TELEVISION: American Idol Recap 02.23.10

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The live performances begin.  For the next 3 weeks, girls and guys perform separately and America will vote for their favorites.  Tonight, it’s Ladies Night and hits from the Billboard charts.  We have a few surprises and some disappointments.  Only a couple of performances were “wow” performances and the judges really seemed to love Lilly Scott (pictured).  Sadly, they did not like more than they liked.  A complete breakdown is after the jump!

PAIGE MILES – “It’s All Right Now” by The Free — We saw very little of Paige during Hollywood week and that could really work against her.  We know so little about her and for many people this will be the first time seeing her.  That being said… WOW!  Power house voice.  She reminded me of Christina in a few bars here and there.  Just a strong voice and a great start.  Simon tells her that he thinks she has the best voice of all the females, but her song choice was poor.  Kara disagrees with Simon and calls the choice and performance “brilliant.”  Randy agrees with both…doesn’t like the song choice, but loves her power house voice.   Ellen says she was “there and present” and loved her look. Ellen says she pulled it off.

ASHLEY RODRIGUEZ – “Happy” by Leona Lewis — Ashley has been a favorite of mine from the get go.  I always said she would go far in the competition.   Although I have to say I didn’t really care for her performance.  Leona Lewis is hard to imitate.  And if you are not going to make it as big as Leona did, don’t try.  Ashley should not have tried.  Kara says “Big song” and there were “moments that weren’t great.”  Randy says “you’re always going to be compared to those big singers.”  He says he saw her doing a good job of Leona, but it wasn’t Ashley.  Ellen agrees with Randy and tells her to “take a risk.”  Simon calls it “clumsy” and says he feels Ashley is moving backwards since they met her.  She is someone who sings other people’s songs, “not very well.”  Simon tells her she could be in trouble tonight.  Ouch!!!

JANELL WHEELER –  “What About Love” by Heart — Simon wasn’t a fan of Janell’s during the audition process.  He did however like her during Hollywood Week where she kicked butt.  Tonight, she sounds very karaoke and a little bit pitchy in places.  Randy says it wasn’t his favorite song choice for her.  He says, “It didn’t work for you.”  Ellen says she did like the song choice, but a few of the notes were “off.”  Simon says “you gave 100% effort, but only delivered 65%.”  He says she started to go off key in parts, but he likes her voice very much.  Simon adds, “I think you are going to survive this week.”  Kara says “that song was way too big for you.”

LILLY SCOTT – “Fix A Whole” by The Beatles — Lilly is a grunge girl and she calls American Idol “a gift.”  She never thought she would try out.  During Hollywood Week, Kara said, “Everything about you is refreshing.”  I have to say that I don’t like her song choice.  I don’t think most younger people will connect with it.  Will be interesting to see what the judges say.  Ellen says “that’s what we are talking about…you sounded great.  I loved that.”  Simon says, “the best we’ve had so far.”  He says he is not feeling “star power” from her.  Kara says “you come from your heart… everyone is going to remember you tonight.”  Randy says “I love the honesty.  I thought it was great.”  Okay, maybe I was wrong.

KATELYN EPPERLY – “Oh Darlin’” – The Beatles — Shania Twain told her in Chicago that she has a voice that can sing a hit song.  She sings a hit from The Beatles and it has a very old soul, rhythm and blues feeling.  Her voice is very unique, kinda rustic, but very R&B.  Simon says she started shouting in places, but “I actually like you” and adds “Good choice of song.”  Kara says “you know your voice very, very well.”  Kara also says she thinks she improved the song.  Randy says “you pay attention to the tone” and that’s the sign of a true artist.  Ellen says “it was interesting to me and it made me want to pay attention to you.”

HAELEY VAUGHN – “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” by The Beatles — Haeley is the young woman who wants to be the first black country pop singer.  She was well praised during Hollywood Week.  Haeley gives her song its own unique spin.  She definitely makes this Beatles classic her own and does a very nice job of it.  Kara says from a technical standpoint she was all over the place at times, but her performance made people want to get up out of their seats.  Randy says he loves her unpredictability, but the top of her vocals is “not as pleasing as it could be.”  Ellen says she “shines” at 16 with so much presence on stage.  Simon says he thought “it was verging on terrible.”  He calls her a “wind up doll that never stopped smiling.”  He calls it “a complete and utter mess.”

LACEY BROWN – “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac — Lacey was cut last year and came back to Idol yet again.  Of course, she made it.  Tonight her performance makes me question if she should not have been cut again.  I think she butchers a classic song.  It’s very hard to improve on Stevie and I think Lacey picked the wrong song.  Randy says it was not the right song for her and adds, “I thought it was terrible.  I thought it was pitchy all over the place.”  Ellen says “I think you are better than that” and “I just didn’t think it worked out.”  Simon calls it depressing and says “it was just boring.”  Kara says it was the wrong choice for her and she hopes America gives her another shot.

MICHELLE DELAMOR – “Fallen” by Alicia Keyes — Michelle was another young lady we did not see much of during Hollywood Week so it will be interesting to see how the audience and viewers react to her.  Michelle sings this Keyes classic well, but I don’t think she does enough to differentiate it from the original.  Ellen calls it “fantastic” but also said it was a “safe” choice.  Simon calls her a “professional singer” and added “not as good as the original” and there was nothing to make him say “wow.”  Kara says “there are moments when it wasn’t great.”  Randy says “tough song to do” and but step out of the comfort zone.

DIDI BENAMI – “The Way I Am” by Ingrid Michaelson — DiDi auditioned in memory of her best friend who died a few years ago.  She says her best moment was singing Kara DioGuardi’s “Terrified” during Hollywood Week and she rocked it.  I think her best moment was tonight.  Her performance was flawless.  She has such an amazing voice.  Simon says “you are a good singer” but too many people are trying to sound like other people and he calls it confusing.  He calls the song “dreary” but adds she has a good voice.  Kara says she likes the changes she made to the original recording.  Simon cuts in and says no one will remember that performance.  I disagree.  Randy says he doesn’t see any “star factor.”  Ellen says DiDi’s first impression was a little “low key.”

SIOBHAN MAGNUS – “Wicked Game” by Chris Isaac  — Siobhan was a little stiff during Hollywood Week and Ellen urged her to loosen up and she did.  Her last performance during that week was amazing.  Simon called her a dark horse.  I think she sings “Wicked Game” well, but I also think she is trying to be a female Chris Isaac.  She doesn’t bring anything original to the song.  Kara says “I wouldn’t have picked it, but I kinda liked you on that song.”  She adds “you’re living it and breathing it out on that stage.”  Randy says she needs to reach for bigger things.  Ellen says she forgot it was a singing competition and felt like she was being entertained.  Simon says “I liked the song.  I didn’t love the song.”  He says her Hollywood Week song set her apart, but this song did not.

CRYSTAL BOWERSOX –  “Hand In My Pocket” by Allanis Morrisette — Crystal is the indie-chic of the group.  She’s also a mom.    Her son inspired her to audition.  She absolutely rocks out Allanis.  She makes the song her own and her voice is so original.  She also plays two instruments, guitar and harmonica.  I would buy her album tomorrow.   Randy calls her one of his favorites.  He says he loves her originality.  “I like you.”  Ellen says “we are lucky that decided to audition for Idol” and adds “I want to see more of you.”  Simon says there are thousands of you outside subway stations doing this every day.  He says she is doing a sound alike Allanis and I completely disagree with that.  Simon adds “You are really, really refreshing.”  Kara says “I have seen greatness in you.  We didn’t see it as much tonight” and adds “There is no doubt in my mind that you will be here next week.”

KATIE STEVENS – “Feeling Good” by Michael Buble’ — Katie is the girl whom Kara said could win the whole thing.  She is also the girl with the grandmother who has Alzheimer’s.  Let’s see if she lives up to the hype.  Uhm, YES, SHE DOES!!!  Wow, what a voice for a 17-year-old.  Ellen says the performance was good but she wants to see Katie be 17.  She says the song was too conservative and “old for you.”  Simon says he totally agrees with Ellen.  “You have to become a young recording artist.”  Kara says “I think you couldn’t hear yourself b/c you were all over the place and that’s not like you.”  Kara does say, “You have ridiculous chops.”  Randy says “all of the notes were going sharp.”  He adds, “You can only be 17 once.”

PREDICTIONS:  The two ladies going home:  LACEY BROWN and ASHLEY RODRIGUEZ.  We shall see on Thursday night.  Tomorrow night, the guys perform.  Until then, MENDHEIM OUT!