The second group of girls faced sudden death on "American Idol" Wednesday, with only 5 out of 10 contestants advancing. This group had some real artists, but one performance stood out and left judge Nicki Minaj fighting back tears.
1. Zoanette Johnson
Liberia-born Zoanette came out wearing an animal print dress, sporting a wild mane of hair and singing a song from "The Lion King." Her performance to "Circle of Life" could've easily been cliche, but instead, it was original and inspiring. Nicki Minaj, who herself immigrated to the U.S. (from Trinidad & Tobago), was emotional at the end. Zoanette has been at times too wild in the past, but tonight proved she could harness all her energy and deliver.
2. Aubrey Cleland
Aubrey is a pretty girl with a pretty voice. And while she looks like an "American Idol", her slowed-down rendition of Beyonce's "Sweet Dreams" wasn't as convincing as it could've been, especially in this powerhouse group. She's gotten very little screen-time this season, so it'll be fun to watch her develop.
3. Candice Glover
It was clear that Candice -- a favorite all season long -- would be making the live shows. Her version of "Natural Woman" was solid, but any "Idol" contestant's version will always be compared to Kelly Clarkson's. The key change could've been smoother, but she still delivered a great performance. I love her quiet confidence:
4. Breanna Steer
Like Aubrey, Breanna's look and style are very marketable. Her song choice and performance -- to Jazmine Sullivan's "Bust Your Windows" -- was more inspired than Aubrey's. She and Zoanette were the only two to sing with any fire, and both were rewarded. She didn't impress me during Hollywood Week, but she definitely did tonight.
5. Janelle Arthur
After many attempts at "Idol," Janelle finally made it, edging out fellow country singer Rachel Hale. I actually thought Rachel had a better performance tonight, but Janelle had a sweetness in her voice that's perfectly suited for the genre. It'll be interesting comparing her to the other country finalist from last week -- Kree Harrison -- who seems more experienced and ready for the "big time."
Did the judges make the right choice? Who is your favorite? Tell toofab in the comments below.
-- Lawrence Yee