This feels like the point in "American Idol" when we're just biding our time until the top 12. The pleasant surprises happened last week, and now we're just waiting for the bad singers (and the good-but-unpopular-or-less-attractive singers) to get booted. The top 10 girls on Wednesday were a lot like the guys on Tuesday: good-but-not-great performances, mixed in with a few stinkers by popular contestants who will stick around longer than they deserve.
Crazy-ometer update: Paula hit about a 6 out of 10 for the two days combined. She was surprisingly snappy with Simon on Tuesday, but by Wednesday she'd reverted to her whole babbling "you're sooo beautiful" brand of "criticism."
You can fill out this ballot to predict which girls are going home, and to read my judgments and picks,
Gina Glocksen (at right): Wow, Gina's boyfriend has dyed a little red skunk strip in his hair to match hers. I like her a lot generally, but she sounded a little shrieky, and the backup singer hit the hardest notes for her. Simon spent a lot of time telling her she doesn't look edgy enough, which I think is the last of Gina's problems.
Alaina Alexander: I finally figured out who she reminds me of: an Olsen twin. I'm not familiar with the song she sang, but she did better with it than with the Pretenders last week. I'm not sure if she was off pitch on the chorus, like Randy said; I'm more inclined to go with Simon's opinion that she just ran out of steam.
LaKisha Jones: She did a pretty funky "Midnight Train to Georgia," but she didn't blow me away like she did last week. The judges told her to be less nervous, and then Simon started ragging on her outfit and her dancing, a la Mandisa, Jennifer Hudson, etc. But she'll be around next week.
Melinda Doolittle (at left): I find myself smiling the whole time I'm watching her — I suppose that because she's smiling, it's only appropriate that I reciprocate. Her voice sounded fantastic, and she's classy (almost too classy for "Idol," honestly). The judges loved it, and Simon called it the best vocal of the year.
Antonella Barba: I was psyched to hear Antonella's song dedication — maybe it will be to the person who leaked the racy photos! — but alas, it was just to her brother. She sang a too-fast, off-key, weirdly arranged version of "Because You Loved Me," and the high note wasn't the problem — the rest of them were. She tried invoking Jennifer Hudson after Simon panned her, but honey? You are no Jennifer Hudson.
Jordin Sparks: She apparently took to heart the judges' advice from last week to sing a bigger song, tackling Christina Aguilera — pretty well, I thought, until the last of the power notes, which just bombed. She cried dedicating the song to her brother and was crying again at the end, which seemed authentic coming from her. She rivals Melinda, LaKisha, and Blake for most likable contestant this year.
Stephanie Edwards: Her dedication was all about her parents pushing her to audition for "Idol." Isn't she a little old to have stage parents? She seemed to have some trouble with the tricky rhythms at the start of "Dangerously in Love" but totally pulled it together at the end. Not quite the splash of last week, but still good.
Leslie Hunt (at right): The more she talks, the more I like her; she's kind of a lovable mess. She pulled out our second "Feeling Good" of the week, with an a capella beginning and some surprising scatting at the end. Simon said she's not terribly memorable; Paula said she was "a different flavor of ice cream," and then Seacrest called Simon sorbet. I ... have no idea what happened there.
Haley Scarnato: Well, singing "Queen of the Night" was one way to banish the cabaret vibe. Oh the other hand, she didn't really have the voice to pull it off. At least she had fun this time. Maybe she should try something not sung by Celine Dion or Whitney Houston, though.
Sabrina Sloan: She sang a convincing version of "All the Man That I Need," but I can't really forgive her for breaking my no-Whitney rule for the second time in the night. Simon and I both liked her better last week, but she's clearly in the top half of the group.
Who should go: Antonella, please, and probably Haley, with Alaina a close third
Who will go: Haley and Leslie. Just when I was starting to like her, too.
Your turn! Use this ballot to tell me which girls are going home.
Photos courtesy of Fox