Last week the American Idol season 9 Top 12 were named, and tonight they get to prove that they deserve to be there.
For a couple contestants, that might be a tough challenge.
Paige Miles, for example, should have gone home weeks ago, but as the project of both her fans and sites like, she’s still here. And battling a throat infection, which should add something interesting to her performance tonight.

Tim Urban, VFTW’s other pet project, proved last week that once he got over his nerves he deserved to be in the competition. So we can thank VFTW for giving him another chance. And I’m being serious.
Crystal Bowersox, Siobhan Mangus, Lee Dewyze and Mike Lynche simply need to show up tonight and do what they’ve been doing so well. Katie Stevens, Didi Benami, Lacey Brown, and Aaron Kelly need to step up their game tonight.
And Casey James and Andrew Garcia better deliver on what we were promised, or they’ll be singing their goodbye songs soon.
Tonight’s theme is songs from The Rolling Stones, which should give each of these contestants a chance to really shine, and give Andrew Garcia a chance to sing a song not sung by a woman.
Anything can happen, and if each contestant stays true to their own artistic integrity, keeps the nerves in check, and brings their A-game, it’s anyone’s competition to win.
And the key for viewers? VOTE! Last week we lost Lilly Scott and Alex Lambert, two contestants who should not have gone home.

Tonight we’re on the big stage, and the judges and Ryan walk out from the big stairs for the first time this season. There’s a bigger crowd (450 people), more energy, and more opportunities for nerves to get the best of the contestants.

Ryan looks more comfortable and animated tonight, the contestants look a little awed by the crowd, and even Ellen was all smiles by the cheers.
Tonight’s theme is The Rolling Stones, and I need to be clear up front: I am not an expert on the Rolling Stones. Not by a longshot. So keep that in mind as I comment on the songs.
Up first it Mike Lynche. His video gives a peek at his life back home in St. Petersburg FL. And we hear about his mother’s death and how music helped him through the pain. He’s holding the baby in the video; that baby is teeny tiny in his big arms! Mike is singing “Miss You” with a funky R&B flair. It sounds a little too pop for me but there’s no question Mike can sing. I thought it was an OK performance. Randy says he wasn’t so crazy about the arrangement at first but says Mike slayed it. Ellen gets big cheers from the audience before she even speaks; she says, “What’s not to love about that, Mike?” Kara says the Stones are incredible performers and Mike lived up to that. Simon says Mike has his confidence up, but being honest said the performance was at times corny. I agree. Simon says he sang it well but when Mike watches it back (especially the dancing) it comes off a tiny bit desperate.
Ryan asks Simon what part was desperate, Simon says, “Do you want me to talk to you or Mike,” and Ryan walks down and gets right in Simon’s face and tells him to give Mike something constructive. The season continues to get weirder and weirder.
Didi Benami is up next, She says her mom can’t be there because she gets so nervous it makes Didi nervous, and she can’t watch her daughter being judged. So we’ll meet her in the video. Didi is a middle child, and her mom called her a “high needs baby” with a loud voice. Didi is singing “Play With Fire.” I have no idea what this song is supposed to sound like. It’s a little boring, but she is hitting those big notes, even if some are a little shaky. Randy says for the first time in weeks she’s on fire, calling it one of her best performances. Ellen says she loves how Didi lost her way but got back into the song. Kara says when she pushes on her voice she loses her way, but loved how Didi got into the lyrics and she’s moving in the right direction. Simon says she’s beginning to show what kind of artist she wants to be; he thought she was going to lose it 30 seconds in but he’s been a fan of hers for the last two or three weeks. He calls it a solid, not brilliant performance, and says she can do better. Didi says it was time show her other side. Ryan says it worked for her.
Casey James is next. He shares that his parents were divorced, and we meet his mom, who looks like she’s a kid herself. Casey says the whole family sings and he’s probably the worst. Casey is singing “It’s All Over Now”. He’s playing electric guitar. He sounds good, but to me it sounds like a cover band performance. He’s got such a great voice, though. I think sometimes artists like this don’t get to showcase on cover tunes like this. Randy says he could make a career out of stuff like this; he loved it. Ellen says for most women their hearts are racing looking at him but “for people like me,” she says – big laughs – “blonds,” she says – more laughs – she thinks it’s fantastic. Kara says tonight he was a rock star. Simon doesn’t agree. He calls it an audition performance and while he sang and played well, it wasn’t something incredible. Simon calls him a very, very good artist but there’s got to be more. I totally agree with Simon.
OK, Casey is like two feet taller than Ryan. Good grief.
Lacey Brown is up after the break. In her video we hear about her childhood in Amarillo, TX, and her family. Aw, cook at her with her blond hair. Her parents are pastors at their church – which you would know if you keep up with this blog. She’s singing, “Ruby Tuesday.” She’s a little pitchy. Randy calls it interesting and says he wasn’t jumping up and down vocally, but he was pleasantly surprised. He calls it the most interesting of the night so far. Ellen says in the slowest part of the song she stood and sat when it picked up; she called it a tiny bit sleepy. Kara agrees that is was 50/50 and likes hearing her voice but it was off. Kara says she can do better. Simon says the issue is that she performances like an actress and it’s all very thought-through and she’s overthinking. He says nothing wrong with her vocals. She’s so cute; I think the more comfortable she is on stage the better she’ll be. But we may be seeing some of that “worship leader” stage presence she needs to work out for a pop career.
Andrew Garcia is up next, and in his video we hear his father thought Andrew would be a custodian or something because he collected keys. Andrew is singing “Gimme Shelter”. He’s sans guitar tonight, so already this is different than normal. He’s singing well but … you know, it’s tough to judge a Rolling Stones song without the band there, and the energy that brings to a performance. I don’t know that their songs were designed to be song solo on a pop stage. But whatever; Andrew’s back. That was better than some stripped down acoustic chick song. Randy says it was pitchy and not great. Ellen says, “What do I know? I think that was your best performance yet.” Kara says there were elements they heard what they’d been missing. Kara says it’s a song about the Vietnam war, and she didn’t feel what the song was about. Yeeesh, enough with the connection, Kara. Simon wants to know if he should come on stage with a tank and says she’s taking songs so literally. Well, that’s the problem with Stones’ songs on Idol; it’s hard to be intense with out the band. Simon says he’s in the middle and says his gut is that Andrew was better in rehearsals because this didn’t connect. Simon says he hopes Andrew survives another week.
Katie Stevens is up next. Ryan points out that there’s a group in the audience holding up Katie’s picture; her family, her brother and his college roomates. Ryan says each week she’s been told to be younger, and “This week I have no choice but to be old,” she says. In her video we see life in Middlebury, CT with her and her family. Katie says she’s shy; her mom says she was a ham. We see a video of her as a child at a wedding, singing “From This Moment” with her brother. Tonight she’s singing “Wind Horses.” It’s a pitchy start, but as she gets into the song she gets stronger. She has a great voice, but I’m bored with this performance. Not her best. Randy says that it’s a great song if you sing it well; he says she sang it well, despite the pitch problems and calls it a strong performance. Ellen says it started a little pitchy but she sounded amazing once she got into it. Kara says it’s never technically perfect with her, but tonight she made some nice variations and it was better than last week. Simon says this is the only week she’s chosen a really strong song. He didn’t like the second half of the arrangment because she lost the emotion, but says well done.
Tim Urban is up after the break. In his video we learn there are 10 kids in his family. Wow. When he was a kid he wanted to be a pro athlete until he realized he was never going to get taller. HIs parents let out that his sisters played with him like he was a little doll. Hahaha. That’s not going to help his image. He’s singing “Under My Thumb” tonight, him and the guitar. He’s pitchy and it’s a little corny.He should have done the whole song without the reggae arrangement; that one little moment was nice. Randy says he didn’t get it, called it bizarre, says it didn’t serve him or the song well. Ellen says she feels like she was at a resort drinking a pina colada and she thinks he should have wowed us. Kara agrees but applauds him for doing something so incredibly different with the song. Simon applauds him for something different, and says it’s a boring song anyway. But he says it didn’t work and said Stones fans would be turning off the TV. Simon calls it a crazy decision. Tims says he knew it was going to be huge risk, and that rather than try to sound like the Stones, which he admits he can’t, he found a song and made it his own and there you go.
Siobhan Magnus is from Barnstable, on Cape Cod. She says her family is her support system. She comes from an artistic family, and when you meet her family you can see where she gets her quirky, creative side. She’s singing “Paint It Black”. She’s starting sitting on the stairs; she’s in a black dress and her hair is curly. She’s a surprise every week. She’s pitchy, but she’s pulling it off – whoa, and then she screeches out the end. Ouch. Randy says it was hot. Ellen says she loves everything about it. Kara says it’s an Adam Lambert flashback, and says it was the best interpretation of the song. Simon agrees, calling it the standout performance of the night. He says a lot of people are going to love it, a lot are going to hate it, and that’s a good place to be because it’s better than being boring. That seemed like a mess to me. But what do I know.
During the break, let’s talk: I don’t know that comparing her to Adam was a good thing – for her. She’s not that far above the competition the way Adam was at this stage of the competition, and I think there are enough people who didn’t like those kind of indulgent, over the top performances who will support other contestants instead. Don’t get me wrong; I really like Siobhan and put her in my Top 5 prediction today on Faith Radio. but for viewers on the fence, putting her in the Adam Lambert category might not have helped her. What do you think?
Lee Dewyze is up after the break, singing “Beast of Burden”. Six months ago, Lee was living paycheck to paycheck, working at the paint store. Lee talks about Idol being interesting, and Ryan talks about the number of paint colors being interesting, and quizzes Lee. His parents remember the first time Lee sang to them; they thought it was beautiful, Lee was so nervous he made them promise not to look at him. Lee’s playing guitar. I think Lee could win this competition. I’m serious. He’s got a great voice, he can take a song and make it his own without being corny, and he’s got the look. This is the first time tonight I’m not waiting for the song to be over. Randy says he did a really singer/songwriter thing with it, and thought it was “dope.” Ellen thought it was great, but she was expecting a tiny bit more from him. She says it almost didn’t come together like a hospital gown and she wanted a little. Kara says there’s tremendous growth. Simon really likes Lee as a person, but what’s held him back is his personality. Simon says tonight was indicitive of that, and it’s frustrating because Lee has an incredibly great voice, and he wants Lee to stamp his mark on the competition. Simon tells him to stop thinking that other people are better than him, because they’re not. I get what they’re saying, but of all the performances so far – and Crystal hasn’t sung – it was the only one that was honest, sincere, and good. Just my opinion.
Paige Miles is up next. We learn her dad died when she was younger and her mom raised the family. Paige grew up singing in the church and she was bit with the singing but after performing in a Christmas play. Paige is singing “Honky Tonk Woman” and we know she has a throat infection this week. Holy smokes! Paige!! You rock tonight! She looks great. She sounds great. She’s all over the stage. Whoa, where has this Paige been hiding? That was my favorite so far tonight. Randy says she pulled it out and he liked it. Ellen loves that she used the stage and she has star quality, and no one would know she was struggling with her voice. Kara said for someone with a voice issue she hit the notes, and while she got a little lost the young Paige is back. Simon asks what’s wrong with her voice, and Paige says she has laryngitis – she can barely talk. Simon says she still needs to connect. But they got to hear the big voice they loved in Hollywood. She said that was her first full out performance because she couldn’t rehearse. Paige is in the competition tonight for the first time.
Aaron Kelly is up now, with his story from Sonestown, PA. His aunt and uncle adopted him as a child, and his aunt tears up talking about how proud she is of him. He’s singing, “Angie”. This started out a bit shaky, but it’s getting better. Love the new hairdo. He’s such a cute kid. Randy says he was born to sing, and loved the tender moments in his voice. Ellen asks if he’s copying her hair. She his performance and Siobhan stand out tonight. Kara says he connected with the feeling of the song and it was powerful. Simon says he feared for Aaron because he thought Aaron and Rolling Stones could be a disaster. He says it was the perfect song choice, and he sang the song within the limits of his voice and it was believable.
OK, on the break: Over at I just read the funniest comment. Someone wrote, “Paige’s mum talks about her church singin’ then she sings a song about being a ho. PRICELESS!!!” I laughed out loud at that.
And closing out the show is Crystal Bowersox singing “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” We hear about her small town llife in Ohio and how her dad supported her, carryinjg her gear. Dad tears up about a song Crystal wrote for him. She walks out with her guitar; she’s perfect, as usual. The arrangment is great, her voice is great, her stage presence is great. She’s clearly the one to beat this season. The crowd is going crazy. Randy says it wasn’t her best performance but he loves her. Ellen says she sings with such ease and she really is born to be onstage. She says she’s glad to see Crystal being more playful and have fun and be personable. Kara agrees, saying Crystal loosened up. She says it wasn’t her greatest vocal performance. Simon wants to know what Crystal means when she says she overthinks thing; she says she’s got a lot on her mind. Simon says tonight she came out 100% the clear favorite, but tonight is the first time he thinks someone beat her tonight – Siobhan. What? Simon says she’s come out a bit like she’s “got” the competition; Crystal said that never crossed her mind but thank you for thinking that. She also shows a peacock feather she’s wearing in her hair in honor of Lilly.
So we recap the night and the phone lines open.
Who’s going home? I think Katie, Lacey, and Didi may be headed home. Aaron is possibility. Tim didn’t put in a performance worthy of staying, but he may be around another week thanks to fans and VFTW. Casey and Andrew were good but their time will be up soon.
Who’s staying? Lee, Mike, Crystal, Siobhan.
But what do you think?
American Idol season 9 auditions and recaps – complete list of posts
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