Things are moving right along on season 9 of American Idol. Tonight, the Top 9 perform. Join me here, where I’ll be blogging live!
Here we go. Tonight’s theme is the songbook of Lennon and McCartney, with guest mentor … well, no guest mentor tonight but a video message from Paul McCartney. (Next week the guest mentor is Adam Lambert. Your thoughts?)
It should be hard for these contestants to screw up too much tonight, with the vast song choices available. And great songs, too.
Randy says he’s expecting big highs and big lows. Ellen lists a bunch of her favorite songs; Kara says the songs are still relevant today, a theme she’s hot on. Simon says some songs can be changed, and some shouldn’t be, but overall he’d like to see the contestants make them their own.
I think that tonight we’re going to see Ryan filling a lot of time; we’ve got two hours, 9 contestants, and no guest mentor. The videos tonight will be the contestants talking about each other.

Aaron Kelly is up first. Or should we call him Yoda, which is apparently the nickname his fellow contestants have given him. He’s singing “The Long And Winding Road.” Aaron sounds very good, but it’s nothing really special. Just a nice performance of the song. He’s such a cute kid; he’s hard not to love. Randy says he liked his voice and tone, but he didn’t love the arrangements, calling it sleepy. He suggests that Aaron could have changed it with a Rascal Flatts vibe. Ellen says it felt like a long and winding song, but she loves him. Kara says when it comes together, it works. But he has to be great and he hasn’t reached that level yet, and he’s giving the same performance every week. Aaron says he has something planned next week, if he’s here. Why do the contestants always say, “Next week.” Aaron explains why he picked the song and why he didn’t change it much. Simon says it was old fashioned and boring; someone in the crowd shouts a huge BOOO while he’s talking. The audience is getting ruder and ruder every week. Simon says he should be more relevant and young.

Well, folks, I think that having friends in the audience is good, but if they can’t behave themselves they need to know they may be hurting their contestants. Because being rude to the judges is just … well, rude. They’re only trying to help. Get over it.
Katie Stevens is up next singing “Let It Be.” Ryan says Katie keeps getting invites for dates to the prom, five so far. She says she’ll look at their phone bills and whoever voted the most for her is the one she’ll pick. Her fellow contestants call her energetic and unpredictable. She says she picked the song because she’s heard it all her life and she’s comfortable with it, and she likes the message. She’s on stage with just a piano player. I think she’s wearing way to much jewelry, it’s a little distracting and looks like she’s channeling someone from the 80s. But she’s doing a great job with the song; just enough small changes with the melody to make it hers without totally changing the song. Randy says it was her best performance ever. Ellen says it was a perfect example of changing the song just enough to make it your own without disrespecting it. Kara says she’s blossoming and confident. Simon says when you’re in the bottom three consistently it means you’re doing something wrong, and tonight she did it right. Although he called the song more country, which is what he’s been suggesting. Country? Kara throws in her own vocals. He said it was well done. Katie, not Kara.I think picking a song she knew and was comfortable with really helped this week. Good job, Katie!
And we’re having some difficulties with the signal on Fox. The show keeps breaking up and repeating; not sure if it’s me or the show.
Andrew Garcia is up after the break, singing “Can’t Buy Me Love.” The others call him goofy and funny, Mr. Personality. Lee and Andrew are great friends. He’s on the stage behind the judges, standing, playing the guitar. He’s put a little bit of a rockability, jazzy vibe. Nothing really different, just enough change. Grrr, stupid cable feed. It’s going all wonky. OK, we’re back. Andrew is heading to the stage for the judges. Randy says it was a solid performance, interesting, kind of corny. I agree. Ellen says, “First of all, you can buy love.” Hahaha. She says it was fun and she loved it. Kara says she wants to love it but there’s nothing new and thinks people loved it because people love the song, not so much his performance. Simon likens it to a wedding performance and says the band overpowered the arrangement. Andrew says if it was corny, then dang, he’s corny. Okey dokey. I agree with Randy. It was solid, but nothing special.
Mike Lynche is up next with “Eleanor Rigby”. Mike’s fellow contestants says he’s hilarious, he snores, he’s a teddy bear, he’s just Big Mike. Mike says that when he and his brothers used to perform together they sang “Eleanor Rigby” and he loves the song and the story. He’s on stage with an orchestra. A solid performance, very nice. Randy says it didn’t all work but what did work really worked. He loved seeing the artist in Mike blossom. Ellen says he’s got so many different side and handles them all well. Kara said it was on fire and he made it commercial today. Simon says he didn’t love it as much as the others and it was like something you’d see or hear in a musical. He called it too over the top and isn’t sure what kind of artist Mike wants to be. Randy compares it to Glee and how popular that is. Yeah, that’s a good comparison, Randy. That’s what Simon said: musical.
Crystal Bowersox is up, singing “Come Together.” Ryan mentions that she’s got a cold, and that in her hometown of Elliston, Ohio, they have a new sign welcoming them with “Home of Crystal Bowersox” on it. Her fellow contestants call her Mamasox. They call her funny, awesome, a beautiful mother, mothering, caring, kind, and honest. She picked this song because it’s a fun groove, and this is the first time she’s picked a song for that reason, rather than sentimental reasons. Opens with a guy on a diggery do, her on guitar, some bass in the back. She’s just brilliant on whatever she does. Randy says it was another solid performance, says it wasn’t her best, she got into her groove at the end, says the diggery do was distracting, but it all worked. Ellen loved it diggery do, and the only thing she has to worry about is a new way to tell her how great she is. Kara says it was one of her favorite performances from Crystal, said it was slinky, sexy, smiling and more accessible. Simon says it’s a performance he could hear on the radio; “It just worked”. He says the idea of her singing a song with a diggery do – Simon calls Ernie Fields Jr out and introduces him; he’s a contractor by day – is quirky but it worked. He called it terrific and better than last week. Ernie takes us out to the break.
Tim Urban is up next singing “All My Loving.” His fellow contestants talk about Tim’s smile and hair flip. Tim picked his song because it’s fun and uptempo. Tonight he’s playing the electric guitar. He looks the part of a 60s singer, with that hair. He starts off really simple, just him and the guitar; the band comes in at the chorus. Just a few changes to the melody; he’s actually very solid tonight, very impressive, Tim! It’s not earth shattering but it’s solid. Definitely one his fans will love. Let’s face it, he’s not the best singer in the competition but it’s hard not to love this kid; he’s got some talent, he’s cute, he’s so happy. Randy says he’s in his own category so he’s judging him based on his performances and calls it “a good Tim performance.” Ellen says it was his second best performance ever. Kara says he takes their criticism well and he was good tonight. Simon says he’s not judging him based on a “Tim performance” but compared to everyone else. And he says it was very well done tonight, and it was good, not gimmicky, solid, relevant and current. And Simon says he loves that Tim takes his criticism like a man and he’s very, very proud of him. Tim says he appreciates what the judges said and says he picked a song that felt “more me”. Well done, Tim.
Casey James is up next, singing “Jealous Guy.” The other contestants call him a Playboy, and call him Fabio; they talk about his laugh and his “Goldilocks” hair. Casey picked his song because of the melody and emotional lyrics. Just Casey, the acoustic guitar and a girl on cello tonight. Really nice, heart on the sleeve performance. Great job. Randy loved the acoustic, loved Casey’s sensitive side, and was impressed that the took the leap to set himself apart. Ellen says it was his best performance to date, calling it soulful and beautiful and moving and he poured himself into the song rather than just sounding great. That’s a good way to say it. Kara said he was vulnerable and tasteful and showed depth. Simon said it was the best performance of the night so far, and said it’s a “ginormous” leap and was a completely different side and he’s very, very impressed. Totally agree. Loved it.
Siobhan Magnus is up next, with “Across The Universe”. Her fellow contestants call her amazing, amazingly weird, interesting, unique, talented. She picked her song tonight to show a different side of her voice. She’s wearing this really interesting outfit; she looks great. Just her on a stool, really stripped down performance, just her and a piano player. She sounds lovely tonight. Randy says no one in the competition screams “artist” like Siobhan. He calls it a bit sleepy but loved seeing her tender side. Ellen says she’s a big fan of people who march to their own beats, and loves that about Siobhan, calling her special and talented. Kara says from a purely singing perspective, she hit the notes. But it was restrained and polite, which they’re not used to seeing from her so she’s trying to process it, saying it wasn’t necessarily something she’d hear on the radio. Simon asks what she was connecting with personally, and Siobhan says the lyrics mean something to her. She says the line “Nothing’s gonna change my world” is special about her sisters, and that she won’t change for anyone. What he likes is that she keeps them guessing – the heckler from the audience yells again, and Simon and Kara ask him to stand up. So he does. Ryan asks Siobhan if the “sensory overload” has been a little too much, and she says they would probably all say yes. The guy in the audience – Earl – yells again, so Ryan invites him onstage to give Siobhan a hug.
Lee Dewyze closes out the show with “Hey Jude,” complete with bagpipes. The other contestants call him “the resident worry wart”, always worried about going home, best friends with Andrew. Lee picks songs he can relate to, and he loves this song. Starts with Lee and acoustic guitar, band comes in. I love Lee. Love his voice, his look, the whole package. There isn’t much you can do to change this song up without completely ruining it, so his raw vocals really help add his own stamp on the song. Then the guy in the kilt comes down the stairs playing the bagpipes. If the diggery do was distracting, this is distracting to the nth degree. And unnecessary. But otherwise it was great. Randy says the bagpipe guy was “funny, Man!” He says Lee is always a bundle of nerves and he doesn’t need to be, calling it hot. Ellen says he showed more confidence and was smiling, “even when that guy got separated from his parade” – ha! – she loved it. Kara says he felt more comfortable, says there were some good moments, some bad, but she can hear him on the radio. Simon says he doesn’t know what they all are drinking in the house – a diggery do, a bagpipe player – and says he wouldn’t have done that. He was doing great and it was like the bagpipe player turned up on the wrong show. Simon asks if it was Lee’s idea, and he says, “Yeah, 100%.” Ryan asks why he did that, and Lee says, “Why not, man?” Man, he’s loosened up, hasn’t he? I agree the bagpipes were overkill, but what the heck. You only live once.
Recaps: Aaron was good but sleepy, Katie was spot on, Andrew was good but corny, Mike was great, Crystal rocked, Tim was fun, Casey was sensitive, Siobhan was restrained and soft, Lee had bagpipes.
So who should go home? NO ONE! Can you believe I just said that out loud? Based only on tonight’s performances, I’d put Aaron and Andrew in the bottom but I wouldn’t send anyone else there with them.
What do you think? Who rocked? Who missed the mark?
Who goes home? We’ll find out tomorrow, with performances from Rihanna, David Archuleta, and Jason Dirullo.
American Idol season 9 auditions and recaps – complete list of posts
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