VIDEO: American Idol's Top 9 Shine With Guitars, Bagpipes, And Didgeridoos, Oh My!
With Didi Benami voted off last week, the Top 9 took the stage for a two-hour episode to perform hits from John Lennon and Paul McCartney, who Ryan Seacrest aptly dubbed “musical royalty.”
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The night kicked off with Aaron Kelly singing “The Long and Winding Road.” Sharp from the start, the Top 9’s youngest contestant delivered a shaky performance. As Ellen Degeneres put it, “It felt like a long and winding song.”
Coming off two rough weeks, Katie Stevens was able to reign in her cutesy vibe, flourishing with a strong version of “Let It Be.” The audience loved her powerful but well-controlled voice, and the judges agreed. Randy Jackson said, “This is your best performance ever. Those were hot vocals." Simon added to the praise: "Tonight, you got it right.”
With Elvis Costello glasses and Elvis Presley hair, Andrew Garcia followed with a toe-tapping twist on “Can't Buy Me Love.” The judges offered mixed reviews, but Simon Cowell was over the performance, calling the crooner “corny and old fashioned.”
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Next up, Michael Lynche injected as much soul as he could fit into "Eleanor Rigby.” Surrounded by eight string musicians, Michael made the most of the Hollywood stage, employing dramatic lighting and movements, prompting Simon to compare it to musical theater. Kara disagreed, saying the song was "fire" and Randy pointed out that theatrics are the new black, citing Fox's other hit series, GLEE.
Called "Mama Sox" by the other contestants for her nurturing spirit, Crystal Bowersox took the stage for a smart rendition of "Come Together" that featured a groovy arrangement and an unexpected but brilliant didgeridoo player. Although recovering from a cold, Crystal and her guitar delivered another powerhouse performance, which Kara Dioguardi called “slinky, sexy, and playful.”
Complementing his dimpled grin, Tim Urban rocked a Beatles-inspired mop top while he gave a swoon-worthy performance of "All My Loving" with the help of an electric guitar.
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Casey James wowed the crowd with a rendition of John Lennon's "Jealous Guy." While playing the acoustic guitar, he delivered a shining performance that had a hint of Eddie Vedder angst, minus the flannel. Randy referred to the performance as "heartfelt," while Ellen admitted, "You have a great voice-and pretty hair."
Siobhan Magnus managed to refrain from screaming into the mic this week on "Across the Universe." Despite her voice sounding strong, her performance was a snooze. The most action came from a sea of white ruffles that were trying to escape from her fitted slate-colored vest. Overall, she received a thumbs up from the panel who could admit to liking her voice, but could not get over how bizarre she is.
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Bringing his puppy dog eyes to center stage, Lee DeWyze gave a sophomoric rendition of "Hey Jude." His voice trembled at times, but the judges believed that he showed confidence and his performance elicited an audience clap-along. As he started belting out "na, na, na, nas," a large being emerged from the shadows behind him. What was it? A bagpipe player in full Scottish garb, of course. This unconvincing pair seemed to please Ellen who mentioned, "Even when that guy got separated from his parade--you didn't even get rattled by his showing up."