"American Idol" is only an hour tonight? What am I going to do with my Tuesday night?! I have no idea! How am I going to write this recap during the commercial breaks when there's only one every five minutes instead of every three minutes? I have no idea!
1) Katie Stevens: "Breakaway" by Kelly Clarkson
Poor Katie Stevens. It was pitchy and you could tell she was just trying so hard to nail it. It's hard being set up as the golden child and then just not quite have the stuff to match up to it. And after listening to the judges' comments last week to go younger, you can tell she is floundering. She keeps thinking she's doing the right thing, but she's just not. I wish they would actually raise the age limit a bit to allow people to develop a little more -- for every Jordin Sparks or David Archuleta, there's 1,000 Katie Stevens.
2) Siobhan Magnus: "House of the Rising Sun" by The Animals
Hey, it's everyone's favorite audition song! I'm sure we heard it at least twice this year: ragey guy and soulful guy, right? I think it was Siobhan Magnus's best performance to date, but I'm in this odd place where she's so dang crazy during her interview segments that I would rather hear her talk than sing. They should put her on the judge panel next year in lieu of Paula Abdul. But that would be weird if she wins this thing - and after tonight, I think it's possible she might.
3) Lacey Brown: "The Story" by Brandi Carlile
Yes, I winced when they announced what song Lacey Brown was singing. Nooo nooo not the chorus with the shrill swoops and the yelling and nooo. But wait, they somehow arranged it so she didn't have to sing that big resounding omg part of the song? It felt like kind of a cheat - but it made her sound really good. I'm so conflicted. It was smart of Lacey to dodge the bullet, but do we reward people who "Matrix"-style duck their weaknesses? Hmm.
4) Katelyn Epperly: "I Feel The Earth Move" by Carole King
Let me get this out of the way: Katelyn Epperly was fine. She can sing. Oh, but the standing and the keyboard and the swirly background and the Forever 21 lederhosen she was wearing? It just screamed Ross's cheeseball obsession with the keyboard from "Friends." And Katelyn was so detached! I think she would have had more fun showing the audience the keyboard's sound effects. Kara DioGuardi was totally right: she didn't seem like she was competing. She seemed like a kid at a recital who was being made to do this by her parents.
5) Didi Benami: "Rhiannon" by Fleetwood Mac
Oh, you go Didi Benami - I really liked this. It suited her voice well and it's so interesting because she pretty much has the opposite tone of Stevie Nicks. Where Stevie is really rich and gravelly when she goes low, Didi has the same sort of grit when she goes high. Knocked it out of the park. (Taylor Swift, take note.) Oh, but Didi, stop crying. Own it.
6) Paige Miles: "Smile" by Charlie Chaplin
Eek, Paige Miles just sounded kind of out of breath and the pacing was off. Where did the vibrato come from? When did she ever sound so delicate and wavery before? And I too have weird associations with this song since Michael Jackson's funeral - maybe Paige was too close to it to come out and sing it on live TV in front of everyone? But I, um, liked her outfit?
7) Crystal Bowersox: "Give Me One Reason" by Tracy Chapman
For a second when Ryan introduced her, I thought "Crystal who?" Oh, that's right, Bowersox. Her last name suits her so much more. OK, you all know I think Bowersox can do no wrong. But this wasn't my favorite of hers - and I have a really obnoxious "AI" reason why: she sounds the same every week. She's the exact same kind of good every week. Maybe this show has given me the attention span of a gnat, but I'd like to see her do something by, like, David Bowie. I fear that she's also been given the Simon Cowell seal of approval. No complacency Bowersox! No complacency!
8) Lilly Scott: "I Fall To Pieces" by Patsy Cline
Overall, I thought Lilly Scott did good, but she didn't seem entirely comfortable singing the song. Her phrasing seemed a bit off? Apparently no one on the judging panel heard the same thing I did, or, as Simon did, they interpreted it as quirky. Lilly has another problem: there are about four other women on the show that could sing that song the exact same way. I know things don't get cutthroat until the Top 12, but if it looks like a problem now, just wait how apparent it's going to seem in a few weeks.
Who's gonna go? It's not a good night for the younger women. Oh, Paige, dangit. I had such hopes for you. No ballads! No ballads! And Katie was out of her depth - and she went on first, which is never a good slot for voter turnout.
Check back with Billboard after every "American Idol" performance night for our recap and predictions, and follow us on Twitter @billboarddotcom for our live blow-by-blow of each episode.
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