Life as an Extreme Sport

American Idol, Top 24 Gals, Week 1

Unlike the guys, there isn’t a clear division of the awesome and the not for the women. Well, there is, it’s just that only three stand out strong, as opposed to a much clearer delineation for the guys. That said, apparently the girls are, almost as a whole, fighting off the flu, which could have certainly accounted for why so many of them sounded awful this week.

Top Three: Ramiele Malubay, Brooke White, Alaina Whitacker
Bottom Three: Joanne Borgella, Amy Davis, Kady Malloy (for the bad attitude alone!)
Top 6 prediction*: Ramiele Malubay, Syesha Mercado, Brooke White, Alaina Whitacker Carly Smithson, Asia’h Epperson
Going home: Joanne Borgella, Amy Davis

* I want to note that this is not nearly so clear for the women as it is the guys; there are four people competing for two spots, and who’ll get those two spots (Asia’h, Alexandrea, Carly, or Amanda) is going to depend on their next performances.


  1. Someone suggested I place my full commentaries here, not just at the other place, so okay… not sure if I’ll keep placing them in the comments, or do full posts. (I’m leaning towards comments, since many people read both places.)

    Okay, all the same caveats from last night. Not sure I like the themes this early, but so far this is indeed the most talented yet. Let’s see if the women bring the Kevin Covais/Sanjaya of the season… hmm, they all have the flu? What an awful way to start out (I feel for them, too – my pneumonia-bit from January was flu-based, and the flu is truly evil this year).

    Hmm, Simon’s winky tonight. This ought to be interesting – then again, it’s the women, so Simon’s probably just got his flirt on. (And he admits he likes it when the contestants fight back – which is obvious, and equally as obvious that he likes it when they fight back in certain ways, not in any way, but they don’t mention that.)

    Kristy Lee Cook is up first, and she’s singing Rescue Me. This is the girl who rescued her ass singing Amazing Grace for a second time in Hollywood week, so I’m already not impressed with her. Plus, she sold her horse in this weepy story – except according to all the gossip sites, she hasn’t lived in Oregon for years, is living in Texas, and no longer raising/training horses.

    Simon, of course, is lusting after her – and she’s sort of cute, but… there’s something about her that just strikes me as plastic, in a very lay back and think of England way. I do, however, wish I could figure out how to pull my hair back like that…

    This is… boring. It’s at this awkward pace; it should be either significantly faster or much slower, but it’s sort of languishing in this weird zone of not good. And she looks like she’s running out of steam towards the end of the song – I wonder if she’s one of the sick ones? (I like how, in the shot of the guys when they didn’t realize they were on camera, the ones who really stood out last night look distinctly unimpressed, heh.)

    She’s got this weird flat expression. Weird. I’d give her… C-. Not very good.

    Judges say: Randy said it was rough, and nerves, and she’s sick, so it was okay. And Paula agrees, but says that you can’t let being sick get in the way of performing – and you know, if anyone’s going to tell you about how to perform and not let people know how broken you are, Paula is the one to give you that advice. Simon didn’t know she was sick, and said the song didn’t suit her – which is true. Also nailed her for a robotic performance; Simon notes they’ve all done the show when sick so… and emphasizes again it’s not about being sick, it’s about the wrong song choice.

    Ryan comes on and asks if we should just send her home now, or do we take into account that she’s sick? Apparently some of the girls barely made it to rehearsal, with surgical masks and blankets. I feel for them, I really do – I was miserable and barely able to get out of bed, so I can only imagine the hell they’re in.

    Joanne Borgella is the pretty plus sized model from Philly who was the last girl picked. I like how she says upfront that they expect a neo-soul voice out of a big, plus sized girl – and that ain’t her. She’s got a lot of strength and sass – I like her. She’s singing I Say a Little Prayer which is a song I like, but man. I really hope she’s sick, cuz that’s the only real excuse you can have for this – she’s very croaky. She hits some very nice notes, and then barely gets some of them out. (However, interesting – the guys who were flat and bored during Kristy are moving and grooving for Joanne; all of them were, actually, and are smiling. Hmm.) To her credit, she hit that last note well… but man, not a good performance. Nerves or illness? Dunno – another C-.

    Judges: Randy said she got it together at the end, but it was shaky and uncertain. Paula and Randy hit on her confidence levels, and Paula tells her to pull it together (which, ouch, harsh from Paula). Simon didn’t like it at all, which no real surprise. He’s pretty harsh on her, though, and it’s rough to see her heart breaking on screen like this.

    Ryan comes on to pick up the pieces, and we flash to her parents who, damn, Simon better not get stuck in a room alone with them, cuz I think they’d just beat him right down. Ryan asks what she thinks about the criticism, and she says she tries to take balance, but Simon steps up and says “if you take both parts, then it was horrible” and she’s speechless. Ouch, Simon – sheesh. I suspect that will keep her in the show, just for his utter assholeness that was rather out of line, even for him.

    There is some spacey blonde on the screen proving every stereotype about blondes, in this weird combination of Kellie Pickler and Carrie Underwood – the bad parts of both. This is apparently Alaina Whitacker, who is the youngest contestant on the show. She’s singing More Today Than Yesterday which I should apparently know, but it’s not ringing a bell. She’s doing that weird… make her voice thickly vibratto at some points, and I don’t like it. I will give her this – she doesn’t come across as young, which is a good thing – I’d place her around 20 years old, which is a pretty big jump if you think about it. She’s got some life, though – so I’m going to guess she’s not sick.

    I’ll give her a B – definitely the best so far, but there’s something about her I’m just against.

    Judges: Randy liked it, Paula thought it was a feelgood song, Diana Ross, blahblah, she nailed it, best ending so far. Simon’s beaming, so he’s going to have something to say that’s positive. He thinks she’s very good, first time without nerves, Simon hates the song, it’s corny and never heard it before, but says that she made a song as awful as that sound bad, she’ll be great on a good song. He says she’ll sail through – I’ll give him that. Think they’re drugged on the rest.

    Ryan comes on, says some meaningless crap, can we move on?

    Amanda Overmyer, who reminds me of Jerri (and in fact I did a doubletake the first time I saw her on my screen), and is the “rock’n’roll nurse”. She’s got this amazing, gravely rock voice, which I like quite a bit, but I’m a bit worried that she’s going to be the same every week, that she’ll never sound any different. Aaaaand she’s coming on stage with a hard rock noise, so… yeh, not going to shake it up today. She’s singing Baby Please Don’t Go, which she’s doing in some sped up homage to blues way. I don’t know the song, so I can’t say whether or not it’s good, but her scatting innit good at all, and there really aren’t lyrics to this, it’s just repeating the title over and over.

    Right. One trick pony. I’m bored with her already. That’s a bad thing. Performance was probably a B, but I’m knocking her to a C on principle.

    Judges: Randy loved the bluesyrockerchick vibe, liked the outfit, like everything. Paula likes how authentic she is, says she’s the real deal and not a one trick pony (wrooooong), and now we’re to Simon. Simon is speechless? Says he really likes her, agrees that she’s authentic, she stands out, but thought she might have forgot the words – she was surprised and didn’t know how to take him not knowing the scatting… apparently he doesn’t know the song, and the two who do said it was really good.

    Ryan harasses Simon on not knowing the song, says she could take down Simon (he looks pleased at that idea), and really? Why did they not have the judges get familiar with the 50 songs? 24 they’re going to sing? And hah, points to her – she’s poised and thinks on her feet. Okay, I guess she can have her B grade back.

    WTF? How many of the women look alike?

    Amy Davis is… a model and grad student. Plays guitar, but is sort of bland… and someone decided to make her up like Summer Glau, which is sort of disconcerting when you catch it out of the corner of your eye. She’s singing Where the Boys Are and god, what did she do with this? Her schtick seems to be “slow everything down as slow as possible, and then croon.” This is… not good. In fact, it might even swing over to bad. I can’t fast forward on VLC Player, either. (Where are the boys? They’re in the corner trying hard not to look bored for the camera.)

    She’s pretty, though, so I suspect that will keep her around a week or two. C.

    Judges: Randy didn’t think it was great; pitchy and she didn’t scoot up to the notes well (whatever that means). Paula says that the camera loves her, and she models, so no surprise. Nerves got her, not an engaging song. Simon says there’s nothing to add – lackluster, boring, looks great, but sounded bad. Very cabaret, bad arrangement, and she’s lacking the country twange to make the song interesting. Simon grinds in the point it was bad, but it’s hard to disagree with him.

    Ryan comes on and asks about nerves, and she says she wasn’t terrified, but definitely shakey. She’s got a bit of a weird crosseye going on sometimes and suddenly looks way too made up. Hrm.

    Brooke White who is begging to be the next Joni Mitchell/Carli Simon. She’s singing Happy Together and oh right – I like this girl. This is a really sparse arrangement, just her and a guitar, and it sounds fabulous. Her hair needs a good brushing – she’s looking a little too tame – and someone needs to get her out of grey, cuz it ain’t her colour. But that aside, she’s sparkles, and her voice is just lovely. Place her in the alternachick pile, and I’d probably buy her album tomorrow. She can happily have an A, as well as my first pick for top six gals.

    Judges: Randy thought it was rough, but she found her confidence and worked it out at the end – she apparently slayed the back end of it. Simon has to ask for a translation, and Brooke steps in and affirms she understands and can the judges move on? Hah, she’s so confident and I adore her. Paula likes her, says she picked the right song, did well. And Simon says?… she chose the right song, rolls his eyes at the happy perky and feels like he’s in a commercial but hello, y’all are the ones who picked the theme so suck it. Simon asks if she’s going to be nice, and she asks if that’s okay? Simon cracks up and says no.

    Ryan comes in and pokes fun at Simon’s Britishness/commercial references (washing liquids), and Brooke stays remarkably composed – she’s the perfect little foil to Simon. He insists he hates it, and you know inside he’s eating it up.

    Alexandréa (pronounced Alex Andrea) Lushington is up next, and I feel the need to have a small chat with her parents about appropriate naming/spelling. Half there, and the boys are kicking the gals all over the place so far. That said, I like her prior to now aesthetic and could handle stealing her wardrobe, it’s very space marine (which is oddly how I was dressed today, with my “Everybody Lies” shirt as the odd piece out). She’s singing Spinning Wheel, and I’m sorry to say that her aesthetic apparently got lost in the 80s, and she looks pretty… awful in a just walked out of a Salt n Peppa video. (Let me sum it up like this: a gigantor dangling silver peace sign earring in one ear. Stud in the other. Uhhuh.)

    Music-wise, to be honest, it started off strong, but the high notes ate her for lunch and sounded like hell at the end. It had some neat bits, but eh. C+.

    Judges: Randy thinks it’s about being young, she blew the doors off, blah etc. Paula thought it was way relevant, amazing. Simon thought it was awful, an awful 60s musical, badbadbad, not at all relevant, what the hell are the other two listening to, he’s not with them at all. I’m with Simon.

    Ryan comes out to rescue the bickering, and she corrects Ryan on pronouncing her name and Simon pipes up with liiiiiking her attitude. And yeah, that was a funny little needle of Ryan, but. She sounds like she might be sick, she says she can take Simon’s comments, and then mimics Ryan badly. I am not a fan.

    Kady Malloy looks like… someone. Another bleached blonde tan girl, so can we knock one or two of them out so I can distinguish them? She does a good mimic of Britney Spears, tho – give her that. Seems to have a sense of humour, at least. She’s singing… omg, YES. Groovy Kind of Love! It’s paired down – I think it’s just a piano and her (and snapping people? oookay). She’s sitting on stool, and has it very slowed down… maybe too slowed down?

    She looks like what would happen if you smooshed Shakira and Jewel Staite together. And is the third woman who appears crosseyed, so what’s going on with that?

    Okay, right. Singing competition. Pretty voice, but too slow. B+.

    Judges: Randy thought it was too slow, too restrained – she needed to belt it out and didn’t. Paula thinks she looks lovely, BUT her personality didn’t come through – where’s the fun? Simon agrees with Paula, calls it night of the living dead and saying that’s what Paula meant. The lights go off when she’s herself, but she’s bright and shiny when she’s mimicking. And she looks pissed.

    Randy tries to get Ryan in to break it up, and Simon says he loved her at first, but she’s lost what was so appealing. Ryan tries to give her a way to rescue herself, and she says it was a serious song so she thought she had to be serious. Paula steps in and says everyone agrees that Kady needs to relax and be herself and stop trying to guess what they want. Kady looks like she wants to throw a temper tantrum. She gets knocked to a C+ for being a brat.

    Asia’h Epperson – right, father died right before audition girl. And I feel for her, cuz god knows I burst into tears at random moments, still, but honey? I also go out of my way to avoid things that will make that happen – you don’t see me sitting around singing How Do I Live Without You. Still, I remember really liking her in Hollywood week, so maybe there’s hope?

    She’s singing Piece Of My Heart, which… is it the song I know by that title? It doesn’t sound like it…. uh, no, it is. It’s just really changed up. Which is.. hard for me, because I really, really like the version I’m familiar with. So uhm. I’m not sure if it’s her that’s fucking up, or if it’s the band, or… I’m confused. And it’s over? Maybe the problem is how edited down the songs have to be… I don’t know. I’m just… I don’t know?

    Judges: Randy was impressed, Paula thinks she had good moments, and Simon says it was his favourite of the night and… I wonder what he saw that I didn’t? Said she had fun, wasn’t taking herself seriously, and… I’m still confused.

    Ryan is sparkling at Simon, and no longer looks like he’s dealing with roadkill and other things that will be swept off the road soon, so I guess that’s good. I don’t even know how to grade it.

    Ramiele Malubay is next, and she’s singing You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me. Aaah, I remember this girl – she’s fashionable, and has a huge voice in a tiny body. …and is apparently Christian-from-Project Runway’s secret twin, cuz wtf? I think he wants his hair back.. Ooooh, she’s got the performativity thing goin – nice music stop head twist attitude thing. And they have her in eyelashes going for miles, which is effective.

    Her voice is really rich, really big – she reminds me of what might happen if you crossed J-Lo with Diana Ross. It’s a very good thing. She’s controlled, big, hitting the notes, not shouting – great performance. Top six, definitely. A.

    Judges: Randy laughs, says he loves that she took her time and it built up, she stuck to the melody and was very classy (which is a great word for her). Paula thinks she’s great and want to see her go all the way, really loved it. And Simon? Simon admits he didn’t like her at first, she was oldfashioned, and then in Hollywood thought she was the most consistent, and awarded her the outsinging everyone else award now. The little Ramiele that could.

    Ryan asks what the best part is? “Hair and makeup, and the shoes are awesome!” Haha – she’s cute.

    Syesha Mercado is next, and given she was already sick in Hollywood week, I hope she’s well tonight, because otherwise you might be tempted to take it as a sign. However, she’s bouncing all over the top stage, so I’m guessing she’s feeling well tonight. She certainly sounds healthy, and is sitting on her knees, towering over Ryan. *snort* I gotta admit, she impressed the hell out of me in Hollywood week.

    She’s singing Tobacco Road and… you know, I heard people rumbling about not liking it, but I actually like this quite a bit. My only complaint is that she could be getting a little lower/speaking the part when she talks about being in the middle of Tobacco Road. Mmm, the end was a little pitchy, though, and the big note felt out of place for the song. Her voice has also lost a touch of the richness – I think I like her at a different, slightly lower pitch. She can have an A.

    Judges: Randy pulls the pitchy, didn’t like the performance, but thought it was consistent. Paula thought it was joyful and fun (with apologies to Simon), and gives her a way to go. And Simon? Simon agrees it wasn’t her best performance, and says it doesn’t matter, since she’s one of the most talented girls – she has attitude, tries hard, and thought it was terrific. I can get behind that.

    Ryan asks Simon if she has the whole package and Simon’s response cracks me up – “ohmyGOD yes!” What package is he thinking of, mmm?

    Carly Smithson is closing out the show, and I guess that shouldn’t be a surprise, given all the manufactured controversy over her. But oh, she talks about being signed at 15, the record came out at 17, then the company imploded and this is her second chance. A good way, I think, to address the entire “controversy”. (However, everything I’ve heard suggests that the record company did NOT implode, so….)

    She’s singing The Shadow Of Your Smile, which, I don’t think I know. Do I know this song? I don’t think I know this song. It’s slow. I’m not sure slow is a good way to end the night. Hrm. It seems like something Barbara Streisand would sing, and that’s what I’m being reminded of… which I don’t think is a good thing for a 24 year old Irish girl to remind me of. I am… distinctly underwhelmed. She can have a B-.

    Judges: Randy liked it. She apparently has bronchitis, has a cold, etc… which, if that’s true, okay, then she did better than I’ll give her credit for. Paula gives her credit for being reliable and doing well (Carly pipes up that sick isn’t an excuse, and uh, yes it is). Carly calls him Cap’n Fantastic, and Simon says there’s a lot of hype and buzz about Carly, that the song was entirely too oldfashioned for her, and it was a very cabaret performance and the whole thing was a letdown. He compares her to Kelly Clarkson and Fantasia, which is a good thing, but says she didn’t live up to it.

    Ryan comes onto the stage, and Carly pushes him away – which is cute of her. (She also, in the judge bit, said she appreciated Simon’s feedback, which… felt a wee bit fake.) Ryan doesn’t really bother talking to her.

    Huh, I’m not sure I have a best that clearly stand out – not like the guys. Which is kind of disappointing. Kristy Lee Cook reminds me of Kiera Sedgwick/her sister! That’s what it is! And ouch, Joanne sounds really screetchy on review.

    Top Three: Ramiele Malubay, Brooke White, Alaina Whitacker
    Bottom Three: Joanne Borgella, Amy Davis, Kady Malloy (for the bad attitude alone!)
    Top 6 prediction*: Ramiele Malubay, Syesha Mercado, Brooke White, Alaina Whitacker, Carly Smithson, Asia’h Epperson
    Going home: Joanne Borgella, Amy Davis

    * I want to note that this is not nearly so clear for the women as it is the guys; there are four people competing for two spots, and who’ll get those two spots (Asia’h, Alexandrea, Carly, or Amanda) is going to depend on their next performances.

    (Hahha…. Simon: “Can we end the show now?” Man, he cracks me up.)

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