American Idol 2012: Jessica Sanchez, Skylar Laine should enter American Idol Season 11 Top 13

February 29, 2012 

UPDATE: Here's a list of this season's top 13 singers.

So, who won the "American Idol" battle of the sexes this week?

When the top 12 women performed Wednesday, singers like Jessica Sanchez and Skylar Laine impressed me more than many of the male singers from Tuesday night.

But there was still a major problem: Few of this season's female singers seem to actually have fun on stage. With just a few exceptions, we got a night of ballads and dated tunes.

Here's how I'd rank Wednesday's performances:

1. Jessica Sanchez, "Love You I Do"

2. Skylar Laine, “Stay With Me”

3. Elise Testone, "One and Only"

4. Shannon Magrane, "Go Light Your World"

5. Hollie Cavanagh, “Reflection”

6. Jen Hirsh, "One and Only"

7. Chelsea Sorrell, “Cowboy Casanova”

8. Erika Van Pelt, “What About Love”

9. Hallie Day, "Feeling Good"

10. Brielle Von Hugel, “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay”

11. Baylie Brown, “Amazed”

12. Haley Johnsen, "Sweet Dreams"

We'll learn who will advance to the Top 13 Thursday. Ten singers -- five men, five women -- will advance based on viewers' votes. Then, each judge will choose a "wild card" singer to complete the Top 13.

In the meantime, here's a full recap of Wednesday's show.

***

Chelsea Sorrell, “Cowboy Casanova”: I wish Chelsea would’ve received more airtime during the earlier rounds. I love her personality. From the start of this performance, she brings some good energy to the tune. Unfortunately, she sounds a little flat throughout a good portion of this song. Decent effort, but nothing I’ll be talking about later.

Randy: “You definitely can sing…I was wondering if that was the best choice.”

Jennifer: Says she’s a fan of Chelsea, but the performance was a bit nasally

Steven: Basically agrees with the other two judges

Erika Van Pelt, “What About Love”: Erika’s voice is much stronger than Chelsea’s and she pulls out some really nice big notes in this performance. I have no major gripes, aside from the fact that I can’t help putting Erika in the wedding singer realm at times. It’s not that she’s cheesy…I’m just still lacking that personal connection. She has promise, though.

Steven: “You just nailed it.”

Jennifer: “You are one of our power voices…I feel like you could have gone even further.”

Randy: “You showed that kind of confidence with the restraint.”

Jen Hirsh, “One and Only”: I’m a little nervous when “Idol” contestants sing Adele songs. I’m still having memories of Eben’s Tuesday performance. Fortunately, this isn’t that bad. In fact, it’s quite good. There are some slight problems, but Jen delivers some really solid vocals. Plus, she seems like the most relevant artist of the night so far.

Jennifer: “I felt the feeling in the song.”

Steven: “You got what it takes.”

Randy: “I think you’re one of the greatest singers in this competition this year.”

Brielle Von Hugel, “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay”: Ah, Brielle: I don’t know whether I should love or hate you. On one hand, I feel like you’re trying WAY too hard to make this song sexy. And if you’re going to bust out big diva notes, maybe you should have just chosen a Christina Aguilera song. But on the other hand, sometimes you sound kind of good.

Steven: “You’ve got a great sense of the blues.”

Jennifer: “I think people underestimate you…You are a true performer.”

Randy: “You actually can really sing.”

Hallie Day, “Feeling Good”: PLEASE RETIRE THIS SONG, “IDOL.” I AM SICK OF IT. I’ll put my personal gripes aside and admit Hallie does a decent job with the tune. She hits some strong notes, even though she enters shouting territory at times. Overall, no major problems, but with a song that’s so overdone I wonder how she’ll fare with viewers.

Jennifer: “At the end of the day you did a really, really beautiful job.”

Steven: “I think you’re beautiful.”

Randy: “You’ve got the voice.”

Skylar Laine, “Stay With Me”: I’m surprised that Skylar chose a Faces song. I thought she’d opt for Miranda Lambert. Either way, it’s a great choice. Skylar pulls out some really strong vocals and she totally ROCKS OUT on stage. I love Skylar because she seems like one of the few performers who’s actually awake on stage. Way to go.

Randy: “I don’t think we’ve ever had somebody with your voice that performs like this…That was so good.”

Jennifer: “I love your energy…Congratulations, that was a great performance.”

Steven: “Keep it up, girl.”

Baylie Brown, “Amazed”: Here’s another song that should be retired from “Idol.” I have extremely low expectations when I hear Baylie’s song choice and this performance does nothing to change my mind. The whole thing is incredibly sleepy. Baylie’s vocals are off, too. Overall, it’s a very poor performance. That’s too bad. I liked Baylie.

Steven: “I’m not sure if it’s the best song you could have picked for tonight.”

Jennifer: “It just didn’t seem like you had total control.”

Randy: “I think you just never seized control of the song.”

Hollie Cavanagh, “Reflection”: The beginning of this Christina Aguilera cover is a little rough. However, Hollie gets a lot of momentum on the chorus. Ultimately, it’s a really impressive performance. I think Hollie is one of the strongest female vocalists this season. My biggest criticism is that she seems a bit stiff on stage at times. That's kind of a serious problem.

Steven: “You did it again tonight.”

Jennifer: “She’s going to be one of our front-runners.”

Randy: “You’re still one of my favorites.”

Haley Johnsen, "Sweet Dreams": Wow, what an odd song choice. The performance is a little baffling, too. On one hand, I give her points for actually trying to do something that shows a little personality. But on the other hand, the vocals just aren't really that amazing. In fact, they're actually pretty bad. Sorry, Haley: I think you've succumbed to a role as a forgettable blond singer.

Jennifer: "I hope that America could hear all of the special things that you were doing with your voice there."

Steven: "You pulled it through...I love the way you acted on stage."

Randy: "It was a bit of a nightmare for me instead of a dream."

Shannon Magrane, "Go Light Your World": OMG. Does anyone else love this Kathy Troccoli song? We had to sing it at my Catholic high school. But that's another story for another time. Anyway, Shannon's vocals are impressive as usual. She seems like a very consistent performer and she manages to pour a good share of emotion into this tune. I'd like to see Shannon do something a little more contemporary soon, but she deserves to advance.

Randy: "That's what it's all about, right there."

Jennifer: "You sing with such passion for a 16-year-old."

Steven: "It was just gorgeous."

Jessica Sanchez, "Love You I Do": In her pre-performance interview, Jessica says her vocal cords were swollen leading up to this performance. If she's still having any difficulty, you can't tell at all when she's on stage. AWESOME PERFORMANCE. She completely nails this tune, which Jennifer Hudson sang in "Dreamgirls." Seriously...Jessica sounds a little like Beyonce. And she's just 16. She gets a well-deserved standing ovation.

Randy: "That girl can really sing...one of the best of the last two nights right there."

Jennifer: "Crazy."

Steven: "You've got exceptional timing."

Elise Testone, "One and Only": Two women doing the same Adele song in one night? Really? Yes, really. Elise's version is much better than what Jen delivered earlier in the night. Elise's performance has a little more emotional depth than Jen's effort. Elise starts at the piano and then gets up and finishes the song with lots of emotion. She really surprised me and she deserves to stick around.

Steven: "You blew it out of the water."

Jennifer: "For me, you're one of the best singers -- maybe the best singer -- here."

Randy: "I hope America gets you."

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