'American Idol' Recap: Female Frontrunners Emerge

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American Idol kicked off its first live show with a bang Tuesday night. The FOX show’s Top 10 ladies proved the competition is officially on.

“It’s the girls competition to lose,” says Randy Jackson. He’s right about that, After seeing this episode, it’s hard to imagine any of the men we’ve seen can compete with the pipes on this season’s leading ladies.

Nicki Minaj is rendered speechless more than once, and Keith Urban gets more excited as the night goes on. Mariah Carey’s quips mirrored the panels more often that not, and Randy is hellbent on seeing the “moments.”

With such a strong showing from most of the ladies, it’s getting harder to highlight the standouts.

Kree Harrison sings Faith Hill’s “Stronger” and holds court as one of the strongest voices in the competition. She pours so much emotion into every word, it doesn’t matter what she’s singing. She also has a story I can’t help but root for, and she’s still one of my favorites. I’m wondering what happens when she picks an up-tempo song, but something tells me she’ll be around long enough for me to find out. Randy says she’s “in it to win it.”

Angela Miller has shortened her name, it’s "Angie" these days. Taking another turn at the piano, she kills it again. This time, she opted for a song from Idol alum, Colton Dixon. Her version of “Never Gone” solidifies her spot as a serious contender. Even though she has been pretty consistent, I’m somehow still shocked at her talent. This girl is staying put. Nicki agrees, saying, “It’s safe to say that there’s one vote already counted for as far as the five girls going through.”

Where did Amber Holcomb come from?! The former wallflower hits her stride with Whitney Houston’s “I Believe In You And Me.” Her flawless performance earned a standing ovation from all four judges. “That was a ten billion catrillion,” says Nicki. “Nothing that came before you was even on that level.”

Zoanette Johnson gives the only truly disappointing performance of the evening. Who is surprised? Not me. It was obvious from the start that this girl couldn’t cut it. Despite her popping personality, it’s just not enough to stay in the game with real singers fighting for her spot. Her pitiful performance of Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got To Do With It” was painful to watch. Nicki gave her an honest critique saying, “That wasn’t it.” Randy agreed, calling it “a mess.” My guess is that she’ll be back home by Friday morning.

Aubrey Cleland is such a pretty girl and it turns out she’s got a voice to match. She made Fergie’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry” look and sound so much better than the original. While her song choice is safe, it’s enough to keep her in the competition. She certainly has more spark than the others and that goes a long way. Nicki is still enamored by her beauty and bravado. Mariah says she has “multi-platinum potential.”

Candice Glover closes the show for good reason. Her rendition of John Legend’s “Ordinary People” is an absolute showstopper. Aside from her stellar singing voice, she has the poise to pull it off. She hits the high notes so effortlessly, it’s as if she’s been doing this for years. Nicki is rendered uncharacteristically speechless after her performance, and simply salutes the once ousted contender. Randy says, “That was ridiculous.” Word.

Tuesday's talented ladies will be a tough act to follow. Next up, the Top 10 men will compete on Wednesday night’s semi-final round.

Which ladies will make it through to Hollywood? Who are you voting for?

Watch the performance that got Burnell Taylor in the Top 20 below.

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