'American Idol' Top 20 girls: A few bring their A games

american-idol-top-20-girls.jpgSo, this is new for "American Idol" -- live audience shows, but America doesn't vote. Ten ladies are performing and five have to go home, then next week 10 more perform and five more go home. It's the same for the guys, leaving us with 10 women and 10 men by the end of next week.

Ryan introduces the 20 women and it's fairly obvious the ones we're supposed to know and like already, because about half of them are complete unknowns. But since we aren't voting yet, we suppose it doesn't matter.

1. Jenny Beth Willis, "Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love," Trisha Yearwood

So, Jenny Beth is dressed like a can-can dancer goes Grand Ol' Opry, it's a little terrifying. Vocally, she has a nice tone, but this song is getting away from her a little bit -- she's missing notes and is flat at times, plus she seems a little stiff. One good last note is not enough. We do not predict she'll advance. Keith Urban admits that was not the best song for her. Nicki says she didn't come alive 'til the very end.

Speaking of clothes, Randy is dressed like if a hipster went to Hogwarts. But he is right that she wasn't in sync with the band. Mariah Paulas, "Did you have fun?", but then advises her to be more dynamic. That's good advice.

2. Tenna Torres, "Soulmate," Natasha Bedingfield

This is a terrible song choice. It's not well-known enough, it's boring, it's not a "moment" ballad. Also, Tenna gets off-key pretty badly at one point. Yikes. We guess song choice isn't as important if the American public isn't voting, but still. Terrible song choice. Even Keith Urban admits he doesn't know it. She has a pretty voice, but that didn't blow our hair back.

Nick astutely points out that her big hair is aging her. Yes. Randy says this started the night. Hmm. Disagree. This put us to sleep.

3. Adriana Latonio, "Ain't No Way," Aretha Franklin

Vocally, this is the best so far. That's not saying much, but Adriana has a wonderful smoky tone. Her stage presence can definitely use some work and that last note was a little suspect, but we agree with Keith -- now the night has started. That was much better than the first two songs.

4. Brandy Hotard, "Anymore," Travis Tritt

This is one of our favorite country songs. The melody and lyrics are just gorgeous. Brandy ... needs to put more emotion into it. Maybe she's building. Tritt sings this like his heart is being ripped out of his chest. Then Brandy flubs the words. Hmm. She salvages the end, from the second "my resistance ain't that strong" to the end. But that was a little rough in the beginning.

Urban  and Nicki cite her lack of emotional connection, which -- yes. Nicki calls it a "pageant delivery" and she's not wrong. Mariah Paulas, "I didn't even notice if you were smiling or not." *sigh*

5. Shubha Vedula, "Born This Way," Lady Gaga

The piano is a beautiful touch -- interesting interpretation of this song. We actually like this less once she kicks it up, because she doesn't kick it up enough. This either should've stayed at the piano and really made this her own, or she needed to rock this. This "fast" part is actually kind of plodding. Shubha's got some pipes, we've seen that. This song isn't really showcasing that as much as she could be, plus she's getting to Aguilera-level runs, which is usually too much.

We hope she advances, because she's good. But that was weird and not her best effort. Once again, Keith Urban is on our head because he calls it confusing and says she's great despite that performance. Yes. Randy and Mariah agree that she should've stayed at the piano.

6. Kamaria Ousley, "Mr. Know It All," Kelly Clarkson

Uh, this is terrible. Really bad. Can she not hear the backing band very well? That's what it sounds like, like she can't hear her accompaniment. We mean, this is like cat-howlingly bad. We're sorry, she seems really nice and stuff. But, yikes.

Nicki falls back on the old standard of telling her she looks fabulous. Interestingly, we have to wait til Randy to get to the critiques of her pitch. And he's right -- it was ALL over the place. Mariah adds that maybe she was struggling to hear herself, which had to be the problem, right? Surely.

7. Kree Harrison, "Up to the Mountain," Patty Griffin

This girl is the total doppelganger of Melanie Lynskey, right? Anyway. This is the first performance that finally makes our socks roll up and down. She sounds beautiful, she's damn near perfect. And we kind of love that she's dressed like she's ready to clean out the garage. Just let the music speak for itself, girlfriend.

We're with Keith Urban, we just clapped out hands and cheered. Finally! Somebody finally comes out and gets it done. Watch Kree's performance here.

8. Angela Miller, "Nobody's Perfect," Jessie J

This isn't as stunning as her original song, but the girl definitely has some pipes. "Idol" really backloaded these 10 girls, didn't they? We just don't have much to say -- that was good. It wasn't quite as stirring as Kree right before her, but vocally, it was very strong.

Nicki is also being very astute tonight. She cautions Angela not to overdo it and not to force anything. Good advice. Watch Angela's performance here.

9. Isabelle, "God Bless the Child," Billie Holiday

We're very torn on this performance. There are some beautiful moments, but she also seems to really be forcing things, and there are a few bum notes. The ending is a big ol' note, but that doesn't make the whole performance stellar. Still one of the stronger ones, but not in the same league as Kree and Angela. Also, that dress is not flattering her. She's a beautiful girl, but she's not a stick and she could be wearing something more flattering to her figure.

The judges are more hyped up on her than we were. Randy calls it a bit old-fashioned and he's not wrong. This one is still probably enough to advance.

10. Amber Holcomb, "My Funny Valentine," Rodgers and Hart

Wow. From the opening line, we have goosebumps. This is spectacular. And her degree of difficult is through the roof, this song is so hard. Great way to end the show. We actually think this would have been an even bigger moment if the song hadn't had that R&B slow-jam rhythm happening in the background. She could've gone with a quieter arrangement and just let the vocals soar. But either way, very strong.

Watch Amber's performance here.

So, at this point in the show, Kree, Angela and Amber are shoo-ins to advance. Who gets the last two spots? It's a toss up between Adriana, Shubha and Isabelle. If we were picking based on the whole experience, we'd go with Shubha and Isabelle. If we were going just based on tonight, we'd go with Adriana and Isabelle.

The judges appear out of a hole in the floor and right away send home Jenny Beth and Brandy, then keep Tenna. Interesting. Then they keep Kree and Angela and cut Isabelle and Kamaria. Amber stays and it's down to Shubha versus Adriana for the last spot. And the judges keep Adriana.

Tenna was the only surprise for us. She wasn't bad, it was just pretty boring for us, but we can see how she's kind of interchangeable with Isabelle, Shubha and Adriana for two spots, in terms of tonight's performances.

What did you think of the selections, "Idol" fans?
Photo/Video credit: FOX