The Top 12
The show began with the traditional group song, this time Michael Buble's "I Haven't Met You Yet." They started with the guys in pairs on the stage and then the girls in the balcony. I could be wrong, but it sounded lip-synched again. [VIDEO OF GROUP SONG]
Ryan announced that the first theme for the Top 12 competition will be the music of the Rolling Stones. For the first time this year, you'll be able to download songs from the theme list given to the contestants on iTunes.
Then it was time to get down to business. Twelve empty, uncomfortable tulip chairs waited to be filled.
Ryan started with the ladies. Didi Benami was called down to the stage first, and Ryan spoke to Randy about consistency before announcing that she's made it. Next was Siobhan Magnus. Ryan asked her if she's comfortable on-stage and called her one of the most unique contestants. He asked Ellen DeGeneres what she'd like to see from Siobhan, if she stays in the competition, and Ellen told her to "keep doing what you're doing." She made it.
Paige Miles and Katelyn Epperly were brought down together, and Ryan announced that one was in and the other out. Ryan asked Simon which of them has the most potential. Simon Cowell answered that three weeks ago, he would have said Paige, and he acknowledged that Katelyn had a good week. Ultimately, though, he still thinks Paige has most potential (really?). Paige made it.
Katelyn told Ryan she's not going to give up on her dream: "I'm not stopping now." She performed one last time. [VIDEO OF KATELYN & PAIGE]
Then, it was time for the guys. Tim Uban, Todrick Hall, Lee Dewyze, and Casey James were called down together. Ryan read notes about all of them, then declared fist Casey and then Tim safe. This meant it was down to Lee and Todrick, with one of them going home. Ryan asked Randy Jackson, "Do both of these guys deserve a stool?" Randy said Lee does because he's been more consistent. Ryan announced, "The person who continues on the show is... Lee." (Yay!)
Todrick performed one last time. His voice sounded a little rougher at the beginning, maybe because he was shocked by being eliminated. [VIDEO OF TODRICK AND LEE]
Then, for a little bit of a break, Scott MacIntyre and Matt Giraud did a duet, each of them playing piano for Billy Joel's "Tell Her About It." Matt has let him hair grow out a little (it's curly). Scott was definitely having fun with it. In the bridge, Matt did a funky solo, and Scott stood up to play, too. They had a really nice harmony at the end. Scott announced that he has a full-length album out, "Heartstrings" of all original music. Matt has a No. 1 single on the iTunes jazz charts with Anne Wilson (exactly the niche where he'll do well). He's also recording an EP. [VIDEO OF SCOTT AND MATT]
Back to the results. Ryan had Crystal Bowersox stand up and announced that she's made it. She didn't seem as excited as you might expect, no doubt worrying about the fate of her fellow contestants, some of whom she's undoubtedly befriended. Michael Lynche was then asked to stand up. He went to the middle of the stage, apparently following instructions he'd previously been given by the stage manager: "That's what Debbie said to do!" Ryan asked Michael, "Do you think you can fit on one stool?" Then he told him congratulations.
Lacey Brown was next. Ryan called her to the stage and gave her the good news. Paige stood up to hug her as she joined her on the stools.
Aaron Kelly learned his fate next, looking really nervous. Aaron told Ryan he's gotten to be friends with the guys. Ryan told him, "You'll get to know them more, because you've made it."
Alex and Andrew next, and one of them was going home, much to Simon's dismay, who buried his head in his hands. Ryan asked Simon, "Do you think Andrew peaked too soon?" Simon, replied, "Arguably yes" but said he's still a very talented singer. Ryan announced, "The last spot for the guys goes to Andrew Garcia." Well, at least he's in, but Alex? Damn. I thought he had a chance.
Alex seemed shaken and said he regrets that America hasn't had a chance to see him do more. Ellen reassured him, "You're so good. You just need to have more experience, to believe in yourself." [VIDEO OF ALEX AND ANDREW]
Finally, it was down to Katie and Lilly. When I saw those two faces on the stage, I was almost certain that Katie would be leaving, based on her failure to find her comfort zone in the first three weeks. Kara DioGuardi (I initially typed "Paula") said, "It's funny they're up there together." Clearly, like me, she expected either Paige or Lacey to be leaving instead. Ryan announced, "The final seat in our top 12 belongs to Katie." Soooo not right!
Crystal was tearing up, watching her friend perform. Even Katie, granted a momentary reprieve, was crying. [VIDEO OF KATIE AND LILLY]
Ryan rolled a montage of the journey of the four who had been eliminated. He announced that next week, the contestants will take "the big stage."
And now a few thoughts on those who were sent home:
Katelyn Epperly might have been a stronger contender on any other year, but this season she struggled to stand out in a talented field. She's very attractive, and she's got a good voice, but she's got to grow as an artist. If she meant it when she said she's not giving up, I'm sure there's a future for her.
Todrick Hall has been accused of being a dancer who wants to sing, but from what I've seen of his dancing, I'm not terribly impressed by that either. Maybe it's because he's been in the biz for so long already, but Todrick oozed confidence. At this point, he could benefit from refining his stage presence, learning when to leave it all on the stage and when to hold back.
Alex Lambert is a talented young guy and deserves the "most improved award" for this stage in the competition. I predict that, if he continues to grow, he'll have a chance in this industry.
Lilly Scott probably suffered from vote splitting, as those who love her also tend to love one of the current frontrunners, Crystal. I have enjoyed her quirky, indie takes on classic rock songs, but I think she sealed her own doom by going with a Patsy Cline number this week. It's not so much that it was a country song; simply that it was the wrong fit for her and failed to motivate people who weren't already her fans to vote. However, I wouldn't be surprised if we see more of her down the road. She is one of the few Idol contestants eliminated this early who could sell plenty of albums almost immediately (or at least, as soon as her contract with TPTB expires).
Even at this stage in the competition, surprises do happen.