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HOME > American Idol > American Idol 9

'American Idol's Top 10 female semifinalists take to the stage, sing


By Reality TV World staff, 03/04/2010 

American Idol's ninth-season Top 10 female semifinalists continued their push for the finals during last night's Fox broadcast.

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Some semifinalists continued making bad song choices while others took the opportunity to rebound and impress the judges following their poor performances in last week's initial semifinals round.  In addition, a couple of semifinalists -- Lilly Scott and Crystal Bowersox, who was nearly forced out of the competition due to a medical issue only a day earlier -- appeared to establish themselves as the season's early frontrunners in the judges' eyes.

The following is Reality TV World's recap of the performance broadcast in the order which the 10 female semifinalists sang.  Also included are comments from each of the four judges -- Randy Jackson, Ellen DeGeneres, Kara DioGuardi, and Simon Cowell -- as well as additional information about each performance.    

Tonight beginning at 8PM ET/PT, two male semifinalists who performed on Tuesday night and two female semifinalists who performed on Wednesday night will be eliminated based on home viewer votes.

Crystal Bowersox, a 24-year-old from Elliston, OH who currently resides in Toledo, OH

Song: "Long As I Can See The Light" by Creedence Clearwater Revival

Randy said: "Listen, I gotta say this,  I know this is a reality show and all that [but] to me in life, truth is reality.  What I mean by that is you are the truth, you do what you do.  I said it before... I just love that you're not trying to be anybody else and every week, I don't care 50 weeks from now, you're still going to be that girl.  I love that girl!  That girl is hot!"

Ellen said: "That is pure, raw, natural talent.  There's nothing forced, there's nothing pushed.  It is just raw, natural talent and I am so glad you're here today.  I was so scared for you.  Please stay healthy, we need you here.  You're amazing.  Amazing."

Kara said: "You completely recovered from last week.  'You Ought To Know' is a more contemporary song and it just didn't fit you.  This  who you are, you are that Americana Rock, and when you come out here it's just effortless.  You're just centered, you're focused in a way that the greats are and it's coming from your heart and you can feel it. And I love that, and I think tonight you actually hit a new level.  You hit a new level and I have to congratulate you for that because that's hard to do in these early days, so good job."

Simon said: "Crystal, I know how sick you are, actually, over the last 24 hours.  I mean it wasn't just like catching a cold or something, you really were ill, and I didn't know whether you were going to be back here this week.  What's great about you is you didn't play the whole sympathy thing, you chose a great song.  I have to tell you something Crystal, I completely misunderestimated you from last week.  For you to come back this week with that song, that performance -- the vocal was incredible.  And I promise you, this was like the moment we realized with Kelly Clarkson that we've got a serious artist here.  I think we've got a really serious artist with you, congratulations."

Additional Notes: American Idol host Ryan Seacrest began the performance show by asking Crystal whether she was going to be able to perform given her hospitalization on Tuesday.  "I sure am," she replied.  "I feel good, I'm a tough cookie."  After the judges spoke, Ryan also explained that Kara meant to say "Hand In My Pocket," not "You Ought To Know," when talking about Crystal's previous semifinals performance.


Haeley Vaughn, a 16-year-old from Fort Collins, CO

Song: "The Climb" by Miley Cyrus

Randy said: "You always want me to keep it real with you right?  I didn't work for me, man.  It was tough for me.  It was excruciating!  Here's why, here's why it was excruciating: you can sing.  I'm telling you, you're here because you can sing, you have talent. But it was so pitchy and so just not right for you.  It was so -- you had no connection to the song at all, pitch-wise.  It was rough."

Ellen said: "First of all, don't ever stop smiling because you have a great smile, and don't ever worry about that, and you're adorable.  I was going to say unfortunately the same thing as [Randy].  I did not feel you connected to the song.  That song has such a great, powerful message and it was like you memorized the song and you were singing it and there was really no feeling there.  And I was excited to hear that song from you too when I saw that you were singing it, I just didn't feel like it worked out.  But keep smiling."

Kara said: "Haeley, you have kind of the Alex Lambert factor.  You have people rooting for you at home.  I think that there are a lot of people out there who really like you, and I think some contestants can learn something from you.  When you're on that stage you're open, we get a sense of who you are.  You're real, you're smiling, and you're a really good performer.  Unfortunately honey,  you need about a year of really strengthening your instrument.  Because you do have talent, but it's very inconsistent.  It's like a muscle and it needs to be worked, and there are pitch issues and things that you really need to work out, and that's what I can say to you.  But I do think people are going to root for you because you are such a great spirit on that stage."

Simon said: "Look, I agree, I don't want to make this any worse than it already is because it was, you know, a complete and utter mess. to be honest.  In theory it should have worked.  You're a cute young girl, it's a  cute young song.  But you know there's a certain irony for you singing a song about climbing when you actually fell off."

Additional Notes: "Oh, come on, that's a little mean!" Kara said after Simon's comments.  "How is that not making it any worse by saying that?  What good did that do?" Ryan asked.


Lacey Brown, a 24-year-old from Amarillo, TX

Song: "Kiss Me" by Sixpence None The Richer

Randy said: "I actually think it was a good song choice and choice and it would have worked but I felt like for most of the song except for maybe one or two moments I was looking for the words to flash across the screen like I was at a club and we were doing karaoke.  You just didn't bring anything to it, you didn't do anything with it.  You didn't do anything special with it."

Ellen said: "Well, no you didn't change it up or anything but I thought it was adorable. I thought you were great... like it was the right song and I think last week we were saying that it was kind of a downer song and you're just such an upbeat person, and so it was a god choice.  I thought it was a good suggestion.  I thought it was adorable.  I like your personality and I like you."

Kara said: "Last week I felt like we were losing what was special about you, which is your tone.  You have this very unique sound in your voice and vocal stylings and this song, especially at the beginning, brought that back to the audience which I liked.  But I have say that you have to step it up from here still.  You did do some things with the song but you didn't push it to where it could have gone.  But we're back in the playing field with you because now we're listening to Lacey again, we can hear your tone.  And it's a happy song, because you're a happy girl.  No 'Landslide' depressing song, it's not for you.  This is you.  Happy, smiling people.  Lacey."

Simon said: "I think it was marginally better than last week.  I get the feeling with you though that you are taking part in a competition rather than showcase who you are as an artist.  So whatever is suggested for you you'll probably do and do quite well.  But you compare that to the first performance tonight from Crystal and there is a massive different here.  One is she is showing America 'I'm an artist,' [while] you come on [and] bounce around the stage -- sing quite a nice, happy little song -- and we're not going to remember it.  And that's the problem."

Additional Notes: Kara had suggested Lacey sing "Kiss Me" after listening to her perform "Landslide" during last week's semifinals round, however Lacey said she had already been considering the song.  "I don't know what [Simon] was saying about 'You just do whatever we tell you to do,' I actually wanted to do the song before [Kara] suggested it," Lacey said after the judges' comments.


Katie Stevens, a 17-year-old from Middlebury, CT

Song: "Put Your Records On" by Corinne Bailey Rae

Randy said: "Listen, there were some bright moments in there.  The one bright moment for me was right after the bridge when you went into your upper register. It was actually really good and it reminded me of the girl that we saw in your auditions because here's the deal with you, it's another confidence thing.  I know you're young, but you can tackle things that are a little bit more difficult melodically and the first part of the song was very pitchy and kind of all over the place and not that interesting.  But by the time that you got to your sweet spot it was kind of cool, so go more for that in songs.  and just try and believe a little bit more that you can probably tackle some biggest songs."

Ellen said: "I think you have a great voice.  You have a really great voice.  I still feel like I can't believe you're 17.  It still feels like I want to see you younger somehow.  And I know that that's a younger song and you're listening to our notes and we appreciate that, but I'm going to be specific.  I don't want to hear something that I would hear in my dentist's office, okay?  I want it to be a young, hip song.  Because you have a great voice, but I feel like you're still not singing something that's right from your age."

Kara: "Ellen, I have to agree with you.  I mean I'm so frustrated with you Katie because I see so much in you.  And I know it's confusing -- one week we tell you to do this, one week we tell you that -- but at the end of the song you started opening up.  You were almost in the wrong key, and at the end you were kind of going off with the melody doing your own thing.  You've got to be doing that from the first time that you open you're mouth, pulling us in like that.  And the other thing is that are certain songs that are great songs on the radio but when you go to perform them, there's not enough that you can do with them to have that impact that you need to have and I believe you can have.  So I'm still waiting for the moment from you.  You haven't had it yet but I'm still pulling for you girl."

Simon: "Yeah, it's very frustrating because as they said, you actually did take our notes and you made an attempt to make yourself younger.  My issue is if you came into my record label and said 'What should I do?' I would say two things: a) get some experience, B) tell me what kind of artist you want to be.  And that's what you're failing to do that the moment.  You're not telling us 'This is the kind of recording artist I'm going to be,' so you've got to research it a little bit more.  I think actually you'll stay around for another week because I think  people like you, but you're going to look back on this and you're going to feel frustrated because it wasn't a winning performance."

Additional Notes: Kara incorrectly stated Katie was only 16-year-old when Simon interrupted her comments to ask Kara her age.  "Seventeen," Randy and Ellen both corrected her.


Didi Benami, a 23-year-old from Knoxville, TN who currently resides in Los Angeles, CA

Song: "Lean On Me" by Bill Withers

Randy said: "I don't know dude, I don't know what's happening tonight, I don't know what's going on, but I would just not have chosen a soul song like that, that deep-rooted soul for you.  I just didn't think it really worked, you know what I mean?  It showed my the imperfections with the stuff you can't do rather than heighten[ing] what you do well. It was wasn't a great choice for me.  Sorry."

Ellen said: "First of all, I love your voice.  You have a great, great voice.  You do, you have a great voice.  And you're here because you have a great voice and I think you have a great presence and a great smile and a great energy about you.  And I love Bill Withers -- I wish it would have been "Lovely Day" or "Use Me," one of those two songs.  You tried to do stuff with it and I applaud you for that, [but] I don't know that that was really the greatest song choice.  But I really think you have a great voice and hopefully people see through the song and vote for you."

Kara said: "Didi, it wasn't good.  It really wasn't good.  And you said you're a singer/songwriter and you wanted to do something different this week.  I don't know what you mean by different, because what I'm missing from you is consistency.  If you're a singer/songwriter and you play guitar, sit down and give an honest interpretation of that song.  You were trying to do, it felt, like a karaoke bar.  Where you were trying to hit the notes and do a lot of things and we lost the uniqueness of your voice and your vocal stylings that got you to this point.  And that's what I missed from this interpretation.  It was just all over the place, competing with all the instruments, and it wasn't good.  But I'm still a fan of yours, even though this was not good."

Simon said: "Well at least you continued the cat theme throughout the song, because that's what it sounds like.  It was all over the place.  It was screeching.  Bad choice of song.  Again, it's frustrating because you get this fantastic opportunity to sing in front of millions of people and you're kind of a cool artist and then you do something very generic.  So it's just a wasted opportunity."

Additional Notes: During her pre-performance video clip, Didi had revealed she makes "Meow!" sounds to warm up before singing -- a comment that Simon later referenced in his judging comments.


Michelle Delamor, a 22-year-old from Miami, FL

Song: "With Arms Wide Open" by Creed

Randy said: "[There were] a couple of pitch problems here and there.  [The] positive -- most positive, for me, the outfit is hot.  The outfit is dope.  God, I sounds like a broken record tonight... the song, you just didn't do enough with it.  God, it's so frustrating for me now.  It's like it was a great opportunity to make it something different but it fell flat to me."

Ellen said: "Yeah, you do look fabulous.  You look fabulous.  I think you did do a lot with the song, and for a few moments in there I forgot it was a rock song and I thought that was really good that you changed it up that much, and I appreciated that.  There were a couple of little pitch problems but I liked that you tried to do something completely different and you do have a great voice and you do have a great look. And I thought it almost worked but not quite.  But I loved that you choose that song, when I saw that you were singing it I was really happy you were singing it, so good for you."

Kara said: "My favorite performance of yours ever.  And let me tell you why.  It may have not been technically perfect, but it felt believable for once.  You took a risk.  you have a good attitude which is so important in this game.  You listen and you're trying and I really appreciate that.  And what I saw tonight was somebody who did something very different with the song.  Could be a little unrecognizable but you believed in it and I bought it.  I bought you in this one, I did."

Simon said: "I'm kind of with Kara on this, actually.  I thought the first half was much, much stronger than the second half.  I think you really struggled with some of the notes.  But to be fair, we give a lot of contradictory advice -- you've got to do this, then if you do it we don't want it.  You took the point, which is you didn't choose a safe song, you attempted to make it your version, and then you kind of got 80% of it right."

Additional Notes: Simon asked Vera Wang -- who was in the audience -- for her opinion on Michelle's dress, jeans and jacket combination.  She gave it a thumbs up.

Lilly Scott, a 20-year-old from Littleton, CO who currently resides in Denver, CO

Song: "It's Been a Long Time Coming" by Sam Cooke

Randy said: "You know what I really love about this season is it's kind of the season with the most unique contestants we've ever had.  By that what I mean, Bjork, Dylan, Lucida Williams -- all of these people are so unique and so all their own, that's what I love about you.  Your definitely unique and you do your thing.  That song is one of the toughest songs in the world to sing, to me, because it's one of the greatest ever, but dude, you worked it out, you did your thing.  My favorite performance so far tonight, I loved it."

Ellen said: "Yeah, you hear people say they've got 'it' and I don't know what 'it' is but you've got 'it.' You have 'it.'  I forgot we were in a singing competition, I was just a fan in a seat watching an amazing performance.  By far the best performance of the night. By far."

Kara said: "You just had your first 'moment' in this competition.  'Moment' meaning where I was just riveted, I just couldn't wait to see what you were going to do next.  And you are a mismatch for this competition, and thank god you tried out, that's all I can say.  Because you are going to change the game.  People that really want to do their own thing in their own way are going to start to go 'Yeah, I like that American Idol thing, I might just tryout, man.'   And you know what, come and get us.  So good job girl, unbelievable."

Simon said: "Yeah, this really makes the point when we were talking to some of the other contestants [about] how you become relevant, how you use the show as a showcase.  I thought it was good [but] I wasn't crazy about it like the others [here].  Compared to last week I thought you oversang the song in the middle a little bit.  And I will compare you to Crystal because you're similar artists, and I thought Crystal was stronger than you, personally. But it was still great."


Katelyn Epperly, a 19-year-old from West Des Moines, IA

Song: "The Scientist" by Coldplay

Randy said: "I really liked it.  It was really low slow but I really liked it.  And it's a slow song anyway, it's an amazing song, and actually it was nice to hear you play the piano.  It was great until the very last couple of notes and, you know, just kind of fell off pitch a little bit at the end.  But you know, I actually really liked it.  I mean I wasn't over the top about it, but I liked it."

Ellen said: "I fell kind of asleep.  It was so slow.  I love that song, and I was so happy to hear you were going to sing that song [but] that was so slow.  It was way too slow.  If I'm at home babysitting and you're helping me out, the baby's asleep, that's great.  But people can't vote if they're asleep.  and then at the end, the big, big note -- which really kind of woke me up -- I thought it was too slow.  Sorry."

Kara said: "I understand what Randy and Ellen are saying.  I definitely, I do.  But I kind of love you.  I kinda do.  I kind of love her and I'm going to tell her a few reasons why I love her and a few things I want her to work on.  You have an incredible instrument and you can do a lot of things with it and that's your biggest problem.  'Cause from week to week you're switching around.  One minute you're doing a rock song and then you're doing 'Oh, darling' -- you're all over the place.  But you're really good.  You're seriously good.  And when you get to that sweet spot it's like 'Wow, that is hot.'  Figure out who you are though real quick.  But I really like you."

Simon said: "Did you hear the Natasha Bedingfield version of the song?  Really, no?  Okay, because that's almost identical.  I thought it was a smart choice of song.  I think it made you contemporary.  I think what you're got to work on it you become quite corny when you perform.  And that's a very cool song.  I think it was a million times better than last week and I think you may have put yourself back in the race here."


Paige Miles, a 24-year-old from Naples, FL who currently resides in Houston, TX

Song: "Walk Away" by Kelly Clarkson

Randy said: "I liked it.  I wasn't all over the top in love with it because for me it was so many words I didn't get a chance to really hear you singing.  You got this big voice, so for Kelly it kind of worked for her -- I'm not sure it was the best choice.  Because I just want to hear you sing and the problem was you got one of the best voices in this whole thing.  I want to hear that man!  I want to hear you hit the big notes and sing a long melody... I love the song for Kelly, that's why it was a hit, but [not for you]."

Ellen said: "I totally disagree with Randy.  I love it, I thought it was fantastic.  I really liked it.  I liked everything you did with it because I love that song and it's kind of risky to change it up.  But you changed just enough to make it yours and you had great energy and you had fun, which is really important.  And I think that's what everybody has to remember, you're on stage, have fun.  This is your moment to have fun, and you did.  I thought you did great.  Simon's right, you have one of the best voices.  Really, really good."

Kara said: "I could see you having a hit with that song.  I do think you're in that soul/pop/rock thing.  But here's the thing.  I know we want [you] to smile and have fun, but if you knew  the guy I song that song about and my relationship and how upset I was, you wouldn't have been smiling when you were singing it.  It's kind of a little bit angry and that's what I missed from you, is kind of connecting with the fact that I was, you know, Kelly and all of us writing it were kind of not feeling the guy so much.  So we wouldn't have been smiling when we were telling him to go take a hike.  So that was my one note [to you].  But I appreciated what you did, you did have some moments there where it went off but you know, I liked it.  I do."

Simon said: "I'm going to agree with Randy.  I'm afraid, two weeks in a row, you've failed to choose the right song for you.  And I think you're going lost in these songs, it's like the songs are overtaking you.  Again, it's frustrating because you have such a strong voice and you're making bad decisions.  You've got to come on that stage if you're here next week, nail the song, and put your marker down, which is that you could be the one to best.  You didn't do it with that song.  It's forgettable, sorry."

Additional Notes: Paige said she "pretty much" agreed with everything the judges said. 


Siobhan Magnus, a 20-year-old from Cape Cod, MA who currently resides in Marstons Mills, MA

Song: "Think" by Aretha Franklin

Randy said: "Listen, you know what's funny to me?  you picked the dopest, coolest, greatest singer of all time.... dude, you are so bold and so fearless!  And let me tell you something, it was dope, you slayed it!  I loved it!  I was sitting here like 'Yo, she's just going crazy with this, she's going for hers [with] her mouth open [hitting that high note].  I loved it, dude.  I loved it."

Ellen said: "Oh, I loved it too.  and you know most people would say don't take on such a big song, but you know, they also said don't mix sleeves with a blanket and look at the Snuggie, it's huge!  So I think oh man, that was good.  Yes!"

Kara said: "I can't get over that note.  I can't get over that note.  I don't know if there's a correlation between the glass blowing and being able to hit those notes. I just don't know how you do that, I don't know how you hit that note."

Simon said: "Once again, you're such a strange person -- I mean that as a compliment!  I thought there were parts of the song which were terrible and then that note was incredible.  Do for me it was two halves.  But you are interesting, and very, very talented."

Additional Notes: Siobhan said she figured out "how to belt that high" while singing a Kelly Clarkson song in the shower two or three years ago.  "I have to thank her for it," she said about the original American Idol champion.

(Photo credit Fox)


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