Season 5 Index | February 22 Review


American Idol Season 5 (2006)


February 21 (Semi-Finals: Women) - From top to bottom


This first semi-final show is two hours, of which an hour and a half is fluff - boring interviews with the contestants, boring background stories, mildly amusing repartee between Ryan and Simon.  Considering that the contestants only get to sing about a minute and a half of each song, this becomes really obnoxious really fast.  But hey, it's American Idol.  It's supposed to be obnoxious!


Mandisa (sings Heart's "Never"): Wearing a dark jacket and a red lingerie top, she shouts her way through the song while flames rise on the screen in the background.  It makes me shudder to think that Carrie did a better rendition of another Heart song last year.  Paula, however, declares that Mandisa is phenomenal and that we'll see her in the finals. [*rolls eyes*]  After forgiving Simon for his fat jokes last week, Mandisa says that she's practically dating him now.  Then Ryan points out that her jacket is situated in such a way that it looks like her top is in the shape of a red heart, thus inviting everyone to look at her boobs.  What a lovely way to start the show.


Kellie Pickler (sings Martina McBride's "How Far"): She says it's a love song, but she has no love life, so she's thinking about her Dad in prison.  No comment.  She reminds me of Carrie - the Lite Version.  Or rather, Carrie - the Beta Version, because her voice is strident and not as full as Carrie's.  She does, however, have more emotion than Carrie and is told that she has a "likeability factor" that will carry her through even if her singing won't.  This is a backhanded compliment that will be trotted out several times during this episode.  Kellie then rattles on and on about how her grandfather is getting dates now because she's on A.I.  I really needed to know that (not).


Becky O'Donohue (sings 10,000 Maniacs' "Because the Night"): I would say this is an interesting song choice, but I hate Natalie Merchant's voice, which always sounds like it's on the verge of going flat.  Becky takes it all the way to pancake land, and I really just want someone to run on stage and push her hair out of her face.  She does have good stage presence, though, which makes it a bearable performance as long as I turn down the volume.  Simon says that visually, she's a 10, but vocally she's a 6.5.  I would have gone no higher than 4 on the voice, but nobody asked me.


Ayla Brown (sings Christina Aguilera's "Reflection"): This song is from the Mulan soundtrack, which Ayla claims really influenced her growing up.  Okay, I feel old now.  She gives a decent, unexciting rendition, which would be perfect for a Disney movie.  They should hire her after this.  After the song is through, Ryan asks her how she feels, and she says, "I feel complete."  Oh, brother.  The judges are pleasantly surprised, and I suppose Miss I've-Succeeded-At-Everything-in-Life will move on to the next round.


Paris Bennett (sings Gladys Knight's "Midnight Train to Georgia"): She looks and sounds like Gladys, she bounces like Tigger.  Had one too many espressos before hitting the stage, did we?  I'm a fan of her voice, and she sounds really good on this song, but it doesn't really show her range that well.  Nevertheless, the judges are blown away.  She's safe.


Stevie Scott (sings Josh Groban's "To Where You Are"): Okay, I was a music major with a voice emphasis, but I cringed when this girl started talking about how her "opera" training sets her apart from the other contestants and how she can sing in five languages.  Honey, you just aren't that special.  I can show you thousands and thousands of other young classically trained singers who can do the same.  And the vast majority could perform this song better than you did.  I think she was trying to go for the Sarah Brightman effect (sweet, light voice), but Sarah would at least have pulled out all the stops for the chorus.  Stevie sings it in a half-voice all the way through, so I have to turn up the volume to hear her.  Randy tells her he was daydreaming through her boring performance, and Simon tells her she "utterly messed that up."  I agree on both accounts.  Ugh.


Brenna Gethers (sings Stevie Wonder's "You Are the Sunshine of My Life"): She's trying to show a soft side to her bitchiness, but the judges are right - she's a lot more interesting (if still way too obnoxious) when she brings the attitude.  This performance was memorable only by her getting sassy with Simon at the end and posing endlessly for the camera.  If she didn't do that, she'd be in more danger of an early elimination this time.


Heather Cox (sings American Idol 4's "When You Tell Me That You Love Me"): An incredibly boring rendition of an incredibly boring song.  She says she watches the show like a stalker, so you'd think she'd know better.  The judges pan her.  I won't miss her when she's gone.


Melissa McGhee (sings Faith Hill's "When the Lights Go Down"): She has an interesting, raspy quality to her voice (sort of a toned down Melissa Etheridge), but this is the wrong song to showcase that raspiness.  Paula likes her "sexy, sultry tone."  Simon says her eyes are lifeless, and I'm thinking, "Yeah, so were Carrie's, but no one seemed to care about that, did they?"  I hope she makes it through this round, because I'd like to hear her sing something else.


Lisa Tucker (sings Jennifer Holiday's "I Am Changing"): I don't recognize the song, and I doubt this girl will win the competition, but she has an amazing voice and a lot of poise for a 16-year-old.  Simon says she made others who were older than her look ordinary, and I agree.  We might as well put her in the top 12 right now.


Kinnik Sky (sings Oleta Adams' "Get Here"): I love this song, it's perfect for Kinnik's full voice, and I think she does it justice (although I cringe a little at the denim evening gown).  Simon seems to think that it was a cabaret performance, though, and that she was overshadowed by the youngsters.  Ppphht to him.  Bring her back, folks.  I want to hear more.


Katharine McPhee (sings "Since I Fell For You"): You know, I have to wonder at the fact that her mother is a voice teacher, and this song gets taught to her students, and yet Katharine is under the impression that it was originally performed by Barbra Streisand.  It was NOT.  Okay, now that I have that out of my system, this was a very good performance of a sucky arrangement.  Out of all the contestants, I think she and Paris were the only ones not to hit a truly bad note, and Katharine gets the edge for having fun while not bouncing.  She is apparently the reason Paula loves her job, and Simon says she's the best of the night.  Katharine then apologizes to the audience members behind her for having to stare at her butt the whole time.  Hey, we started the show with boobs, we might as well end with that.


I wasn't absolutely wowed by anyone, but here are my rankings for the evening:


Group 1 (the people who ought to come back next week): Katharine, Paris, Lisa, Kinnik, Ayla


Group 2 (the people who will probably come back): Melissa, Mandisa, Kellie, Brenna


Group 3 (the people most in danger): Becky, Heather, Stevie


Eliminated on February 23 Results Show:  Stevie Scott and Becky O'Donohue


Review 2006 by Patricia Lowhorn.  For comments, e-mail


Season 5 Index | February 22 Review