Janell reports on last night's Idol:

Welcome to "The Night the Ladies Answer Back." I wasn't aware that there was a question needing an answer, but that's what Ryan Seacrest said, so I have to believe it. In a quick pan of the ladies, they all look sparkly. The judges come out, Jennifer Lopez is wearing a short silver sparkly dress with thigh-high boots. Steven Tyler is wearing a rugged brown jacket and shredded pants with sunglasses. Randy Jackson fails to be a rock star in his colorful cardigan. I paused my Tivo to see their outfits, and you know what? I still think Steven Tyler is hot. I don't think I've put that out there for a few weeks, and I don't want the universe to forget it. I'm so happy to see him, in his hotness, on my tv.

Ryan asks the judges some meaningless questions. When he gets to Steven, the crowd screams a lot. "I don't have a question," Ryan says, "I just wanted to hear them cheer." But then he lets Steven talk about a full moon coming on, and the girls needing to sing like it's their encore.

Ta-Tynisa Wilson kicks things off. I swear there was no hyphen before tonight. She's wearing a black mini party dress with a full skirt, singing Rihanna's "Only Girl in the World." I think she's a little nervous and her voice doesn't sound strong enough. She struts around a lot. Steven Tyler says she sang it beautifully and he liked it a lot. Oh no, is he going to be blandly complimentary to everyone? He's freakin' Steven Tyler, man, I want awesome from him. Although it is nice that he's sweet, too, I guess. Harumph. Jennifer Lopez says that it started shaky, but she brought it home and played to the crowd. Randy Jackson: "I got a feeling this will happen a lot to me this  season, disagreeing with my fellow judges." He says it was just okay, not special or different. I guess Randy is stepping up to be the voice of reason and criticism, since Steven and J.Lo are just handing out rainbows and bunny rabbits to everyone. Jennifer likes to talk over Randy, and she says, "Being a performer is about moving the crowd, and she moved the crowd." Randy: "I was part of the crowd, and I wasn't moved." Ryan: "I've known you for ten years, and with all due respect, it takes a lot to move you." Ah, now Ryan will try to mock Randy as he once lovingly mocked Simon. I can see people stepping into their roles.


Naima Adedapo is next, and she’s wearing a bright gold dress that’s short in front, long train in the back, with bell sleeves. She gets to stool chat with Ryan and says that she designed it herself. She also gets to explain that she’s singing “Summertime” because “it’s like home for me.” Her arrangement is faster and jazzier than we usually

get, and she looks like she’s having fun. She struts forward a bit. I like it. Her last note woke up my cat. Jennifer Lopez starts off this time. Ah, rotating the commentary, good. She loved the last note, and says Naima brings color like an exotic flower. Naima: “That’s what my name means!” Randy found it a little lounge act-y, and he mentions Fantasia’s version, which I guess no one can ever surpass so they may as well bury the song forever. Hey, I’d rather hear this than "Superstitious" again. Steven says she’s like an early Ella Fitzgerald, and she could be a new old-tymey thing.

Here’s Kendra Chantelle, who is in the less colorful category. She’s wearing shiny tight black pants, and a black corset with some dangling chains. She’s singing a sassy torch song with the word “Impossible” in it a lot, so maybe that’s the name. (SKK: Yep, that's the name.) She doesn’t move around much, just stands and belts. Randy informs me that it’s a Christina Aguilera song. Thanks, Randy! He liked the vibrato, and was reminded of Lauryn Hill. Steven likes what her voice does to a song. Jennifer says Kendra has heart, and fought her way into the top 12 girls, but says there’s more to her.

Now it’s Rachel Zevita, that strangely-fashioned girl who tried out 4 years ago. I remember I wanted to like her. She’s wearing a black cape, which she tosses off at the first note to reveal a red and black lacy dress. She’s singing Fiona Apple’s “Criminal.” Who called her Fiona Apple last week? That’s right, I did. I’m awesome. You’re

welcome. The song arrangement has a different tempo so it’s not quite recognizable, and she walks all around the judges’ table, which I think makes her a little breathy. She has some good moments, but also some distracting ones. I worry. Steven loved the strut and swagger, but found it a little too Broadway for him. “Maybe [Broadway] could be

your niche?” he asks. “That’s the one thing I’ve never sung,” she responds. “Huh.” Silence. Silence. Oh dear. J.Lo steps in, asking if that’s how she wants people to see her. Rachel has an amazing range, but didn’t show it off. Randy tells us the name of the song, and says plainly that it wasn’t good, it didn’t work. Oh man, but she could be

so theatrical and awesome! I want to keep her, please!

Next is Karen Rodriguez, who would like to bring us some flavor. Her full-length dress is turquoise. She’s singing “Hero,” and she switches between English and Spanish a few times. She stands in front of the mike stand and hits some strong notes, going high at the end. J.Lo just says wow, over and over. Randy says she made it her own, with the language switch up. Steven would like her to get together with Jacob Lusk and sing, and Karen shrieks that he’s her best friend in the competition.

Now it’s Lauren Turner, who J.Lo compared to Bette Midler. She sings some jazzy fierce number called "Seven Day Fool.” She is sassy and she owns it. Randy: That’s how you do it! He says she could be Amy Winehouse meets Florence and the Machine with the bluesy soul flavor. Steven Tyler contradicts him, and says she’s like Lauren Turner meets Lauren Turner. Jennifer says her voice is undeniable, but she should have been more physical and in the camera’s face with that song.

Here’s Ashthon Jones, wearing a denim corset and tight black pants. She’s singing some boring song about “Love Over Me.” She tries to seduce the camera. Steven: “May I call you Jonesy?” He says she’s got the confidence of a queen. J.Lo says she’s got the makings of a diva, with the big hair, the moves, and the composure. “I get it from you!” says Ashthon. Randy didn’t love the song (high five, Randy). He does inform me that it’s a Monica song, and Ashthon should be broader and bigger. Like Diana Ross, interjects Jennifer.

Next is Julie Zorrilla of the lovely party dresses. Her dress today has pink sequins, and she’s singing Kelly Clarkson’s “Break Away.” She sounds too quiet with all the background vocals, and the key also sounds too low. J.Lo and Randy listen with serious faces. Hmm. Jennifer didn’t feel it was the best, and it wasn’t sung from the heart. Randy says she didn’t bring anything new, it wasn’t nearly as good as Kelly. Steven reads my mind and says it was the wrong song and she should have taken it up a couple of keys.

Now here’s Haley Reinhart, singing “Fallin’,” wearing a little black tube dress. She growls and prowls, she’s pouty and snarly and good, I think. Randy says it didn’t do anything for her, he wants a more husky tone. Steven disagrees, says it was just the right amount of style and sexy. As Randy tries to argue, Steven says, “If I agreed with you we’d both be wrong.” Nice! Jennifer saw a lot of different colors in her voice, but says she was thinking too much about walking the stage.


Here’s 15-year-old Thia Megia. She starts in a spotlight with no music. I don’t know this song, and Randy won’t tell me, but it’s slow and strong and she is killer. (SKK: "Out Here on My Own.") Steven says sometimes the pitch is so perfect, it doesn’t matter what song, and she just did that. J.Lo says it was a beautiful, quiet moment that captivated everyone. Randy compliments the tone of her voice, and says the tone reminded him of Michael Jackson. They tell us about 15 times that she’s 15 years old.


Lauren Alaina is 16. She’s wearing jeans and a t-shirt with a pink heart on it, and she’s singing a loud country-ish song called “Turn on the Radio.” Randy has been failing me with the song info lately. At first I thought the guitars were too loud, but then she’s loud and has attitude and shakes her booty. Steven taps his glass for her. J.Lo says the voice is effortless. Randy says she has natural talent, “you don’t even know how good you are!” Steven says she sings into the stratosphere. When Ryan comes onstage, Lauren introduces him as Peaches, because he’s from Georgia. Ryan doesn’t seem to be down with the new name.

Finally it’s Pia Toscano, singing “I’ll Stand By You.” She has a very strong, clear voice, and holds a long note. The judges all stand up for her. Really? It was good, but the last few girls were just as good, I thought. Oh well. Randy says she’s up with the top amazing performances in American Idol history. I go and re-watch Adam Lambert’s “Mad World” performance and stick my tongue out at Randy. (I haven’t mentioned my love of Adam Lambert in a while, have I?) Steven: “After Monday and Tuesday, even a week says WTF.” I can’t argue with that logic. Jennifer calls her tricky for saving that until it mattered most.

That’s everyone! Let’s recap the recap. The big amazing standouts were Karen Rodriguez, Lauren Turner, Thia Megia, Lauren Alaina, and Pia Toscano. Well, that’s 5 right there. In the strong category I’d put Naima Adedapo, Kendra Chantelle, and Ashthon Jones. Haley Reinhart didn’t please Randy, Ta-Tynisa Wilson didn’t quite work, Rachel Zevita

almost worked, and Julie Zorilla fell a bit short, too. But no one was terrible, right?

People of America, Ryan is worried about you. You’ve got a big job to do. He says that tomorrow night we’ll learn the real Top 12, including the judges’ wild cards.