Happy Hump Day Idol worshippers. Steven Tyler maybe had a point, when he said (and I paraphrase) that some voices are so powerful, they can transcend schmaltzy lyrics or wonky melodies. Given Steven’s enjoyment of TaTynisa’s not-so-solid “Only Girl in the World” opener, we might just ignore everything he said tonight and reach back to the dearly departed Lady Abdul’s “You could just sing the phone book” for confirmation of this concept. Either way, it was a claim given little support tonight, as few Idol-wannabes were actually able to pull themselves from a veritable quicksand of pageant-circuit ballads, needless re-arrangements and songs so dated and unfamiliar, it’s possible they actually were culled from the Yellow Pages stashed underneath your great aunt’s rotary dial phone. And it all started like we were watching a special broadcast of Miss USA (that wasn’t shelved to a Saturday, even!). From the second the ladies (and girls) walked out on stage, the tone had been set. I was just waiting for Donald Trump to pop up out of nowhere touting his many charitable contributions and how this pageant has changed the lives of girls and women around the country. Instead, we got Peaches. Let’s dive on right in to the performances and keeping with the pageant theme, we’ll take a look at who deserves a crown and who doesn’t.
Talent Round: The crown here most definitely belongs to MySpace. Well, MySpace discovered her, remember, but the crown should go to Karen Rodriguez. Not only did she tromp on stage in a beautiful evening gown, singing a lovely and powerful Mariah ballad, but she even sang in Spanish. If that doesn’t say Miss USA, I don’t know what does. On the opposite end of the spectrum, poor TaTynisa (who has a solid voice, just watch her audition rounds again) fell victim to a song that is just too popular to overcome right now. That’s what happens when you sing a song that has been released in the last year…you’re never as good as the original, especially when I could have heard it in my car 30 minutes before the show. The arrangement seemed too fast, there was nothing special in her voice to draw me in. I half expected Rihanna to pop out from backstage to save her.
Costume Design: Tonight’s crown goes to Naima Adedapo, as if you second guessed that for one second. I mean she designed her own dress tonight! Granted, she didn’t do much of the actual labor on it, but she took initiative and made herself stand out in that bright yellow garb of hers. Working a different arrangement than Fantasia’s in the past was a good way to set herself apart from the groundbreaking performance. Grabbing the “what-did-you-wear” award for the night is … Lauren Turner. Turning on the sultry, blusey feel for “Seven Day Fool” (which obviously came from under that rotary phone), Lauren didn’t do enough to stand out above the rest. She looked thrown together and sang a song that very few people might be familiar with. Easily forgettable in the middle of the pack. Hey look, Simon’s back.
Drama Queen: This is a crown you DON’T necessary want to take home, and guess what … we have two winners tonight! Rachel Zevita. From the moment she quickly turned around and shrugged off her shawl-like covering, you know this was bound to be a production. She should teach Brett some strip tease stage techniques with the way she was waving her hair and blinking at the camera. I wonder if Randy got a hair wave count today. Instead of Jacob Lusk and Karen Rodriguez do a duet, let’s get Brett and Rachel whipping their hair back and forth as a special number. Joining her tonight is, you guessed it, miss Ashthon Jones, the diva herself. Not much needs to be said here. She agreed, the judges agreed, and America probably agreed. She shouldn’t hide her personality, but she needs to make it look less like she’s big woman on campus and more just showing her talent.
I’d like to pause here for a word from our sponsor. Oh, who’s that? James Durbin? How’d you sneak in this all-female telecast? Oh, what’s that you say? You’re probably Nigel Lythgoe’s favorite male? Ohhhhh, I get it now. Lauren Alaina is over there, go sit next to her.
Miss Teen USA: Well, this one’s an easy call. You don’t need the judge’s here. Thia Megia and Lauren Alaina grab hold of this crown in our little pageant. If you ask me (and I know you were), Thia should have done her whole performance a capella. It was very commanding and awe-inspiring when she took the stage with nothing but her voice. There were no distractions, no awkward dance moves, just simple singing. Now, if only this 15 year old didn’t pick a song that 20% of America knew, we’d be on the right page here. The right page in great aunt’s phone book. Lauren, Lauren, Lauren. Where do I even go with this? I’ve already expressed my displeasure in the blatant favoring by Papa Nigel, so we won’t go there. Where we will go, however, is how the judges (all three of them) repeated in some way, shape or form the fact that she’s rivaled the talent of Kelly Clarkson. Like we haven’t heard that one before! Can they be anymore obvious? Tell Nigel to stop writing the script! Kara DioGuardi + Adam Lambert Part Deux.
The Question Round: The problem with the girls who fall in this category, for our purposes at least, is that they were too middle of the road or too “Monday, Tuesday WTF” to even discuss. Kendra Chantelle’s rendition of “Impossible” by the next celebrity rehab contestant (Christina Aguilera) was just OK for me. She’s got the pipes and is fairly a stranger to us thanks to her Witness Protection edit in the auditions, but this might not have been the greatest somewhat-first-impression. Julie Zorrilla, I haven’t lost faith in you yet. You showed so much promise during the audition rounds. I won’t let one big error in song choice (Kelly Clarkson, really?) that doesn’t suit your voice steer my devotion away from you. Ok, I’m starting to sound creepy. As for Haley Reinhart, I was never fully convinced she deserved a spot in the Top 24. Now I see why she made it. But is she strong enough to keep on?
Miss USA is … Tonight, our winner is Pia Toscano. Her rendition of “I’ll Stand By You” not only garnered the first standing O from the 3 judges this season, but it wowed the bejeezus out of me. I knew her voice was solid from the earlier audition rounds, but I didn’t expect her to sing with as much control and grace as tonight. Her tone was steady and strong throughout, she was graceful and sang with such conviction. The other 11 girls (for the most part) could learn a thing or two from her. Tonight’s top contender was definitely Pia … but don’t get too comfortable up here, it’s a long way down and one little slip can make the difference. We all know how Idol works.
So, what’d you think of our pageantry festivities? Do you agree with who got the crowns? What did you think about the girls tonight? Any favorites or stand outs? Any “WTFs” from you tonight? Let us know below and discuss in our FORUMS, where we live blog each and every episode!