With four more hitting the road last week, we are down to the final 16 on American Idol. Most seem to have shook off the nerves that were so problematic that first week, but one can only assume it is not really getting any easier for them. Only two-thirds of the contestants remain, and four more will be leaving this week before the finals begin, and lucrative tour slots are sewn up.
In his book Inside The Music, Canadian Idol winner Theo Tams (@theotamsmusic) talked about how quickly bonds were made in the pressure cooker of Idol, friendships that would last far beyond the experience. He stated, 'Over the course of the competition, I realized that Canadian Idol was going to be so much more than a singing competition for me.' That is what the current 16 are going thru, all to leave one standing in a matter of a couple of months, like Theo was over a year ago. With eight ladies remaining, and only six make it to the finals with a chance to make the tour. The pressure is on, and only performing at your best will make it relent.
Crusty comes out to tell us about the night, Ladies Night, and add some additional tension to the situation. Simon reiterates the high states of the night, adding to the pressure. Katie Stevens starts the night singing Kelly Clarkson's Breakaway, the first single from the album of the same name. Wow, there are a few tough notes on this one, but she is coming alive on the chorus. The bottom end of the song is tough for her. Randy was not impressed. Ellen thought she fell short. Simon tried to be polite, but not positive. Rough start for Katie.
Siobhan Magnus chose to sing House of the Rising Sun, the 1964 hit from The Animals. She is taking it on a more blues route rather than rock. She can certainly sing, and makes it look effortless. There were some glorious moments in that performance. Randy loves her, and Ellen thinks she is spectacular. Kara loved it, Simon, not so much. Kara backtracks, and can't figure out what artist she is - Kara, she is Siobhan. And we go straight to Lacey Brown singing The Story, Brandi Carlise's 2007 single. She is exuding quirk. Both Randy and Ellen think it her best to date, and Kara agrees. Simon thought it was good, but perhaps forgettable. As there are a couple of other quirky girls to come, Simon might be right.
After a commercial break, including a GLEE tease, we get Katelyn Epperly singing Carol King's I Feel The Earth Move. There are a couple of weak notes, and times when she seems to fall a touch behind the music. She seems far less connected than she was last week. Randy was not impressed, nor was Ellen. Kara felt it was uninspired, and Simon agrees. But both Randy and Simon compliment her hair.
After another break, Didi Benami brings her guitar to sing Rhiannon by Fleetwood Mac. She slows it down a bit, but is doing well, and captures the quirky texture of the song well. She was really good. Randy liked it, but was not bowled over. Ellen really liked it. Kara thought it was one of the best of the season so far. Simon thought it was a great moment, and the best of the night.
Paige Miles sings Charlie Chaplin's Smile, opening with a lovely voice and just a piano. On the second verse, they add some percussion and a smooth jazz feel. I liked it. Randy didn't at all. Neither did Ellen. Kara thinks it was all wrong. Simon agrees, and predicts it is the end of the line for Paige.
Breaking out some Tracey Chapman, Crystal Bowersox sings Give Me One Reason, one of my favorite Tracey songs. And Crystal is bringing it home. She is in great voice, and felling the song to the fullest. It sounds personal and current. Outstanding. The judges, rightfully so, are loving this. And Simon declares her the one to beat this season.
Another break, and Lilly Scott breaks out the Patsy Cline. She sings I Fall To Pieces, a trademark song of the great singer. Lilly brings her trademark quirk, and so much confidence. I think she was really good. She updated the song, and made it current. Randy, Ellen and Kara really like it, but Simon isn't so sure, and thought it risky.
Crystal had the standout performance, and Siobhan and Lilly were also good. Didi stepped it up tonight. That leaves, for me, four singers with two slots open. Katie, Lacey, Paige and Katelyn are most liking vying for the last spots in the Top 12 for the ladies, and it is tough to say what will happen. And what if there is a surprise? Could Simon be right, and singing Patsy Cline has put Lilly in danger? We won't know until Thursday night.