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HOME > American Idol > American Idol 9

'American Idol's Top 11 ninth-season finalists take to the stage, sing


By Reality TV World staff, 03/24/2010 

American Idol's Top 11 ninth-season finalists took the stage during Tuesday night's live performance episode broadcast, singing songs that have hit No. 1 on the weekly Billboard Hot 100 chart which began over 50 years ago.

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However similar to last week, several finalists delivered performances that completely underwhelmed American Idol's judges -- including Paige Miles, Timothy "Tim" Urban, Andrew Garcia, and Didi Benami.

The following is Reality TV World's recap of the performance broadcast in the order which the Top 11 finalists -- who were mentored by 17-year-old Disney star Miley Cyrus -- sang.  Also included are comments from each of the four judges -- Randy Jackson, Ellen DeGeneres, Kara DioGuardi and Simon Cowell -- as well as any noteworthy additional information about each finalist's performance or comments to Idol host Ryan Seacrest.

On Wednesday night, one finalist will -- pending the potential use of "The Judges' Save" -- be eliminated based on home viewer votes cast immediately following last night's broadcast, revealing the season's Top 10 finalists. 

Lee Dewyze, a 23-year-old from Mount Prospect, IL

Song: "The Letter" by The Box Tops

Randy said: "It's cool, it's cool that you chose this kind of bluesy, soul version of the song, because when I heard you were choosing it I was like, 'Wow, out of all of the No. 1's he chose this?'  But you know what dude, you knocked it out of the box.  Way to start off the show."

Ellen said: "Okay Lee, so you know how you have a favorite pen because it writes perfectly... and then you're like 'Oh no, I'm losing my favorite pen!'  ...my favorite pen is back.  That was fantastic."

Kara said: "You've raised the bar for yourself.  I've never heard you sound better, look more comfortable.  You're finally owning the stage.  You can do it even more now that I can see the control you have over your vocals.  From the first time you stepped on that stage to now, the progress is tremendous... believe that you're good.  Believe that you're good."

Simon said: "How many No. 1's could you have chosen from, there must be thousands.  I'm really, really surprised that you chose that song, because that to me was not a recording performance.  That was you doing something quite corny.  It actually was.  You sounded good, you were bouncing around on stage a little bit. but I think you're kind of missing the point that I was trying to say last week about having a moment.  That [performance] doesn't define you as a contemporary recording artist.  So I think that even though Missy here loves it -- that's a good reason to do the opposite."

Additional Notes: Kara (Simon's "Missy") and Randy both disagreed with Simon.  "Oh no, I like it too.  Come on!" Randy shouted.  "You chose better -- you're getting better," Kara added.


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

Song: "Against All Odds" by Mariah Carey

Randy said: "Oh, yo, man, wow.  Really, honestly, I don't know if your voice is back or whatever is happening but that was honestly terrible.  It was terrible.  Really, honestly.  I don't even know -- there was nothing about it that was great, the pitch was all over the place, nothing came together at all.  I don't know.  And I know you're probably better than that so maybe you don't have your voice back.  I don't know man, but it was terrible."

Ellen said: "I'm going to start with the positive: you didn't fall down and that's a good thing, right?  That's an accomplishment.  Those are high, high heels [you're wearing].  I know, I'm wearing them right now.  Listen, you look stunning, you've never looked better.  Your hair looks great, you look beautiful and I am now going to turn the music critique over to Kara and Simon."

Kara said: "Paige, somewhere along the line I think you stopped competing, and you stopped listening to what we were saying.  Because you know that's a really big song.  You took on the Mariah version, and if you're going to take that on it better be spectacular.  And I have to say, and I'm sorry to say it, it was the worst vocal that I've ever heard from you and possibly of the season.  Sorry."

Simon said: "Paige, how do you think you did?  Alright, so we are on the same Paige here.  Because to be honest with you it was like there were five of you singing that song and it got progressively worse each one.  It was just all over the place.  And the awful thing was is that I knew the point that you knew as well.  And I think you're going to be in serious, serious trouble tonight sweetheart, I really do.  And I think what Kara said is right, it's like you stopped competing and you stopped believing in yourself, and it's such a shame.  Because you were so good weeks ago.  But that song, I think it's just killed you."

Additional Notes: Paige told Simon she "definitely struggled with the song" and acknowledged her pitch "was all over the place" but said she had fun doing it and felt she had connected with the song.  She also told Ryan that she hadn't given up and was "definitely still in it to win it."


Timothy "Tim" Urban, a 20-year-old from Duncanville, TX

Song: "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" by Queen

Randy said: "Um... wow.  Look, what's hard for me is this is a singing competition, we're supposed to be trying to find the best that we can find and every time that you guys hit the stage you're supposed to be showing up, like just wowing us.  We should be going like 'Oh my god, he's so dope!'  The dopest thing you did was the slide [across stage], dude!  The vocals were so boring I was like, 'What show is this? It feels like karaoke or something.'  It was like bad karaoke.  I don't know."

Ellen said: "See, that's the thing.  You have huge fans, you have a lot of fans who absolutely love you.  But it really felt like to me that it was an audition for High School Musical... it was corny, it was pushed too hard and there's a large group of people who will love that performance... and then there's me.  And I just didn't get it.  Sorry."

Kara said: "Ellen hit the nail on the head.  It was Zac Efron and Hairspray -- I don't know what.  Little girls will love that but you took the song and you didn't do much with it, you didn't change up the melodies And grabbing at the audience like this, you're not at that place yet.  You're not established, you haven't sold hundreds of millions of records.  You acted like you [had] already made it, and you haven't, you have a lot of work to do."

Simon said: "Look, I don't think the sliding around was the problem, because I think it distracted from the song, so I kind of understand why you did that.  It's true!  The problem was that it was completely and utterly pointless and silly.  And I'm actually surprised that song was a No. 1 record.  And again, with all the thousands of songs you could have chosen, you're not actually again, taking part in this.  You're just there singing and dancing.  You've got zero chance of winning right now, you have.  Unless you actually start to take some proper singing lessons, get your act together -- and like I said before, actually try and become somebody who is contemporary and relevant.  So this is two weeks [of] silly, silly song choices."


Aaron Kelly, a 16-year-old from Sonestown, PA

Song: "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith

Randy said: "So listen man, it wasn't a perfect performance -- there were a couple of pitch things, that one high note in the break was a little under and I know you're a little under the weather with your voice.  But let me tell you something, thank god that you came on the stage and you started singing, because the two before you man, I was like, 'What's going on tonight!'  So listen, I know you got a cold, tonsillitis or whatever, but I like you and you're really talented.  I love the way you sang that first verse, you took it up.  Dude, I'm a fan.  I'm a fan!"

Ellen said: "First of all, that was a perfect song choice for you.  And I could tell you were sick because every single time you sing I go home and watch the show after this and you're pretty much always pitch-perfect.  You have such an amazing voice, and you're what, like in third grade or something?  I mean, I see your career already.  You are so good.  You are so good.  That was amazing.  Liked it."

Kara said: "Ellen said it.  Best song choice of the night.  Best.  And maybe one week you were off, but week to week you really know how to pick a song that accentuates the strength in your voice and shows consistency.  Because you do have that country twang and I can hear it week to week.  I'm not going to beat you up on the vocals because it wasn't perfect and we know why.  But I am going to say 'More stage presence from you.'  I want to see it.  But overall, good attempt due to the circumstances.  Good stuff."

Simon said: "Yeah, look, it was very brave.  You've got tonsillitis, laryngitis -- whatever you've got.  You know you're a little tryer, aren't you?  If I had any criticism I would say I think for your age you're making yourself old-fashioned.  But there is zero chance you are going to go home, and I think you should give Miley a call."

Additional Notes: Prior to performing, Aaron told Ryan he's been dealing with laryngitis and tonsillitis recently.  During his pre-performance video package he had admitted to having a crush on Miley Cyrus.


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

Song: "Me and Bobby McGee" by Janis Joplin

Randy said: "Yo, check this out. The show is called American Idol! That is what is called being a star and a dope singer!  Right there, that's the way you do it!  You come out here, you slay it, you sing what is in your heart.  People have been comparing you to Janis, she's amazing, great.  Dude, that's what it's about.  I'm so happy now.  This is what it's about.  She's what it's about."

Ellen said: "I was driving the other day and this song came on the radio and I thought of you immediately -- 'Oh, she should sing that song!'  And then you're singing that today, so I was so happy to hear that.  Look, there's nothing wrong with that performance.  You've got an amazing voice, you're consistently great .  The only thing -- and I said it last week -- is we're missing a bit of personality, which we saw last week.  I feel like there's a little bit of something between you and us, the audience.  I would love to see a little bit more, even when people are going crazy you're kind of standing there and you're stoic.  I'm sure it's nerves or whatever -- you're probably shy, but a little more connection.  Take it in, like these people love you.  Take it all in and respond... I think people want to share that with you and I want to see that you're receiving it, because people are sending you a lot of love."

Kara said: "It's interesting you bring that point up because I heard you last week say 'I got a lot on my mind, I'm thinking about this, I'm thinking about that.'  Were you thinking about anything tonight during that performance?  You did [let go]?  I did feel more, I saw you smiling, I saw you moving a little bit more.  I know what you're saying Ellen.  I think too, would you ever consider putting the guitar down for a performance?  I think you may get more into it and free yourself, and I want to see you let go completely, even more than this week."

Simon said: "I wouldn't change anything.  Up until now we have listened to a karaoke competition and somebody comes on -- I've heard Pink sing that version of the song, which is one of the best versions I've ever heard, and that was as good as that in my opinion.  Randy's right, this about finding a recording artist.  I've actually seen you progress, I've seen you progress over the last couple of weeks.  You're doing your own thing.  You're not sliding all over the stage, jumping into the crowd like we've seen before, gimmicky.  You just took a song, nailed it, and your only gimmick is a carpet."

Additional Notes: Crystal performed on a small carpet and told Ellen she has "big plans for next week," if she makes it that far.  "I'm getting [the love], I am.  I really am," she replied.  "I just told Ellen that I have big plans for next week, so we'll see," she added when Kara asked her about performing without her guitar.  Randy agreed with Simon's suggestion that she not change anything.


Michael Lynche, a 26-year-old from Astoria, NY

Song: "When a Man Loves a Woman" by Percy Sledge

Randy said: "I don't know if it was the perfect song choice.  I don't think it was the best vocal.  But you know what I love... listen, you know who you are.  You're this R&B soul dude.  The best thing you can do on this show is sing the I don't know what out of who you are and be that every time you hit the stage.  That's what you did today, I loved it."

Ellen said: "I did feel like it was sort of a safe choice.  It was like driving the speed limit, it was fine and you got there.  You have an amazing tone, you have a great, great voice.  And this woman loves that man."

Kara said: "Mike, you know I love you.  Technically it was really good, you hit all the notes, but I just felt it was a bit boring and loungey at times.  I'm sorry.  And overindulgent, too many riffs, and I lost my connection with you performing it.  I'm sorry, you know I still love you."

Simon said: "Yeah, I kind of know what you're saying.  It's like you want one scoop of ice cream and you got 11.  It was almost too much.  I think if I had advised you about choosing that song, no disrespect, I would taken all this lot [background musicians] off the stage.  I would have just had you [and the] piano.  Very simple, Because the truth is Michael, this audition could have taken place thirty years ago, twenty years ago, ten years ago.  It's trying to make an old-fashioned song like that, an old-school song, relevant.  And actually what Kara said is kind of right, you made it very loungey.  So you've got to work this out.  The good news is you've got tons of charisma, you've actually got a very, very good voice, and people like you.  and I'm glad we had the chance this week to have a conversation without any irritating interruptions [from Ryan]  Thank you for that Ryan."


Andrew Garcia, a 23-year-old from Moreno Valley, CA

Song: "Heard It Through the Grapevine" by Marvin Gaye

Randy said: "Oh, dog.  Man.  It wasn't good, man.  I mean it wasn't good.  I mean listen, it was the wrong song choice because this is not the kind of vocalist you are, singing these kind [of songs].  It just didn't work dude.  It wasn't good.  Wasn't good."

Ellen said: "You know how much I love you, right?  I love you and you have a lot of fans and I hope they vote for you because that was not enough to get a whole bunch of people on board that are kind of teetering right now.  It just wasn't fantastic and just not a good song choice at all.  But I love you and I hope people will vote for you."

Kara said: "Look Andrew, I feel bad for you, I do.  You're chasing that moment [with Paula Abdul's 'Straight Up' in Hollywood Week] which was brilliant, and I think it's playing with your head.  I think it's messing with you and you don't know what to do up there, you're really confused.  And that's what I'm getting from you.  Because these motions with your hands, it was like someone was moving you like a puppet.  It didn't even feel like Andrew.  I don't know who that was, [but] that's not you.  You're more swagger, you move like this, and I don't know what to do with you other than you've got to go back to that moment where you did 'Straight Up' and look at what you did.  Because you are far from that.  And I feel sick saying that to you, but it's the truth."

Simon said: "Maybe we just overrated that moment in hindsight.  It wasn't like listening to Beethoven for the first time, it was a cute version of a Paula song.  You've had enough time to sort yourself out.  I think actually Miley gave you good advice to lose the guitar, because you were hiding behind it.  The problem right now with that was the arrangement was horrific.  You sucked the soul out of that song.  You did!  Sucked it out and tortured it and ruined one of the great pop songs of all time.  And at the same time, you made yourself really, really corny.  You've got the best opportunity in the world right now, which is you're in front of tens of millions of people week after week.  Any good artist, within seven days, with that broad amount of choice should be able to nail and choose a great song.  Unless you probably don't know who you are as an artist."

Additional Notes: "No, it was brilliant," Kara replied when Simon suggested the judges may have just overrated his "Straight Up" performance.  Andrew disagreed he doesn't know who his is as an artist.  "I know who I am," he told Ryan afterwards.


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

Song: "Big Girls Don't Cry" by Fergie

Randy said: "I don't know if it was your best performance, but what I love about what you did is you listen well.  It was a little sharp all over the place, a little pitchy here and there.  But what you did that was cool was that you actually listened to us.  You picked a younger song and even the outfit is all younger.  So I'm liking that you're at least listening.  I like that."

Ellen said: "I actually think it was your best performance so far.  I thought you sounded great.  And you look great and you're evolving and changing.  You're like the Dakota Fanning of American Idol!  I liked it a lot."

Kara said: "So Simon, do you still think she's country?  This is the lane for you: pop with R&B leanings.  Because today you actually moved like you felt the song.  It was a different Katie.  This is where you belong.  This is your vibe.  You still got mad pitch issues, but this is where you belong, these type of songs, right Randy?"

Simon said: "I think you meeting Miley Cyrus was probably the best thing that could ever happen to you.  I mean seriously.  Because similar age, had a big career.  The way you look tonight compared to the sort of pageant horror outfit we saw weeks ago, I mean it's 'chalk and cheese.'  Do I however believe that you are believable in this area?  I'm still not sure.  I would still go with the advice I gave you before because I think you could find a more loyal market to you [in the country genre].  I think you're competing right now in a very, very difficult place and I don't think it's in your head to be what you want to be.  So I still think I'm right and this one [Kara] is wrong.  But having said that, it was a good performance."

Additional Notes: "Yeah, yeah, yeah," Randy replied to Kara's question.


Casey James, a 27-year-old from Fort Worth, TX

Song: "The Power Of Love" by Huey Lewis and the News

Randy said: "You know I'm a fan of yours and I love you playing the guitar, I think you're probably the best musician guitar player we've ever had on here.  I'll tell you what, I wasn't a fan of the song choice but I gotta tell you something, I gotta give you props, you definitely did it well.  I believed it.  I believed it."

Ellen said: "Same here, I was not a fan of the song choice.  I think there was a much better song, but that being said I think it was the best vocal of the night, I thought you sounded great."

Kara said: "You're just on another level.  I mean with the right songs, if you had ten hit songs -- you're just ready to make an album.  You're just there, it's all there.  Everything.  And it just gets better and better and better.  You're in a zone now.  You're in a zone, stay in it."

Simon said: "Look Casey, I promise you this is not personal, but I don't know what you're listening to Kara, I genuinely don't.  Because that song was old-fashioned 25 years ago when t came out.  He didn't make it current, he did an identical version of the Huey Lewis version.  It was like watching and listening to an 80's cover band.  There was no effort, no originality.  Nothing different!  Maybe it's just me, maybe it's because I'm English."

Additional Notes: "He made it current!" Kara insisted to Simon.


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

Song: "You're No Good" by Linda Ronstadt

Randy said: "Listen, I love the idea of it -- the outfit, the whole thing, my man playing the bass.  I love that.  It's just the pitches were a little off, it was very pitchy all over the place.  It never quite caught, you never quite hit the pitch right."

Ellen said: "Didi, I don't get the song choices tonight, I really don't.  I didn't think it was the right song choice for you and I do like your voice so you're not no good, you're good.  But I just didn't get that song choice."

Kara said: "Didi, I felt like you were playing a character.  It felt very dramatic, almost.  Like you were very slinky and moving in a way -- it didn't feel like it was you, it felt like you were trying to be something that you aren't and it just left me confused."

Simon said: "Well there was a certain sort of irony to you screeching out you're no good, you're no good, you're no good over and over again.  Because... you know it was true, it was like a musical.  Like it was a part -- the bad part of the musical, just before the interval.  And that's what it came over [as] -- you know the kind of playing off with the bass player and all that kind of stuff.  And it didn't sound like it was you.  It was something like you sounded like you'd rehearsed and learned and you actually fell into the trap with the girl who left -- what was [her name] -- Lacey, who left last week.  You know, when she was trying to play a part and it's like you suddenly played that role.  It's something like that a little bit."

Additional Notes: "Oh, give me a break!" Simon shouted when the studio audience booed him loudly.  Kara had to remind Simon that Lacey Brown was the name of "the girl who left."


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

Song: "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder

Randy said: "Let me just tell you man, I'm always so excited to see you because you're so fearless, you don't care.  I never would have thought you would have sung that song, but you know what, I'm telling you man, I'm happy you did.  I thought it was great, I loved it man.  You just went for it and you just go for it.  You got so much conviction man, I love you.  You should inspire all these kids."

Ellen said: "Siobhan, to quote Oliver: 'More please!'  More please, I just want to see you -- you're just so good.  I love you."

Kara said: "You express yourself every time you perform and that's what I love about you,  And I think you're more comfortable there than you are anywhere in your life, and I see that every time.  I don't think it was your best performance, but I tell you, that end note that you do, I mean how do you not say that's amazing?  Because it's really ridiculous."

Simon said: "Yeah, I think there's going to be a real split with you on this one, Siobhan.  Because you know some people will like it and I'm afraid a lot of other people won't.  This singing with the screaming at the end, it's almost like you've got to reverse it and maybe start next week's song with screaming at the beginning and then go softer.  Because it's becoming, I guess it is, your thing, but I don't think you hit the notes anywhere near as well as you've done before.  And you know what, I'm going to say this to you and all the contestants, really.  With the exception of one, which was Crystal tonight, which I thought was in a different league.  You've got to start pushing yourself now and you've got to start finding better songs and you've got to start making yourselves relevant.  Because tonight for me was not a good night, overall.  Sorry."

(Photo credit Fox)


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