The girls get a crack at tunes from the ‘60s. Was that decade this boring? Seriously.

The girls get a crack at tunes from the ‘60s. Was that decade this boring? Seriously. Ryan calls this the best top 24 ever. Says who? Let’s give it a couple weeks before we buy into that notion. I would say this is the most palatable top 24 ever. There’s not an irritating one in the bunch… yet. Give it time, I’m sure instant fame will go to someone’s head shortly.

Things we learned from this episode: Simon enjoys when contestants sass back at him; a flu epidemic provided a convenient excuse for some of the contestants; Ryan seems to have a shoe fetish; “Idol” isn’t just about discovering new faces, but about giving second, third and fourth chances to folks who already had a moment in the spotlight. Yup, folks, Erin’s done her research and lots of these girls have a reality show past. Add that to the spate of contestants who’ve previously had recording contracts and you just might start to believe that conspiracy theory floating around the Internet that the producers have planted “professionals” this year to beef up the competition. At any rate, it’s way more interesting to me than Antonella or Frenchie’s nude photo scandals or the various arrest records uncovered from seasons past.

Things this episode confirmed: Simon is always right; Paula almost never makes any sense; Randy is almost never right and almost never makes any sense.

On with the show:

Kristy Lee Cook

Pre-“Idol” job: Horse trainer. And although she didn’t mention it last night, cage fighter. That rocks. Also a former model with a few strange musicvids making the rounds on the Net. Don’t believe me? Click here to check it out . It’s the odd homage to “Titanic” that did it for me.
Song: Rescue Me
Kathy: Oh, Kristy, you were my early pick. She’s OK tonight, but nothing special. She reminds us that she sold the “awsomest horse ever” to pay her way to her first audition. She’s going to have to do a whole lot better than this if she wants to buy back her pony. Kristy also reportedly had a recording contract at one time.
Erin: Well, at least we know she can sing more that “Amazing Grace.”

Joanne Borgella

Pre-“Idol” job: Plus-size model. Also won “Mo’Nique’s Fat Chance” in 2005.
Song: Say a Little Prayer
Kathy: It was mostly out of tune. OK, completely out of tune. This makes me so sad. I like Joanne so much.
Erin: I agree. She looked like she was about to faint. I was hoping for a LaKisha-esque perf from the lovely, larger lady, but she sounded like she was holding back.

Alaina Whitaker

Pre-“Idol” job: High school student
Song: More Today Than Yesterday
Kathy: Alaina is young. Very, very young. This will eventually become annoying to me. She’s pretty good but I’m having trouble caring. Simon claims to have never heard the song. I don’t believe him. He also declares that she’ll be great on a decent song. Which week will that be an option? Manilow week? Show tunes week?
Erin: They need an ‘80s week. Just a whole show dedicated to keyitars and drum machines. All the girls will wear side ponytails and all the boys in skinny ties. Anywho, Alaina did a fine job, but she has no grit to her.

Amanda Overmyer

Pre-“Idol” job: Scary nurse (Erin note: This is Kathy’s opinion. I would go for rockin’ nurse)
Song: Regardless of the plethora of Janis choices the theme served up, she wisely chose to avoid that road. Instead, she sang Baby Please Don’t Go.
Kathy: Choosing a song without a melody may not have been her best move. In the middle of the song, I’m not sure what happened. Simon thought she forgot the words. I thought it looked as if she had to go to the bathroom. And Simon claims, again, to have never heard this song before. Huh? Anyway, I like Amanda a lot because she reminds me of Erin.
Erin: Thanks, Kath. I love this girl. We have the same fondness for Maybelline eye makeup, and I used to do that dye job with my hair, but it was fire-engine red. I am convinced that if we ever meet, she’ll be my new BFF. As for her performance, I didn’t actually care for the song all that much, but I did like her voice. The whole scat thing was lost on me. I know the song goes like that, but I agree with Simon. Even though I know the song, it did sound like she forgot the words. Doesn’t matter though. Love her. Amanda is my homegirl.

Amy Davis

Pre-“Idol” job: Tradeshow model, grad student. was a contestant on “Nashville Star”
Song: Where the Boys Are
Kathy: I have no recollection of this girl at all from the earlier rounds. She’s absolutely gorgeous, yet modest. And I like her, until she sings. It was out of tune here and there… and there. Because she looks like a soap star and didn’t perform well, anyone who’s seen even one episode of this show could have predicted Paula’s critique: “The camera loves you.” Translation: “You suck, but you’re hot.” (Yes, folks sometimes I understand what Paula is saying). Poor, pretty Amy. : (
Erin: I thought this performance was completely forgettable. Kath, if you didn’t tell me the song, I would have no idea who this girl was or what she sang even if my life depended on it.

Brooke White

Pre-“Idol” job: Nanny
Song: Happy Together
Kathy: Brooke reminds me of Rebecca DeMornay. And she’s a nanny by trade. (Insert your own “Hand That Rocks the Cradle” joke here.) Brooke became a favorite of mine after Hollywood week but I was bored by this performance. I think she’ll stick around a while but I don’t think Simon will ever corrupt her.
Erin: It’s as if The N is producing this girl’s career. She has all the makings for a after-school series: 1. Has a horse 2. Goes to the big, bad scary city 3. Holds on to her morals despite the new influences in her life. All she needs to do is to find a bad boy to corrupt her and we have a spec script for the Mouse House. I’m waiting for her to bust out the Tori on her keyboard in the later part of the competish.

Alexandrea Lushington

Pre-“Idol” job: Student, church singer
Song: Spinning Wheel
Kathy: In Hollywood she sang Amy Winehouse. Don’t do that ever again Alexandrea. Ruin Whitney, butcher Celine. I don’t care. But don’t even dare attempt to match Amy again if you want to stay on my good side. Randy and Paula fall all over themselves praising her. Simon hated it. I thought it was OK. I did like her peace sign earring. Paula called her outfit “dope.” Paula said “dope.” Heh.
Erin: Remember when ‘60s fashion had a revival in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s? Think early TLC musicvids or summer episodes of “90210.” That’s what this is. The one peace sign earring, the suspenders, the red Chucks… hello T-Boz (sans the random condom apparel). As for the performance, I actually liked it a great deal. It’s a weird song to begin with, so there are a lot of ways it can go. I thought the teen did a fine job.

Kady Malloy

Pre-“Idol” job: Recording studio assistant; has one album under her belt
Song: Groovy Kind of Love
Kathy: Here’s the thing about Kady. She’s the Rich Little of this competition, only funny. She does imitations backstage and for the camera. But as Kady, she’s not great. I hope she sticks around because I think she’s got a comedic personality in there somewhere. Paula says Kady “looks pretty.” Kiss of death. Simon tells her she’s boring. Ryan steps in just in time to save her from crying on camera.
Erin: Poor Kady. I adored her gasping version of Britney at the auditions, so I had high hopes for the gal. I hope she pulls it together enough to last a little longer.

Asia’h Epperson

Pre-“Idol” job: Waitress
Song: Piece of My Heart
Kathy: They show her first audition again and I cry again. Damn you, producers, you’ve got to stop doing that to me
; you’re turning me soft. Asia’h would really have to take a nosedive to fall from grace for me. Thank God, she was great this week. I love, love, love this girl. Everything about her. Her daddy must have been quite a guy.
Erin: She is totally biting Amanda’s style, but it’s difficult to not like this girl. She’s just adorable. And she can sing well. Oh, Ms. Epperson, you can have this Janis moment. I’m feeling a bit generous today. But no more raspy soul singers for you, missy.

Ramiele Malubay

Pre-“Idol” job: Works at a sushi restaurant, http://www.myspace.com/ramiele
Song: You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me
Kathy: Ramiele’s been off my radar but she won me over this week. I’m a huge Dusty Springfield fan so thankfully she didn’t blow it. However, if she wanted to pick from the Dusty catalog, I think “Son of a Preacher Man” would have suited her better. She proves herself to be a girl after my own heart by announcing that hair and makeup is her favorite part of being an “Idol: finalist. And shoes. Hey Ramiele, want to go to the mall with me?
Erin: Love the shoes also, although Ryan creeped me out. Apparently, Ryan is as layered as an onion, with a foot fetish as one of the more hidden layers. As for her perf, I agree with Kathy. I was hoping for “Preacher Man,” but again, that song is as overdone as “Moon River,” so I’m glad she went with a different selection. She’s very soulful and I dig the funky haircut. She’s quickly becoming a fave.

Syesha Mercado

Pre-“Idol” job: Actress. In Miami. And a former contestant on “The One: Making a Music Star”
Song: Tobacco Road
Kathy: This is the first time I’ve seen Syesha’s appeal. She’s good. Very good. I’m not completely in her corner yet, but I’m coming around.
Erin: She surprised the hell out of me. I actually dug this song and her version of it. I’m still not sold on her “life lessons.” I prefer “Idol” contestants before they read “The Secret.”

Carly Smithson

Pre-“Idol” job: Tattoo shop owner. Unclear if she’s a tattoo artist, but she is a tat aficionado. She is also the most controversial of the wannabes considering she’s already had a record contract with MCA.
Song: Shadow of Your Smile
Kathy: Carly’s been at the center of Internet controversy due to the fact that she not only had a recording contract with a major label, she had an album released. Carly addresses this, sort of, by saying the record company “imploded” and left her out in the cold. She did not mention that her album tanked. Frankly I don’t care but some folks are pretty worked up about it. What all this does is put a lot of pressure on Carly to be the best. Simon was disappointed; Randy and Paula slobber all over themselves praising her. She was fourth best for me. I expected more.
Erin: So did I. I was expecting her to rock out a bit more than she did. But it might be because she caught the dreaded “Idol” plague, which originally was carried by production assistants arriving from Sicily on boat. Or something like that. My expectations on this chick are sky high, so hopefully she’ll skip on the ballads next week and get right to the rocking.

The best
Kathy: Asia’h, Syesha, followed closely by Ramiele and Carly. But my favorites are still Asia’h and Brooke
Erin: Ramiele and Amanda, although she’s just my favorite ‘cause I fear her and love her.

The worst
Kathy: Amy Davis, Joanne Borgella (it kills me to have to say that)
If I know America, and after six plus seasons of this show, I think I do, Amy and Kady aren’t going anywhere this week. I think Joanne and Kristy will bid us adieu tomorrow.
Erin: Amy Davis, Kady Malloy

Hey kids, consistency should be your watchword here. Tonight, the first eliminations. Two girls and two boys go home.

'American Idol': Girls night out

Fox, Wed. 8 p.m

Production

Taped in Los Angeles by 19 Prods. Executive producers, Nigel Lythgoe, Ken Warwick, Cecile Frot-Coutaz, Simon Fuller; director, Bruce Gowers.

Crew

RUNNING TIME: 2 HOURS

Cast

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more