Blogging while watching, after the jump. Will say this in summary: The smart singers have defined themselves and are performing in accord with that definition. And the show ran overtime AGAIN.
Looks like Lilly to close. In judges intro, Ellen is on Simon's lap, nuzzling him and trying to combat the rumors they don't like each other.
First up: Katie Stevens, doing Kelly Clarkson's "Breakaway." Tuneless beginning. She is so awful. Of course, I hate her. But she is also awful, way too low. Marginal improvement on the chorus, but not for long. She better be grateful to all the teen girls who have been saving her sorry self. D minus for performance, F because I hate her. Randy says the song was too big for her, paling in comparison to Kelly C. Ellen loves that she took a young song and Katie has a great voice but "I didn't feel those words. ... You were singing but you weren't feeling." Kara says she has a great radio voice (so could we again note that the judges can't really hear the performances) but she doesn't know who she is. Simon thinks it has been very confusing for Katie; she has taken advice but "you haven't worked out what kind of artist" she wants to be. And she "kind of sucked the energy out" of the song. But he also praises her effort -- which feels as if the judges don't want to cause voting backlash by being too critical, but just hope she goes away. Or they want her to survive because she's the right type and someone can just fix her vocals in the studio.
Siobhan Magnus. "House of the Rising Sun," the Animals version. For her dad. Ryan is recapping her raves from last week. Lotta love from the show. As for the performance ... acappella open. Then instrumental backing, but this is terribly slow and too calculated. And I miss Alan Price's organ playing. Kind of blah. C.
Randy says it was different and "I love what you do. You take every risk." I don't think so. Ellen says "you are why I love music" and she made it current. Kara thinks the accapella was "brilliant." Simon wasn't quite such a fan and "it was all a bit weird ... You didn't do anything with the song ... all a bit ploddy."
Lacey Brown. "The Story." Brandi Carlile. Another slow one. I have real mixed feelings about her voice -- like it at times and just irritating in others. And I don't think I would want to hear this again. Don't hate it but don't love it. C. Awaiting another "ploddy" from Simon. Randy said it was a little boring and sleepy but it was Lacey's best performance in a long time. Ellen says it's her best performance to date. Kara calls it "effortless singing" and "a brilliant choice." Two brilliants for the first three contestants. Simon didn't "love love" the song but she sang it well. Still is waiting for Lacey to make "the right song connection."
Katelyn Epperly. "I Feel the Earth Move." Carole King. With keyboard, reduced to cruise-ship level. Couple of little things I like but not much overall. C minus. Randy liked that she did the Carole King hair but "I didn't feel the right connection, the vibe. ... sleepy, a little boring." Ellen questions song choice but drops an "adorable" on her. Kara says, "I felt like you were going through the motions." (Katelyn says she was "trying to be less corny.") Simon liked her hair but compared it to "request night" in a restaurant. Ryan gives Katelyn a chance to say that she does care.
Didi. "Rhiannon." Slowed down, guitar, and I don't hate it as long as I don't look at her, since there's something kind of "I'm the prettiest girl and don't need your love at all" in her look. She and the backing vocalists are out of synch. But I kind of like it. C plus. Randy says it was "a whole lot better" than last week but wanted a "wow" moment. Ellen says "yes indeedy, Didi," and "a lovely performance" especially after being torn apart last week. Kara calls it one of her favorite moments so far this season. Simon agrees with Kara, and says it was best so far tonight.
Paige Miles, "Smile." Charlie Chaplin. AKA Michael Jackson's favorite song. Nice in spots but basically a pleasant but unremarkable rendition and some bad places, too. C minus. Randy says "it just didn't work" and was baffled by a bossa-nova spot and compares it to dinner music. Ellen calls it "sad and heavy." Kara says "it was all wrong." Makes Paige explain herself, and Paige is stunned, but blames it on the song being emotional. Simon concurs with the others and calls it a "peanut" performance because it's something you listen to at the bar while eating peanuts. Ryan to the rescue re the emotions; Paige notes the Michael Jackson connection.
Two singers to go. At least with eight in the hour it moves along. But I hate these "special episode" promos for "Glee." It's a damn rerun.
Ohio's own Crystal Bowersox. "Give Me One Reason." Tracy Chapman. Making it bluesier. And I like her, not least because she appears willing to do the entire series with one change of clothes and minimal washing of her hair. Daring people to remember this is a vocal competition. Not my favorite of hers, but capable, in her style and I give it a B. Randy says "love that, love you, ... love the honesty." Ellen needs new adjectives and "best performance of the night." Kara says "it's easy for you because you know" who she is. Looking forward to the record. Simon says she is "one million billon percent" guaranteed a spot in the top 12 next week and "you are the one everyone has to beat."
Lilly Scott to close. "I Fall to Pieces." Oh, don't mess with Miss Patsy. Lilly's voice is just wrong for this. This is a nightmare. Who thought this was a way to close the show? Yes, her voice has its virtues, but not here. C-ish on vocal, D on concept and Cline heresy. Randy thought it was "hot" but it's not a molten, lava hot. Ellen liked it. Kara says she made Patsy Cline feel current. None seems as enthused as the words they are reaching for - and they are obviously rushing because time's running out. Simon thinks she was "very brave" to choose that song but it "didn't have the wow factor" -- even though it played into what Lilly is all about.
And the show did run long.