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If you thought American Idol was intense before, you better get ready for what’s to come in the next weeks in Las Vegas. Wednesday night marked the first night of the sudden death round, the show’s first time doing this.
Only 10 singers will perform each night, but half of them will be eliminated by the end of the night. Each contestant will get to sing any song of their choice in any genre, and the judges will then make their decisions after all have performed. This will continue onto next week, until the Top 20 will be decided, which is when the viewers start the vote.
On Wednesday, 10 girls kicked off the show's new format in front of a live audience.
The first contestant of the night is high school student Jenny Beth Willis. She performs “Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love” and Keith Urban tells her that although she could have picked a better song, it was “a great way to start the show.” Nicki Minaj adds that her voice was good but that she “could have had more fun with the song.”
Tenna Torres, who only has one more shot at the competition given that she’s 28 years old, gives the second performance of the night. She sings “Soulmate” by Natasha Bedingfield and Randy Jackson says, “This is how you do it…This is what becoming the next American Idol is really about.” Mariah Carey adds to that, saying, “You were just naturally giving a beautiful, pure performance.”
Adriana Latonio from Alaska is next, and she sings Aretha Franklin’s “Ain’t No Way." Urban says “it was so damn good,” while Jackson adds that she “was born to do it.” Minaj also tells her that she is “this little tiny thing, but commands the stage from the second she walks out. I did not see one ounce of fear in you.”
Lousiana native Brandy Hotard then performs with her rendition of Travis Tritt’s “Anymore.” Urban and Jackson agree that while her voice was good, her connection to the song was off. But Carey says it didn’t bother her, saying, “I didn’t even notice if you were smiling or not, I just saw a beautiful person singing the song.”
17-year-old high school student Shubha Vedhula is next, and she performs an interesting version of “Born this Way” by Lady Gaga. Although the crowd seemed to love it, the judges weren’t so into it, with Urban saying she “crammed a lot into it” and that it was “confusing because there was so much going on.” Minaj agrees that it was confusing, saying that she is a “mash up of Christina Aguilera and the Gangam Style guy.”
Kamaria Ousley is next, who sings “Mr. Know It All” by Kelly Clarkson. Although the judges say they know she can sing, they don’t like her performance. Minaj and Carey comment on how much they love her appearance, but both say her vocals didn’t work. Urban says it wasn’t a good song choice, while Jackson says, “It was the worst performance I’ve seen you make. It was not good tonight. I didn’t like it at all. I just didn’t like it.”
Kree Harrison from Nashville, Tenn. then gives arguably the best performance of the night. She sings “Up to the Mountain” by Patty Griffin and receives a standing ovation from the judges. Urban says he loves how “effortless, believable and authentic” she is, while Carey tells her, “You sang the hell out of that song.” Jackson says she is a “natural-born singer,” while Minaj says, “I would be very afraid if I was any of these other girls here tonight. There’s a mystery in you that can’t be explained. Every time you sing a song, you make love to the song; I’ve never said that to anyone else.”
Angela Miller, who blew the judges away the previous week during solo round in Hollywood, follows by singing “Nobody’s Perfect” by Jessie J. Jackson says “America is witnessing the building of a superstar.” Urban also says, “You have huge talent. You have a big, big gift. I wish I had more time to give you more adjectives, but I have a feeling I’ll have plenty of time to do that.”
Isabelle, who has struggled with her weight since she was young, is next, and she sings Billie Holliday’s “God Bless the Child.” Urban says, “All I can say is, to every guy that didn’t invite you to prom, let that be the key to the side of his car.” Jackson adds that while he likes her voice, it was a “big old fashioned” and at times it felt like he “was at a pageant.”
The last performance of the night comes from 18-year-old Amber Holcomb, who sings “My Funny Valentine.” Urban says she “knocked it out of the park” and Carey adds that she “can’t wait for her to get in a studio and make a record, regardless of what happens in this competition.”
The judges then take time to discuss which five girls they will send home and which five they will keep. After they are done deliberating, Ryan Seacrest says the judges are unanimous, and five stools have been set up for the girls who will continue.
The girls come out one by one, and Jenni Beth Willis, Brandy Hotard, Isabelle, Kamaria Ousley and Shubha Vedhula learn their time in the competition is over.
This means Tenna Torres, Kree Harrrison, Angela Miller, Amber Holcomb and Adriana Latonio have advanced.
Tomorrow night, 10 guys will go through sudden death and sing for their chance to continue. Which five guys do you think will be joining the girls from tonight in the Top 20?