idol top 12 women 'American Idol' Top 12 women: Pia Toscano, Thia Megia, Karen Rodriguez win the nightAfter last night’s guys, three of which we think are definitely safe, “American Idol” brings us the girls. Let’s get right to it, shall we?

Seacrest welcomes us again and the strange voice man introduces the judges. J.Lo has come as a disco ball, Randy has on a Cosby sweater and Steven Tyler is wearing the same thing from last night. He probably just slept backstage and rolled out for “Idol.” (Yes, I know this is pre-taped, it’s a joke, don’t email me).

When the women are introduced, I am struck  by just how much Asthton/Tatynisa, Julie/Pia and Haley/Kendra are the same person. Seriously, it’s like Doppelgangland up in here. But let’s get to the singing.

Here are the Top 12 performances, in our order of best to worst:

Definitely Advancing:

1. Pia Toscano: “I’ll Stand By You” by the Pretenders

This is a great song choice for her. It’s a ballad, but not slow as
molasses, plus has some big ol’ notes on the chorus. When she starts, she has some
absolutely marvelous tiny runs and then the bridge builds to the key
change and the lights come up and there’s a huge note and then an even
bigger note that actually makes me tear up a little. Good. night. The
judges give a standing O. That’s all there is to say.

2. Thia Megia: “Out Here On My Own” by Irene Cara (from “Fame”)

Let’s go my little “America’s Got Talent” alum. I said you’d be here,
prove me right. The a capella beginning is haunting, she sounds so much
older than 15. This is just so quietly gorgeous, the stripped down
lights, just the piano backing, perfect, lovely, goosebumps, captivating.
The judges go bonkers.

3. Karen Rodriguez: “Hero” by Mariah Carey

I kind of hate this song, just FYI. But I really want to like Karen.
With the starry background and the turquoise floor-length dress, it’s
very Miss America (or Miss Universe, since she starts singing in
Spanish). But if you close your eyes to the cheesiness, the vocal is
beautiful, plus the Spanish is a nice way to change it from the Mariah version. Karen does the high notes in a beautiful light voice the first
time around, then on the second time she rips the lid off and the key
change is gorgeous. The little high riff at the ending is beautiful as
well. Karen needs serious stage presence help, but she has a fantastic
voice. Well done, lady. J.Lo loved it, and not only because of the
Latina girls united thing. Randy thought the Spanish was better than the
English, but yeah – it sounds prettier. Spanish/French/Italian are so
much more mellifluous than English. Tyler calls her one of a kind.

4. Lauren Alaina: “Turn on the Radio” by Reba McEntire

Lauren’s schtick is alternately adorable and super annoying, but I like
her voice and I love that she’s doing a Reba song. She’s hard to hear on
the verses, but based on last night and tonight, I blame the sound
mixers. The chorus is better, but this isn’t the best I think Lauren
could’ve sounded. It’s not really a singers song. If anybody should’ve
done a former “Idol” song, Lauren should’ve busted out some Carrie. Talk
about the smart play for her voice and for her fanbase. J.Lo calls it
effortless but says she knows there’s more in there. Randy says she’s
great and she reminds him of a Kelly-Carrie hybrid. She makes the most
adorable “wow” face at that compliment. She then says Ryan is “Peaches”
because they are both from Georgia. Ryan looks 90% adorable and 10%
gonna kill her, so that’s good of him.

Probably Advancing:

5. Haley Reinhart: “Fallin'” by Alicia Keys

This song. Gah. It was great the first 3000x it was on the radio. Then
Haley starts singing. Dayum. Seriously, wow on the beginning. She keeps
taking two steps to nowhere while acting out the lyrics, so that needs
to stop. I mean, when she got to “pleasuuuure,” I thought she was having
an actual pleasure moment on stage. But whatever, she can work on that.
Vocally, this was nearly perfect, just a few weird things, like a chewy
ending note that I didn’t love because she got all nasal. But pretty
great overall. For once, with Steven and J.Lo loving a performance and
Randy not liking it, I think Randy’s wrong. I thought she sounded great.
If you weren’t watching her antics, the vocal was beautiful.

6. Julie Zorrilla: “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson

I think it’s funny when they do former “Idols” songs. Julie puts in just
a few of her own little touches, which is good. But she’s getting
really lost in the backing music and the backup singers. She really does
not have a Kelly voice, she should be at a piano doing a Brooke
White-type thing. The ending is nice, but again — that should not be
the only good part, ladies. I was hoping for better from Julie because I
think she’s really good and that didn’t do it. The judges want more
from her. Randy says she needed to be special and stand out because
there are only five spots. True date. Tyler say she should’ve taken it
up a couple keys and I agree, but based on how she did in that key, I
think that would’ve been too high for her. I don’t think she could have taken it up.

Only Advancing If Voting Bloc is On Top of Things:

7. Lauren Turner: “Seven Day Fool” by Etta James

The Bette Midler comparison is apropos because she can really blow but
has an atypical look for Hollywood. This is an interesting song choice.
It’s very low, so it’s not showing off her voice as well as it could.
That was pretty flat for me. She is also now the third girl to rely on a
couple big notes at the end, and a couple big end notes does not a good
performance make. The judges loved it, but J.Lo wants to see her do
more. I don’t think she’ll get a chance to do more. If you are not super
pretty, you have to blow it out da box. And she did not. Sorry, but
it’s true. And if you think I’m mistaken, you have not watched a lot of

8. Kendra Chantelle: “Impossible” by Christina Aguilera

Kendra is wearing her Slutty Sandy best and boy, did she pick a hard
artist to take on. She does really well on the verses, her tone is
lovely and she makes the jumps seem effortless. The chorus is a little
boring, but she has a nice ending. Like Naima, that might save her. Randy really liked it, Steven hits on her, J.Lo says there is more in
her, which – yes, it seems like there is. Added after the entire 12: Kendra was forgotten by the end. It wasn’t good enough.

Not Advancing:

9. Ashthon Jones: “Love Over Me” by Monica

What is up with the denim bustier and just leggings? It’s like she
forgot her actual outfit and is wearing Cyndi Lauper’s underthings. Anyway, the
vocal has way too many “heys” and “what up ladies” and stuff throw into
it. You are not a big star yet, stop doing that. She hits all the big
notes, but that left me really cold. It was just … boring. The judges
go nuts, J.Lo says he has the makings of a diva and the confidence is
crazy. Ashthon totally sucks up to J.Lo, which also needs to stop. Randy echoes their critiques,
but is honest in that he didn’t love the song. Yep. Love Ashthon, but
bad song choice. Hope she survives, I think she has it in her to do

10. Naima Adedapo: “Summertime” by Ella Fitzgerald

Naima could not look better, she is a Nubian princess (“What’s a Nubian?”). She has her jazzy moves down to go with this Ella arrangement. Props for picking this version and not the slow version that Fantasia has ruined for anyone else to ever do. Vocally, there are some nice moments, but as a whole performance this is pretty terrible, like a cheezy cruise ship act. I expect her to run up the back stairs just so she can shimmy down them. The ending might save her, it was very dramatic and pretty. J.Lo calls her an exotic flower, Randy says a little lounge act-y and brings up Fantasia. He’s half right. It was lounge acty. But she was NOT trying to do the Fantasia version, she was doing Ella’s version, so the comparison is stupid. But he says she nailed the end. Why is Randy in my head?! This is scary. Tyler loves her new old-timey thing.

11. Ta-Tynisa Wilson: “Only Girl (In The World)” by Rihanna

Singing Rihanna is a bold choice, especially while dressed like Madonna
circa 1985. It starts off pretty rough. She can’t hit those quick runs
like Rihanna does, then the verses are way too low, so she’s completely
breathy and unsupported. If you’re gonna do a song like this, you gotta
bring it or you are going to sound like a bad karaoke night. Ta-Ty (when
did the hyphen arrive?) was bad karaoke. I also kept fearing a boob was
going to pop out. Steven and J.Lo sing her praises, but Randy calls it
like it is (he does!). It paled in comparison to Rihanna and there were
pitch issues. Yep.

J.Lo talks over Randy’s critique, which is rude. Step off, J.Lo. He is right
and you need to stop being the Paula. I thought we were past that
nonsense after your first two audition cities, Lopez. She keeps at him,
he fires back and then Ryan makes a fat joke. Lordy.

12. Rachel Zevita: “Criminal” by Fiona Apple

With my eyes open, this is creepy as hell. It’s like “Toddlers and Tiaras” grew up and this is what happened. It’s also like what she really wants to be singing is the “Cell Block Tango.” With my eyes closed, the vocal doesn’t get any better. It’s theatrical and a complete weird bastardization of this song that I don’t enjoy. She can sing, but this was kind of a giant trainwreck. At least she picked an apropos song title – that performance was criminal.

Steven calls it Broadway and Rachel makes a frowny face and cocks her eyebrow, then tells him that’s the one thing she’s never sung. Uh, don’t talk back, little girl. Randy says it didn’t work. No, it did not.

During the clip montage, we have Ta-Tynisa and Naima and Kendra, who I forgot all about by now and that does not bode well for them. Then we have the trainwreck that was Rachel and the Spanish beauty queen who I wish had not been shoved into the middle of the order. Not sure what to make of Lauren Turner, her clip is better than I remember her performance being. Ashthon wasting her shot, Julie wasting her shot too and then the final three being awesome. 

So it’s definitely going to be Lauren, Karen, Thia and Pia, right? Who gets the last spot? Haley did better, but Julie is more well-liked so far. Or does somebody else sneak in there?

Posted by:Andrea Reiher

TV critic by way of law school, Andrea Reiher enjoys everything from highbrow drama to clever comedy to the best reality TV has to offer. Her TV heroes include CJ Cregg, Spencer Hastings, Diane Lockhart, Juliet O'Hara and Buffy Summers. TV words to live by: "I'm a slayer, ask me how."