The final 12 gals on American Idol Season 10

Pia Toscano and Karen Rodriguez perform on American Idol. (FOX Photo)One of my favorite moments on Idol Thursday night was when Julie Zorrilla departed the judgment room.

She was so excited, she tried to lift Ryan Seacrest.

Naturally, they both crashed to the floor.

Laughing, she got up and proclaimed: “That was almost really bad.”

The only thing I found really bad about the girls’ selections was the last one. Having heard Jessica Cunningham sing, I would have preferred having a lady rocker to another 15-year-old (Thia Megia) in the semifinals.

And I would have preferred hearing more from several of these contestants — Lauren Turner, Kendra Chantelle, Naima Adedapo — to so much from Lauren Alaina.

Anyway, here are my early assessments:

Those selected during Thursday’s episode …

Lauren Alaina (Suddeth): Honestly, did anyone think she wasn’t going to make it?  For the most part, I resent Idol’s youth push because of all the more experienced and very talented musicians who made it to Hollywood and were never featured in Season 10. I’ll make an exception for Lauren because: 1) she’s got a helluva voice; 2) she seems fearless on stage; 3) all the best seasons of Idol feature a female country singer. It should be one of Idol’s golden rules. Pre-Idol music.

Pia Toscano: All eyes have been on Lauren Alaina. I have a feeling Pia is the dark horse among the girls. Especially after hearing her on group day and in that final performance. Idol wants a total package? Here she is. Pre-Idol music.

Julie Zorrilla: She and her family fled guerrilla war in Colombia in 1998 to chase the American dream. Now she’ll be singing for votes on American Idol. Honestly, I wasn’t all that taken with the rendition of “Summertime” that got her to Hollywood. But the “Something” duet with Tim Halperin in Wednesday’s episode … now that was something special. Pre-Idol music.

Karen Rodriguez: She sings in two languages. She was the first MySpace auditioner we met. She was one of the few bright spots in that horrid Los Angeles episode. But I’m not sure she’s strong enough to be a bright spot among the top 24. Pre-Idol music.

Lauren Turner: Well, there had to be a contestant we knew virtually nothing about. Folks, meet Lauren Turner, the Paige Miles of season 10. Idol tried to pretend we met her during the New Orleans episode. Hmm, don’t remember that. And I can’t find her audition anywhere on YouTube. Well, I can tell you she attended Belmont University as a musical theater major and has a big voice. Not because I’ve watched Idol. Because I’ve watched YouTube performances. Pre-Idol music.

Ta-tynisha Wilson: This marked her fifth year auditioning for Idol. She was known as the “Listen Girl” in college because of how well she sang the tune from “Dreamgirls.” Idol has done her no favor by singling her out as one of the most inconsistent performers to make the semifinals. We haven’t heard enough from her to make a fair judgment. Pre-Idol music.

Rachel Zevita: She performed “Hallelujah” for her audition, so she knows something about how to survive on Idol. But I envision much oversinging in Rachel’s future and ours … if she lasts long enough to oversing very often. More on Rachel.

Thia Megia: A beneficiary of Idol’s youth movement. Thia might be just 15, but she’s been training for this for a long time; she was a finalist on season four of America’s Got Talent back in 2009. And she survived the vocal coach from hell, so the Idol pressure should be a snap, right? We’ll see. Pre-Idol music.

Kendra Chantelle: She was introduced to us initially as Kendra Campbell, but this is the name this blues/R&B and soul singer from Tennessee performs under. She has a whole host of solid originals. My favorite of the bunch: “Fuel My Fire.” Just wished she’d been showcased more up to this point. Pre-Idol music.

From Wednesday’s episode …

Naima Adedapo: Ryan calls her a custodian. On Facebook, she identifies herself as “a singer, dancer, dance instructor, stepping instructor, actress and just all around performer. I’m seeking truth within myself so that in this horrible place of deception and lies (A.K.A. Babylon), I can find Zion within.” In the past, I’ve complained about not enough diversity among Idol contestants, so I can hardly complain about the inclusion of a member of the Ko-Thi African Dance Co. Pre-Idol music.

Haley Reinhart: Love the attitude. Told “no” during the auditions last year, she worked to improve and came back for season 10. Love the Carrie Underwood good looks. And the soulfulness in her voice. Not sure she can win it all, but it will be fun watching such a sweet young lady try. Pre-Idol music.

Ashthon Jones: We didn’t see her at all until Hollywood Week. And she’s been impressive every time we’ve seen her since. Having listened to her EP, I wasn’t surprised. Check out “Salsa, Salsa” and “Like This,” a pair of dance tunes from that EP. I’ll be shocked if she doesn’t make the finals. Pre-Idol music.


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