After years of male dominance, "American Idol" may finally have some leading ladies.
Candice Glover and Angela Miller led a night of preliminary solo and group performances, establishing themselves as the front runners of a group at which they were already near the forefront.
But in order to do so, they and at least a thousand others (or that's what it seemed like) had to make it through some cuts that I'm pretty sure Ryan Seacrest called brutal at some point, followed by a group night that probably featured the exact same moments you're thinking it produced: personalities clashed, someone forgot the words, catty remarks, a singer came back onstage after their elimination to complain, et cetera, et cetera.
Certain aspects were magnified with there only being females; the men took to the stage last week amid a barrage of like half the singers forgetting the words. "Idol" still got to flash its #wronglyrics hashtag across the screen during the ladies' performances, but the episode owed itself more to contestants being disillusioned with their group and the song they chose to sing.
For instance,there was Zoanette Johnson, who might actually be the most interesting contestant on "Idol" in recent memory. She wasn't as bubbly at first, seemingly a bit upset that she was stuck in a group with three girls who she referred to as "country singers."
While one can understand that issue, the group performance wasn't very country, with only Isabelle showing much of a twangy vocal. Regardless, Johnson continues to show that, while she may not be a technically great singer, her overall stage presence and strange decisions while singing are kind of the best and I hope she sticks around FOREVER.
Janel Stinney couldn't do the group thing either, walking out on The Dramatics (lol) during practice because, basically, she was oversinging and when they tried to help her, she wouldn't have anything of it. But by some divine miracle, despite #wronglyrics, she made it on, along with the 100-times-better-sounding Cristabel Clack.
And then there was Kez Ban. Sweet Kez Ban.
Almost every single time she talked, you cringed. Her vocals were never spectacular. Her pre-performance jumping jacks reminded you of gym class in the worst way.
And yet, her performance with Kez Ban, Breanna Steer, Angela Miller and Janelle Arthur of "Be My Baby" was kind of great. So great, in fact, that all of them make it through to the next round. Granted, Miller and Arthur are among the show's most promising female contestants, Miller with a strong Kelly Clarkson vibe with Arthur showcasing some of the season's top country pipes. So that helps.
Some group performances actually shined (gasp!) minus any sort of drama or oddball cutaways. Candice Glover continues to be the best thing ever, stringing together some vocal runs on "Hit 'Em Up Style" that basically said, "Hey, just don't screw up, fellow group members, and I'll pretty much carry you to the promised land." Turned out Kamaria Ousley, Melinda Ademi and Denise Jackson were fairly strong singers in their own right, Ademi particularly with a vocal that could find a home in urban contemporary or R&B.
Raisin' Cain, an all-country hoedown, was one of at least two to take on Dixie Chicks' "Sin Wagon." Brandy Hotard in particular showed some serious country potential, as did Morgan Leigh Boberg.
But others weren't so lucky. Shira Gavrielov, who had a No. 1 single in Israel, could not deal with getting cut after an incredibly underwhelming performance, demanding an explanation from the judges afterward. Seretha Guinn's group was pretty bad as a whole, and Brandy Neely was sent packing despite a performance that I honestly didn't mind, though perhaps she was trying a bit too hard.
Thursday night begins the final solo performances before the next cut, after which the field will be whittled down to a top 20 for each gender. While the girls as a whole may not have been fantastic, a few front runners were, so I'm reasonably excited for the show.
Bullet points time!
- I need a GIF of Nicki Minaj writing 'They suck' on her hand and showing it to the camera on my desk by 5 p.m. today.
- While I always laugh at "Idol" trying to make hashtags happen during the episode, sorry I'm not sorry that I'm encouraging them by using #wronglyrics.
- Actually, yes, I am sorry. What monster have I created? OH GOD.
- The group Almost Famous was not, in fact, incendiary.
- Everyone should be banned from singing Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know" on this show. No. I don't care. None of the performances Wednesday were good, Charlie Askew's kinda blowed and I don't even want to talk about when Phillip Phillips and Elise Testone did it last year. IDOL, WHAT R U DOIN? IDOL, STAHP.
- But really, why is #wronglyrics such a thing this year? It's not like all these songs are obscure Ryan Adams b-sides that only Paul McDonald would know.
Unfortunately, we had to say goodbye to Ann Difanti, Ashley Smith, Megan Miller and Sarah Restuccio before groups began. I'm still salty about the last; she was the half-country, half-Nicki audition that I loved.
- Reality Check