Some finalists forgot their lyrics; others unsuccessfully tried to modernize some of Ross' classics as a solo artist and as a member of The Supremes; while a few wowed the judges and hoped America responded the same way with their voting.
The following is Reality TV World's recap of the performance broadcast in the order which the 12 finalists sang. Also included are comments from each of the three judges -- Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell -- as well as additional information about each performance.
Tonight at 9PM ET on Fox, one of the finalists will be eliminated from the reality competition series during a live results show.
Brandon Rogers, a 29-year-old from North Hollywood, CA Song: "You Can't Hurry Love" Randy said: "This is the start of the future for everybody. It's a big 12 night, everybody's gonna be in it to win it. Dog man, you came out like you had reverted back to a background singer for me. It was kind of boring, uninteresting... you forgot the words. At the very end, the last two notes of the song, you sounded like you wanted to be in-front. Dog it's gotta be a lot better for me man." Paula said: "It's not easy to do what you're doing, especially the first night out here. You know nerves play a big part of it. You know Brandon. We don't need to tell you what you did wrong. There are many things that you do right." Simon said: "That was a complete let down actually Brandon. It was a very predictable version... predictable arrangement. The dancing was terrible, you forgot the words. And you came over as a background singer for a background singer. No star quality in that performance, no originality... absolutely not good enough." Additional Info:Idol host Ryan Seacrest pointed out the Brandon had just "taken a beating" from the judges... "I thought it was going my way until forgot the words," acknowledged Brandon. "I got a little caught-up in enjoying it too much."
Melinda Doolittle, a 29-year-old from Brentwood, TN Song: "Home" Randy said: "I got to say, I don't know if it was my favorite performance of yours, but it was still really, really strong. So for that performance, I give the girls one and the boys zero. That was hot baby." Paula said: "Melinda... you're just feeling so much joy from it, and it's exciting. I feel like I'm getting goose bumps. And I'm just so excited for you... I mean look at you. I mean this is it for you." Simon said: "You made a very boring song fantastic. You know who you remind me of? You remind me of a young Gladys Knight. Very, very good." Additional Info: Melinda was the first finalist to answer a question from fans through Idol's website. Seacrest asked her what she considers the hardest part of the contestant, to which Melinda answered, "The high heels and these dresses. I like my tennis shoes and my sweat pants." Ryan asked Simon if he had advice on the high heels, and Simon answered, "You should no Ryan." Ryan replied, "Stay out of my closet." Firing back, Cowell said, "Come out." Concluded Ryan, "This is about the Top 12. Not your wishes."... Melinda described herself as "an old-school Motown girl at heart"... Both Melinda and Paula cried following the performance.
Chris Sligh, a 28-year-old from Greenville, SC Song: "Endless Love" Randy said: "So this is the new Top 12 Chris. No glasses... the whole look. Dude I got to tell you man the bad part of that for me was it sounded like Coldplay "Speed of Sound" a little bit. It was a weird thing to do to ["Endless Love"] because the melody changed everywhere but you have to not worry so much about the sound. Just sing your heart out. You got a good voice, but that was a mess for me." Paula said: "That song is so recognizable and it's such a beautiful love song, and sometimes I worry that you're trying to be ultra hard to be ultra hip. And sometimes you can just let the melody play, listen to the lyrics, sing the song... because you have a very nice voice. Worry less about trying to fit into some contemporary thing..." Simon said: "Chris, I think you murdered the arrangement personally. I think you turned a beautiful song into a complete and utter drone. I thought it was just unemotional, uninspiring and I would keep you glasses on because I think it's you." Additional Info: Upon meeting Diana, Chris said, "I noticed we have very similar hair."... Chris said he gave "Endless Love" with "a little bit of a different feel"... "I have a lot of respect for Diana Ross, but I went with my gut and felt like it was a good arrangement," said Chris. "I think it had a lot more to do with the arrangement of the song then the vocal."... members of Chris' family had signs that read "Fro Patro."
Gina Glocksen, a 22-year-old from Naperville, IL Song: "Love Child" Randy said: "Once again for me -- I've got a feeling I may be saying this a lot tonight -- it wasn't my favorite performance from you because I'm a Gina fan but... it was pitchy in spots. I don't know, I didn't feel any excitement from you with that song. It felt very boring for me." Paula said: "It's such an exciting song. I feel that you're much better than how you did tonight. I felt at times you were shouting and annunciation and pitch were kind of off." Simon said: "Gina it was okay... it was actually one of those performances you can't say much about. It wasn't terrible, it wasn't fantastic. I think you chose the right song for you. I think it's good that you stayed in this image again, which I think suits you. But it really is a little bit forgettable. There's not much we can say about it. I think it was a middle of the pack performance." Additional Info: Gina's mother and boyfriend both sported red in their hair in homage to Gina's hair... Gina referred to Diana as a "legend"... Gina said she "felt at home" on the stage.
Sanjaya Malakar, a 17-year-old from Federal Way, WA Song: "Ain't' No Mountain High Enough" Randy said: "What is really going down dog? Yo man... wow. Dude I don't even know what to say man. Dude it wasn't very good. It really wasn't. It really wasn't. Thank God for the background singers because that song was almost unlistenable for me. It was really weak. But you know what I love about you, you know what I look forward to every week, you're throwing down some different dos with the hair... the hair is rocking." Paula said: "Sanjaya I can understand why Diana said, 'You're pure love.' You are the sweetest soul, you smile and it warms people's hearts. You sang on pitch... but you have to start it off where you really have to grab the audience and when a song like that happens, you just got to let go. You have to explode with your vocals. Reckless abandon and go." Simon said: "When you hear a wail in Beverly Hills, that is where Diana Ross is watching this show. She's gonna freak when she hears that. The only similarity is the hairstyle. I don't know what else to say. (Boos rain down from the crowd) Okay Sanjaya I'll be positive... How old are you? (Sanjaya answered '17') You're very brave... I'll give you that." Additional Info: Sanjaya was sporting the same hairstyle as Chris Sligh and Diana... Sanjaya said he had "no idea" what Simon's first comment meant. Of course Simon explained: "When [Diana Ross] listens to this on TV, she'll scream."
Haley Scarnato, a 24-year-old from San Antonio, TX Song: "Missing You" Randy said: "You already really know what I'm going to say right? (Haley nodded yes and began crying) Well listen, you gave it a valiant effort. It's just forgetting the words and stuff. I think you sounded a little nervous when you started because it was all pitchy and all over the place and usually your pitch is better than that. Just a little surprised. A little shocked." Paula said: "Well I'll start with saying you look lovely tonight. But Haley that's probably not what you want to hear so far... again, it's the same thing with Brandon. It's a brand new day up here, and forgetting the words is never a great thing to do. And you're pitch... yayaya... you're still adorable. This is a hard thing... what can I say?" Simon said: "I didn't think it was that bad. To give you credit Haley, I think we will remember you now. I think you had real presence up there. I think you look like a star. I think your nerves got the better of you half way through the song. But if you can just hold it together, you may do better than I thought you were going to do. As I said, I was very, very impressed with your presence on stage and there were moments of your vocals [where] I liked it." Additional Info: Haley was the second finalist to answer a question from a fan, and said the craziest place she ever sang was on Idol... Haley said she was thinking of her fiance while singing "Missing You," which Diana recorded after Marvin Gaye's death... Haley had to sit on a stool following her performance because she was so shaken, commenting "I messed up my words and feel like a schmuck... but it means so much to actually get something good from [the judges]." Paula replied, "Haley, half the time the audience doesn't ever know you messed up. Never let them see anything like that."
Phil Stacey, a 29-year-old from Jacksonville, FL Song: "Make You Love Me" Randy said: "How do you think you did... what'd you think of that? (Phil replied, "I thought it was good.") Alright listen I'll tell you the coolest thing for you. The performance was a little boring but your voice... you get the voice award of the night man. The vocals were hot. The vocals were a blast." Paula said: 'Your vocals sound really good. That song... it needs to be a little more up tempo and it would have been a more exciting performance. Other than that, you have strong vocals." Simon said: "I think you're wrong Paula, that shouldn't be an up tempo song... I think he chose the right tempo. It was okay. I think it was a very good choice of song for you. But you have a tendency though that when you're trying to hit the big notes, you shout. So it's like you're shouting in my ear. And somehow you've got to control that. It wasn't outstanding, it wasn't awful... but I think it was better than last week." Additional Info: Phil's family members in the audience held a sign picturing his baby holding a cell phone, which read "I'm voting for you daddy."
Lakisha Jones, a 27-year-old from Fort Meade, MD Song: "God Bless the Child" Randy said: "Perfect song choice for you. I love the outfit. Unbelievable vocal from you because you didn't overdo it -- and you could have easily done that because you've got that big old voice -- that was sensational." Paula said: "You're a beautiful performer, you're a beautiful girl. You're heart comes through when you sing, and that's the most important thing you can possess as an artist." Simon said: "Lakisha, you've either got it or you haven't got it... You got it. I have to say, the quality difference between you and Melinda compared with the other singers we've heard so far... you two are in a different league. It was a very, very controlled performance. You didn't look intimidated by this big stage with a big orchestra, you were very much in control, performed like a star. Outstanding." Additional Info: Lakisha said her mom calls her Ki-Ki, which Diana called her throughout the broadcast... Lakisha said she never looked at the lyrics to "God Bless the Child" until "the night before" she met with Diana.
Blake Lewis, a 25-year-old from Bothell, WA Song: "You Keep Me Hanging On" Randy said: "The dog is a huge fan of Blake's. There were some good things about it. Classic songs like this, you don't have to worry about changing the arrangement. You don't have to worry about 'Blake-izing' every song. You actually sing better than that, so sometimes, let the vocals do their thing. Great performer... you're modern, you're hip, you're cool... so sometimes you can let the classics be the classics." Paula said: "There's a difference I feel between what Blake did and what Chris Sligh did. Seeing you -- and letting the audience see how you actually work it out and think about -- I think you could have a hit with it again." Simon said: "I didn't get that. I didn't get it at all. I understand why you wanted to put your own take on it, which is fair enough. But if you had heard that version [of 'You Keep Me Hanging On"] in isolation... if you heard that on the radio, you wouldn't like it. That song was written in a particular style, it didn't work changing the melody like that, you didn't sound as good as we previously heard you...you'll be fine Blake, but..." Additional Info: Blake was the third finalist to answer a fan's question and described the type of music he listens to, naming Michael Jackson and Prince as his "favorite artists of all time."... Blake "put new beats" to You Keep Me Hanging On" and added "he tried to slow it down... make it my own."... After the judges' comments, Blake still said he had no regret about adding his own flavor to the song.
Stephanie Edwards, a 19-year-old from Savannah, GA Song: "Love Hangover" Randy said: "It's kind of an interesting night with forgetting a little bit of the words tonight... it's been very funny. It was a good vocal, I don't think it was your best vocal, it was a strong finish but it was a perfect choice for you. I was waiting for the up tempo part." Paula said: "You have strong vocals, I think without a doubt. Strive for better. You have a beautiful voice." Simon said: "I was a very strange arrangement of the song because you teased everybody with the good part and failed to deliver. Basically what you sang was an intro. And it didn't close particularly well. I think you were completely out sung by Lakisha and Melinda tonight. It wasn't your best performance, and you had a multiple of Diana Ross songs to chose from, and you chose the wrong song. You're going to have to make a much, much bigger impact at this stage of the competition." Additional Info: Stephanie said she is "in love" with Diana... Stephanie said the up tempo part of "Love Hangover" was "just longer... kind of too long to fit it in." She added once it got to "the whole disco part" of the song, there was "a lot of music" and "just ad libbing." She explained, "I kind of wanted to sing the verses and the melody of the song."
Chris Richardson, a 22-year-old from Chesapeake, VA Song: "The Boss" Randy said: "You're definitely kind of holding the line for the boys tonight. I wasn't my favorite performance of yours because I think you overdid it a little bit. Some times you can sing the melody without singing a lot of runs, but the runs you did connect on were hot, but... it was interesting for me. Half good and half bad for me." Paula said: "I think out of all the guys, you nailed the blend of bringing contemporary... and it was fun. You played with the vocals and you did a great job." Simon said: "Remembering this is a singing competition, take you out of the equation with your charm and personality, listen to the vocals, I thought it was dreadful. Once again, if you heard that record in isolation on the radio, you would switch to the nearest channel instantly. I thought it was terrible." Additional Info: Chris said he doesn't really get "star struck," but added he was with Diana.
Jordin Sparks, a 17-year-old from Glendale, AZ Song: "If We Hold On Together" Randy said: "I'll tell you what. I've been a fan of yours since day one in Seattle, and I'm saying at 17, I'm just so, so very impressed with you. A lot of people maybe think this is a two girl Laksiha - Melinda race on the girls side... tonight, with that, you just made it a three girl race." Paula said: "As I said before, you are a natural gift. You are a breath of fresh air. You're beautiful and you can sing your heart out. I wasn't that familiar with that song, but it didn't matter, because you drew me in right away." Simon said: "It was a little bit gooey the song, I thought. But having said that, I think it was a very, very good vocal. And absolutely you have put yourself in with a shot of being in the finals of this competition." Additional Info: Ryan said he's "impressed" with way Jordin has "grown."