idol-11

Vegas Week began with a surprising announcement: A live sudden death round would be shown tonight, featuring ten of the female finalists, five of whom would be eliminated this very episode. This is the format that will continue tomorrow, as well as both Wednesday and Thursday next week, until there are only 20 contestants remaining. Also revealed was the tie-breaker judge, a skinny older gentleman named Jimmy.

The ten girls singing tonight were announced: Jenny Beth Willis, Tenna Torres, Adriana Latonio, Brandy Hotard, Shubha Vedula, Kamaria Ousley, Kree Harrison, Angela Miller, Isabelle (no last name), and Amber Holcomb. First up was Jenny Beth, 17, from Louisiana. She sang Trisha Yearwood’s “Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love,” and immediately established herself as a saucy country girl with an expressive voice, but maybe not quite enough stage presence. Keith said, “I love this effortless confidence that you perform with,” but didn’t love her song choice.” Nikki said, “I liked your voice, but I didn’t feel like you came alive until the very end. I think you could have so much more fun with the song.” Randy and Mariah seemed to echo similar feelings.

Next up was Tenna Torres, 28, from New York, who went to Mariah’s camp for underprivileged children when she was younger. She sang Natasha Bedingfield’s “Soulmate,” and while her voice was lovely and soothing, it may have been almost too smooth and not exciting enough, making it easy to tune out. Keith said, “That was a beautiful song for you to do.” Nicki said, “You reminded me of why I fell in love with your voice before. You have control over the song throughout the whole song. Something about your tone reminds me of the 1980s R&B singers. There’s no one in the business like that now.” Randy said, “This is the start of the night; this is how you do it!” Mariah said, “You know I love you. This was all you, you gave every bit of your emotion.”

Adriana, 17, is from Alaska, and we got to see some video footage of beautiful Anchorage before she sang “Ain’t No Way” by Aretha Franklin, and her chill-producing voice and power were a match for the Queen of Soul. She got a standing ovation from the crowd, and Keith said, “NOW the night has started! It was so damn good.” Nicki said, “I did not see one ounce of fear in you. I think that you’re poised and ready!” Randy said, “This girl was born to do this. This girl is a pro! I loved it.” Mariah said, “I was really proud of you I really loved how you came through with your version of the song. ‘A’ plus.”

Nurse Brittany, 26, from Louisiana sang “Anymore,” by Travis Tritt. She has a very expressive face, but her voice wasn’t anything spectacular, and the performance felt pretty generic. Keith said, “Your voice is really, really good, and was good in that song. My only issue with the performance was an emotional connection inconsistency. I wish you’d stayed in a place where I really believed that lyric from you from start to finish.” Nicki echoed him, saying, “That was a pageant delivery of a song, and it did not feel real.” Randy said, “It didn’t tell me enough of who you are, what kind of artist you want to be.” Mariah was all over the place with her comments.

17-year-old Shubha Vedula has the name that everyone just loves to say. She began by playing the piano and sang a slowed-down version of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” which picked up a bit after the opening verse. It’s a unique and exciting version of a great song, but it didn’t quite seem to work, at least not with her singing it. Nicki said, “It’s so much going on…there’s no doubt that you have a beautiful, strong voice, but it’s almost comical, like a mash-up of Christina Aguilera and the gangham style guy.” Randy said, “You’ve got unbelievable potential, unbelievable talent. I would have loved it if you stayed at the piano.” Mariah agreed saying, “When you were at the piano, it was less forced, but I feel like you wanted to please the crowd.”

Background singer Kamaria of California took the stage next to sing, “Mr. Know-It-All” by Kelly Clarkson. She isn’t one that stood out during her audition or Hollywood Week, but her voice is unique…just not in the best way. Keith said, “I’m not a big fan of unnecessary theatrical performance,” and explained that he felt she didn’t connect to what the song was about at all. Nicki said, “What I never noticed until tonight was this throaty, twangy thing. I don’t know if you put that on for this song, but it didn’t work, babe.” Randy said, “For me, from the start of the song, it just never caught on. The pitch was all over the place. It was not good tonight.” Mariah said, “I think you’re so vivacious, and your smile lights up the whole room. You’re marketable. I just don’t feel it was the right song choice for you.”

Next was 22-year-old Kree from Tennessee, who was raised to be a true country singer. She sang Patty Griffin’s “Up to the Mountains,” and as with every time she sings, it was immediately clear that she’s a superstar. Stage presence, control, poise, emotion, range… it’s all there. Keith said, “You are such a natural-born singer. It’s so beautiful to watch you sing, not just listen to, but to watch. You don’t over try, there’s an effortless believability.” Nicki said, “I would be very afraid if I was any of these other girls here tonight. Every time you sing a song, you make love to a song. Something about you is just so sexy when you sing.” Randy said, “I felt like I was at your show, and you’ve been doing this for 25 years!” Mariah said, “It’s like you’re lost in the song. It’s just incredibly organic. You sing the song, and you sing the hell out of it.”

Angela Miller from Massachusetts wowed the judges with her piano-playing performance in Hollywood, but tonight she stuck with singing Jessie J’s “Nobody’s Perfect.” She has an undeniable stage presence, and poured her whole self into the emotions of the song. Keith said, “You just have a big, big gift that doesn’t require any compensation.” Nicki said, “I love you, Angie. Don’t overdo it, you’re already a top contender in this competition. You’re an artist, period.” Randy said, “I think America’s witnessing the building of a superstar. I love that you get inside the emotion of the song, you’re so passionate. This girl’s the real deal right here!” Mariah said, “I feel like your potential is just limitless,” and told her how moved she was by the original song she sang in Hollywood.

No-last-name Isabelle, 22, from Massachusetts tackled Billie Holliday’s “God Bless The Child,” with all of the appropriate attitude and inflections, but nothing stood out about the performance. Nicki said, “You look very pretty, you sound very pretty. You’re up here shining, you did a great job.” Randy said, “I think you’ve got a big voice, a big talent. If I’m being honest, it was a bit old-fashioned.” Mariah agreed with Randy again, saying that she just wished the arrangement had been different.

The last performance of the night came from Amber, 18, from Texas, who was cut during Vegas Week last year. She made a bold choice to sing the classic “My Funny Valentine,” and she rocked it with some wicked notes and a confidence that made the judges give her a standing ovation. Keith said, “Why do you make it so hard on everybody else? It was just so great to watch. You knocked it out of the park!” Nicki said, “I’m proud that you’ve come back and made an effort to come out of your shell. That vocal was A plus plus plus.” Randy said, “What I loved about it: You sang the song, you took your time, you had a lot of control.” Mariah said, “I think you know how brilliant that performance was, you have to. I love your interpretation of that song. I can’t wait for you to get in the studio and make a record.”

Well, the producers like to stretch out the results, but I won’t do that, so here they are: Jenny Beth, Brandy, Shubha, Kamaria, and Isabelle were cut, and Tenna, Kree, Angela, Amber, and Adriana made it into the Top 20. Tomorrow night, the first ten guys will perform!