"American Idol" 2013 hopeful Zoanette Johnson vocally dominated "Circle of Life" during the Feb. 27 Las Vegas sudden death round of the competition. Though her performance was the most definitively theatrical of the evening, which concluded with the booting of five talented girls, was it really good enough to earn a spot in the top 20? Or did judges Nicki Minaj, Keith Urban, Randy Jackson and Mariah Carey simply buy into her sad back story and larger than life persona? It's a split decision.
"American Idol" Season two finalist Kimberly Caldwell's Feb. 28 e!Online blog entry called the spirited performer "unforgettable" and praised the judges' decision to advance her to the top 20. A Billboard reviewer agreed, calling the routine "really big" and Zoanette a "singer to beat". She's undoubtedly confident and has a very secure sense of self, which should serve her well moving forward.
But the praise was far from universal. Zap2it's Andrea Reiher responded to Zoanette's advancement to the top 20 with a mixture of surprise and disgust. Reiher wrote "What a joke. Do they honestly think this will drive ratings? Terrible." Christopher Rogers from Hollywoodlife.com shared the same sentiment. Although he termed her voice "decent," he complained that her "flamboy-ish antics should not be what drives her in a singing competition."
Regardless of the real reason that Zoanette earned a coveted top 20 spot, she can likely thank Nicki for giving her the chance to sing for America's votes. The quirky panelist gushed over what she called a "smart song choice" and waxed poetic on the wonders of a show like "AI" giving talented but disadvantaged performers chances to pursue their dreams.
"American Idol" 2013 continues Feb. 28 with one final sudden death round elimination.