American Idol's ninth-season Top 8 female semifinalists made their final push for the season's finals during Tuesday night's Fox broadcast.

Prior to their performances, the Simon Cowell tried to reiterate the night's importance to American Idol host Ryan Seacrest.

"I would say this is probably the worst night to go because you're so close.  If you go on this particular performance week it's bad," Simon said

"So the stakes are high," Ryan replied.

"The highest they've ever been," Simon noted.

"Okay, I think it I said it simply," Ryan quipped.

"Yeah, but I said it with believability," Simon said.

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

Tonight, the Top 8 male semifinalists will also perform, and then the season's final two male and two female semifinalists will be eliminated on Thursday night based on home viewer votes cast immediately following this week's performance episode broadcasts. 

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

Song: "Breakaway" by Kelly Clarkson

Randy said: "We say this a lot on the show over the last couple of seasons -- when the song is too big for you and all that -- and I think Kelly Clarkson is one of the greatest contestants we've ever had, that's one of my favorite songs ever written in the modern times.  It paled in comparison, it was almost like karaoke to me.  Like she's so good and so stylized that it just didn't work for me.  I don't know, I didn't get it.  It wasn't great."

Ellen said: "Well first of all, I love that you took our note.  You took a young song [this week] and that was really important.  I think that was a great song choice, that was the right song for you to sing, I think.  And you have a great voice.  [But] you know you're young so I didn't feel those words, I didn't feel you "breaking away," "taking a risk," "making a chance."  I think all those words that you were singing, you were singing but you weren't feeling, and it's about personality.  It's a singing competition but let's see some personality as well.  And I didn't see it, but I thought it was the right song choice."
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Kara said: "You have a great radio voice.  You do, I could hear you on the radio.  I think what's going on this year is we have people who really know themselves and people who don't.  And I don't think you know who you are yet as an artist, and that's what we're really seeing from week to week is your stumbling and trying to figure it out.  But you can't deny that you have talent and that the sound of your voice is almost years older than you and you need that experience.  Simon talks about that sometimes and you'll get it.  I don't want to fault you for it because you're young, but the singing needed to be perfect tonight in order to stand out and it just wasn't sweetie."

Simon said: "I think this has been very confusing for you because you're had an awful lot of advice and to be fair you're taken the advice.  You look a 100% better than you did two weeks ago [and] you've chosen a young song.  I think your issue is that you haven't worked out what kind of artist you want to be.  If we were starting again with you I would have suggested a different type of song, and the problem was that the second half of the song didn't go as it should have done and you kind of sucked the energy out of it a little bit and made it a little bit gloomy.  But I've got to give you 10 out of 10 for trying, because you really have taken the advice and done something with it."

Additional Notes: After listening to the judges' comments, Katie said she had felt the song and does know what kind of artist she wants to be.  "I do live in a small town and I am trying to break away from that and that song did mean a lot to me... and the is the kind of artist I want to be," she said.

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

Song: "House Of The Rising Sun" by The Animals

Randy said: "You know I'm already a fan, right?  You come out every week [and] surprise us.  That was different, it started off in this somber note   I love what you do because you take every risk, every chance and I really feel we say some really cool stuff to you and we try and help and guide you but I don't think you listen to us at all.  Keep doing that because it's hot!"

Ellen said: "You are why I love music, because it's supposed to move you, it's supposed to do what you just did to me.  I was captivated, I loved what you did with the song.  You made it current and you're spectacular."

Kara said: "I love the a capella vibe at the front, that was a brilliant choice.  To just come out and sing it straight up.  And the thing about you is you are so unique and different.  Week to week I'm surprised by you and I think for someone who is kind of an unlikely character on the show you're doing great.  I really liked it tonight."

Simon said: "I wasn't quite such a fan of that.  I thought from the interview beforehand to the performance to what you're wearing it was all a bit weird.  If this was the first time I had seen you I would have real doubts after hearing that and seeing that.  Because you didn't do anything with the song, different.  I was under impressed.  I thought you were so much better last week where you had that really cool moment.  There was no moment in that, it was just all a bit ploddy and a bit boring.  A bit dark."

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

Song: "The Story" by Brandi Carlile

Randy said: "The song was definitely a little boring and I love Brandi Carlile, love the song, it was just a little sleepy, right. But it's your best performance for me in a long time so congrats!  Big old props and congrats on that.  I was sitting here and thinking I'd forgotten that you had that break in your voice... it was very cool, very cool."

Ellen said: "I agree with Randy, it was your best performance to date.  I thought that song sounded like something that was written for you or you wrote yourself.  It was a perfect song choice and you have such a distinctive voice, I thought it was really good."

Kara said: "Performance like this are why you got here.  Effortless singing.  Reaching different places in and out of your register, your voice straight, front and center.  This is the kind of record you need to be doing.  I thought it was a brilliant choice and you're back on your path, you really are."

Simon said: "Yeah, I have to say, I didn't love -- love -- the song, but you sang it really, really well.  That to me was like listening to something on the radio.  And where you're very good is you know where the cameras are, how to look.  It feels like you're been doing this a long time.  I still, for me, haven't heard the right song connection yet.  Because this is in danger of being forgotten."

Additional Notes: Randy and Kara both disagreed with Simon's closing comment.  "I think it was this," Kara said.

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

Song: "I Feel The Earth Move" by Carole King

Randy said: "Let me tell you the positive things for me.  I like the Carole King hair, you're playing the Wurlitzer, it's kind of cool.  It's a great song, I just didn't feel the right connection, the vibe.  And I didn't feel like that song and her had anything to do with you.  It all kind of felt very put on for me, almost.  There was nothing special about it.  You sang it fine -- it was a little kind of sleepy, a little boring.  I don't know."

Ellen said: "As Simon said, this is where we're getting down to the Top 12 and I don't know that that was the song to choose to kind of wow people with.  You have a great voice, you have a great look, you're adorable and you have everything going for you.  I don't know if that's going to be the thing that's going to make people pick up the phone and dial... it just wasn't enough."

Kara said: "I didn't feel like you were competing tonight on that stage, in a way.  I just felt like you were going through the motions and Carole King is one of the most connected performers.  Somebody who is just in it, I mean in the zone.  And I thought you had more of that last week and I was missing that from you.  I just felt like you were not even really playing and I don't know what happened.  Do you know?"

Simon said: "Let me start with the positive: I like your hair.  I'm an optimistic person.  On the downside, it was kind of like request night on a Friday night in a restaurant if you were working there.  Someone asked for a Carole King song, you stand up, sing it quite well, perform it quite well.  But as KAra just said, on what is arguably the most important night of your career, you chose quite a simple song.  Didn't do anything special with it.  And I think other people look as if they are trying harder, so this may have been a mistake for you tonight."

Additional Notes:  Katelyn told Kara she was just trying to be "less corny."  "Maybe I was just going the wrong route," she explained.  "I was just trying to perform, I wasn't trying to worry about the cameras this time and stuff so maybe it looked like I wasn't caring.... [but] I definitely care."

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

Song: "Rhiannon" by Fleetwood Mac

Randy said: "It was definitely a whole lot better than last week, that's for sure.  At least for me.  I'm not sure there was a 'Wow' moment in it but I'd like to hear you sing again and I think this is the reason you are here -- I think that's the person we fell in love with in the first place.  I don't know if it's the best you can do but it was definitely a lot better."

Ellen said: "Yes indeed-y Didi, that's what I say to that!  What I love is you were torn apart last week and then you get back up here and you're smiling and you're singing.  I thought that was a lovely performance.  I was nervous when I saw you were singing that song... but I liked what you did with it.  And no matter even if you win this competition, you're always going to be torn apart by somebody.  Everybody has opinions so you have to get back up and sing again and I thought good job."

Kara said: "One of my favorite moments of the show so far this season.  When I saw you were picking that song I was like 'Oh my god, she's out of her mind!'  It just goes to show you no matter what song you pick, song choice is important but sometimes you can come along and surprise us by what you bring to the song and how much you make it yours.  And what I fell in love with you doing on 'Terrified' you did to that song. so I have to congratulate you.  It really was one of my favorite moments."

Simon said: "I have to agree with Kara.  I thought that was head and shoulders above anything else we've heard tonight.  I think for the first time -- certainly since these live shows -- you've proved that you're an artist.  And I think Randy, I'm going to disagree, I think she did have a 'Wow' moment and the 'Wow' moment was actually the whole performance.  Because it was really well balanced and I loved then end and I thought it was a brilliant choice of song.  Like Ellen said, to come back after getting mauled last week -- big shoulders, great song, got yourself together, well done."

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

Song: "Smile" by Nat King Cole

Randy said: "Listen, that's one of my favorite song of all time.  I love that song, it just didn't work.  The song is way too big for you, I mean you got to be so on your game to sing that.  The melody is so important, it switches.  And then it turned into a bossa nova with the band.  I felt like looking at Simon, and Ellen, and Kara and saying 'We're at a banquet, are you guys going to have the chicken, the beef, or the shrimp tonight?'  I mean it just went completely flat, it didn't work at all."

Ellen said: "Yeah, that song is supposed to be inspiring, it's supposed to be uplifting.  And it was just sad and heavy, instead of what all the words are.  You have such a great personality and we didn't get to see it, and we keep saying over and over 'This is the time to shine!'  This is the time to show us who you are and I don't think that was the right song for you to choose.  Sorry."

Kara said: "I mean what can I say, they've said it.  It was all wrong, it really was.  Tonight was not the night to do that.  Do you know it was wrong?  When you were up there, it felt like you knew in the middle that maybe this wasn't the best choice."

Simon said: "I'm just going to repeat what everybody else said.  I mean it was just a horrible choice of song.  The arrangement, to be fair, was just awful.  IT was the sort of thing you'd hear in the Holiday Inn in 1974.  I call these performances 'peanut performances' because normally people are just at the bar eating peanuts while you're singing a song like that and nobody is paying attention.  It's such a shame, because you had so much potential.  Because you really have got a great voice.  But the problem is, as we've seen with a lot of people, you're got no idea who you are, what kind of artist you should be.  So I think you've made some bad decisions this week unfortunately, and I think this could be the end of the road."

Additional Notes:  Paige seemed unsure how to respond to Kara's question.  "No, it's just, I kind of had -- it seemed emotional so.  Yeah," she replied.  "I love this song."

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

Song: "Give Me One Reason" by Tracy Chapman

Randy said: "This is what the show is about for me.  Loved that, loved you.  Love the song.  Love the honesty.  I mean, I'm a fan.  I'm a fan.  That was hot.  Hot."

Ellen said: "I need new adjectives for you, I'm sick and tired of saying you're amazing.  I don't know what else to say about you but 'Best performance of the night.'"

Kara said: "This is what we talk about when people know who they are.  Every time you step up there it's easy for you because you know and you just know what to do.  And that actually is a great song choice.  It's more contemporary and it's kind of what you would be doing on your record it feels like.  So now I'm starting to see what the record is that you're making, and that is when I get really excited."

Simon said: "You are one million billion percent going to be in the Top 12 next week.  I would say definitely the most improved artist.  Because what you've got now is that you've got confidence, and I can see that.  You start to believe in yourself, and right now you are the one everyone has to beat, I'm telling you.  It's yours to lose."

Additional Notes: Randy seconded Ellen's "best performance" comment.  "By far," he added.

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

Song: "I Fall to Pieces" by Patsy Cline

Randy said: "Listen, loved the mandolin, love that song, loved the original singer of that song.  I think it was hot tonight.  Listen, I like you, I think you're in the zone right now.  So good job, well done.  Well done."

Ellen said: "Yep, love your voice, love your originality, your style and loved it.  Love you."

Kara said: "I don't know how you did it but you kind of made Patsy Cline feel current.  Feel like it was contemporary.  So I got to give it to you for that."

Simon said: "I think you're very brave for choosing that song on a night like this.  What it didn't have unfortunately, being you've got the last spot, that didn't have the 'Wow' factor.  It was cute, it was quirky, it places into what you're all about.  But that could have been a risky thing to do, funny enough."
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.