The final group of eight AI3 finalists gave it their best shot tonight, and for most of them, it wasn't nearly enough. While not as bad as the horrendous Group 2, these kids had to stand in the looming shadow of last week's Group 3. Against the lingering memories of LaToya London and Amy Adams, these singers just couldn't stack up.
That's not to say there were no stand-outs. Susie Vulaca, she of the Justin Guarini hair-do, was one of them. Despite her uninspiring outfit and raccoon-eye make-up, her rendition of Unbreak My Heart now seems inspired when considering the carnage that followed. She has a decent voice, but it was her sustain on the more difficult notes that really impressed. While Simon deemed her "forgettable," I think America will probably remember her tomorrow night.
Next out of the bag was balding college student John Preator. Looking for all the world like a younger, less talented Art Garfunkel, John stumbled his way through That's What Love Is All About, hitting one out of every dozen or so notes. Horrible, horrible, horrible.
Heather Piccinni, one of my picks for tonight's contest, took the stage in her pink pants for an ear-shattering version of I've Got A New Attitude. The first thing I noticed is that the girl isn't nearly as pretty as she looks in the photos on the show's web site. The second is that the song sounds like a Shania Twain cover, if Shania had her vocal cords replaced with a chorus of screeching cats. And what about her facial expressions? Did she smell something funky? Heather is out of this contest after tonight, no question.
My second pick for tonight fared only marginally better than my first. John Stevens had the Sinatra vibe going earlier in the competition, but ditched it tonight in favor of the judges' suggestion to "pop it up." Huge mistake. John's Always A Woman To Me, while well done, will not carry him to the next round. His "magic suit" was anything but magic for him tonight.
Simon commented that seventeen-year-old Jasmine Trias will get a lot of votes tonight, and I agree. She has a nice, smooth voice that carried her version of Run To You above her peers' sub-par performances. She looks the part, and with the flower-in-her-hair gimmick now a bona fide trademark, the audience will carry her through to the Top 12 easily.