American Idol – Episode 9-17 Review

There’s tension for tonight’s live broadcast. If Crystal Bowersox can’t perform because of her illness, she’s cut. Really? Silence would be a major improvement over a few of the ladies from last week. Can the busker pull it out?

Ryan reminds us that they switched nights. Will the girls be better with an extra day to rehearse? Is this like baseball where an extra night is an advantage to a pitcher? The line up has all 10 of them standing on the stage. Crystal moves rather slow down the stairs, but tells Ryan she’s feeling good. “I’m a tough cookie,” she declares. Randy Jackson wears a Mr. Rogers red sweater. The rest of the table is Ellen, Kara and Simon. For those wondering, Simon is wearing a probably over priced grey buttoned t-shirt that’s unbuttoned to show off his hairy chest. Ryan jokes that Kara’s been getting close to Simon. Perhaps it’s static electricity from his massive hairy chest. It’s like a beaver pelt.

Crystal Bowersox is the first to go. No need to keep her waiting although it kills the tension of what could be a highwire act. Could she have sat around two hours? She talks about her twin brother as a little personal fact. She’s going to put a gospel spin on Credence Clearwater Revival’s “Long As I Can See the See Light.” They have the Hammond organ intro the piece to give it a churchy vibe. She’s working the soulful tone. She nails the soar at the end. There’s no need to collect pity phone calls off this performance. Randy declares, “Truth is reality.” She loves that girl. Ellen confirms her a pure, raw, natural talent. Kara wants more of the Americana-rock from her. Simon looks extra prissy while pruning up his lips before his pronouncement. He admits he completely misunderestimated her and thought the vocal was incredible. He compares her to Kelly Clarkson.

Haely Vaughn is rather nervous. Why not? She was painful last week butchering the Beatles. Tonight she mutilates Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb.” Her hidden talent is making headbands. Who couldn’t have guessed that hobby? This song doesn’t work without a stripper pole. She’s forcing the words to catch up to the music. She stumbles on the chorus. This isn’t pitchy – it’s a beanball to our ears. She doesn’t seem to know what emotion to sell in the second half of the song. Randy keeps it real by telling her it didn’t work for him. He calls it excruciating for the pitchy non-connections. Ellen begs her to never stop smiling and never sing “The Climb” again. Kara thinks people are rooting for her. Yes, the wonderful people at Vote For The Worst. Simon reduces it to a complete and utter mess. After Crystal’s up moment, we’re back in the gutter.

Lacey Brown likes to refurbish antiques. Although it looks more like second hand furniture that won’t be featured on Pickers. She hopes American likes her version of “Kiss Me” by Sixpence None the Richer. This is more impersonation that singing a song. This isn’t as painful as last week. Although I’m not sure what’s the point of just pulling a complete cover without any real curveballs. Randy thought it was a good song choice except it was complete karaoke. Nothing special was brought to it. Ellen thought it was adorable. Kara reflects on her unique tone, but she has to step it up. Simon suggests she’s merely in a competition instead of showcasing her true talent. Ryan asks Lacey what she could do to make it more memorable? How about juggle kittens and chainsaws? I’d remember that performance.

Katie Stevens can say, “Give me a kiss” in six different languages. Since she’s 17, it’d be best to wait before responding. She’s going younger by doing Corinne Bailey Rae’s “Put Your Records On.” She hits a hiccup in the first part. She’s a little bit too nervous for the casual nature of the song. She’s got a strange Sheena Easton vibe going. The big notes don’t roll naturally. She has nice moments, but they don’t quite connect. Randy praises when she went to the bridge and hit her upper register. Otherwise it was pitchy. Ellen wants her to go younger. Younger? Will she hit the Wiggles songbook? Kara is also frustrated with her not pulling us in. Simon doesn’t know what kind of artists she’s going to be. She’s looking like she’d rather be back in homeroom.

Didi Benami looks like she’s auditioning for an Aaron Spelling series. She’s got ‘70s hair. She was the mascot for her high school. She does meowing exercises before the show. She should perform the “Meow Mix” commercial. But instead she’s purr up Bill Wither’s “Lean on Me.” She’s got out the stool to look more poignant. Her knee length boots should impress Simon. The song isn’t clicking with her. There’s no emotion in the delivery. It’s passionless. Randy points out the song pointed out all her imperfections. Ellen loves her voice. She beats around the bush with semi-compliments before blaming it on the song choice. Kara slaps her with the “wasn’t good” declaration. But she’s still a fan of Didi. Simon gets a single boo from the audience when he jokes about her song having the cat theme. He sums it up as a wasted opportunity. The audience is dead quiet. Didi won’t talk as she holds back the tears with a wide smile. Go for the pity, lady.

Michelle Delamor promises to take some risks tonight with Creed’s “Arms Wide Open.” Will she put her foot on the monitor, spread her arms wide and look up the heavens? Cause that’s 9/10ths of a Creed performance. She’s extra breathy on the opening lines. She makes it a ballad for the first half with the dominating acoustic guitar. The bridge has a not so electric guitar. Repeating the title at the end get tedious. It’s not as blah as the last few numbers. Randy’s most positive is her hot outfit. It felt flat to him. Ellen swears she, “Forgot it was a rock song for a few moments.” Kara sums it up as her favorite performance from her. Simon stands with Kara. They claim Vera Wang is in the audience, but the crowd shot is missing her.

Lily Scott has spent the week learning to connect with the camera. She can’t afford to close her eyes during the performances. She shows off her various instruments including the Moog. Where the theremin? Her twelve string guitar will accompany her on Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Going to Come.” She doesn’t fake the deep voice of Sam. Her eyes are closed. She’s got a goofy inflection which isn’t bad for her style. It’s pleasant, but not sure if it will inspire too much change. Randy says this season has the most unique contestants. Really? Randy feels she worked it out and did her thing. Ellen nails her with the fact that she has it. Kara thinks she had her first moment. Simon feels the song was oversung in the middle, but it’s still great.

Katelyn Epperly was studying to be a recording engineer before Idol. She sits at a grand piano to give us her version of Coldplay’s “The Scientist.” This is like a piano bar rendition except she doesn’t have the giant brandy glass for tips. Her voice keeps rising, but it doesn’t take it to an emotional high. She gets a clean soar at the end. It’s good, but not fascinating. Randy really liked it even thought it was really slow. Ellen does schtick about Katelyn playing guitar. It was way too slow. Kara loves her. Simon suggests she’s back in the race with a performance a million times better than last week. How bad did Simon think she was? Did she kill a baby seal with her voice?

Paige Miles is feeling awesome, but needs water. Her secret is using coloring books with markers and crayons. She’s going back to the show’s roots with “Walkaway” by Kelly Clarkson. She’s got more funky in her voice than Kelly. She looks awkward while scanning the crowd. She’s got emotion in the chorus. The big notes swell. This was much more exciting than a Coldplay cover. Randy mentions the song was co-written by Kara. Cha-ching. Randy thinks there were too many words and not enough singing. Ellen loves it. Is this the moment to mention she really needs to think about turtlenecks. Kara thinks Paige can have a hit with the song. Cha-ching! Kara wanted it to be more angry on the telling the guy to take a hike. Simon agrees with Randy. Two weeks in a row she’s getting lost in wrong song selection.

Siobhan Magnus once had a mokawk. The old photos show it wasn’t too radical. She didn’t have it waxed up and multi-colored like a Plasmatics. She’s still a goofy punk girl. She’s going big tonight with Arethra Franklin’s “Think.” She’s hits a bad note like a beer split on a Dusty Springfield record. She better hope her cuteness and short skirt gets the callers. Her high note comes off like an air raid siren. This was the disaster of the night. But the crowd is going nuts. Randy calls it dope. She slayed it? Ellen is also praising her. Kara can’t get over the note. Simon sums her up as a strange person. He feels it was good and bad, but interesting.

The montage gives us another chance to see Crystal made it to the show from her hospital bed. She didn’t waste her recovery. Katelynn Epperly doesn’t have her name and number up that long. They end the montage with way too much time left. Ryan quizzes the panel about he progress. Simon says the stand out performer is Crystal Bowersox.

Unlike the guys night, there were at least a few people not playing it safe. Here’s the breakdown of the evening.

Crystal Bowersox & Lily Scott.

Lacey Brown, Katie Stevens, Michelle Delamor, Katelyn Epperly, Paige Mills & Siobhan Magnus.

Didi Benami & Haely Vaughn.

Normally I’d stick with my bottom two getting their final song. But Vote for the Worst did well last week. I can’t see Haely being shuffled off so fast. Katelyn Epperly is my pick to replace her since her phone number vanished quick.

Remember that the results show is after Human Target on Thursday.

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