Ladies, meet your competition. There’s no guarantee in the music industry and anyone’s spot can be taken at any time — just like that. This week on Chasing Destiny, Kelly Rowland and Frank Gatson Jr. go back to their first auditions to make sure that they didn’t miss any diamonds in the rough. Outside, our Final 15 wait anxiously and hope that they don’t get replaced.
*Episode spoilers to follow*
“Let’s get these girls in here,” says Kelly, ready to re-audition previous girls. Ashly from Compton kicks things off with an emotional version of Mary J. Blige’s “I’m Going Down.” OK, already we are light years ahead of those horrible Houston auditions from last week. “Stick around, please” says Kelly. “You know what’s funny to me? I just liked her even more.” Not everyone is so giddy about seeing the competition. Skye, who has been a personal fave of ours through the show, is shaking in her black boots. “You could think one moment that they like everything you’re doing,” she says. “The next moment, it’s like, do they like her better?”
Jennifer from Buffalo is up next with her take of Alicia Keys’s “If I Ain’t Got You.” With her high-wattage smile and bubbly personality, she’s one of those girls that’s instantly likeable. She comes with legit musical chops too; she shares that she just got off tour singing background for Kelly Clarkson. “That was sweet,” says Kelly. Speaking of professional experience, meet: Kristal. She was in a group called Richgirl that came and kind of fizzled out. You might remember their hit “He Ain’t Wit Me Now (Tho)." Frank looks at Kristal and the first thing he says is that she gained some weight. I told you, Frank does not mince words. Kristal explains that her new physique is due to a health problem. “I thought it was hilarious,” she says. “I’m working on getting back on track.” Kelly is worried Kristal is too experienced but Frank loves her. She shows us why, real quick. In front of everyone, Ms. Kristal starts singing “Amazing Grace” and the room is floooored. I don’t care that she’s a senior and the rest in the room are freshmen. KEEP HER!
Next, it’s time for the newbies to join a harmony session with the rest of the girls. In the world of Chasing Destiny, this is the vocal gauntlet. The first group features our new favorite, Kristal, and our old favorites, Khylah B and Gabby. “I felt Khylah was a little aggressive… so I kind of stepped back,” says Kristal. In another group, Miss Sunshine Jennifer is more outspoken, directing Song.
It’s show time! This week’s group performances are especially important as Kelly needs to make a cut. Group one features newcomer Ashly and our day-one favorite, Alyxx, aka Baby Bey. I seriously cannot look at her and not get Mrs. Carter vibes. It’s ridiculous how much they’re #twinning. Ashly must be the X-factor because this group’s version of Bruno Mars’s “Locked Out of Heaven” is actually good. Group two is the only group that doesn’t have a new girl and, let’s just say, their version of Erykah Badu’s “On and On” was struggle city. “OK. Can you sit back down?” asks Frank. “I’m not a singer but I know when it’s flat. I know when it’s sharp.” Kelly was less diplomatic and described it as “going down in flames.” Group three took on Adele’s “Someone Like You,” and with Jennifer, they did a solid job. Finally, Group four dug into the classics vault with “Lean on Me.” They needed to lean on some better vocals because it was terrible without Kristal. Frank and Kelly are speechless. “Oh, lord,” he laughs. Khylah B. undermines the group and makes excuses for the song choice and execution. Frank checks her for her bad attitude.
Kelly goes on a search for Khylah and finds her sobbing in the bathroom. Kelly cuts the camera and we don’t see what happened. “It is really hard,” we hear her say. This is the second time Khylah’s gotten in her own way. She needs to get out of her head or she’s going to be sent packing.
The next day, Kelly and Frank make their "keep vs. send home" list. There are 18 girls and cuts have to be made. We’d love to see our three new girls stay along with Gabby, Mayah, Skye, Baby Bey and yes, even Khylah. “I had to really get focused,” says Kelly. Ready for the cuts? Song is out, which causes even Frank to shed a tear. Jaime is up next but in the last millisecond, Kelly has a change of heart and has her stay. Yay! She’s not the loudest or most noticeable girl but we love Jamie’s sweet vibe and she kind of looks like a young J.Lo. Anything can happen. Cicily and Tampico get sent home along with Ash. We're a little sad to see Ash go. Her vocal tone is so unique and her retro vibe is different from the rest of the girls. “I’m not sending people home because they’re not good,” explains Kelly. “I’m literally trying to listen to my gut.” Ambriya is donezos, as well. Her vocals were pretty horrendous throughout but you have to give Ambriya props for being a trooper through the process, considering the tragedy she was dealing with back home. Khylah is then called in. Kelly is over her attitude and bad vibes but Frank goes to bat for her. She can stay but he has a few words of wisdom: “Be a team player.” Hear that? There’s no “Khylah” in “team.” In total, five girls get sent home.
The next day, the remaining 13 get the chance to show off their individual skills and perform solos. Our new favorite, Kristal, kills it with Coldplay’s “Fix You.” Her voice is so gorgeous she brings some of the girls to tears. The girls have diverse tastes. Jamie sings Etta James's “Trust in Me” while Johari sings Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud,” Brienna covers Alicia Keys's “If I Ain’t Got You” and Candace tackles Whitney Houston’s “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength.” Gabby, who’s always had her own lane, comes in with Frank Ocean’s “Pink Matter.”
Speaking of tears, Jennifer brings Kristal to tears with Labrinth’s “Jealous.” Hopefully the other girls are taking notes from these newbies. In our old group of girls, music student-slash model Mayah does a great job with Erykah Badu’s “Next Lifetime” as does Skye with Gladys Knight & the Pips’s “The Way We Were/Try to Remember.” Can we talk about how adorable Skye is? Even when she doesn’t hit her notes, she’s someone we cheer for. Next up, Khylah B. OK, attitude and breakdowns aside… Khylah can sing. She has the most powerful vocals of the entire group with Tamar Braxton’s “Love & War.” “You just knew it was something special,” says Kelly. Whitney Houston is an obvious favorite. Shyann covers “I Have Nothing” and Alyxx takes on “I’m Your Baby Tonight.” The best performance of all is new girl Ashly, who does an incredible job in taking everyone to church with "I Know Who Holds Tomorrow.” Even Frank sheds a few tears behind his sunglasses.
For the most part, the girls did a good job with their solos. However, individual singing is only one part of making a great girl group. There needs to be different vocal ranges and textures that can ultimately harmonize together. We’d love to see our three new girls: Kristal, Jennifer and Ashly, stay along with Mayah, Gabby, Skye and Alyxx. “I know I have some strong soloists,” says Kelly. “I’m thinking, how pretty does that part sound in harmony?”
Who do you think about the Final 15? Who should stay and who should go? Make sure to watch Chasing Destiny every Tuesday at 10P/9C and come back to read next week’s episode recap! Sound off in the comments below or tweet me (@SowmyaK) using #ChasingDestinyBET!