Didi Benami, who had her head handed to her on a plate by the judges last week, sang the Fleetwood Mac classic “Rhiannon” -- and had a hit! Her phrasing was lovely, her tone was floatingly dreamy-sad, and she looked more than ever like Ugly Betty's Becki Newton! Randy thought it was good enough to merit her staying in the race, and Kara called it one of her favorite moments of the season.
As Ellen put it: "Yes indeedee, Didi."
It was also a breakthrough night for the woeful Lacey Brown, who had an actual comeback. She sang Brandi Carlile's "The Story" in a sweet, slightly curdled voice that projected winsomeness and vulnerability. The judges all agreed it was her best performance. Simon was slightly more reserved in his praise, but admitted: "That to me was like listening to something on the radio."
By the way, is this still an apt way of thinking? How about listening to something through tiny white plastic iPod buds? Or on a laptop?
Crystal Bowersox continued along in her predictable way -- she keeps giving smart, strong, rootsy performances. She did it again with Tracy Chapman's "Give Me One Reason" and an electric guitar. Simon stated the obvious: "You are the one everyone's going to have to beat ... It's yours to lose."
Lilly Scott, of the white shag, was the one who disappointed. Simon thought her cover of Pasty Cline's "I Fall to Pieces" lacked "the wow factor" -- and it wasn't enough that she was her usual cute, quirky, adorable self. It wasn't enough, anyway, after those other girls. Simon's voice had that hint of wintry doom that would make me uneasy, were I a relative or good friend of an Idol contestant. The other judges were much more positive.
"You kind of made Patsy Cline feel current," said Kara. One might object that the miracle of Patsy Cline is that she always sounds current, but that's between me and Kara.
Katie Stevens, trying for a more youthful angle that matches her actual age, sang Kelly Clarkson's "Breakaway" (she was only 8 when Kelly became the first Idol winner). She moved through the song very slowly, with no urgency, as if heavy shoes were treading on her heart. Ellen, Kara and Simon all gave her credit for trying to reposition herself, as she'd been advised to do, but "I don't think you know who you are yet as an artist," said Kara.
Then again, aren't the judges themselves causing a lot of this confusion? Their criticism sometimes just seems like a shell game.
For example: Katelyn Epperly's performance of "I Feel the Earth Move." It all felt very '60s-West Coast, prompting Randy to complain that it had a "put-on" vibe. Katelyn said she was trying not to be "corny" in response to earlier criticism from Simon. (Kara gave Simon a nudge for that.) It just breaks yer heart!
Siobhan Magnus sang the all-purpose folk classic, "House of the Rising Sun." It's not a song that can be performed in that short a space of time and make a lot of sense, although Siobhan started a cappella and, for that stretch, sounded very fine. Randy liked the surprise in her song choice and interpretation. "You take every risk," he said. Ellen, at her most burbling, burbled, "You are why I love music -- it's supposed to move you. You're spectacular." Simon, the non-burbler, found it "a bit weird" and "ploddy" and "boring."
The evening's wipeout: Paige Miles sang "Smile," that sentimental old ballad, and seemed to lose track of it after a verse. The judges barely seemed to want to talk about it.
She'll be gone this week -- maybe Katie too?
Lilly? --Tom Gliatto
Tell us: Whose performance did you love? Who should go home without making the top 12?Michael Becker/PictureGroup(2)