"American Idol” sent five out of 10 women to the semifinals after an almost unbelievable night of strong performances, with Juliana Chahayed, Rachel Hale and Zoanette Johnson the best of seven memorable singers in my opinion.
But the brutal level of competition meant the judges cut Chahayed, Hale and two of my other favorites — Melinda Ademi and Cristabel Clack.
Johnson, Candice Glover, Aubrey Cleland, Breanna Steer and (undeservedly, I thought) Janelle Arthur were the lucky five who advanced.
Below is how I rated everyone; put your thoughts in the comments, below.
1) Fifteen-year-old Juliana Chahayed was vulnerable and compelling with “Skyscraper,“ with Keith Urban comparing her to Jewel and Taylor Swift, and loving the “purity” of her tone.
2) Smiley Rachel Hale's “Nothing But the Water” had tons of passion and lots of confidence. Combine her voice with high likability, good looks and a million-dollar smile, and you've got one of my favorite contestants this season.
3) Zoanette Johnson's “The Circle of Life” was over the top and unbelievable; she was singing from the bottom of her soul and you could see the raw emotion on her face. As Nicki Minaj said, “You're the person we're going to remember after tonight — you're unforgettable, you're a superstar.“
4) Cristabel Clack's raspy tone on Alicia Keys' “No One” was wrapped in a bundle of energy and confidence; as Randy Jackson said, she just let loose, wasn't trying to please the judges.
5) Breanna Steer 's sultry vibe fit Jazmine Sullivan's “Bust your Windows” perfectly — as Minaj said, she could go out and get a record deal right now; “you were believable, you had your swag on.“
6) Aubrey Cleland's ethereal version of Beyonce's “Sweet Dreams” had Urban praising her “balance of poise and fire.“
7) Candice Glover did a powerhouse version of "(You Make Me Feel) Like a Natural Woman,“ driving Urban to sing that she's a “natural singer.“
8) Jett Hermano's creative take on Rihanna's “Only Girl” was impressive, but for whatever reason it didn't move me emotionally.
9) Janelle Arthur's “Just a Kiss” was just another country song, with her usual fan Minaj saying it just “fell a little bit flat.“
10) Melinda Ademi 's “Nobody's Perfect” had lots of energy, but she was a bit all over the place due to her nerves, the judges thought.