“American Idol” Thursday night took on an enormous challenge: unveiling the top 20 women, and also the top 20 guys in preparation for the start of the Las Vegas shows next week. Once again, there were astronomical levels of hype presented to the ladies, along with constant reminders that it has been six years since a woman has won.
Luckily, there was at least some serious justification this week to all of the hype. There are two performances in particular that we can proclaim to be better than anything the men did last week, and while they both came early in the show, it was enough to make us smile throughout the rest of the night.
Be advised here that this is not a complete list of the top 20, as there was not one given; instead, these are just the women who stood out over the course of the broadcast. Be sure to also keep reading at the end for some analysis on the guys who were cut just before the top 20.
Angela Miller – It’s an original song! Personally, we love it when contestants show off a personal side of themselves … and this was freakin’ fantastic. The best original song to hit “American Idol” in years, and the vocals were pretty perfect.
Candice Glover – After what Angela did, even the incredible Candice feels almost normal. Maybe it’s just because we personally would like to see the entire Alicia Keys catalogue (in particular “Fallin'” and “If I Ain’t Got You”) banned from the “American Idol” song choice list.
Janelle Arthur – This hasn’t been the easiest road for Janelle, but we do like a fighter. She hasn’t given up, and rather than being defeated by the “American Idol” machine over the past few years, she has gotten better to the point where now she could be a serious contender.
Zoanette Johnson – This was one of the strangest things we’ve ever seen. It was a complete and utter mess, yet at the same time supremely entertaining. It was almost as though she threw up all over the stage, yet it was something so wonderfully appalling that you couldn’t look away.
Shubha Vedula – Personally, we find it annoying when contestants decide to sing songs from the judges, mostly because it feels almost like a “look at me” moment. Luckily, she sang it very, very well.
Melinda Ademi – She should just advance for actually wanting to sing something fun. After listening to some many drippy stories and big ballads, these women need to realize that being Mariah Carey in the present-day will not get you on the radio. Doing what Melinda did, meanwhile, will.
Kree Harrison – Just a few months ago, we had never heard “Stars” from Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. Now, we’ve heard it three times on various singing competition.
Rachel Hale – A Haley Reinhart cover! Celebrate! Now, if only producers would put Haley on the show more.
Kez Ban – There was almost like a jazzy Radiohead vibe behind her solo performance here, but the issue she runs into was that there wasn’t really a whole lot of singing going on here. What we want to emphasize is that we’ve loved her personality, and we also loved the classy way in which she left. She showed respect for the show’s crew by offering to be a part of it, and also explained why she wanted to do the show in the first place: to make her mom, who was a fan proud.
Ashlee Feliciano – She was an early favorite, but honestly just faded here.
Stephanie Schimel – It’s a Phillip Phillips’ cover! That didn’t take long. This took some serious guts as she was forced to sing for her life on the show, and she did a rather great job with it. It’s too bad that it was just too little, too late for the Gwen Stefani / Carrie Underwood soundalike.
Adam Sanders – Despite the huge voice, there was not enough control.
David Leathers Jr. – The guy, once again, came so close … but yet so far.
We also want to give some credit to Josh Holliday, who advanced despite ripping his pants during his performance.
What did you think about some of the selections this week? If you want to also check out the shocking exit of Schyler Dixon from Wednesday night’s show, you can do so over at the link here.