I don't care what the judges say, I love the Didi bird in the middle.

By Gina Carbone

Crystal Bowersox vs. Lilly Scott.

That’s what “American Idol” season nine seems to be coming down to, at least for the ladies.

(I’m not ignoring you, Siobhan Magnus, aka Adam Lambert. I’m just undecided.)

“Frustrating” seemed to be the word of the night.

Randy Jackson was frustrated with Michelle Delamor. Kara DioGuardi and Simon Cowell were frustrated with Katie Stevens. I was frustrated with the judges.

What is going on with you, Katie?

I finally feel like I “got” the girls of “American Idol.”

They have been force-fed to us since before the season even began, but I definitely didn’t hear it last week.

This week, the women outshined the men, who did an OK job overall Tuesday night.

That extra day helped the ladies. (Thanks, Crystal!)

Crystal Bowersox is owning her spot as frontrunner and I can’t say I’m surprised the most popular and influential show on television moved itself in honor of her illness. Why not? She’s the star so far.

For me, Didi Benami is also shining. That voice. I love it.

Is she the Megan Joy Corkrey of this season? Maybe, but Megan ended up with this odd arrogance. Totally unearned. And she couldn’t pull off the vocals for a live stage with backup singers and a band.

Didi can.


America's Next Top Model?

Also loving Michelle Delamor, but mostly because I want to raid her wardrobe. Girl is gorg. And she’s trying to take risks. That counts. I liked her Creed song, even if I didn’t love it. At least she wasn’t safe.

Lilly Scott I adore, but I feel like she doesn’t need my praise, what with Randy raving and Ellen saying she forgot it was a competition (same thing she said to Siobhan last week) and Kara throwing down the you just had a “moment” card.

Katelyn Epperly is trying so hard I’m losing the meaning of the songs and any kind of original interpretation of them. But at least she played piano, not guitar.

I can’t really figure Paige Miles out. Love her voice. Love her. But I’m not wowed and I wouldn’t miss her if she were gone.

Siobhan is a wild little thing. She reminds me of three people I know: My sister-in-law Linda, a girl at Seacoast Media Group named Emily, and Anna Paquin. But only if all of those women were wild and crazy singers. I can’t figure out whether I like Siobhan or am just annoyed by her, but I’m interested to hear more.


1. Crystal Bowersox — “Long As I Can See The Light” (CCR) — You’d never know she had been hospitalized yesterday (reportedly from complications with her diabetes) and even up to 15 minutes before the live show it was unclear whether she would perform or be disqualified. I can honestly say not only did she sound great, she sounded like a real frontrunner. And by “real” I mean (finally) up to the “American Idol” standard to which I have become accustomed in the past nine seasons. Simon Cowell was right to bring Kelly Clarkson’s name into the mix.

2. Haeley Vaughn
— “The Climb” (Miley Cyrus) — Keep smiling … as you walk off the stage and out of the competition. Sweet, sweet girl, but it’s borderline embarrassing to have her follow Crystal, of all singers. She’s just not up to par.

3. Lacey Brown — “Kiss Me” (Sixpence None the Richer) — So much better than last week. I wanted her gone after “Landslide,” but her voice does fit this song. (You were right, Kara.) She looks like Tonks from “Harry Potter.” The judges weren’t that into her. Simon even compared her, unfavorably, to Crystal. He called Crystal an “artist” in the making, whereas Lacey is just performing in a competition.

4. Katie Stevens — “Put Your Records On” (Corinne Bailey Rae) —  She’s developed a kind of overconfidence I don’t like. An attitude. I think it’s an affectation. And what I originally liked about her was a refreshing, innocent lack of attitude. She has such a strong voice. I think this was better than last week, but still not showcasing her to her best. The judges are frustrated because she’s not showing what kind of recording artist she would be. She got more “you sound too old” notes and Ellen suggested she not pick a song she’d hear in the dentists’ office. (Hey. I hear some good stuff at the dentist. It’s a good market — patients are captive audiences!)

5. Didi Benami — “Lean on Me” (Bill Withers) — Didi! Not happy that she was a cheerleader, but at least she meows. I loved her vocals last week. She sounds different, which I like.  Looks just like Brooke White. I loved what she did with “Lean On Me.” She’s my dark horse. Can I request she get to the top 10, at least? Never mind the judges. They are Didi-deaf.

6. Michelle Delamor — “With Arms Wide Open” (Creed) — It was a risk for her to sing this song and make it her own. I absolutely LOVED her outfit. If “Idol” doesn’t work she should try “Top Model” or maybe be one of the models on “Project Runway.”

7. Lilly Scott — “A Change is Gonna Come” (Sam Cooke) — So poised and confident without being cocky. I love her sound and her look and her everything, but this was not the best I’ve heard from her. I’m looking forward to better. I’m closer to Simon than the other three judges, who needed buckets for their drool.

8. Katelyn Epperly — “The Scientist” (Coldplay) — Probably Coldplay’s best song. Beautiful beautiful beautiful … when Chris Martin sings it. Katelyn? Tried to be original, and she has a nice big voice, but she didn’t do a good job for me. I lost the meaning and emotion of the song in her attempts to do something with it. Too slow. But I like that she took a risk and played piano (not guitar, Ellen) for a change. Simon said it was similar to the Natasha Bedingfield version and I didn’t even know there was one. (I just listened to it. OK. Better than Avril Lavigne’s cover. Get your own songs, people!) Simon said she has a corny side to her performing.

9. Paige Miles — “Walk Away” (Kelly Clarkson) — Funny how after all these years there’s still no one as good as Kelly Clarkson. (Yes, I’m including you, Miss Underwood.) I liked Paige’s version. It felt very Paige. It also felt very musical theater. I see her on Broadway. Man she can sing. Bonus: Kara wrote that song. It wasn’t a smiley song. She wrote it for a specific guy. Gulp for that guy.

Siobhan (pronounced Shi-vonn) has a great name and a great voice. But I don't know...

10. Siobhan Magnus — “Think” (Aretha Franklin) — Simon’s “funny little thing.” She of the former mohawk. She sings with that screechy David Cook face. She got a Snuggie comment from Ellen. I think she’s going to get an Adam Lambert comparison this season. But Siobhan name drops Kelly Clarkson AGAIN. So it was a big night for Kelly. She’s memorable and “interesting,” as Simon put it. He said that about Siobhan, not Kelly. But Kelly is even more interesting, in my opinion.



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