American Idol's Top 7 ninth-season finalists took to the stage during last night's live performance episode broadcast on Fox.

This week's theme was inspirational songs in conjunction with the third Idol Gives Back fund-raising special, which will benefit the Children's Health Fund, Feeding America, Malaria No More, Save the Children's U.S. Programs and the United Nations Foundation. The musical mentor was Alicia Keys.

The following is Reality TV World's recap of the performance broadcast in the order which the Top 7 finalists 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 during the special two-hour Idol Gives Back broadcast, which begins at 8PM ET/PT, one finalist be eliminated based on home viewer votes cast immediately following last night's broadcast.

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

Song: "Don't Stop" by Fleetwood Mac

Randy said: "It was a good performance. It wasn't your best performance, because I feel like every week we kind of see the same thing from you. I understand that's who you are, but we're just looking for something a little more special. Step out of that comfort zone a little bit, give me something else. I know you're the bluesy/rock guy, but give me a little something else -- something different."

Ellen said: "Great guitar playing, I'll start off with that. I have to be a little tougher now. We're getting to that point where you have to be great. Someone's going to go home every single week, and you have to be consistently good. But I don't think anybody's going to be talking about that tomorrow. I think you have to be great right now, and it wasn't great."

Kara said: "Casey, what's so difficult with you is [Casey's Top 9 performance two weeks ago of 'Jealous Guy'] -- you were amazing, You were sensitive, you showed vulnerability, you showed your range. Then you come out tonight and it's like a jam band. It's like, 'Ah! Watch me, I can play!' But that's not showing us what makes you different. You made yourself like everyone else tonight, and I'm so frustrated about that. But I still believe in you."

Simon said: "I'm just amazed that you chose that song because the theme this week is inspirational songs. That wasn't particularly inspiring. Zero emotion. As everyone said, you just stood there playing your guitar again, sang the song pretty much like the original -- which meant there was no originality. So I actually thought it was a lazy song choice."

Additional Notes: Casey responded to the judges after their comments. "I'm not surprised," he said. "I wouldn't have picked a lazy song. I love the song. I love Fleetwood Mac."

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

Song: "The Boxer" by Simon & Garfunkel

Randy said: "You may not even realize this, but I'm probably one of your biggest fans up here. You know why? Because I think this season, the show's really different and it's really about artists this year. I think that you are a great artist ready to make great music, and I think you're going to have a big career. Very nice job."

Ellen said: "Beautiful song choice, beautiful song choice. You have so much soul and depth to you that we're seeing more and more of -- and that's what I'm talking about. We're seeing better and better from you, which is surprising because I already think you're great. Best performance by far, I think."
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Kara said: "I think that Simon said a few weeks back you had your moment, but I think you had it tonight with that performance. I also think that it shows clearly the difference when somebody feels connected to a song and performs it, and when they don't. My advice to you is keep picking things you feel connected to, because it takes you to another level."

Simon said: "Even though we're only two in, that was the best of the night. (laughing) It's kind of a bit early to say that. But the difference between you and the first performance is staggering. That was sincere, it was emotional, it was inspirational. I've never been a massive fan of that song, but you actually made it sound as if it was written a week ago. That is so important. I thought that was absolutely brilliant. Good for you."

Additional Notes: Lee said during the week, he talked to Andrew Garcia -- his close friend in the competition who was booted during last Wednesday night's double elimination. "I know he's got my back always," said Lee.

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

Song: "Better Days" by Goo Goo Dolls

Randy said: "For me, this song was an interesting choice for you. Goo Goo Dolls are a great band, that guy is an amazing singer, but it was just kind of okay, good karaoke for me. You didn't do anything with it. It just kind of laid there and it sounded okay."

Ellen said: "Tim, for me you're like the soup of the day. Sometimes I like the soup, and sometimes I don't like the soup. I've liked your soup -- I have -- but today I didn't like the soup. I'm sorry."

Kara said: "Tim, you finally found your lane, you're in it. But it's kind of a new Tim from what we were used to. I think this is where you belong, but it wasn't the best execution. But you still got something and at times sound very commercial. But it wasn't your best performance."

Simon said: "I think Tim if this had been the very, very first time we'd seen you, I think we'd be quite impressed. You've got to remember, it was only three weeks ago that you were jumping all over the place to 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love.' So I'm finding it quite difficult to believe this. Last week I did, this may have been a step too high for you this week in terms of actually believing in the performance. Having said that, you have improved over the weeks. But it was a little bit of a let down."


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

Song: "I Believe I Can Fly" by R. Kelly

Randy said: "You picked a giant, giant song. The arrangement was a little funny, a little strange for me. But I'll tell you what man. You've got a huge voice. You definitely have pure vocal talent and I think you did a good job with such a giant song."

Ellen said: "Aaron, there was a brief time in the 70s that I believed I could fly. (laughing) I believe you can fly and you're on your way. You have a big voice and that was a tough song to take on. I think you handled it real good.  Real good."

Kara said: "Aaron, watching that was like taking off. It was like [making noises like struggling to take off] but then it was down the runway and you hit it and you started flying. That's exactly what it was like for me. By the end, it was like, 'Alright, he got there.'"

Simon said: "I think we kind of have to judge this in two parts -- which is knowing you, liking you, and having the guts to take on a song like that. You really gave it your all. Then in the real world, if we heard that on the radio, I would have turned it off within 10 seconds. It wasn't very good. But you kind of made it quite good... ['The end was good,' interjected Kara, and Randy agreed.] Well, yeah. I liked the end."

Additional Notes: Prior to his performance, Aaron said he was worried about letting the song intimidate him. Aaron also said he first sang that song when he was 5-years-old at his preschool graduation.

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

Song: "When You Believe" by Mariah Carey & Whitney Houston

Randy said: "You probably picked arguably the toughest song of the night by two amazing singers --  Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. I mean amazing stylized singers. I don't know why you picked it. It was just okay for me."

Ellen said: "I disagree. That's just more confirmation why you're here."

Kara said: "Technically, it may have been really well song. But my problem is it's not a musical. It started to feel very dramatic. If I was listening to the show week to week and listening to your responses, I'm starting to feel like I'd want to hang out with you more than buy your record because I still don't know who you are."

Simon said: "I agree with Randy. I don't think that was the right song for you. I thought the arrangement was very old fashioned. Too much happened too quickly. The leaves distracted me on the close ups... Oh are they butterflies? They look like leaves. I just found the whole thing just kind of a bit odd, just kind of a bit all over the place really. It's a shame."

Additional Notes: Siobhan explained her song selection after the judges' comments. "I didn't want who the song is by to scare me away from doing it because I love the song," she said. "To have the opportunity to be here and sing this song that I know has touched me very deeply before and the meaning of it is why I'm here right now."

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

Song: "Hero" by Chad Kroeger featuring Josey Scott

Randy said: "Honestly, I was really a little worried about this song choice for you because some of these songs that are band songs are more about music than they are about really vocals. But you held your own with it. It worked out."

Ellen said: "We're short on time, so I'll just say I thought you did a great job with it."

Kara said: "I'm sorry Mike, it wasn't my favorite performance. I thought you did not cut through. You don't have the tone for that voice and it was all over and the song became unrecognizable. Sorry."

Simon said: "I think you sang it pretty well Mike. But once again, to remind us, the theme tonight is inspirational songs and that was about Spiderman wasn't it? ['No, it's about being a hero,' replied Mike.] But it was from Spiderman. That's kind of what bothered me is it felt a little bit artificial to me. Compared to last week, where I thought you were sensational, this kind of just didn't quite gel for me. But I still think you're going to be around next week."

Additional Notes: "Spiderman's a hero too. I like Spiderman," said Mike after the judges' comments. "I like Spiderman too," agreed Simon.

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

Song: "People Get Ready" by The Impressions

Randy said: "I've been a fan since Day 1. That is how you do it. That was unbelievable. I've got to give you the standing."

Ellen said: "You have never looked more beautiful. You just get more and more beautiful. You keep evolving and growing and getting better and better. That was so beautiful."

Kara said: "Crystal, thank you so much for taking a risk and putting your guitar down.

Simon said: "That was inspirational. And you know what Crystal? I'm actually -- in a strange way -- happy to see you emotional because you have kind of closed down a little bit. All of us felt that this song meant a lot to you. You sang it fantastically. For me, it was in a completely different class to everything else we heard tonight."

Additional Notes: This was the first time this season that Crystal performed without an instrument. Crystal broke down in tears as she sang the last line of the song.  "My dad's here," she explained after the judges' comments. "This is the first time he's been here. I saw my dad and was like, 'Thank the Lord for my family.'"
About The Author: Christopher Rocchio
Christopher Rocchio is an entertainment reporter for Reality TV World and has covered the reality TV genre for several years.