'American Idol' Top 12 Girls: The 5 best performances from inside the studio

elise-american-idol-semifinals.jpgIs it just us, or did the Top 12 girls blow the Top 13 boys out of the water during the ladies' "American Idol" semi-final performance show? We were at the "Idol" taping, and while last night the boys' performances sounded totally fine, we were way more engaged and energized on ladies' night. The audience members were on their feet applauding for nearly every performance -- we can't say the same for the night before.

Overall, the feeling in the air was a lot more jovial. Either the girls are much better than the boys (likely) or the boys were feeling plenty of relief after their performances were done (more likely), because they were on their feet and hooting and hollering during most of the girls' performances. (The previous night, the girls looked on with much more restraint and polite cheering.)

It was a much more exciting way to spend two hours, that's for sure. But while we thought the performances were much better from our position in the audience, the singers can sound much different from home. Here are our impressions of the five best girls from inside the "Idol" studio. Check them out, and let us know how they compare to your five favorites from TV.

Erika Van Pelt: "What About Love," Heart
This was the first powerhouse performance of the night. Great song choice, powerful vocals. Bad wardrobe. But that can be fixed.

Hollie Cavanagh: "Reflection," Christina Aguilera
Initially, we weren't sold on the performance. But as she went on, we realized we were just turned off by the cheesy song choice and she's actually amazing. Plus, her British/country girl accent hybrid is totally adorable. She definitely won us over!

Shannon Magrane: "Go Light Your World," Kathy Tricoli
There's something about the 16-year-old that rubs us the wrong way, so we were predisposed to dislike her performance. One problem: she sounded great. The song choice was ultra boring, but her vocals were on point. We are still skeptical of teenagers who try to sound too mature, but we think Shannon has the chops to back it up.

Jessica Sanchez: "Love You I Do," Jennifer Hudson
She might've been a tad sick, but we could barely tell in the studio. Her powerful voice got the audience on their feet right away, and she definitely knows how to work the stage. We loved the Charice vibe she had going on, and we're happy to hear more of what she's got once she gets healthy.

Elise Testone: "One and Only," Adele
First things first: We need to ban Adele songs and the word "Adele" on this season of "Idol" before we actually start taking out our aggression on Adele, whom we adore. Second: Elise was the second girl to perform this song, and she clearly blew her competitor out of the water. There's a reason she got the prime last spot, and we expect her to go far. We love the raspy tone of her voice. More please!

Honorable mentions: Our recapper was turned off by Skyler Laine, but we found her spazzy dances hilarious and her energy and attitude were infectious. The vocals might've been so-so, but she was a delight to watch live and we'd be pleased if she made it through. And Randy might've started the night off with some scathing criticism of Chelsea Sorrell, but we thought she sounded great, especially compared to the ultra-mediocre boys from last night who got rave reviews right of the bat.

Interesting note: Although Jen Hirsh was one of our favorites so far, her performance didn't wow us live. But watching it back on TV, we liked it way better. The wonders of TV versus the studio!
Photo/Video credit: FOX
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