Lion King Mauls Competition in Zoanette’s Favor on American Idol

Zoanette’s (Good Lord!) Liberian Lion King New Schtick was enough to keep her in the running last night at the sad expense of one of several better singers and performers. Though Zoanette undoubtedly brought some unbeknownst and unforeseen chops to her rendition of Lion King, she could not, for the life of her, keep it consistent. Imagine the key of the song as the Lion King’s cub. While the audience thrills to the throaty roar, the baby is definitely dropped a few times. Yes, unfortunately, Zoanette grows on you, but antics alone won’t get her to the top. Aren’t we still looking for good SINGER/performers here? And why haven’t I heard this “I’m a native Liberian” backstory before?

But, she captured the lot of the judging panel, starting with Keith Urban’s, “Zoanette! Good Lord! I love that I have no clue what you’re going to do”. Nicki kept the ball in the air with, “You just served it. That song was just a smart choice”. Randy said she had the spirit of a lion, a champion. “We’re feeling something!” he said. Mariah followed through with another comment about the bigness of her spirit. Okay, folks, we’ll see. I’m feeling something here, but I don’t think Randy and I are on the same wavelength. But I do think the Liberian/Lion King performance was a REALLY smart move.

The rest of the evening was overrun with nerves, oversinging, undersinging, and lousy song choices. The first to come down with a bad case of nerves was the beautiful Melinda Ademi, followed by a great performance by Candice Glover. Randy said Candice has “a star” in her voice, and Mariah called her a bona fide singer. But though the nerves skipped Candice, they landed right on Juliana Chahayed, whom Keith said was “struggling with pitch”, but loved the purity of her voice, which Mariah called “angelic” and “celestial”. Jett Hermano’s “breathy falsetto” was a little too slow and understated to get her a place with the top five, and one of my favorites, Christabel Clack, totally oversang her song. Keith told her she had a “fantastic, croaky, cool thing” going with her voice, and had “crazy potential”. Nicki loved the singer’s throaty rasp but called it “out of control”. Christabel didn’t make it.

Aubrey Cleland, a 19-year-old student from Westland, Oregon, caused an argument between Randy Jackson and Nicki Minaj, but they both agreed on her great performance of Beyonce’s “Sweet Dreams”. Keith loved her “balance of poise and fire”. Nicki loved the “rich texture” of her voice, and, of course, was “obsessed by her”, causing Randy to comment that he was obsessed with “me and you”. Randy said she was “a great commercial artist” and “had the whole package”. Mariah called her “limitless”. She looked the part of a star in her sleek short dress, and if Zoanette could channel the Lion King, Aubrey looked like the reincarnation of King Tut’s girlfriend.

However, the very first singer that got my blood pumping and made me holler for the first time in the evening, was Rachel Hale, country singer from Prescott, Arkansas. Apparently, Rachel had not won her spurs with the judges before, prompting Keith to say he had not “seen that side” of her before, but added that the song “got on top of you in spots”. Nicki asked, “Where did that burst of confidence come from? You came alive!!” Randy was happy that she chose an up-tempo song, but Mariah said she heard her more in other performances. When it came down to the wire, however, Rachel was beaten out by the other country singer, Janelle Arthur, though the judges comments were not all that favorable toward her performance. Keith told her the “melody kept pulling her down”, and Nicki said it sounded “a bit disconnected” and that it “fell a little bit flat”. She was Randy’s favorite country singer of the competition, but, though Mariah claimed to definitely be a fan, said it was not the best song choice for her. Janelle had chosen Lady Antebellum’s “Just A Kiss”, which was not written for a solo singer.

The judges were excited about the performance of Breanna Steer, an 18-year-old Louisiana native who has a very unique quality to her voice. Keith said he didn’t know the song, but loved it. Nicki said she had “her own swag to it” and could get a record deal right now. Randy felt like she had represented his native Louisiana in a great way since day one and that she had “brought us drama”. Mariah said she was sometimes glad that contestants got to choose their own songs, I suppose meaning that Mariah was quite happy with Breanna’s performance of an unhappy girlfriend singing “Bust Your Windows.” Keith was quite taken with it.

Congratulations to American Idols’ second set of top five girls: Zoanette Johnson, Aubrey Cleland, Candice Glover, Breanna Steer, and Janelle Arthur.


8 thoughts on “Lion King Mauls Competition in Zoanette’s Favor on American Idol

  1. Short ‘n’ sweet this time around. I agreed with your post and with the judges’ picks EXCEPT for letting Rachel go instead of Janelle. What a pity, but Janelle is a pretty good singer. Just not last night when it counted. I was shocked to see that Zoanette could actualy sing….sort of. I predict she’ll be gone after the first round of public voting. At least I hope so.

    OMG! Marish’s dress! O_O I guess she believes cleavage should be flaunted. I just kept hoping she wouldn’t lift her arms over her head.

    • I’ve been gone all day and had to write this one on the fly before the next show. Hate to write like that, but sometimes you can’t help it. I wanted to comment on Mariah’s top attire, or lack thereof, but didn’t have time. I just finished watching tonight’s show a few minutes ago. To say I was not blown away is to put it mildly. Out of curiosity, since Larazo was one of several contestants to sing a Keith Urban song, Mike and I just finished watching a couple of Keith Urban videos. We had never heard him sing, believe it or not. (We don’t get around much). LOL. Wow! We were impressed. And Mike is an old hard core country fan, not easily pleased. He REALLY liked Keith’s sound. We listened to “Tonight I Want to Cry” and “Raining on Sunday”. Great songs.

      • I didn’t mean YOUR post was short ‘n’ sweet, I meant MY comment was. ;>)

        I’m so glad you and Mike have discovered Keith Urban; I love his music and I’m not really a country music fan. But country music isn’t like it was back in my RCA Records days. Crossover musicians today like Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift, Lady Antebellum, etc. are as much pop as they are country.

        I know what you mean about the men’s performances last night: Totally underwhelming. I don’t think any of the guys have a chance against this season’s strong group of women. I do think the judges should have kept Bryant. He’s the only one I really liked. Burnell was OK, but I found all the arm movements distracting. He looked like a windmill.

  2. Funny you should mention Burnells’s windmilling arms. That’s exactly what was running through my head at the time. I thought the judges would surely mention it, but they didn’t.

    For years I went through the thing of putting my country roots behind me, including what I thought was hokey music (and, as in every genre, some of it was). I was into rock big time. But then I turned a corner a long time ago and listened to the sound, the tone, the instruments, the voices in a new light. They resonated with the sounds and scenes of my childhood, evoked memories of sitting and listening to the Grand Ole Opry on radio with my parents or aunts, uncles, cousins. It was the sound of the hills and the people and their constant sweat and labor to keep body and soul together. The sound of their sorrows and joys. Now I listen with my heart and I love the old time country as well as the new. The music of “O Brother Where Art Thou” gave me an even deeper appreciation, evoking hot summer days and cotton fields. It’s a time I might not want to go back to, but it was a simpler, less complicated era.

    And speaking of O Brother, the look and sound of George Cloony reminded me so much of my uncles it pierced my heart, including the crazy actions and constant and uninhibited cursing. Even his facial expressions had them down to a tee and I’ve always wondered how George Cloony prepared for that role, and who he patterned himself after. A lot of the men back then looked and sounded like that and I didn’t see all that much exaggeration, including the politicians and wives and children. I even remember sitting on hay bales listening to bands play and a local radio personality pushing products and keeping the crowds coming. Okay. Didn’t mean to get off on a tangent. This one (mine) isn’t so short – but, maybe it’s sweet. LOL. Maybe I need to make this a post subject.

    • I didn’t grow up with country music at all. The first time I heard much of it was when I went to work for RCA Records. They had quite a few country artists under contract….Charlie Pride, Eddie Arnold, Chet Atkins, Dolly Parton, Skeeter Davis, Connie Smith, plus a ton of others I can’t think of at the moment. .

      In my home growing up, there was a lot of big band music because my mother loved it. And a lot of classical music because she was an excellent classical pianist.

      I’ve never seen “O Brother Where Art Thou,” but I know it’s supposed to be a very good film. I’ll add it to my Netflix queue.

      • Oh, please do watch O Brother. It is totally captivating. I suppose you know the literary background for it, so I won’t insult your intelligence, which is markedly excellent from what I’ve seen. Your music background is more and more intriguing. If I was still in the newspaper business I would be itching to write a profile. Hint.

        I also love big band, which I also heard as a child on the radio, and classical, which I grew to love as an adult, especially with Mike playing it and discussing it with me.

      • I’ve already put “O Brother” in my Nerflix queue. I sort of know what it’s about. It’s loosely based on Homer’s “Odyssey”….kind of like “West Side Story” is loosely based on “Romeo and Juliet.”

        Gee, I’m flattered, but I don’t think my life has been all THAT interesting or unusual. However, it’s suited me just fine and I’ve enjoyed it immensely.


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