American Idol Season 9′s Top 24 are signed, sealed and delivered, but instead of bitching about the people let through, we’ve got some major complaints about the two particular contestants they kissed off way too early.
Many were shocked by Angela Martin’s rejection on last night’s American Idol—and not just because of Kara’s incredibly patronizing attempt to console her while she sobbed. This was Angela’s third shot at becoming a top finalist on the show, but the first time she was ousted by the judges instead of tragic extenuating circumstances. We feel horrible for Angela, particularly with her mother still missing since the holidays, and she certainly showed determination and knew how to excel under pressure. But as far as natural talent goes, there are a few other Idol contestants whose journeys were unfairly cut even shorter.
Being disqualified has got to be the most gut-wrenching way to leave the show, since it has nothing to do with talent but with Idol‘s tricky guidelines and demands. Chris Golightly was disqualified from joining the Top 24 for not mentioning a previous record contract he had as part of a “boy band,” but our favorite contestant who was unceremoniously disqualified from competing impressed us with only one song. Danelle Hayes, who tried out at the Denver auditions, is the mom who hosts karaoke and sings in an unspecified cover band. She bowled us over immediately by belting out a powerful version of Melissa Etheridge’s “I’m the Only One.”
The judges loved her, and sent her on her way to Hollywood. Unfortunately, complications and misunderstandings arose: Danelle is still on probation from a 2007 DUI charge, and she since she’s on a deferred prosecution, she’ll be hounded over by Washington State for a total of seven years. Idol producers considered this DUI case still pending, and Danelle says, “They didn’t want to have to go to Washington State and ask them for permission for me to go on tour.”
There is something wrong with Idol‘s process when producers have a contestant they believe from the outset is a likely Top 10 contender (we know we sure did), and yet aren’t willing to allow for the possibility of having to do a little work on that singer’s behalf. This girl really has the package—talent, modesty, confidence, looks, experience and an interesting back story to boot—so was it really too much effort for Idol producers to go out on a limb and help a girl out?
Is one song not enough for you to feel similarly? Here’s Danelle playing piano and singing a song she wrote herself, set to the words of Maya Angelou’s poem “Phenomenal Woman.”
And here’s a unique—okay, we’ll say it, brilliant cover of The Eagles’ “Desperado” from the same show:
Since Danelle’s probation lasts for a few more years, well, there goes her shot at Idol glory. Hopefully she can take solace in the fact that she didn’t get a “no” from the judges or America, but from hard-nosed Fox producers.
Danelle may have gone far in the competition if not for her legal problems, but the judges are solely to blame for Maddy Curtis’s chances being cut short. The 16-year old auditioned in Boston and came packaged with an inspirational story—she’s one of 12 children in her family, and a few of her younger siblings have Down Syndrome, so she spends most of her time helping her mother take care of them. Maddy was humble, cute, and displayed a very mature taste in music for a teenager, choosing to sing “Hallelujah.” When Simon asked if she’ll be singing the Leonard Cohen version, she couldn’t have replied any better: “Yes, well, more of my own [version].” Now that’s confidence.
“Bit of soul in there, Maddy” says Simon, and all of the judges are impressed. Unfortunately, Maddy blows it (at least for the judges) by singing a solemn hym during Hollywood Week, despite the fact that she nails it:
Simon tells her she picked the wrong song, but regardless, Curtis has amazing control over her voice, most likely from having a choral-trained background. Here’s more proof of Maddy’s developed vocals while singing at a benefit fundraiser to raise funds for Haiti.
We would have loved to have seen Maddy survive til at least the group rounds so we could hear what she does with a pop song. But even if her voice is better-suited for spirituals or more subtle melodies, this shouldn’t disqualify her—Josh Groban does the same thing, and not only is he quite successful on the charts, even fictional characters are obsessed with him.
So if they would have let Maddy and Danelle continue in the competition, who should have been knocked out? Alex Lambert barely came up on our radar after his nervous performances where he could barely make eye contact with his audience (particularly in the group round). But as far as the girls go— who, exactly, is top 24 contender Paige Miles? We can’t even find a YouTube clip of her singing on the show to prove whether or not she deserves to be in the semi-finals. It’s as though the girl appeared out of thin air to nab a spot away from our favorites.
We’ll be anxiously awaiting your solo performance on Tuesday, Paige. And Danelle and Maddy, we’ll be keeping an eye out for your musical offerings in the future, too. If there were any justice, we’d be seeing you perform them on stage at the Kodak.