If there was ever a Top 40 hit right out of the American Idol Solo gate, Angela Miller was the dark horse who exploded onto the track. Her original number, “You Set Me Free”, accompanied by herself on the piano, literally rocked the judges back in their seats, and reminded American Idol audiences why they put up with the freak shows and keep on watching.
Angela, the girl from Salem, Massachusetts, with the long, softly curling brown hair and big eyes, received a standing ovation for the entire package. The beautifully written song. The voice that soared to passionate heights and feathered down to sweet, soulful softness. It was huge. It was awesome. And totally unbelievable for a mid-profile Idol contestant who was good enough to keep going through, but never eyed as a serious contender for the coveted Top Twenty. Until now. “She doesn’t need Idol,” my husband said. “She’s straight to the record company.” The judges agreed. Keith Urban said if the song was recorded right now he’d play it in his car. People would buy it. And this time, all the judges are in agreement. Oddly, Angela once said, “It’s not just about having a good voice. You really need to be the whole package.” And on this night, she came across totally gift wrapped and dazzling.
“This Girl is on Fire“, sang Candice Glover from St. Helena, South Carolina. And she was. The huge voice with its Gospel presence poured on the coals, firing up Idol judge Keith Urban to call it “Just incredible” and “You took it and did your own thing with it in such a powerful way, it sounded like a massive big record. Just incredible.” Beforehand, Candice told Ryan Seacrest that she felt like this would be her year. It’s certainly her year to impress the judges and her audience.
Country singer Janelle Arthur’s performance of “I Told You So”, prompted Nicki Minaj to say, “I loved it that you always keep it subtle. You are a country superstar“. This was music to Janelle’s ears, who hales from Oliver Springs, Tennessee, and is back for her third season. She has been compared to a young LeeAnn, and Carrie Underwood, whose song she sang. I loved Janelle’s heart-strumming — and real — country performance.
Kree Harrison, a Texas native now living in Nashville, Tennessee, gave a great performance singing “Stars” in memory of her mother, who was killed in a car accident. This was several years after her father was killed in a plane crash. Channeling all this emotion through the song, Keith Urban was seen to be rubbing his arms. “You give me chills,” he said. “I’ve fought for you a few times, and I know why. Your voice is one of my favorites in the entire competition.” Mariah Carey said, “There is something that feels genuine about you in that performance. Nicki Minaj said, “I feel like you became a star in front of me,” adding another judge to her bandwagon of fans.
Kosovo native and war refugee whose parents won a “Green Card Lottery”, Melinda Ademi, a 19-year-old from Yonkers, was praised by Randy Jackson for being uptempo among a line-up of sad-sack singers with Jesse J’s “Price Tag”. Melinda had the judges and audience moving and bopping as she sang and Keith felt like she’d “picked the right song”. Afterwards, Melinda broke down in tears of joy as Ryan Seacrest petted her. “Ryan is so noble,” said my husband Mike. “He lets all these girls cry on his shoulder.”
On the night the girls premiered for Hollywood Week, Keith Urban said he would love for the winner to be a girl this year. With this much fem talent, he just might get his wish.
Top 20 Girls:
Adriana Latonio, Amber Holcomb, Angela Miller, Aubrey Cleland,
Brandy Hotard, Breanna Steer, Candice Glover, Cristabel Clack,
Isabel Pasqualone, Janelle Arthur, Jenny Beth Willis, Jett Hermano,
Juliana Chahayed, Kamaria Ousley, Kree Harrison, Melinda Ademi,
Rachel Hale, Shubha Vedula, Tenna Torres, Zoanette Johnson
Top 20 Boys:
Bryant Tadeo, Burnell Taylor, Charlie Askew, Chris Watson,
Cortez Shaw, Curtis Finch, Jr., David Willis, Devin Velez,
Elijah Liu, Gurpreet Singh Sarin, Jimmy Smith, Johnny Keyser,
Joshua “Josh” Holiday, Joshua “Josh” Jada Davila,Kevin Harris,
Lazaro Arbos, Mathenee Treco, Nick Boddington, Paul Jolley,
Vincent “Vince” Powell