'American Idol's Top 12 ninth-season finalists take to the stage, sing
By Reality TV World staff, 03/17/2010
American Idol's Top 12 ninth-season finalists took the stage for the first time during Tuesday night's live performance show broadcast, singing Rolling Stones songs.
Most of the finalists received good feedback from the judges, however one contestant continued to wow the judges with her big voice and delivered a stand-out performance that drew comparisons to eighth-season runner-up Adam Lambert.
The following is Reality TV World's recap of the performance broadcast in the order which the Top 12 finalists 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.
On Wednesday night beginning at 9PM ET/PT, one finalist will be eliminated based on home viewer votes cast immediately following last night's broadcast, revealing the ninth-season's Top 11 finalists.
Randy said: "I'll tell you what, I wasn't so crazy when the range was starting but it reminded me of how great of a performer you've become and dog, you slayed it! Way to start the show baby!"
Ellen said: "Well what's not to love about that. At some point I'm going to be disappointed but not yet. That's the way to start the night. Amazing. Good, good."
Kara said: "First night on the big stage, it's hard, you've got to fill up that stage. And what's so great about the Stones is that they were incredible performers. Mick Jagger was comfortable up there -- he had a swagger, a style, and attitude -- and that's what you delivered tonight. And I just thought that's what this is all about, is conveying the message of the song but being hot on stage and you did that. I really liked it."
Simon said: "Look, you're definitely, definitely got your confidence up now. Particularly after next week, it was such a great performance. [But] if I'm being honest, particularly when I see the clip of the Rolling Stones back, I thought the performance at times -- particularly your dancing -- was kind of corny. It was. You sang it well, but I think when you watch it back, it was verging at times [as] a tiny bit desperate."
Additional Notes: Randy and Kara both disagreed with Simon's "desperate" comment. "Noooo!" Randy shouted. "I think it was the middle part of the song in particular," Simon clarified after an awkward face-to-face confrontation with American Idol host Ryan Seacrest.
Didi Benami, a 23-year-old from Knoxville, TN who currently resides in Los Angeles, CA
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Song: "Play With Fire"
Randy said: "Always interested to see what songs you guys are going to pick tonight and what was going to happen, You picked 'Playing with Fire' and I got to tell you what, I think for the first time for me in weeks, Didi man, you were on fire tonight. Dude, that was one of your best performances for me in a long time. Nice one!"
Ellen said: "You have an amazing voice and I love that you lost your way -- that could spin you out -- but you didn't let it. You got right back and this has got to be nerve racking, to be here right now. So I was proud that you got right back in the song, I thought you sounds great. And you made the word 'fire' two syllables, which I thought was 'gr-eat.' It was great."
Kara said: "I think sometimes when you push on your vocals you push your way a bit. But what I liked tonight that I saw was an intensity that you attacked the song with, and that's what those lyrics were about. And you got dark, and there's something very compelling about the sweetness of your voice with the eeriness of the song, and you did it last week. So for me, it's two steps in the right direction. Both weeks you're moving toward who you are as an artist. Very well done."
Simon said: "I agree with what everybody has said today, Didi. I think what I like about you is that you are beginning to show us the kind of artist you want to be. Very cool choice of song. I thought you were going to lose it 30 seconds in -- I mean twice -- and that's what nerves does to you on this big stage. But I've been a fan of yours for the last two or three weeks, and again it was a very, very solid -- not brilliant -- performance. I think you can still do better than that."
Additional Notes: "I do too," Didi replied to Simon's closing remark.
Randy said: "I'm excited about this... you're back to the Casey I love. I actually think you can make a great artist career like this in the wake of like the Kenny Wayne Shepherds and the Jonny Langs. You playing the guitar, bluesy kind of fiery, Stonesy-rocky. I loved it, you are back for me! You're back!"
Ellen said: "I think for most women their hearts are going to start racing just looking at you. But for people like me -- blondes... I thought it was fantastic Casey. Fantastic."
Kara said: "I think that I said maybe it was last week or the week before that you were trying to be a rock star. Well tonight you were a rock star. [That was] one of the earliest Stones songs, they didn't even write it. For you to pick this song, it's got a kind of country twang, but it's got blues and soul and that's what I've been missing from you. Last week you did a country song but this shows your soul and the fact that you can riff and go off on the best parts of your voice. This was your best performance since we met."
Simon said: "I actually don't agree with that, and I'll tell you way. I think that you look great, you sang it well, you played guitar well. But for me that was like an audition performance, not using this stage and the platform you have to do what I've seen with other artists over the years. Which is to do something incredible. And I think that's what you've got to start doing now -- you've got to push yourself. Not just be a guy standing in the middle of the stage playing a guitar. It has to be more than that. You're a very, very good artist, people are going to really like you. But when you watch this back, there's got to be more. Just be a star."
Randy said: "Definitely very interesting. I loved it with the string quartet and starting it up -- very, very interesting arrangement. I wasn't jumping up and down about it vocally because it wasn't one of those 'Wow' moments, but I actually was pleasantly surprised. It felt like when you hit the first chorus you were going to kind of lose it but you kind of held it together. It was definitely the most interesting one of the night so far."
Ellen said: "Lacey, I thought it was weird that in the slowest part of the song you were standing and moving and then when it started kind of building you sat down. and you did that before, you like to sit on the edge of things -- don't go to the Grand Canyon. I'd [have expected] the opposite -- I'd have seen you start sitting and then standing. It was a tiny bit sleepy for me but I'm a fan of yours."
Kara said: "I got to agree with the guys, it was 50/50 for me. Hearing your voice right up clear is great and I love that you've been doing that the last few weeks. But there definitely were some issues where you didn't hit the notes right. And I think you can do better, I think you have it in you, I kind of like the drama you were trying to give, but I think you could have out more into it.
Simon said: "Yeah, I kind of know what you're saying. Lacey, I was trying to think this through when you were performing, where there is a slight issue with you, which is that you perform like an actress. Everything is really, really precise. Picking up on what Ellen said, it's just very, very thought through. [There was] nothing wrong with the vocals. The song was okay. But I kind of feel with you now you've just got to stop over thinking this, let yourself go a little bit, because you're in danger of doing the same thing week after week. You're over thinking it. But there's nothing wrong with the vocals, as I said."
Randy said: "Dog, you know I love you, right? Man listen, I love the song, I love the Stones, I love you but it was just pitchy everywhere man. It wasn't great dude. Honestly. Just keeping it real... it was pitchy everywhere. Just as little under a lot of times."
Ellen said: "What do I know, I think that was your best performance yet. I loved it."
Kara said: "There were definitely elements where we started to hear that tone that we've been missing and that voice. My think it though, it's 'War, children, it's just a shot away.' It's a song about war, written about Vietnam. And I wanted to feel that from you, what you were talking about, and I felt it at times and then most of the time I didn't. So it's the connection that bothered me the most out of that performance. But I do still like you. I do."
Simon said: "What was he supposed to do... you wanted him to come on stage with a tank or something? You're taking this too literally every time, like they're supposed to act out [the song]. To be honest I think I'm somewhat in the middle here. I think you gave it 100%. My gut feeling is that you were better in rehearsals than you were tonight. Something didn't quite connect with the song. But you've had so much mixed criticism, you've had to move away from what you've done before because otherwise you're just going to be singing 'Straight Up' every week. So I genuinely hope that you survive another week. I do."
Additional notes: "This is what was so great about the Stones, they wrote incredible song and they felt them on that stage. and that's all I want for him, is to make him better, because he's good," Kara replied back to Simon.
Randy said: "I know we've been giving you a lot of misdirection and like crazy ideas and stuff. Look, it's a great song, if you sing it well it's all good all the time, right? I actually think you sang that really well. There were a couple of moments where there were little pitch things here and there but you corrected it and I thought it was a very strong performance."
Ellen said: "First of all, I almost wore that [same dress]. Second of all, I thought it started a little pitchy and then once you got into it you sounded amazing. You have such great voice, you sounded so good once you got into it. And what a great song, good choice."
Kara said: "Katie, it's never technically perfect with you but what I liked about tonight is you made some nice variations on the melody and where you were going was the right direction, it really was, and that shows your talent. And it was better than last week. It definitely was."
Simon said: "I would say this was the only week where you have actually chosen a really strong song. That was a very. very clever choice. I actually recorded that song with Susan Boyle so I know the song really well. I didn't like the second half of the arrangement because I think you lost the emotion. But this is, like I said, the first time where I think you connected with a song. And more importantly I think you made a difference, you gave it 100%. So well done."
Randy said: "Wow, I didn't get that dude. It was very bizarre, the whole reggae version of it, I didn't really like that. It didn't serve you or the song well because you couldn't hear your vocals. It was just weird for me, I didn't understand it. I didn't like it."
Ellen said: "I'm going to boo myself first, Boo! Yeah, I felt like I was at a resort and drinking a pina colada and listening to somebody sing. You know it was a cool takeoff on it, I get the idea. And there was nothing wrong with it, you sounded great. It just didn't, for a night like this when you should use, as Simon said, this stage and wow us, I felt it was a little kind of on the beach, laying back and hearing a cool song. There was nothing wrong with it, it just didn't wow me."
Kara said: "I totally get what the guys are saying. The other side is I've got to applaud you for doing something so incredibly different with the song. I mean that was really different. Whether you like it or not, you made it your own."
Simon said: "Well look Tim yes, I have to applaud you for doing something different. It is quite a boring song anyway. Having said that, it didn't work, and actually a lot of people who are Rolling Stones fans would be turning their television sets off at that point. Because it just didn't work, that song doesn't work for me with that kind of beat, the reggae version. So I think it was crazy decision."
Additional Notes: "I knew it was going to be a huge risk, and I figured if I'm going to play a Rolling Stones song I'm not going to try and sound or look like the Rolling Stones because I can't," Tim told Ryan afterwards.
Siobhan Magnus, a 20-year-old from Barnstable, MA who currently resides in Marstons Mills, MA
Song: "Paint It Black"
Randy said: "Yo, bringing the drama to American Idol Season 9! That was hot! Siobhan, that was hot!"
Ellen said: "Oh, Siobhan! I love the way you look tonight, I love the way you sound, I love the way you did that song. You rise above. In a sea of people, you're like [Jersey Shore star] Snooki's poof. You just stand out and I like it!"
Kara said: "I'm having flashbacks of Adam Lambert, and the stairs and the drama. I have to say, the best interpretation tonight. You did the most with the song. Most interesting."
Simon said: "I'm going to totally agree. I think it was the stand-out performance of the night. What I like about what we're seeing now is that now I see the development from where we were on those middle shows to tonight. You look interesting. I mean it's almost like you're going to have to now scream at the end of every song. But it kind of works. But I also think -- and I think this is important for any artist -- there are a lot of people that are going to love that and genuinely there are going to be a lot of people who are going to hate it. And that to me is actually quite a good place to be, which is better than being indifferent and boring. So you had a good night."
Randy said: "You know what I love, man -- listen, you're an amazing singer but you really came home with this for me. You did a very singer-songwriter kind of thing and it put me in the mind of a little cross between Rob Thomas and Dave Matthews. Dude, I thought it was dope, I thought it was one of your better performances."
Ellen said: "I thought it was great and I thought you sounded great. But of all the people on stage tonight singing the Rolling Stones I was expecting a tiny bit more from you, but that being said it really did sound good. It just almost didn't come together like a hospital gown. I felt it was almost there but it was -- it's hard, because there was nothing wrong with it. But it was just a little less than I expected."
Kara said: "The energy was a little low, yeah. What I can say about you is you are growing faster than anybody on the stage. Every week you're getting better, more confident, taking more risks with your vocals. It's not as pitchy, and that's what I want to celebrate with this performance tonight, is just tremendous growth. Tremendous."
Simon said: "I really like you as a person. I like the whole story -- you worked in a paint shop, and you dreamt about becoming a star. What's always held you back I think Lee, is your personality. Because you don't shine at the moment and what you did tonight was indicative, where you chose a very safe song, a very forgettable song. And other people have had bigger moments, and the frustrating thing is that you have got an incredibly good voice. You have! What I want to see, and I pray that you're back next week, is it come on this stage, chose a song, and have what I call 'a moment.' Stamp your mark on the competition and stop thinking that other people are better than you, because that's what I see at the moment."
Additional Notes: Lee said he sensed "Beast Of Burden" was a safe choice but he wanted something he "could rock out" and "liked" and "felt" it.
Paige Miles, a 24-year-old from Naples, FL who currently resides in Houston, TX
Song: "Honky Tonk Woman"
Randy said: "When I heard you were doing this song I thought, you know this might not be a good look, it might be a little bit of a mess. But you know what, you did alright with it, you kind of pulled it out. I wish you'd had more energy with it and kind of rocked out hard, but you know what, I liked it. I liked it man."
Ellen said: "Yeah, I loved that you used the stage. I think you have such great star quality, you have such great presence on stage. And I know you're struggling with your voice so I was really worried for you. You sounded great, no one would know you've been struggling with your voice... you really sounded amazing."
Kara said: "for someone who is struggling, you really hit some big notes for someone who had those issues with your voice this week. So I have to applaud you for that, really. You attempted to do a lot with that song. At times you may have gotten a little lost, but the Paige that we fell in love with -- who is working the stage, who knows herself, the young Paige -- is back. That's what this performance is saying."
Simon said: "I didn't know -- what went wrong with your voice this week, Paige? You have laryngitis! On my god! Okay, well taking that into account you did great. I mean you really hit some big notes. The song's a little bit generic, a little bit you know what you would hear in a bar, I still think you're better than that. You still yet haven't quite connected. Forget the laryngitis thing for a moment, you still have got to find something that makes you more unique, contemporary. It was a very old-fashioned performance. But at least at the moment we heard the big voice we loved when we let it in Hollywood."
Additional Notes: Like Simon, Randy also had no idea Paige has been dealing with a case of vocal cord laryngitis. "I didn't even know!" he shouted when Ellen first mentioned Paige's unspecified voice issue. "I didn't even know either!" he added after Simon asked Paige what her issue was and she explained she has laryngitis. Paige's performance for the judges was her first "full-out" attempt at the song, she told Ryan. "I haven't really rehearsed," she laughed.
Randy said: "Hey man, I have to tell you something -- your mom was absolutely right... you were born to sing. I love how the tender moments in your voice, because we've been hearing you belt it out, do your kind of thing. But I tell you, the tender moments, it was almost sometimes like I can hear a little Justin Timberlake. Dude, I like you man. I thought it was hot!"
Ellen said: "I thought that was such a great song choice for you. Next to Siobhan, those are the two performances I think that stand out so far tonight. Beautiful, beautiful."
Kara said: "Aaron, I beat you up good last week but you showed me man tonight, let me tell you. When you connect with the feeling of a song, when you find that place where it's coming from you, it is very powerful and that's what you did tonight. Really great."
Simon said: "Yeah, I must admit I did fear for you when I heard it was Rolling Stones week and I thought you and Rolling Stones, this is going to be an absolute disaster. But actually you choose absolutely, 100% the right song. I didn't get quite what Randy was hearing, Justin Timberlake, but what I think you did cleverly was that you sang the song within the limits of your vocal this time. Which when you watch it back, you'll understand why it worked so much better. Because you haven't got a big voice, but it was in tune, mostly. It was believable. So I think it was one of your strongest performances, tonight. Well done."
Crystal Bowersox, a 24-year-old from Elliston, OH who currently resides in Toledo, OH
Song: "You Can't Always Get What You Want"
Randy said: "I don't think it was your best performance. There were a couple of little problems in there. But let me tell you something man, I love you. You're always great, I'm always excited to see what you're going to do and you didn't disappoint me tonight even though it wasn't my favorite performance. But I still love you."
Ellen said: "Yeah, it definitely wasn't. Here's the thing, you sing with such ease, it's so effortless for you. and you really are born to be on stage, it's just so much fun to watch you. What I've been missing from you that I saw a little bit tonight is personality. And you started adding a little bit of that tonight and being playful.... really, just let yourself have fun on stage, because I started to see a little bit of personality and I loved seeing that. So play more on stage, because the singing you got that.
Kara said: "I agree with you. It's that you're so comfortable up there, I was starting to think wow, she thinks she's almost got this. It comes off a bit like that. But tonight you did, you loosened up a bit more. It wasn't your greatest vocal performance but it just shows when you walk out, you're just so comfortable. And it's easy to watch, it really is."
Simon said: "Crystal, when you said you were overthinking, what do you mean by that? I could feel that and the interesting think is that you came out here tonight 100% the clear favorite. And I think you chose a song which just didn't have what you needed, kind of the drama. And this is the first time where I think you were beaten by somebody , and that was Siobhan. I do. That's exactly what you've got to learn -- is that just when you think you've got the competition in the pocket, you've got to dig deep week after week. You've got to come on that stage and you've got to kill
Additional Notes: Crystal told Ellen was has been "thinking too much." "Well stop thinking, no one should think! Remember that kids!" Ellen replied. "I don't know, I've just got a lot on my mind," Crystal told Simon when he asked what she meant when she said she'd been overthinking things. Crystal also disagreed with Kara and Simon's suggestions that she's gotten overconfident that she'll win the competition. "I haven't thought that I've got the competition at all, that hasn't crossed my mind -- but thank you for saying it," she said. "No, but I think other people do," Simon replied.