed. She’s so much better than what she offered here. Her voice was thin and pitchy at times. She tried out before and didn’t make it; she tried again this year and it’s unfortunate to think she won’t make it yet again. To compensate, she wore a very, very revealing and low-cut dress (maybe she wants to pull a JLo at the Oscars?). But hey, Haley Scarnato back in season 6 got very far in the competition only because of her sex appeal.

8. Hollie Cavanagh: “Reflection”
I have good news and bad news. The good — her voice was one of the best tonight; very powerful. The bad — this is the wrong song for her most important performance yet. It’s one of those safe and been there/done that songs that don’t really help her improve. (This reminds me of Thia Megia last year doing Disney and Disney-like ballads every week.) But I hope she gets a second chance, because I like her voice.

9. Haley Johnsen: “Sweet Dreams”
Anyone remember Tiah Tolliver doing “Sweet Dreams” on ‘The X Factor’ USA last year and what a hot mess that was? Maybe this song should be banned because Haley was just as terrible. I don’t think she was on key even once — flat notes left and right. So far, she and Bailey rank at the bottom.

10. Shannon Magrane: “Go Light Your World”
The night started off strong, but has fallen apart during these middle sets. And I was starting to think the same with Shannon, because at first, she wasn’t doing well. But once the song kicked up, she improved greatly and delivered a nice ballad, ending strong.

11. Jessica Sanchez: “Love You I Do”
With vocal issues during rehearsals, I was worried about those low notes at the start. But once she left that part, she soared and was very reminiscent of Jennifer Hudson (who performed this song in ‘Dreamgirls’). You never would’ve thought she had vocal issues. She let that all go and belted it out.

12. Elise Testone: “One and Only”
I love a good rasp when a female singer belts it out. Jen, earlier tonight, sang the same Adele song. But they sounded very different from each other. I think Elise was better on it. Her tone is beautiful, and she better be here next week.

Favorite Performances: Jessica Sanchez / Elise Testone

My Votes: Jessica Sanchez (10 votes)*

*When I first tried to vote for Jessica, the line was busy. I had no problem after that, but as far as I can recall, I don’t think I’ve ever had the line busy this early in the competition.

Top 13* Predictions:
Jen Hirsh
Skylar Laine
Hollie Cavanagh
Jessica Sanchez
Elise Testone

*In my recap for the guys, I referred to the finals as a Top 12. I should clarify and say that it will most definitely be a Top 13 this year. If you remember, last year it was supposed to be a Top 12 just like any other year. But during the Wild Card, the judges decided to bring back one more than they were supposed to. But if I’m hearing Ryan correctly on how everything will go down this week, the voters will choose five guys and five girls, then the judges will each have one pick which, if my elementary school math doesn’t fail me, leaves us with a Top 13.

If you read my recap on the guys, you might have seen that I had a hard time picking which five guys I’m predicting will advance. I think I have it a little easier with the girls, but still, there are a few that are on the bubble that could either be cut or advance. Jessica Sanchez (and most likely Elise Testone) seems a lock for the Top 13. Skylar Laine, whether you liked her or not, stood out — and that can have a lot of sway, especially when you put her up against someone like Hallie Day who has a great voice but hasn’t shown a personality.

Jen Hirsh performed near the start of the show and may have been forgotten by the end. But since she was a strong favorite by many from earlier rounds, I hope that is what keeps her in. But Erika Van Pelt performed just before Jen. And while she had a great voice as well, I have a feeling voters will forget her more than Jen.

So for the final spot, I’m left with Hollie Cavanagh and Shannon Magrane. If the choice were up to me, I’d go with Hollie just because she has more potential than the other. Shannon had a better overall performance, though I prefer Hollie’s voice. I have a feeling it’ll be Shannon, but I’m going to go with Hollie. But here’s the deal: If Jen Hirsh (or even Skylar), for some reason, is cut, then I could see both Hollie and Shannon making it.

What did you think of the girls’ performances this week? Were they better than the guys? On many occasions, I believe they were. Everyone in the Top 25 has now performed in the semifinals for our votes. And now we wait for the live results on Thursday night (US times / 8-10pm) and airing in the UK on Friday 2nd March (10pm – Midnight) on ITV2 directly after you’ve seen all the girls perform.