The Top 12 female semifinalists kicked-off American Idol's ninth-season live performance shows by singing Top 10 hits from Hot 100 chart.

Some semifinalists distinguished themselves from the rest by performing current or unique renditions, while others fell into the trap of delivering old or forgettable performances.

The following is Reality TV World's recap of the performance broadcast in the order which the 12 female semifinalists sang.  Also included are comments from each of the four judges -- Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, Kara DioGuardi and new American Idol judge Ellen DeGeneres -- as well as additional information about each performance.   

Wednesday night at 8PM ET/PT on Fox, the Top 12 male semifinalists will perform during a two-hour broadcast.  On Thursday night beginning at 8PM ET/PT, two male and two female semifinalists will be eliminated based on home viewer votes.

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

Song: "All Right Now" by Free

Simon said: "I think out of all the girls you have the best voice.  I genuinely do think that. Having said that, I wouldn't have chosen that song because it is a wedding singer-type song.  It's a cheap type of song.  I think tonight you could have come with something much more original and made a huge impression because you can really, really sing.  And I think it's about self-belief as well and you got to believe that you are a star.  So I think you're going to be fine, but you got to be really, really careful in your song selection."

Kara said: "I disagree with Simon.  I think that the song was actually brilliant because it's a rock song and you got to really put your soul into it, which is what you have, a lot of soul, with a lot of dynamics.  You showed that in the verse -- you slayed those verses.  My only criticism would have been the chorus, I think you could have done more with it.  But you got a ridiculous voice girl."

Randy said: I kind of agree with both of them in different sort of ways. I think the song wasn't the right choice for you because it's a group song to me, the chorus is a song-along chorus -- that's why she didn't do great in the chorus.  But you showed with that song [that] you got this powerful big voice dude, and what a way to jump it off, just to come out here and blow the doors off the thing with that big voice.  I think it was a great job."

Ellen said: "I agree and disagree with all of them, and I feel like to come on first -- I mean you've got to be so nervous to walk out and be the first one to sing.  You were so there, you were so present and I loved it.  You have such a great look and sounded fantastic and I did like the song.  In rehearsal I was kind of worried it was going to be a tough song but I thought you pulled it off, it was great."

Additional Info: Paige had to be sewn into her performance dress.  "I've been waiting to pee for like five hours," Paige told Ryan.

Ashley Rodriguez, a 22-year-old from Chelsea, MA

Song: "Happy" by Leona Lewis
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Kara said: "Big song.  Big song to take on, right?  Contemporary diva, our kind of Mariah Carey of this generation, Leona Lewis.  And there were some nice moments there where you went up and you hit those notes and they're not easy to do so I got to give you credit for taking on such a big song.   But there were definitely moments that weren't great and I think for you going forward -- which I think you will go forward -- I want to see you take on songs that we thing you wouldn't sing and do something different with them.  Because I think that's where we'll really start to see you shine."

Randy said: "Yeah, Kara is absolutely correct.  I mean you know, Simon's girl, Leona -- great song, great big vocal.  But -- and you did a good job with it but here's the problem, you're always going to be compared to those big singers.  So it didn't do well for you to say, 'Hey, I'm here, I'm Ashley, this is who I am, this is how I'm rocking it.'  I couldn't really see you in there.  I could see you doing a pretty good job of her but it wasn't really you."

Ellen said: "Yeah, I agree.  I love Leona and I think it's a great song, and it is predictable.  I'd like to see you just step out and do something that's a whole different vibe that we would be shocked by.  Because you're good, you're here, you're beautiful.. You have everything going for you so just try to step out -- just take a risk, do something that's just not safe."

Simon said:  "Look, this isn't going particularly well for you, is it?  I thought it was clumsy, your version.  I didn't like the arrangement, and I've got to tell you, if I'm being honest with you, I think you're going backwards from the very first time with met you.  I don't feel you as a contemporary recording artist, just [as] somebody who sings other people's songs not very well.  There was no originality there.  So I actually think you could be in trouble after tonight, I'm afraid after that.  Sorry."

Additional Info: Ashley is a huge Jordin Sparks fan and feels her Hollywood week performance of "Battlefield" was her "defining moment."

Janell Wheeler, a 24-year-old from Tampa, FL

Song: "What About Love" by Heart

Randy: "It wasn't my favorite song choice for you and I remember seeing you in Atlanta when I was watching this back. I actually like your voice, you've got a very different, interesting kind of voice.  To me the song kind just didn't work for you, because it's again, one of those huge songs.  It's hard to bring something different and unique and original to it, and you didn't quite do that.  But I still got vibes for you man, I like your voice."

Ellen: "I actually did like the song choice.  I love that song and I thought you did sing it very well.  I thought there were a couple of little notes that were off bit I thought that you moved easily on stage and you tried to get into it and tried to let go of the nerves.  I liked it, and I like you."

Simon: "Well no, you gave it 100% effort and probably delivered about 65%.  It's true.  It started out okay but then when you got excited and you thought it was going well for you -- and it wasn't going that well -- you started to go off key.  But actually there were moments in the song where I [did] like your voice.  It's like we keep saying over and over again, it's song voice.  And most importantly, it's trying to do something that makes you original.  But I think you're going to be okay, I think you're going to survive this week.  I do."

Kara: "I like you.  But I have to agree, the song was way too big for you.  That's Ann Wilson, one of the best rock vocalists ever.  And when you do a song like that it takes everything that's distinct about voice and it goes away.  And we heard that with the Estelle song, that distinct quality, but when you're hitting those notes like that it's so hard.  You lose that.  So think about that next time."

Additional Notes: Simon was booed by the studio audience after he said Janell had "probably delivered about 65%."

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

Song: "Fixing a Hole" by The Beatles

Ellen said: "I think that's what we're talking about.  I think we're talking about that kind of thing.  It's such a random song choice and you did such a great job with it and have such a distinctive voice.  You stand out because you're not like everybody else.  You have a great presence about you and have such a unique voice.  You sounded great I loved that.  I loved it."

Simon: "Yeah, I would say -- we've only had four contestants or whatever -- but definitely the best we've had so far.  Mainly because I actually felt that you sang this song because you liked the song and it portrayed you as an artist rather than choosing something that you think is going to get you through to the next round, which is really, really important.  I'm still not feeling much star power from you, and again that might just be because of nerves.  I mean there are a lot of people on the Internet doing exactly what you're doing at the moment.  but it was, as I said, the best so far so well done."

Kara: "You're believable. You come from your heart.  And I think the best thing you can do as an artist that's coming up is stand on a street and bust for money.  Because you're out there  for survival, you're trying to make money, you're trying to get people to like you, and you get to be a really good performer that way.  You feel at ease, and that's what I felt about this.  I could feel you were comfortable on stage and that came through in your performance and everyone is going to remember you tonight."

Randy: "You know what else, you know what I love -- and I don't think we've had a lot that on the show -- I love that you're kind of more like a real indy artist and you don't care what everyone else is thinking, what's fashionable, what's in, whatever.  And you know, last time we had a bunch of people that sounded like Duffy, that sounded like Lily Allen -- I think that's who you really are, it's not effected, so I love the honesty.  I thought it was great."

Additional Notes: "Last year, I was basically living out of my car and playing on the street," Lilly said during her introduction video before adding that she never thought she'd try out for American Idol.

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

Song: "Oh Darling" by The Beatles

Simon said: "Even though there were elements of that song where you were beginning to scream the song, and it was very messy, I actually like you.  There's something about you.  You're kind of quirky, interesting, good choice of song I thought.  Brave.  But you're going to need an awful lot of work.  But you know I like you a lot."

Kara said: "you know your voice very, very well.  You know exactly what your doing when you're up there.  You switching up the melodies and you're switching up your register and all that stuff.  You really know what you're doing and I can tell you've been singing a lot time.  And you really switched it up in a way that I thought improved the song, because I wouldn't have picked that song for you.  But you did it in a very unique way.  I don't think the makeover is helping you, I liked you natural.  Earthy.  I liked you a little bit more natural, you're a beautiful girl."

Randy said:  "I like it.  I think it's fine.  Listen, here's the thing that I really, really like about you.  I feel everyone today is all concerned and consumed with doing runs right, all these singers.  But you pay attention to the tone.  See that's the real artist singing -- the tone and the melody.  And that's what was great about that song and what you delivered and I just like you're whole vibe that like you switched it up from when you saw you [last].  I like the whole makeup thing.  Maybe next time don't do any but don't box yourself in because you definitely got a big voice.  I think you can go places and do stuff.

Ellen said: "I couldn't tell at first if you were pushing too hard and working too hard or that really was just natural for you sing that way, because there was a lot of personality in it right away.  But whatever it was, it was interesting to me and it made me want to pay attention to you.  And I think you have a great voice.  It's tough, the girls are all strong.  You have a great voice and I liked it a lot but it was little -- I felt like it was pushed, I don't know if it was right or not.  But you have an amazing voice."

Additional Notes: Katelyn wore a leather dress and red lipstick for her performance.  "I'm all over the place, I don't just dress natural all the time... I just decided tonight to make it a little more rock-ish," she told Ryan.

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

Song: "I Want to Hold Your Hand" by The Beatles

Kara said:  "From a technical standpoint there were some issues with that performance.  It was at times, it went all over the place, you didn't always hit the notes.  But what I can say about you is every time you take that stage you come and you have fun and everyone around you feels that.  You're very pure, you're coming from [the heart] right here, and that's why people get up and they want to hear you.  So you make up for what you can't do with your vocals.  So that's a plus, but you got to work on your technical abilities."

Randy said:  "You know what's funny, I mean Kara's right, what I love about you is that unpredictability, right.  The first time we saw you, you had this whole country thing going on, you did this Beatles song this time with the guitar -- I love all of that and you being 16 and being that bold.  but she's absolutely correct in another way.  The top of the vocals, when you hit those high notes, the sound is just not as pleasing as it could be.  Maybe dropping the key a little lower, maybe trying to sing the notes in different sort of way.  I know you're only 16 but I think there's great possibilities with you because your so bold.  But just try to get it all together in one package maybe next time, you know -- the vocals and everything."

Ellen said: "Well the fact that you're 16 and you have so much presence on stage -- you just shine.  I just love how -- and so I don't know technically, I enjoyed it and I think you have a great voice and just as someone who likes music I enjoyed it."

Simon said: "Haeley look, if I'm being honest with you I thought it was verging on terrible.  It was. You were like a wind-up doll that never stopped smiling throughout the song, and that's why the vocals were all over the place.  It was just for me a complete and utter mess.  and it's like you now trying to be -- like Randy said, one minute you want to be a country singer, now you want to be someone -- I don't know how you would describe hat you just did.  But it was a mess, it wasn't very good. 

Additional Notes: "I'm only saying what you're thinking," Simon added after the audience booed repeatedly during his comments.


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

Song: "Landslide" by Fleetwood Mac

Randy said:  "Let me first say it's an amazing song, great song written by Stevie Nicks.  I mean the Dixie Chicks had a great version of it too.  I just don't think it was the right song for you Lacey.  Honestly, I got to tell you, I thought that was terrible.  I thought it was pitchy all over the place, it just didn't suit your voice.  The kind of voice that you have, it just kind of was not right for you."

Ellen said: "Yeah, I'm sorry, you know I think you're better than that. So I think if you get a chance, if you're back again next week, there's -- I know you're better than that.  There were just some moments that you kind of got lost and I love that song too but I felt myself pulling for you like, 'Come on back on.'  I just didn't think it worked out.  but I like you and you're better than that."

Simon said: "I actually thought it was quite depressing, to be honest with you.  After about 15 seconds I was working out how much longer we've got to listen to this bull.  And worse than that it was kind of indulgent.  And I get the feeling with you that you are just trying to be an artist, you're trying to work out who you are and you haven't worked it out, you're listening to other people.  And it was just boring.  Sorry."

Kara said: "You usually hit those notes.  Especially when you go into falsetto with such ease and tonight it felt more forced.  And I do think it was the song.  I think something like 'Sixpence None the Richer,' 'Kiss Me,' The Sundays -- that's your vibe.  But I do hope that America gives you one more shot because I think there's some really good things about you that we didn't see tonight.[You're] a beautiful girl."

Additional Notes: Lacey said she choose "Landslide" because it is one of her favorites and she felt it spoke to her as a person.  She was surprised Simon felt it was boring.  "You can't come out with a full-on rock song every single time," she told Ryan.

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

Song: "Fallen" by Alicia Keys

Ellen said: "Now that was fantastic.  The only thing I would say for you -- and this is a compliment -- is it was safe just because it seemed so easy for you.  It's a hard song to sing but it seemed easy and I felt like you have more in you.  I think that you were great but I can see that you -- I don't know if it's nerves or the first night -- but I know that you can do better than that.  But it was still, I thought, amazing."

Simon said:  "Yeah, I think that you did very well.  You're a very, very professional singer, that's what you do.  So it sounded close to the original.  Not as good as the original.  There wasn't one moment in the performance where I thought, 'Wow.' So I think -- this is sounding like a broken record -- but it's just trying to do something with you that makes you different and that's what you got to work out.  But I think you've done enough to get through to the next round on that performance.  And you look fantastic by the way."

Kara: "You're very commercial-looking and when you hit it right it sounds great but there were moments that it wasn't great, I have to say. And I think that you are the kind of person that is going for that diva spot, [so] every time you step up on stage it's got to be technically immaculate.  And the other thing I want for you is to kind of become more unique and feel it more.  Believability is what I feel you lack a little bit of, but I think you have a lot of good things about you and you can get there.

Randy said: "Ellen's right, it was a tough song to do.  I mean Alicia, my god, you know what I'm saying?  But you actually did a pretty good job doing it and you do have more in you and I would just say you got a great voice, you got a great look -- all of that is hot and dope and cool.  But take some risks man, try jumping out of that comfort zone, show me something no one's shown me yet."

Additional Notes: None

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

Song: "The Way I Am" by Ingrid Michaelson

Simon said: "I think you are a good singer but here is my problem tonight -- there's too many people trying to sound like the same person, which is Adele and Duffy.  Shut your eyes and I could confuse you with three or four singers tonight.  And again, a bit indulgent.  I thought the song was dreary.  What I'm missing is a spark here, you know?  Something which excites me.  Because in the real world, that was actually again quite dull.  Although actually, taking that to one side, I do like you and I think you got a good voice."

Kara said:  "I agree and disagree with him.  I think the song is good, because it's a singer/songwriter type thing.  But I think while your voice has some derivative things, there are other people out there that sound like that, you at least made some changes to the original recording.  And that's what's showing you're creative, that you have more than just your tone -- that you actually can think like, 'Wow, I'm going to take it here and take a risk there.'  She is making some changes to the song.  It was a bit pitchy though."

Randy said: "I think my problem is, I think Simon hit on it earlier: 'But where's the star factor?'  I see no outward umpth, you know what I'm saying?  The song is cool, it's a nice song, I love the song, you sounded great singing it, but I see no star thing.  You're just so sleepy for me, you know what I mean?"

Ellen said: "Yeah, I think if you were doing a show and this was one song in a set that you were doing, I get it.  But for the song, the first night for you to reach out to millions of people to vote for you, it was -- and you do have a great voice, and you have a great look, and you know, everybody's great, you're on the Top 24.   But for that first impression I thought it was just a little low key.  But you're great."

Additional Notes: Simon interrupted Kara's comments to say that risks aren't any good unless they result in the memorable performance.  "No one is going to remember that," he said

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

Song: "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak

Kara said: "Wouldn't have picked it but I have to say I kind of liked you on that song.  You're a quirky girl and it gets a little nasal at times, I've always kind of said that.  But what I like about you is you're really in the moment when you're singing, you're just there and you're going for it, and it feels real and I can feel that connection.  And that's what sets you apart in some ways from everyone else tonight.  That you're living it and breathing it out on that stage.  So for me, I'd say pretty good.  Hard song.

Randy said:  "Definitely a tough song.  You know, listen the thing is when we saw that clip and you were singing Stevie Wonder I was like, 'Yo, oh my god!'  I remember how you got these big pipes, you can sing, this girl can blow, it's great.  And then you come and you do this kind of serious song.  when you hit the second verse and you started opening up your vocals, I was like, 'That's the girl that I personally really, really liked.'  You've got a great voice, I would always play to that and I would even reach for bigger things for you, as opposed to smaller things like this kind of a song."

Ellen said: "I loved it.  I thought for a minute I forgot we were in a singing competition and I was just being entertained.  I loved how mysterious you were walking around the stage, I loved that song.  I thought it was a great song choice and I loved how deep you started with it.  I really liked it a lot.  I really did."

Simon said: "Well, you really are a funny little thing, aren't you?  I guess we just don't know what you're going to do each time.  I liked the song, I didn't love the song.  I didn't think it was anywhere near as good as the Stevie Wonder song you sang in the Hollywood round, I thought that set you apart.  You looked more enthusiastic, more memorable.  It's a very, very dark song and it might be because you're a very dark person, I don't know.  I mean you're blowing glass all day on your own, that kind of would make you dark I guess."

Additional Notes: "Randy pointing out that when we first saw you, you could blow.  I think we realized that because she's an apprentice," Ryan joked afterwards about Siobhan's apprentice glassblower occupation.

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

Song: "Hand In My Pocket" by Alanis Morissette

Randy said: "You know what, you're one of my favorites and one of my favorites tonight for a bunch of reasons.  I love your originality as an artist, I love that you come out you're wearing the harp, it puts me in the mind of like Springsteen, Dylan, Melissa Etheridge -- all those people.  I just love honesty.  I'm not even sure this was the right song for you but this was one of the times for me where it doesn't matter what the song is.  Like I like you, I just like what you do.  I like that honesty.  I like that you're going to do your thing no matter what we're doing, what you're wearing, what's going on.  So I'm a fan."

Ellen said: "I too am a fan of yours and I think we are lucky that you decided to audition for Idol and be here because you add something fresh to the show.  And if I'm at home watching I'm voting for you because I want to see more of you."

Simon said: "Look, it was good, we like you, love your little baby, like your story.  [But] the truth is there are thousands of you doing this outside subway stations every day at the moment.  Because if I met you in real life [and] heard that I wouldn't stop in my tracks and go, 'You are the most original artist I've ever heard.'  You wouldn't.  That's the truth and here lies the problem -- you doing an Alanis Morissette song is that you're doing a sound-alike.  You've got to do something that is you not trying to sound like somebody else.  What I'm saying is you could choose anything, a David Bowie song, anything, and make it your version.  And that's why when people have done really well on the competition that's what they've done, they've done something that nobody else has done before.  There are tens of thousands of girls in your position who've done that song before.  Having said that I'm trying not to be over critical because I really, really like you and I think you're refreshing.  You're going to do well."

Kara said: "You were good tonight.  I think you have greatness in you though, and I've seen moments of it in the past when you really build that performance.  You have that ability to kind of take us on a journey when you're singing .  I didn't see it as much tonight but you have it in you.  And the other thing, I think what he's talking about, is to not just be a coffeehouse performer.  To bring it out, to fill the stage with that uniqueness that you already have.  But there's no doubt in my mind that you're going to be here next year -- next week, not next year, next week.  And next year!"

Additional Notes:  During her pre-performance video, Crystal admitted she never really watched past seasons of American Idol.  "I didn't really feel like this was the thing for me.  The major thing that made me change my mindset and tryout for the show was my son.  Time to step it up, Momma needs a bigger paycheck.  I want to make sure my kid's got everything he needs and that's really the only reason I'm here."  After hearing his feedback, Crystal agreed with Simon's suggestion.  "David Bowie would be fun," she said.  "Yeah, that's a good idea Simon," Randy added.

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

Song: "Feeling Good" by Michael Buble

Ellen said: "I gotta say, I feel like it was good -- it was great, you have a great voice, a very powerful voice.  But you're 17 and I felt like it was very conservative, it wasn't -- you know, and it's a serious song it's a very intense song.  But I want to see you be 17, I want to see you play and be current and be fresh and modern.  And I just felt it was a little, you know, old for you.  But that being said, you were great.  I just want you to be 17 and younger."

Simon said: "I absolutely, totally agree with Ellen on that.  It was like your mom and dad had dressed you and given you the song for this audition.  So it started to become annoying.  It's true.  It's just that I've heard this kind of performance so many times. And the point is, as Ellen said, you're 17-years-old, you've got a good voice, you're got to become like a young recording artist, not somebody who is going to sing at your mum's birthday party.  That's the problem.  Very pageanty."

Kara said: "I think if you killed the song we wouldn't be saying that.  My problem here is I think you couldn't hear yourself, because I've never heard you be pitchy.  And you were kind of  all over the place and that's not like you.  But at the end of the day, you have a natural gift.  I mean you have ridiculous chops and I hope that America gives you another shot, because when you go back and listen to this you're going to be like, 'Wow, I was not in key, something was up.'"

Randy said:  "To pick up with Kara said, what it really was -- specifically -- you were pushing so hard that all the notes were going sharp.  It was a little higher above the note.  But listen, you've got a big voice, I think that you're a great talent.  You remind me a little bit of Jordin Sparks, she had that big old voice at a young age.  You got a huge voice and they're all right, it was just too old for you.  Young it up, be 17.  You can only be 17 once"

Additional Notes:  "Definitely.  I completely agree, I know what they're saying," Katie said when Ryan asked her if she thought she could embrace what the judges were saying.

(Photo credit Michael Becker/ FOX) About The Author: Steven Rogers
Steven Rogers is a senior entertainment reporter for Reality TV World and been covering the reality TV genre for two decades.