I cannot even tell you how much I was creeping on Twitter this afternoon trying to find out if Crystal Bowersox had been given the medical OK to perform. With about 10 minutes before showtime, Ryan Seacrest said she had been given the thumb's up - and there was much rejoicing. And she was up first!
1) Crystal Bowersox: "Long As I See The Light" by Creedance Clearwater Revival
So yeah, I was totally leaning up close to my TV screen to see if Crystal Bowersox looked sick. There is a dark, evil corner of my soul that wondered all along if this was a big publicity ploy. What can I say, I'm a jerk. I've decided she did look kind of wan - but damn, you could never tell she was sick from her voice. Girl can sing. I'm thrilled that she was able to perform - and I sense Team AI is too, especially since they went to the length of switching the guys and gals performance nights to accommodate her.
2) Haeley Vaughn: "The Climb" by Miley Cyrus
Oh Haeley Vaughn, it started out almost sorta vaguely pretty good - enthusiasm counts for a lot for me - but then, uh oh. I actually think the song choice was good, because it totally hit the demo for voters on this show. The one problem: it seemed like she really ran out of steam. There's a lot of glory notes in a row throughout and her pitch went way wacky. I agree with Kara DioGuardi - she just needs time and practice. And dang, her skirt was cute. (Gah, I sound like a judge. I'm complimenting the look when the performance sucked.)
3) Lacey Brown: "Kiss Me" by Sixpence None the Richer
I don't think I've ever thought this about a song before: but Lacey Brown's interpretation was really hurt by the fact that she enunciated the words. In the Sixpence version, Leigh Nash's vocals just come across as a pleasing murmur in front of the music. I thought Lacey, by comparison, sounded like she was trying really hard to remember the words, so she sang them phonetically. Like ABBA, or something.
4) Katie Stevens: "Put Your Records On" by Corinne Bailey Rae
Lovely job. Yeah, yeah, yeah Katie Stevens had some pitch troubles every now and then, but that's not an easy song to sing and she kept it charming. I do agree that maybe she needs to go a little younger still with her song choice and maybe, more importantly, less easy listening. Oh, how I winced when she couldn't name a single artist under 20 that she liked. Don't you think she would have done a great job on "The Climb"?
5) Didi Benami: "Lean On Me" by Bill Withers
Brooke White 2.0 - oh, sorry, Didi Benami - meowed her way through this. (I wrote that before Simon Cowell made his comments, so I'm keeping it in, people. I made the first claim.) She may have looked up what self-indulgent meant, but she obviously still doesn't quite understand. There was a lot of showing off going on up there, and I'm not quite convinced she had the basics of the song down. It just seemed pageanty and LOOK AT ME. GIVE ME A TEN. IGNORE THE LIPSTICK ON MY TEETH. But I liked her dress.
6) Michelle Delamor: "With Arms Wide Open" by Creed
Wow, Hinder one night and Creed the next. Now you see why I get paid for this. People, this performance is the lingering curse of Adam Lambert. Just because you can change up a song doesn't mean you should. I guess Michelle Delamor did a fine job, but I was just so distracted by the difference between her vocal style and the original that I never really got into it. And the last note was hurty.
7) Lilly Scott: "A Change Is Going To Come" by Sam Cooke
I liked this quite a lot - it all has to do with the tone of Lilly Scott's voice, which is fantastic and so interesting. I was constantly looking forward and anticipating how she would handle the next verse. And, maybe most importantly, Lilly Scott seems to know what songs will work for her despite having a voice that can't be easily categorized. It's going to be a tough fight between her and Bowersox.
8) Katelyn Epperly: "The Scientist" by Coldplay
Now, I thought this was a good example of changing up the song but not doing it in an obnoxious way. Katelyn Epperly seemed to realize that just by slowing it down and having a woman sing it would make an impact - Natasha Bedingfield aside. I could have done without that last note - it seemed out of place with how muted the rest of the performance was - but I get it: it's a TV show, you need drama.
9) Paige Miles: "Walk Away" by Kelly Clarkson
Paige Miles understands the key element to Kelly Clarkson's music: Kelly is fun. You should have fun performing it - and it looked like she totally did, even if it is meant to be bitter. And she shows that you don't have to get all arty and change up the song to make an impact. Sometimes it's just enough to be engaging on stage and sing it well. Smart girl for picking one of Kara DioGuardi's songs, as well, even if Kara called her on not quite picking up the anger of the song. Also: Shut up, Randy Jackson.
10) Siobhan Magnus "Think" by Aretha Franklin
Oh boy, this went shrill real quick. When Siobhan Magnus stayed in her middle range, it was fine, but those pops into the upper register just didn't work. Even the crazy note at the end? It was piercing. I also felt like the background singers drowned her out a little bit - and that's just not good when you're trying to hold the stage like Aretha. Aretha wouldn't put up with any competition on her turf, and neither should you, Siobhan.
God, it's a long night when Bowersox goes first.
So who's gonna go? I think Haeley's in trouble - but I have a soft spot for her, so I do hope if her time in the Idoldome is done that she auditions again next year. I also think Didi may not be around for longer than this week - it's the same critique I had of Todrick yesterday: she's becoming the contestant that sings great songs poorly.
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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