Girls’ Night: AMERICAN IDOL Season 9 – Top 10 Girls Perform

by Jason Matthews

My predictions for the girls last week were dead wrong; let me own up to that right away. I forgot my Idol history, and was thus doomed to fail. If there’s one thing Top 24 has proved year after year is that the token hottie ALWAYS gets kicked off immediately (think Amy Krebs or Stevie Wright). I should have known Janell Wheeler would be toast.

With Ashley Rodriguez, that was owing to a lack of compelling personal story. Nearly every contestant this year has a tragedy in his or her life or a wacky background; Ashley was just like a prettier Jordin Sparks, not a reason to keep her around.

Staying with Top 24 Idol history, the two girls traditionally kicked off in Top 10 week are singers who just aren’t as dynamic as the rest of the group. They may be cool people with great style, but lack that oomph we want in a female Idol (think Alexandrea Lushington or Casey Carlson). This spells bad news for the Lacey Browns of the competition.

Let’s see how our girls did with an extra day to prepare. Here are reviews of the performances, from best to worst.

Siobhan Magnus – “Think”

Going after Aretha on this show is a dicey prospect. That is, unless you have a sneakily amazing voice like Siobhan. She absolutely cuh-rushed that big note. There were better performances tonight, but none as electric as hers. And Simon is right—she is strange, and oddly compelling. That slow speaking voice, which makes you really not sure what the next word is gonna be or when it will come? Intriguing. Aside from her wardrobe, Siobhan worked it out. She’s definitely one of the ones to watch.

Crystal Bowersox – “Long As I Can See the Light”

A professional performance from note one. I don’t know if it’s because she was in the hospital and now we’re inherently rooting for her to overcome and triumph, but there was a softness and likability to her tonight that we hadn’t seen before. Great song choice, wonderful tone, and as crazy as it sounds, she’s getting prettier as the weeks go on. Here’s what that all means: Jewel can officially retire from music now; her services are no longer required.

Katelyn Epperly – “The Scientist”

Aside from Siobhan, Katelyn is the most fun to hear talk. When she’s riffing with Simon or sparring with the judges, there’s a great confidence and intellect on display. That might be the key to her: she’s smart. It comes across on stage. Picking Coldplay was a master stroke, being the only person on the piano helped her to stand out, she took Kara’s style tips and looked incredible, and the vocal itself was wonderful—so sweet, so loving. I continue to be surprised by how much I like her.

Paige Miles – “Walk Away”

Oh, I get it now—she’s the big ’90s pop singer. That Mariah-on-“Dreamlover”-meets-“Miss Independent”-Kelly-Clarkson voice—we can work with that. She’s still not very exciting to watch, but she CAN sing. And picking Kelly to do, and then doing it well, is exactly the right way to stay in the competition. I was worried she was starting to get lost in the shuffle of quirky indie rockers that have infested the competition this year, but she’s standing out perfectly as a pop diva. Hers was the only nakedly fun performance of the night, and it probably kept her on the show.

Lilly Scott – “A Change Is Gonna Come”

What do we do with this girl? She’s playing up the kooky Bjork angle, which is fine artistically but makes for a very divisive position on the show. She’s not as talented as Crystal, not as likeable as Didi, and not as unique and sparkly as the Haeley/Siobhan/Katie trio, so how is she going to keep up her fanbase? And I completely disagree with the judges on her Sam Cooke. It was too talk-singy, passionless, slow and pitchy. She’ll be fine for now, but as the weeks go on and the field crowds around her, she’ll be pushed out. And the show will be better for it.

Haeley Vaughn – “The Climb”

OK, let’s just take a minute here to breathe. Taking on The Beatles is one thing; every precocious young singer tackles those legends at some point. But it’s a whole OTHER thing to go after Miley Cyrus. “The Climb” is universal perfection. You can’t just smile and throw glitter around. You have to BRING it. And Haeley cannot and did not bring it. Lispy, soundalike (in a bad way), weak, rushed, horrendous bridge into the first chorus, and the end was a travesty. Miley can rest easy, but Haeley should not. She’s in the doghouse until further notice. (She’s LUCKY she didn’t do “Party in the USA” or I would have rioted the set. Rioted!)

Didi Benami – “Lean On Me”

This was heartbreaking. The complete wrong song choice, even MORE indulgent than last week (get a better dictionary, Didi), a scratchy, uneven vocal, and a mediocre arrangement. What is our beloved Didi doing? Why would she ever not be playing her guitar? Why is she not doing Rilo Kiley or late-career Tori Amos? Hell, she could win the whole show if she just did Fiona Apple’s “Criminal”! I love how she invests herself into each song, really grabbing the emotions of the lyrics, but she’s stopped being fun to watch. It’s now like watching a baby take its first steps—you’re just waiting for her to trip and fall over. Sad, sad development here.

Katie Stevens – “Put Your Records On”

She’s a bouncy, cute girl with severe Tracy Flick issues. Trying WAY to hard, utterly unable to pick the right song (mostly because she has not spent even one second of her life considering what kind of artist she wants to be, or even what being an artist means), and oddly old-sounding and young-looking at the same time. Like Kara says, her instrument needs a TON of work. Give it 2-3 years and she could win American Idol. But this year? Not a chance.

Michelle Delamor – “With Arms Wide Open”

Done. Gone. See ya, Shells! I mean, Creed? Are you TRYING to get kicked off? You can soul it up all you want, Beyoncé the thing to death, Andrew Garcia that beat and it STILL wouldn’t matter. Because it’s Creed, and that’s a FAIL every day of the week and twice on Sunday! The only good thing to come out of Michelle’s slow, painful, Scott Stapp-ian performance is that it means Didi will be safe this week.

Lacey Brown – “Kiss Me”

Give her this much—she handled her first-week nerves like a champ. It seemed like she was even having fun. Let’s hope she did, because it’s going to be her last performance on the Idol stage. There is absolutely nothing dynamic about her; we would not miss her at all if she were gone. Fun look, nice person, nobody doesn’t love a little Sixpence None the Richer, but she’s just not important enough to keep around. The Idol history lesson never fails; Lacey will be kicked off.

So who do you think was better this week, the girls or the guys? Were you more or less affected by Crystal because of her recent hospitalization? Sound off in the comments!



  • Reply
    March 4, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    I’ll say it:


    WOW! She’s great, and professional. She didn’t bring the pity card, and she sang amazing.

    I liked Siobhan, too. And Katheryn Epperly blowed my mind. That arrangement of “The Scientist” was way cool and heartwrenching.

    It’s a girls’ game, no doubt.

  • Reply
    March 4, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    No one’s gonna be able to challenge Bowersox. She rules, sick or not.

    Katie Stevens picks inappropriate songs but her voice has nice tones so I’m kind of rooting for her. The other child, Haeley, can go home.

    Lacey is done. Period.

  • Reply
    Pop Culture Nerd
    March 4, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    Bowersox is beyond cool. She didn’t try to play up her illness, just said “I’m fine” and sang. Amazingly. And she IS really pretty! I love that serene look on her face that says “you can say shit about me but it’s just gonna bounce right off because I know who I am.”

    I didn’t like Katelyn’s “Scientist” rendition. Like Ellen, I fell asleep; it was TOO slow. Loved how Ellen incorporated her mistake about Katelyn playing guitar into her critique.

    Regarding Haeley, if she can’t even sing a Miley Cyrus song well, she has no business being there.

    I was in pain watching poor Didi work her way through “Lean on Me.” Possibly wrongest choice ever by any contestant.

    And I finally got why people like Siobhan! Funny how you mentioned her slow way of speaking, Jason. First, I thought, “What’s up with that?” but then I couldn’t stop watching.

  • Reply
    March 4, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    Last night was the first time I made myself sit through and watch Idol. Hadn’t been impressed with anyone I’d seen these past weeks. Well, it paid off. Bowersox is amazing! Love her voice and personality! And a close second is Siobhan Magnus. Whoa! When she sang “Think”, it made the hair on my arms rise! Lol! Such a sunny personality. Paige Miles has an amazing voice too and enjoyed her performance, but she’s not owning up to herself. The others just bored me…YAWN! Bowersox stands out with her uniqueness and I hope she carries through.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      March 4, 2010 at 2:19 pm

      I’m glad you finally discovered Bowersox, Donna! Usually at this point in the competition, we don’t have a clear frontrunner yet but I think she’s way ahead of everyone else. And she makes it seem effortless while the others look like they’re trying so hard just to keep up.

      • Reply
        March 4, 2010 at 3:01 pm

        Yup!!!! BO-WER-SOX! BO-WER-SOX! BO-WER-SOX!

        By the way, I loved how she took Simon to church with her reply about his trailer!

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