'American Idol's Top 9 ninth-season finalists take the stage and sing
By Reality TV World staff, 04/06/2010
American Idol's Top 9 ninth-season finalists took the stage during Tuesday night's live performance episode broadcast, singing The Beatles songs from the Lennon-McCartney songbook.
While several finalists delivered performances that failed to excite American Idol's judges, Katie Stevens managed to use the opportunity to wow them and re-establish herself in their eyes.
The following is Reality TV World's recap of the performance broadcast in the order which the Top 10 finalists, who were mentored by Usher, 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 8 finalists.
Randy said: "Argh, okay here we go. The things that I liked about it were you still got a great voice, you got a beautiful tone. What I didn't love is I didn't love the arrangement and the song was so sleepy. This is one of the ones that needed to be changed up, you could have done a cool kind of country version... made it something different. It just kind of laid still there."
Ellen said: "I think you're fantastic, you know that. I think that's a big song to take on and it felt like a long and winding song."
Kara said: "Aaron, when it comes together for you and you're hitting the notes perfectly and you're changing some of the melodies it works. You've been delivering good performances but for what you're trying to do you have to be great, and you've not really reached that level yet. And part of it too is that every week is feeling for me like the same performance -- I want some tempo maybe next week. I'd like to see you move on the stage and do another type of song because I fell like we're just seeing this same side of you."
Simon said: "The problem was Aaron, for me, you're 17 years old. It was very old-fashioned, very boring... you've got to become young and relevant. And Kara's absolutely right, you're doing the same thing week after week. You've got to have a moment and you've got to take some risks, and you should have done some research on that song."
Additional Notes: Aaron told Kara he had something "faster" planned for next week if he advances to the next round.
Randy said: "Listen, to me this is your best performance ever. It re-affirms to me and all of America and everyone watching -- even the judges up here, no matter who says what. Dude, those were hot vocals, that was ridiculous! That's why you're in the Top 9, that was hot!"
Ellen said: "That is a perfect example of changing it just enough to make it your own without disrespecting the song. You may have been in the bottom three last week but there is no way you'll be in the bottom three. That was amazing!"
Kara said: "Katie, you're in the bottom three two weeks in a row, you come out on stage, you don't make excuses, you make the song your own. You're blossoming on that stage and that's what I really love about tonight. Not only was it a great vocal but you're attitude - -you're out here, you're blossoming, you're confident tonight. Tonight you're confident, which is pretty amazing considering you've been beat up for two weeks. You never looked better and you never sounded better and I am so proud of your tonight."
Simon said: "Well look Katie look, the whole thing about this competition is when you're in the bottom three consistently, that tells you you're doing something wrong. Tonight however, you got it right. And I think the reason you got it right -- and I don't want to take all the credit -- you are absolutely leaning in the direction I've hinted at very strongly, which is it's more country. It was a lot better. And I'll tell you what was different as well from last week -- it felt to me that you were singing it about somebody rather than being robotic, and that was a big difference. Well done."
Additional Notes: Kara and Randy both disagreed Katie had performed a "more country" version of the song. "What?!?" Kara exclaimed. "Not even close!" Randy shouted.
Randy said: "I think it was a really solid performance. I wasn't really jumping up and down but I think you sounded good singing, it was an interesting arrangement. A little corny at times for me because it was so pop -- you've got a little bit more soul in you -- but all in all, I think it was okay, it was all right.
Ellen said: "I think it was a perfect song choice for you and it was a lot of fun and I loved it."
Kara said: "I want to love it, I do, I want to love it. But I just don't know that I've seen anything new from you this week that I don't already know and I want to see more. I'm not sure if people loved it... I'm not sure if people were digging it because they just loved the song. I think you could have done more with your interpretation. I did like the breakdown though, I thought that was hot. That was good. That was classic Andrew, give us some more of that."
Simon said: "Yeah, we've said this a lot. When you go to a wedding and the guitarist -- not the lead singer -- sings a song. Because the problem with that performance was I think I know what you were trying to do with the guitar, but then you had the band behind you completely overpowering the whole arrangement. Which made it, actually, very corny and once again old-fashioned. and unfortunately, irrelevant. So I think you and the band together kind of got this all wrong tonight. Sorry."
Randy said: "I'm loving the fact that now you've reached the point on the show -- I'm not sure all of that worked, but what I love about it, the parts that did work, were great. There were a couple of things I was "Hmm, this is a little too much." But you've learned, you've got that license now where you can do whatever you want, dude. I love Big Mike that you're feeling yourself. That could really be a joy on the radio on your album... I love seeing the artist in you blossom, I love that dude, I love it."
Ellen said: "You can do anything. I mean every song you take on, whether it's Maxwell's 'Women's Work' or this, there's so many different sides of you and you handle every one equally as well. I thought that was a huge risk to take on a song like that and to change it that dramatically. And there may be some people who don't like it, but I thought that was incredible. I loved it."
Kara said: "Mike, I thought that was fire. Those vocals were amazing and what you did, how you changed it up and the drama. I mean it was like building and building and building and you sold the story. And maybe you did do some things that were a little crazy with the arrangement, but you were committed and you believed it. And Randy is absolutely right, you made that song commercial today to this generation and relevant. And that's what this show is about! Because at the end of this show you have to make a record, and when you're up there performing we want it to sound like that. Great job"
Simon said: "I didn't vote it as much as the other three Michael, and I'll tell you why. Because -- and I'm not a huge fan of musicals -- but this was the sort of thing you see and hear in musicals... so I'm actually going to disagree with Kara, I don't think it made you contemporary at all. I think if anything, it made you go slightly backwards because it was what it was. It's a different opinion. I thought it was just too over the top and I'm slightly confused now as to what kind of artist you want to be at the end of this competition."
Crystal Bowersox, a 24-year-old from Elliston, OH who currently resides in Toledo, OH
Song: "Come Together"
Randy said: "Another solid performance. I don't know if it was your best, but I love how you started kind if slow and you got into your groove at the end. you started hitting the high notes and changing the melody up. And you know what I love about that? Even though the didgeridoo thing was kind of distracting, you still won me over. Because I was like paying attention, like 'What's going on?' It definitely worked. I don't know if it was your best performance but I still loved it. You're in the zone right now, you know what I'm saying."
Ellen said: "I loved the didgeridoo, I thought that was cool. With you, the only think I have to worry about is a new way to tell you how great you are. Every single time I see you I don't know, you never cease to amaze me. And how do you improve on a Lennon-McCartney song? I was like 'Lennon-McCartney who? Lennon-McCartney what?' .. and I think that's an example of making it current. I could hear that on your album. I think that's an amazing job that you did. I loved it."
Kara said: "I think this is one of my favorite performances that you've ever done. And I'll tell you why: you made the song. It kind of had a Bonnie Raitt feel, where you took the melody musically I never would have thought of. But it was slinky, it was sexy, it was playful, you were smiling. If I have any critique of you it's that sometimes you're so serious, you're in your head. And I felt you were more accessible tonight. So I'm going to say it was one of my favorite performances of the night, if not it."
Simon said: "That's a song or a performance I could hear on the radio. It doesn't matter whatever that song is 40 or 40 years old, it just works. It's very interesting to hear you say in your film about just being true to yourself because this is why you are working. The idea of you singing a song with a guy playing the didgeridoo and working... seriously, it was quirky, the fact that the two of you worked well together. And you really helped prove a point which I was trying to make on Michael, which is that's how you make a song work contemporary and on the radio. As always, terrific and much better in my opinion than last week."
Additional Notes: Crystal was accompanied by a didgeridoo player during her performance.
Timothy "Tim" Urban, a 20-year-old from Duncanville, TX
Song: "All My Loving"
Randy said: "Listen, you know what's funny? What's cool man is that you're in own category, so I'm going to start judging your performance [by] is it a good Tim performance. I think that was really a much better performance than you've had the last couple of weeks. You know was I love too, man? I was looking to see Lennon-McCartney songbook, the whole thing. You're even rocking a kind of Beatles-ish sort of [hairdo], man... I like it dog, I like it. I might get a wig and try and hook it up too... it was a good Tim performance."
Ellen said: "I actually think Tim that was the perfect song choice for you and it was your second best performance after 'Hallelujah,' after the Jeff Buckley song you did. I thought that was a really good performance. And you did, you have that Paul McCartney look about you right now, and girls go crazy over you. And I thought you did very well."
Kara said: "Tim, I've always thought your best performances were when you had a guitar and you were true to that because it feels more honest. And I have to say, we have really come after you week after week and I like that you came out here today. You did take some of our criticisms, you know you're with your guitar, you're doing something different with the melody, and that was solid. And you're to be commended for that. Because it's hard to listen to what we've been dishing out to you and to still come. You know, you can smile."
Simon said: "I'm not going to judge you as Randy did on a 'Tim performance,' because I don't think that's fair. I think we have to judge you based on everything we've heard and seen tonight. And taking everything into consideration, I thought you did really well tonight with that song. I really did. What I liked about it was there was no gimmicks, it was just the right thing to do. You and the guitar. You didn't try and over-sing it, it really suited your voice. That song, it actually sounds very current what you just did. and what I really like about you Tim is that you take the criticism like a man. There's no whining, no whinging. You know anyone who is on this stage right now has got an advantage because it's like going from 0 to 60 in two seconds. So you have to put it in the right context. You've been given a great opportunity. If you have to take a few little barbs along the way so what? This is a short cut to fame, right? And you've handled yourself really well, I'm very, very proud of you. Well done."
Additional Notes: Tim told Randy his Beatles-like hairdo wasn't intentional. "I actually didn't even at the time think about it looking just like The Beatles, to be honest," he said.
Randy said: "I love that you were playing the acoustic guitar, not the electric. You switched it up a little bit. I loved seeing the whole sensitive vibe, the sensitive side of you. I mean that's another great song. And you know dude, you know what? I was really impressed you took this kind of lead because it let me know -- what I'm really proud about all of you this season is I'm seeing more artists that are all individual. So I love that you set yourself apart like that. You've got this blues exterior because you've got that Stevie Ray thing jumping up. I loved that you did this, I thought it was really good. There were a couple of -- listen, it wasn't the perfect vocal, there were a couple of little pitch things here and there but it was so heartfelt, I really felt you with that."
Ellen said: "Whether it was about somebody or not, it felt like it was. That to me was your best performance to date. It was so soulful and that's what we were talking about with switching things up. It was just a beautiful arrangement with you and the cello. I was moved by it. Because you have a great voice. And pretty hair. But I wanted to feel you really poor yourself into a song and not just sound great. And you did, and that's what we need to see more of, because we just want to see more of that personality. It was beautiful.
Kara said: "Casey, what you showed tonight was a vulnerability that has kind of been lacking in some of your other performances. When you're up there and it's feel-good and you're playing your guitar, and we know you're a good player. But tonight it was very tasteful on the acoustic. How you sang and you played to accompany yourself. And it's just showing depth, and that's what I wanted to see. I wanted people to see that I know you have a range in there that you can go higher, that you can switch things up. And I actually think you can do even more, still. Because at the end you really started to show that you know your voice, and when you want to take it there you can go there. And that's what Ellen and I were I think talking about last week when we said 'push yourself.' And tonight you did that. And I think you could still do it more."
Simon said: "I think it was the best performance of the night so far. I do, Because I think in terms of the difference from where you were a week or two weeks ago. What we're sued to with people like Crystal is a consistency. I think the difference between week and week with you has been absolutely gianormous. And I thought it was your stamp on the song. I actually felt that you were emotional at the midway point of it. As the girls said, we saw a completely different side of you, so that's why I am very, very impressed with you tonight. You did terrific."
Siobhan Magnus, a 20-year-old from Barnstable, MA who currently resides in Marstons Mills, MA
Song: "Across the Universe"
Randy said: "You know what I love, I love watching every week just wondering what you're going to do, what you're going to wear. Because nobody in this competition right now for me screams 'artist' more than you. Because I love the outfit, it's crazy, wild, unpredictable. Listen, it was a little sleepy for me but what I loved is I liked the whole tender side, you singing the high note in the false this time. I loved seeing that from you, the tender side. That you had so much control over the song. Still a little sleepy I must admit. But I tell you what, I just love you because I love the artistry in you and you got to believe in it always and just follow it man and go with it."
Ellen said: "Well, I'm a big fan of people who march to the beat of their own drum and you certainly do and I support that because I think you really should always honor who you are. Because you are special, you are really talented. Really special. Always remember that. I love that song... yes it was a little [different] but I loved that it was different. You're taking our notes. We said kind of 'Cool it on the high notes for a little while,' and you did. I thought it was beautiful, good job."
Kara said: "Siobhan, from a purely singing perspective, you hit the notes. You showed control, you knew where you were going. So in that department it was good. I just think it was very restrained and very polite, which is something we're not used to seeing from you. You're somebody who comes out and does these crazy things so I'm trying to process it a bit. And when we told bout turning these songs into something that could be current, that we could hear on the radio, I'm not sure you would hear that. But I still a fan, because I do feel that you connected very personally to it, and that is very important to me. So I'm a little confused, I'm trying to process what that was."
Simon said: "I think you had a pretty disastrous week last week. I think you came back much, much stronger. Like the guys said on the panel, what's great about you is that you are unpredictable. I think standing there tonight if it was the first time somebody had seen you they'd be a little bit confused, but that's what I like about you. And you were much. much, much better last week."
Randy said: "Listen, you know what I love, man? You always seem like you're a bundle of nerves before the performance and after it's like, 'Ah, god yes!' Let me tell you, you don't have to be nervous bay, you got this. It was another hot look for you. Yo, please believe! Believe! Believe!"
Ellen said: "Yeah, definitely... the confidence that you showed tonight and you were smiling more. I just felt so much more -- even when that guy got separated from his parade.... I'm so sorry sir, we'll help you. You didn't even get rattled by that guy showing up. No, I thought it was actually very cool. I thought it was a great job, I loved it."
Kara said: "You definitely feel more comfortable up there. I mean there were some good moments and there were a few off moments but I am still a fan, I really am. I can hear you on the radio. That tone, and when you go up there and you stretch yourself. It's hot, it really is."
Simon said: "I don't know what you lot are drinking in the house, we've got didgeridoo players and then you come out with a bagpipe player! What is going on in there? I wouldn't have done that, I just think you were doing great and then the bagpipe player walked down the staircase and it was like he turned up on the wrong show. Was it your idea?"
Additional Notes: Lee's performance included a closing accompaniment from a kilt-wearing bagpipe player. Lee told Simon it was "100 percent" his idea.