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Top 12 Perform -- American Idol, Season 9, Episode 22

The top twelve singers perform songs from the theme "Rolling Stones."

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Face Off: Simon Cowell vs. Ryan Seacrest

  • Mar 25, 2010
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Things started off rather traditionally as the judges were announced on the stage before going to their table. Then, Ryan walked down some really long stairs and announced the top twelve singers to the resounding cheers of over 450 fans in the theater. It was loud, noisy, bright, and everyone was excited for the show to begin--even the contestants! The theme for tonight was songs by the Rolling Stones. An added bit of camera time was allotted to the contestants because of their film clips about family life. These videos offered America the perfect chance to get to know the singers better.

The show began with Michael Lynche. We learned from Michael's video that he used to play football until his mother's death, but that he found his love for music again as an act of healing the grief over her loss. The most exciting thing about Michael's performance was the controversial showdown at the end between Ryan and Simon. I've never seen Ryan jump off the stage as quickly as he did and get into Simon's face over a contestant! Ryan and Mike must have shared a really special moment during all those hugging scenes! Ryan tried to explain to Simon in a calm voice that he was helping Mike do well in the competition by asking Simon to clarify his critiques. Simon looked uncomfortable and backed away from Ryan. He repeatedly asked him to return to the stage as well. Even though it was unexpected and Ryan did a fantastic job of looking scary, I still feel the entire face off was planned to add drama to the reality show.

The next singer was my "most improved" of the night--Didi Benami. The video clipped showed information about her mom and her sisters (Didi being the middle child). She explained to America that she wasn't always a "sweet person" and that she did indeed have an edge about her (demonstrated with the song "Play with Fire"). I was impressed by her fighting spirit. If she can keep this attitude and singing quality consistent in the upcoming weeks, she might make it pretty far in the competition.

Both Casey James and Lacey Brown's performances felt a little flat and boring. Lacey was obviously too rehearsed and stiff while Casey loosened up enough to be given the compliment of a "rock star performance." I still wanted more from him, though. It always feels like he is hiding behind his guitar.

Despite being unimpressed with their performances, I did enjoy Casey's and Lacey's video clips. We learned that Casey was sick as a young child from an allergic reaction to a vaccine, and it was believed that he would be brain dead. However, his mother was reassured when he began to hum music. Lacey's story was a little more down to Earth. She's a small town girl who's naturally shy and introverted. Her father encouraged her to take this opportunity to shine, and so she did. The competition must be tough for both of these contestants because they come off as extremely shy and introverted when on the stage.

The next performers didn't have trouble conquering the stage, but they did have trouble conquering themselves. Andrew Garcia, Katie Stevens, and Tim Urban had different strengths and weaknesses when it came their songs. Andrew's story was emotional because his father explained about all the gangs his son had to grow up around. His father really stressed that he wanted Andrew to give his wife and son the type of life that he was unable to provide. The judges were split on his performance of  "Give Me Shelter," but I agreed with Ellen--It was one of his best since Hollywood week! Kara and Simon had another mini-squabble over whether or not Andrew connected with the war theme enough. It was extremely hilarious when Simon asked if Andrew should have brought a tank on the stage. Luckily, banter quieted down between the judges when Katie came on stage. I actually found her family video the most boring because it was very generic--a little girl sings off key at a wedding and everyone says "aw." I get the feeling that she's spoiled and comes from a relatively wealthy family. It's difficult for me to relate to her. At least her performance was better than last week's though she did get repetitive with the refrain from "Wild Horses" toward the end of her song. Whereas Katie improved from last week, Tim regressed. He gets the "worst singer of the night" award. I did not enjoy the Reggae version of his song even if the judges applauded him for being "different." It was an awkward arrangement. At least I was able to relate to his video clip about coming from a large family of ten kids: five boys and five girls. I also come from a large family, six siblings, so it was very interesting to listen to his brothers and sisters talk about him.

Another contestant who comes from a huge family was Siobhan Magnus. I couldn't connect with her from the family video clip, but I did understand that she has a special relationship with her father. He explained how "it's any parent's dream the way she holds herself." And tonight was no expectation. She made her father proud with "Paint it Black." It was a dramatic performance with an ending note that was even better than "House of the Rising Sun;" who thought she could top that? She was the judges' favorite as well, and they regaled her as being like Adam Lambert.
Though they weren't the judges' favorites of the nights, Lee Dewyze, Paige Miles, and Aaron Kelly gave solid performances that garnered a lot of feedback. The audience learned that Lee was a former paint store employee who lived paycheck to paycheck. "Beast of Burden" was one of his better performances even though he was uncomfortable on the stage. Ellen likened it to a hospital gown, a little less than what she expected. Simon gave the best advice by reminding Lee to stop acting like people were better than him. Paige Miles was next on stage. Her video disclosed that her father died when she was only four years old, so she was raised by her mother. She grew up singing in the church because that is where her mother sang. She really stood out one day at a pageant. From then on, Paige knew she wanted to sing. Paige's performance of "Honky Tonk Woman" wasn't perfect, but she did amazingly well considering she was sick with laryngitis all week.That was her first run through of the song! I couldn't imagine doing what she did, so I gave her major props for being tenacious and ferocious in her stage presence. Aaron Kelly rounded out the trio. I've always been impressed with his story. I don't know how I would cope with the fact that my birth parents couldn't take care of me! Fortunately, he had a wonderful aunt, now mom, who adopted him when he was only five years old. She told a cute story of the first time he wanted to sing--he told everyone that they couldn't watch him sing! He's been passionate about his music since age nine, and he always "blows her away." His performance of Angie was actually pretty soul searching. I wasn't sure he would be able to find a song that really showcased his style with this theme, but he pulled it off! It shows that he is being careful of song choice--something many of the other contestants are struggling with.

The final and my favorite performance of the night was Crystal Bowersox's "You Can't Always Get What You Want." I've never been a fan of that song! I make fun of the lyrics all the time just because it's so whiny. Despite the fact that a lot of the judges said it fell just a little flat, I was excited by her arrangement. I've said this before, and I will say it again: Anyone who can make you enjoy a song you previously disliked is truly an artist! There was a little drama between Crystal and Simon about whether she thought she had the "prize in the bag." Crystal was offended that he thought she was that cocky or self-assured. She tried to explain otherwise, but she was cut off by the American Idol music.

Despite the difference of opinions between the judges, Crystal had a compelling performance and video clip. She was a song writer at the early age of ten and even wrote one for her father called "Daddy." Crystal's father looks like the type of person who has always struggled to show emotion, so it was quite surprising when he started crying as he explained that the refrain was "Daddy, I love you." It must have been tough for the family because he explained that he was always at work, but that Crystal understand why he was busy.

Overall, I would say the performances were 50% good and 50% "blah," meaning not necessarily good or bad. The only performance I really hated was Tim Urban's. The best part of the night, beside the various showdowns between Simon, Ryan, and Kara, were the video clips. Fox did a great job of helping the audience learn more about the contestants. Earlier stereotypes disappeared as a softer side was reflected in all the stories told by their families. It was a truly touching episode.

Here is the full lineup of all the contestants and what they sang for this episode. I included as much information as I remembered:

  1. Michael Lynche, 26/FL, "Miss You"
  2. Didi Benami, 23/TN, "Play with Fire"
  3. Casey James, 27/TX, "It's All over Now"
  4. Lacey Brown, 24/TX, "Ruby Tuesday"
  5. Andrew Garcia, 24/CA, "Give Me Shelter"
  6. Katie Stevens, 17/CT, "Wild Horses"
  7. Tim Urban, 20/TX, "Under My Thumb"
  8. Siobhan Magnus, 19/MA, "Paint It Black"
  9. Lee Dewyze, 23/IL, "Beast of Burden"
  10. Paige Miles, 24/FL, "Honky Tonk Woman"
  11. Aaron Kelly, 16/PA, "Angie"
  12. Crystal Bowersox, 24/OH, "You Can't Always Get What You Want"
Face Off: Simon Cowell vs. Ryan Seacrest

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October 28, 2010
It's really hard for me to picture Ryan Seacrest as scary in any way. The guy always looks like a complete pushover. So for him to intimate someone like Cowell, who is known for his bully like ways, must have been something. I agree, that face off must have been planned to add drama to the show. I just can't picture Seacrest intimidating anyone in real life, lol.
October 28, 2010
Yeah, I was surprised. I think he had more of a bite than people realize. The small ones are actually some of the tougher people out there, lol, or crafty at least! Yeah, it was probably all just a show, but it was still fun! ;)
April 29, 2010
LOL> The whole idea of Ryan Seacrest intimidating anyone is hilarious! Paint it Black and it's All Over Now are two of my favorite songs. I hope they weren't modernized too much.
October 28, 2010
Yeah, I was surprised too, but he's got a little punch behind that small package...or can at least act tough, lol. "Paint it Black" was a little too "Hollywood" for my tastes. It started off cool, and then she had to get all special effects like, lol. "All Over Now" was nice, though. :)
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The top twelve singers are:
  1. Michael Lynche
  2. Didi Benami
  3. Casey James
  4. Lacey Brown
  5. Andrew Garcia
  6. Katie Stevens
  7. Tim Urban
  8. Siobhan Magnus
  9. Lee Dewyze
  10. Paige Miles
  11. Aaron Kelly
  12. Crystal Bowersox 

They perform songs by the "Rolling Stones," which is this week's theme.
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Original Air Date: March 16, 2010
Description: The top 12 singers perform Rolling Stones' songs.
TV Show: American Idol 9, American Idol
Genre: Series - Reality, Music
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