Tuesday saw the first performance of the American Idol Top 12 – boys and girls together – and to kick it off in style and give it a bit of a rock edge it was Rolling Stones night!
It was inevitable that rock chick Crystal Bowersox, who Simon has already branded “the one to beat” would, well, knock the socks off the competition – and she didn’t disappoint, but in a surprise move Siobhan Magnus came out of the gate and raced ahead, garnering rave reviews from all the judges and even getting rare praise from Simon, who called her the “standout performance of the night”.
First off for the night, and getting the show off to a good start, was Michael Lynche, singing Miss You. Michael shared a moving home life story, explaining that it was the dbeloved mom’s death . Michael received mainly positive reviews from the judges, with the exception of Simon who commented, “I thought the performance at times, particularly your dancing, was kind of corny. It was verging at times a tiny bit desperate.” Randy raved though, “It reminded me how great a performer you’ve become. You slayed them. Way to start the show!” Ellen chimed in, “What’s not to love about that Mike? At some point I’m going to be disappointed, but not yet. Good, good, good.” And Kara weighed in, “You’ve got to fill up that stage, you delivered attitude and swagger. You were hot on stage.”
First awkward moment of the night was when Ryan Seacrest faced up to Simon Cowell and demanded he “help Mike out” and tell him what part he thought was corny. Ryan walked right up to the judges’ desk, forcing Simon to move back his chair and tell Seacrest, “Back off now, back off.” As usual, it all ended in jest with Simon quipping to Ryan, “We can sort this out later in my trailer.”
Next up, Didi Benami showed us her home in Los Angeles, saying she moved there four years ago from her home in Knoxville, TN. Didi shared that she was the middle sister of three girls, and that she was always the “artistic dreamy one”. Didi said, “I’m actually the person that pushes myself the most in my family” before going on to perform her version of Play With Fire. Randy raved, “I think for the first time for me in weeks, you are on fire tonight. That was one of your best performances.” Ellen commented, “You have an amazing voice, you lost your way but you got right back in the song.” Kara wasn’t quite sure, saying, “I think sometimes when you push on your vocals you lose your way a bit. But I like your intensity. For me It was 2 steps in the right direction. You are moving towards who you are as an artist.” Simon pretty much summed it up with, “You are beginning to show us who you want to be. I have been a fan of yours for the last 2 or 3 weeks and again it was a very solid but not brilliant performance.”
Kara’s cougar favorite, Casey James, grew up in an “itty bitty town” called Cool in Texas. Casey’s mom said that when he was a baby he was very sick and the doctor told her he would be brain damaged and never speak. She went on to say that she knew that wasn’t the case when she heard him singing in his crib. Obviously close, Casey admitted, “I wouldn’t be where I am today without my family.” Casey nailed his take on All Over Now. Three of the judges were in agreement with their praise, Randy said, “I’m excited about this. I loved it, you are back to the artist I loved, I loved it. You are back for me.” Ellen agreed, jokingly saying, “Most women, their hearts are racing right now, but then for women like me…..blonds…I thought it was fantastic.” Kara raved, of course, “Tonight you were a rock star. It had a country kinda twang but it had blues and soul and that is what I have missed from you. This was your best performance since we met.” Simon though begged to differ, “I actually don’t agree with that. For me that was like an audition performance. You’ve got to push yourself, it has to be more than that. Just be a star”
Lacey Brown told America she’s from Amarillo, TX, and that she comes from a very supportive family. Lacey, whose dad is a pastor, said, “The church has had a big impact on me musically.” Her dad said she’s always been shy so it’s amazing to see his daughter “up there on the stage, looking into the cameras and performing.” Unfortunately though, Lacey wasn’t so lucky with the praise tonight. She gave a lack luster rendition of Ruby Tuesday that garnered her lukewarm reviews from all of the judges. Randy said, “I wasn’t jumping up and down about it vocally, it wasn’t a wow moment but you kind of held it together.” Ellen commented, “You like to sit on the edge of things, don’t go to the Grand Canyon. It was a tiny bit sleepy for me. But I’m a fan of yours.” Kara agreed, “It was 50-50 for me. Hearing your voice up there is great. But there were some issues where you didn’t hit the notes right. You can do better. You could of put more into it.” Simon got straight to the point, as usual, “You perform like an actress. Everything is really, really precise. Nothing wrong with the vocals, the song was OK. You need to stop over thinking this, and let yourself go a bit.”
Andrew Garcia talked about how he grew up around gangs, and how his parents never had any money when he was young. He went on to say that one day he “just picked up a guitar, I wanted to known for something but I never thought I wanted to be a singer.” Andrew kept the mixed reviews coming with his performance of Gimme Shelter. Randy said, “I love the song, I love the Stones and I love you but it was pitchy everywhere, man, it was pitchy everywhere..” Ellen disagreed, raving, “What do I know? I think it was your best performance yet. I loved it.” Kara was undecided, commenting, “There were elements that we heard what we have been missing. I wanted to feel what you were talking about. I felt it at times but most of the time I didn’t. The connection bothered me the most out of that performance. I wanted more intensity.” Awkard moment of the night number 2 followed with a fight between Kara and Simon over the intenstity of Andrew’s performance and of the Rolling Stones. In the end Simon was also undecided though, saying, “I am in the middle. You gave it 100% but my gut is you were better in rehearsals than tonight. I genuinely hope you survive another week.”
Katie Stevens took America home to Middlebury in Connecticut, Katie said when she was younger she was “very shy and couldn’t perform in public” something her mom disagreed with, even dragging out an old clip of Katie at 4 performing at her uncle’s wedding! Katie, who has been accused of not being “young enough” chose Wild Horses, and it turned out to be a wise choice. Randy praised her, “It is a great song if you sing it well it’s all good all the time. I actually thought you sang that really well. A couple of pitch issues but you corrected them. It was a really strong performance.” Ellen said, “I thought it started a bit pitchy but sounded good once you got into it, great song, good choice, good choice.” Kara conceded,”It is never technically perfect with you but it was better than last week, it definitely was.” And even Simon gave a, mainly, positive review, “I would say this is the only week you have chosen a very strong song. I didn’t like the second half of the arrangement because I think you lost the emotion. But it’s the first time I think you connected with a song, you made a difference and you gave it 100% Well done.”
Tim Urban murdered his version of Under My Thumb, getting a thumbs down from all the judges. Before performing Tim confessed that he was one of ten kids, and that his sisters used to dress him as a little girl. Tim said growing up in such a large family means he “will always be part of an Urban family, but it would be awesome to be known as Tim Urban, away from that.” But after his beyond weird performance it doesn’t look likely….Randy commented, “I didn’t get that dude. It was very bizarre. The whole Reggae version of that. It didn’t serve your vocals well. I didn’t like it.” While Ellen quipped, “I’m going to boo myself first. I Felt like I was a resort drinking a pina colada and listening to someone sing. There was nothing wrong with it. I just didn’t like it, it didn’t wow.” Kara was kinder, saying, “I applaud you for doing something so incredibly different with the song. Whether you like it or not you made it your own.” Simon scathingly commented, “I applaud you for doing something different, it is quite a boring song anyway, having said that it didn’t work. A lot of people that are Rolling Stones fans were turning off their TV sets at that point.”
Siobhan Magnus told America she is from Cape Cod, Mass. Siobhan claimed she comes from “a huge family” and that “they are a support system. They’re there for me. I could ask them for anything.” Siobhan scored rave reviews for her very dramatic take on Paint It Black. Randy gushed, “Bringing the drama to season 9. That was hot, that was hot!” Ellen heaped on the praise, “I loved the way you look tonight. I love the way you sound. I love the way you did that song. You rise above. You’re like Snooki’s poof. You stand out.” Kara raved, “I’m having flash backs to Adam Lambert. The best interpretation tonight. You did the most with the song, most interesting.” And even Simon was glowing in his review, “The standout performance of the night. I see the development, you look interesting.You’re going to have to scream at the end of each performance now, and a lot of people will love that but a lot of people genuinely will hate that and that is the place to be, better than being indifferent and boring.”
Lee DeWyze admitted that 6-months-ago he was living paycheck to paycheck, working at a paint store. Lee went on to say when he was younger he “used to be really embarrassed to perform in front of people” and that he still suffers from nerves. You’d never know though, Lee delivered a strong rendition of Beast Of Burden. Half the judges raved, half remained lukewarm. Randy said, “You know what I love? You came home with this. You did the whole singer/songwriter thing. It was a cross between John Thomas and Dave Matthews. It was dope.” Ellen agreed, although commented, “I thought it was great and you sounded great. I was expecting a tiny bit more from you though. It was a little less than I expected.” Kara raved though, “You are growing faster than anybody on this stage. Every week you’re getting better. Tremendous growth.” Simon held back on his praise, “I really like you as a person. I like the whole story, you worked in a paint shop and really wanted to be a star. Your personality is holding you back, you picked a very safe song and other people have had bigger moments. The frustrating thing is that you have such an incredible voice. I hope you come back next week, and stamp your personality it on it.”
Paige Miles, who is born and raised in Naples, Florida, told a sad story about her dad being paralyzed when she was 2 and then dying when she was only 4, leaving her mom to struggle and raise Paige and her brother on her own. Paige said she “grew up with my mom singing in church so I grew up singing in church too.” Paige went on to mainly garner positive reviews with her take on Honky Tonk Woman. Randy said, “You did alright with it. You pulled it off. I wishede you had more energy and rocked out more but liked it.” Ellen heaped on the praise, “I love that you used the stage, you have great star qualioty and presence. You sounded great. No one would know you were struggling with your voice.” Kara said, “At times you may have gotten a little lost but you worked the stage and the young Paige is back.” Simon asked hat her voice issues were, and Paige said she had laryngytus! Simon pretty much slammed her performance though, “You hit some big notes. It is something you would hear in a bar and you still haven’t connected. It was an old fashioned performance.”
16-year-old Aaron Kelly shared that he is from Stonestown in New England, and that he was adopted by his mom when he was 5-years-old. Aaron said he was “the only one that sings in my family” and that “to be the next American Idol would be a dream come true.” Aaron scored a home run with his mature version of Angie, with all the judges heaping on the praise. Randy said, “Your mom was absolutely right, you were born to sing. I like you. I could almost hear a little Justin Timberlake in there. I thought it was hot.” Ellen joked, “Are you trying to do your hair like mine now, are you trying to copy me?” Before going on to comment, “I thought that was a great song choice. Next to Siobhan that was another performance that stands out. Beautiful.” Kara raved, “I beat you up last week, but you showed me tonight. It was very powerful. Really great.” And even Simon gave up some props, “I did fear for you this week when I knew it was the Stones, but you chose, absolutely, 100% the right song. What you did cleverly, you sang the song within the limits of your vocal this time. You haven’t got a big voice but it was in tune and it was believable. It was one of your strongest performances.”
Last but not least was Simon’s favorite to date, Crystal Bowersox. Crystal, who is from a “small rural area of Ohio” said that she’s always appreciated that her “dad has always been really supportive of my music.” Crystal went on to say that she started writing music at the age of ten, before claiming, “As soon as I picked up a guitar I knew this is what I was born to do.” The single mom belted out an acoustic version of You Can’t Always Get What You Want. Though the reviews were still positive, the judges had some stern warnings for her, with even Simon conceding that she had been beaten that night. Randy said, “I don’t think it was your best performance, there were a couple of problems in it, but I love you. You didn’t disappoint me tonight though, I still love you.” Ellen said, “You sing with such ease, it’s so effortless for you. You are born to be on the stage. You were playful tonight. I started to see a little more personality and I love that. Show more personality, play more.” Kara, “You were so comfortable up there. It wasn’t your greatest vocal but it was great.” Simon gave a mixed review, “You came out here tonight 100% the clear favorite and I think you chose a song that didn’t have the drama and tonight I think you were beaten by someone, and that was Siobhan. Just when you think you have the competition in the pocket you need to dig deep and come out here and kill.”