American Idol recap: Women are on the chopping block

American Idol's first episode in front of a live audience saw the top remaining 31 contestants...

American Idol's first episode in front of a live audience saw the top remaining 31 contestants getting chopped, starting with the top 15 women narrowed down to ten. (Fox Courtesy)

Jane Stevenson, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 1:06 AM ET

It was old home week on American Idol’s first episode in front of a live audience in a new studio Tuesday night, as the top remaining 31 contestants began getting chopped, starting with the top 15 women who were narrowed down to ten.

Also on board for start of week six was former Idol judge Randy Jackson, now a mentor, along with previous season contestants Adam Lambert and Chris Daughtry.

The trio workshopped with season 13’s singers at the Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes, California on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, along with vocal and movement coaches, stylists, musical director Rickey Minor and even “non-denominational” spiritual advisors.

Making the cut was gap-toothed cutie Majesty Rose of Goldsboro, N.C, who wisely chose to perform “the easy, breezy,” Pharrell’s Happy on acoustic guitar in a very natural yet confident way.

“That’s how you’re supposed to come out here - you are ready for showtime,” said judge Jennifer Lopez.

MK Nobilette of San Francisco, notable as Idol’s first openly gay contestant, sang “an elegant, articulate” version of John Legend’s All of Me and also brought her supporters in the audience to tears and huge cheers.

“You belong here,” said judge Keith Urban.

Sadly, from there it was downhill due mostly to nerves and some questionable song choices.

Big-voiced nurse Kristen O’ Connor, of Sebastian, Fla.,, was less effortless with her version of Adele’s Turning Tables.

Self-admitted perfectionist Briana Oakley, delivered Demi Lovato’s Warrior, bringing her grinning family in the audience to tears. Unfortunately, Oakley ended up looking scared to Lopez, who still compared her to “a young Whitney Houston.”

Detroit’s Jena - “it’s GEENA!” Irene sang a slowed down version of the Rolling Stones' Paint It Black that didn’t quite translate for judge Harry Connick Jr.

“The intensity of the performance was there I just wasn’t sure what you were singing about,” he said.

Atlanta’s sparkly-lipped Bria Anai, of Lithonia, Georgia, whose mother said dresses like “an appropriate Rihanna,” sang Melanie Fiona’s Wrong Side of a Love Song, but it came off “very, very shouted” to Connick.

“There’s a difference between being incredibly passionate about what you’re about to sing and sort of shouting it,” he said to boos.

“It’s your first boo,” said Lopez.

“I’m sure it’s the first of many,” said Connick.

Marrialle Sellars from Indianpolis performed “a big production number” version of Katy Perry’s Roar and placed one red high heel next to her face after she fell out of it.

“If we were ranking people on ability to maintain a performance in the midst of complete calamity, you won the night,” said Urban. “Good save Marrialle! ... Before the whole shoe incident, I fell like it all came off too karoake baby, you’re much better than that.”

The pierced, dyed-hair Jessica Meuse, of Slapout, Alabama, donned her acoustic guitar for another nervous performance, this time of Luke Bryan’s Drink a Beer

Emily Piriz of Orlando, Fla., who just turned 18, sang the very adult Grace Potter’s Paris Oh La La.

“Is that really what you want to be singing about?” asked Connick.

“Harry, kicking into daddy mode over there!” commented host Ryan Seacrest.

And, finally, braces-and-glasses-wearing, and tuba-playing Malaya Watson of Southfield, Michigan, sang an “over the top” version of Ray Charles’ bluesy Hard Times

“You make glasses and braces look so cool - and you know what it is, it's confidence,” said Urban.

Viewers also got to decide the 15th male contestant, chosing Ben Briley over Neco Starr, with the boys getting their chance to sing for votes on Wednesday night when they too will be cut down to ten.

There was also some nonsense about this being “Idol’s first ever rush week, a tour of our talent and you decide who you want to pledge,” from Seacrest but Lopez said it didn’t quite work in the singers’ favour.

“They got you guys out here on this stage so quick, there were so many nerves ... usually there’s time to gear up to this moment,” she said.

The final top 13 will be chosen on Thursday night with 10 voted on and three wild card picks decided by the judges.


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