Crystal Bowersox, 24, Elliston, OH: Her voice sounds great tonight. Maybe it was just the song last week. Here, the voice is front and center, no distracting, gratuitous harmonica solos. Still not diggin’ the presentation but the voice is for real. Behold, tonight’s pace setter. Looks like Kara and I are on the same page with the song choice. Grade: A-
Haeley Vaughn, 16, Fort Collins, CO: The best part of the whole segment was when Simon spoke. “It was a complete and utter mess.” Ditto. Grade: C–
Lacey Brown, 24, Amarillo, TX: After murdering “Landslide” last week, “Mmmbop” would have been a vast improvement. Not bad. Better. But again, that’s not saying much. She’s just not that good. Grade: C
Katie Stevens, 17, Middlebury, CT: Much better this time around. Actually showed some stage presence time around. Performance = good, singing = meh. Grade: C+
Didi Benami, 23, Knoxville, TN: Not the best choice for her, given her range. She needs to do more of the organic granola stuff as I don’t think she has the chops for soul music. Randy agreed. Grade: C
Michelle Delamor, 22, Miami, FL: A “Creed” song, really? She’s definitely got the pipes. But there is zero charisma on stage. And the arrangement was dreadful. I don’t really get Kara. “You believed in it.” So the f- what. Grade C+
Lilly Scott, 20, Denver, CO: Her singing is pretty good. She showed more range than what I thought she had. Thank GOD for Simon. He was the only one that brought up the obvious and inescapable fact that Crystal was actually better, despite not being as ambitious. Grade: B
Katelyn Epperly, 19, West Des Moines, IA: For once, someone actually played an instrument that played a clear role in the performance. I think she’s dynamite. If it wasn’t for one note, I would have given a nudge higher. She actually has talent. I agree with Kara 100%. I think Simon has a point too with the cheesy looks on stage. Grade: B+
Paige Miles, 24, Naples Florida: One of the few from this year that has a naturally beautiful voice. Quite effortless. She may have the best voice in the competition. Her only problem is that she doesn’t jump out of the screen, even if she’s got great eyes to match that booming voice. Judges were sour on her, but I liked it. She’s a great talent but I see the judges playing her like they used to play Melinda Doolittle. Grade: A-
Siobhan Magnus, 19, Cape Cod, MA: Look, the kid’s got a great voice but there are limits. I mean singing Aretha Franklin is a tall task. Unfortunately, I didn’t think it held up that well, energy and big notes notwithstanding. The judges were enraptured with her performance. Again, Simon and I are on the same page. Grade: B-
Aside from the ascot, I see absolutely no value in having Ellen DeGeneres on the show. On balance, the girls improved dramatically. So far I’ve got Crystal Bowersox as the sentimental favorite, with Lily as the dark horse. Overall, the favorites have to be Crystal, Kately, Siobhan, and Didi on the women’s side.
As side commentary, I hate the inconsistency of the the judges’ comments. On one hand its perfectly fine to take on big songs (see Siobhan’s cover of “Think”) even if you miss notes, but not for others. They’ll kill some of the contestants for missing notes but no others. I thought Siobhan was pretty rough in a few spots and only Simon called her on it……just seems strange.