“American Idol” Top 10 Girls Week: What’s Pitch Got to Do With It?

Ten more dames. Ten more billiards lounge renditions of songs that your great-grandmother can safely die to. And about four or five that ruled. Let’s rank ‘em! 

10. Zoanette Johnson, Tina Tuner’s “What’s Love Got to Do With It?”

Well, here’s the good news: Now Lil Rounds can claim her rendition of “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” from season eight isn’t the single worst version in Idol history. Zoanette is truly a mesmerizing, popcorn-worthy spectacle deserving of P.T. Barnum‘s time, but you knew she’d fall apart the minute actual singing was required of her. Mariah can claim that her take on “The Circle of Life” worked because of “her backstory” (uh, in Liberia? That’s why Zoanette’s a natural at crooning about lion birth?), but it was really thanks to the instrumentation’s campy grandeur, which tonally matched Zoanette’s Wendy Williams-meets-Pagliacci hissy-fit theater. I appreciate that she thrusted about the stage with the ebullience of a Burger King Kids’ Club member (especially when compared to the chloroformed energy of these other dames), but this was a fiasco that would’ve wilted all of Tina Turner’s weaves. Zoanette should be worried, because this performance was the anti-”Hakuna Matata.”

9. Tenna Torres, Faith Hill’s “Lost”

This was garishly sh*tty. I’m thankful that Tenna traded in last week’s Flip Wilson wig for a something resembling human follicles, but what else can we pretend to appreciate here? A screamy, jittery vocal on a determinedly tame Faith Hill song? More of that asthmatic “emoting” that never connects? The phonics-defying spelling of “Tenna”? I only felt for her when Nicki drew attention to her chest, and then I really felt for her when Randy kept drawing attention to what Nicki said. That was rough and terrible. Sorry to Tenna, who probably already guessed that Randy is a gurgling husk of offensive emptiness. Don’t take it personally, girl. The Emptiness Man has to throw his internal zeroes at someone.

8. Janelle Arthur, Elvis Presley’s “If I Can Dream”

I remember loving Janelle Arthur. She auditioned with a spontaneous “I know how to drive a tractor!” energy that I understood. Unfortunately, it appears the soul vacuum of Idol soul-vacuumed her, because she’s officially reduced to beige balladry and tepid stage presence and the empty smile of a forgotten snowman. Oh, Janelle! This is exactly the time when Skylar Laine revved up her ATV and off-roaded into greatness! You can’t rest on the gratefulness of getting to the Top 20; now you have to aim for superstardom with your rifle fulla ambition. We’ve almost certainly seen the end of this self-proclaimed “small town girl,” which reminds me: America does not care if you’re from a small town! Or if you’re a legitimate country girl! I don’t even care if you were born in the loving scoop of a backhoe. Sing and try to matter. Fin.

7. Adriana Latonio, Destiny’s Child’s “Stand Up for Love”

Ohhhh, pageantry is sometimes a little bit awesome. The judges may have smirked at Adriana’s mostly uneventful performance, but I have to say I lapped up her ridiculous striding and Jessica McClintock couture. The girl does her best to command attention, even though Keith Urban almost always hates showmanship (unless Dastardly Uncle Nigel is tickling his spine and whispering, “You get a raise if Zoanette makes Top 10, tiny man”). Problem is, not even Destiny’s Child stands up for “Stand Up For Love,” this unlovable treacle written for the 2005 World Children’s Day. Was “Bugaboo” unavailable? What of “Lose My Breath”? The song choice alone is worthy of elimination, so I can’t root for Adriana’s prize-girl strut to make the Top 10. 

6. Aubrey Cleland, Fergie’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry”

Dear Mariah Carey, please consider the irony of your critique: “You have multiplatinum potential, and I hope people out there see it too.” Hmmm. Doesn’t quite strike me as multiplatinum potential if there’s a chance America literally cannot fathom it. Aubrey certainly has the swively figure and model-esque face of a young Robin Givens, but unlike my favorite va-va-voom cast member from Head of the Class, she doesn’t really radiate charisma — and you know it takes charisma to date both Brad Pitt and Mike Tyson.


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