Five More Girls Cut in Sudden Death Round of ‘Idol’

Zoanette Johnson in the Sudden Death Round of "American Idol." (Michael Becker / FOX)

It was survival of the fittest Wednesday night, as five more girls made it past the sudden death round on “American Idol,” while another five were sent packing for making the teensiest of mistakes, whether they be song choice, arrangement decisions, or just smiling too much.

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After last week’s surprisingly entertaining episode of 10 girls, Wednesday night was an exciting follow-up. Who would come out of the woodwork and blow us away like Kree Harrison and Angela Miller the week prior? And, there was the promise of Zoanette Johnson. Zoanette! That wonder of wonders, that miracle of miracles, the woman for whom there is no limit. Two hours of her and Nicki Minaj bantering and sharing stories from Third World country childhoods would be enough to get me tweeting my agreement.

That’s right, Wednesday night “Idol” debuted a new system in which we are encouraged to agree or disagree with the judges at specific points in the show. The results then displayed gave not much of an indication about why that mattered. The first time, it hovered at about 65% in favor of the judges’ opinions, which would seem intriguing, except that the meter came up right after pretty voiced farm girl Aubrey Cleland got raves from them for doing Beyonce justice on “Beautiful Nightmare.” So, a majority agreed, and by golly, of course they did, because Aubrey was really very good.

The rest of the time, the meter basically remained at 50-50, indicating what, exactly? That just as many people care deeply what Randy Jackson says as those who think his purple blazer makes him lose all credibility?

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Besides Aubrey, the judges had a couple of other gush-fests, which made it particularly easy to know when they were trying to fake the contestants out during the results (besides the fact that they are all horrible actors). Breanna Steer, who like Aubrey, never really showed up in the broadcast until now, stood out with “Bust Your Windows,” giving it realism that made Keith Urban fear for his own vehicle. Nicki and Randy both said they’d sign Breanna and Aubrey right away, and Nicki suggested the girls actually team up in a group. And if this were “The X Factor,” they might, but then we’d also have to see them wear matching hair bows in different colors and sing the same song two weeks in a row, and generally be horribly annoying. Better stay solo.

Candice Glover, who returned after losing in Vegas last year, was another judge favorite and rightfully so. She did “Natural Woman” with some crazy notes on the end and an intensity reminiscent of Jennifer Hudson’s early “Idol” days.

Zoanette, who, we learned, fled with her family from Liberia during a civil war, sang “Circle of Life,” complete with the Swahili chant. It was low, it was shouty, it was everything. She got a standing ovation from Keith, Nicki and Randy (Mariah Carey probably couldn’t get up in her tiiiiight dress). Keith gave “kudos to the queen of the jungle,” which might have been racist, not sure. Nicki nearly was brought to tears by the song choice, because “it matches who you are…where you came from,” and said she was proud of the both of them for coming “from a country that we didn’t think we were gonna make it out of alive” and making it all the way to “American Idol.” Only 50% of the audience agreed, though, so it was all just ok.

Those four were obviously going to move on to semi-finals. The only surprise tonight was Janelle Arthur, who actually sang a Lady Antebellum song terribly and got no good reviews from the judges for her performance. It looked like the end of the road for Janelle, especially because they saved her for the end of the results with co-country-spirator Rachel Hale. Rachel, whose happy, bubbly personality has gone from cute to utterly annoying, kind of turned things around tonight by going for low notes and a sexy delivery of a stomping kind of song. It was a new act for her, and the judges noticed she was more confident, which she attributed to praying a lot. Anyway, it seemed like Rachel had a better shot than Janelle, but shockingly, she was sent home, and Janelle, despite giving the worst performance of the night, moved on.

And so we said goodbye to Melinda Ademi, who suffered for going first and being forgettable; Juliana Chahayed, whose breathy voice was just too slight to stand out; Cristabel Clack, whose rasp got the best of her; Jett Hermano, who exhibited beautiful texture in her voice, but who bored the judges with a balladized Rihanna song; and Rachel. So long, farewell, and may we tweet our lukewarm reception of you again someday.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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