We're down to the wire -- the last semifinal performances before the top 12 are assembled and paraded in front of us each week to be picked off one-by-one until a champion is announced amidst confetti, tears, and bad, bad victory songs (preferably NOT written by Kara DioGuardi). Several ladies made a strong case for their inclusion in the top 12 and one was prematurely crowned by Simon (of all people). Of course, a couple also made it clear why they should be sent home and sent home immediately.
Here's how they ranked (in my not so humble opinion):
1. Crystal Bowersox -- There's really not much to say about Crystal. She is awesome. Her performance of "Give Me One Reason" was captivating, interesting, and fun. Simon told her this competition was hers to lose, and at this point, I think he's right. She's the only one with any real buzz. The concern, though, is that America tends to reject the anointed. We did not give victory finales to Tamyra Grey, Chris Daughtry, Latoya London, Melinda Doolittle, Adam Lambert, David Archuleta. We tend to root for the underdogs. Granted, Crystal is so "anti-Idol" in her image that being the frontrunner may not tarnish her in the eyes of America. Here's hoping because, damn, that girl is freakin' special.
2. Siobhan Magnus -- Speaking of freakin' special, I love me some Siobhan Magnus. I love that dark, indie quality of her voice. I found her "House of the Rising Sun" absolutely haunting. I cannot wait to download that girl onto my ipod!
3. Didi Benami -- Let's call it a comeback. After two really unspectacular weeks (that followed a pretty darn spectacular Hollywood week package), my former frontrunner came back in a blaze of acoustic guitar. Her "Rhiannon" was a nice reminder of what got her here -- a stripped down, acoustic performance that was heartfelt and engaging. I hope it's enough to save Didi because I would really love to see more of that kind of work for the next couple weeks.
4. Katelyn Epperly -- Her performance of Carole King's "I Feel the Earth Move" wasn't particularly memorable or even all that exciting, but Katelyn's singing has grown on me since last week's "The Scientist." The problem with Katelyn is that I sense she might be a bit of a stank bitch. Maybe it was her look of confusion when Randy told her she had Carole King hair. (Bitch didn't seem to know who Carole King was.) Or maybe it was the stank look on her face during Crystal's performance. Katelyn may very well be one of those unfortunate girls who are very sweet but are cursed with perpetual BFS (Bitch Face Syndrome -- I've had students with that problem, and it's truly heartbreaking to see!). Her body of work during the semifinals are enough right now for me to over look the BFS, but I may not be so forgiving when she hits the top 12. (And she really should, right?)
5. Lilly Scott -- I love Lilly's voice, but I was underwhelmed with last night's performance of "I Fall to Pieces" which ended up feeling very gimmicky and more Megan Corkery than Idol worthy. I also have a hard time getting past my sister's insistence that Lilly looks like a cross between the albino from The Princess Bride and the Chicken Lady from Kids in the Hall. I worry about the lack of versatility Lilly has shown thus far, but I still have a hard time picturing the top 12 without her.
6. Lacey Brown -- Speaking of gimmicky voices . . . Lacey has just started to irritate me like crazy. Maybe it's that her voice feels like a horrific affectation. Maybe it's that perma-grin she sports in performance. Maybe it's her lousy song choices. I was underwhelmed by last night's choice of "The Story." It just was kind of dull. Sadly, though, I think there were two worse performances, which could earn Lacey a trip to the top 12...and maybe a spot on tour considering how weak the men are this year.
7. Katie Stevens -- Oh, Katie. If you walked into auditions for the high school musical here, I would be beside myself with joy. You have a lovely voice, and you seem so very sweet and determined. You just don't belong on American Idol with the potential of earning a recording contract. Your "Breakaway" was serviceable but dull. You're out of your league here, kiddo. Maybe the best thing would be for you to head home to Grandma and audition for some local theatre gigs. Trust me -- they will love you!
8. Paige Miles -- And now we get to our vomit inducing portion of the night. I was kind of rooting for poor Paige after last week's edition of Idol Ethnic Cleansing. (Props to Jesse Tyler Ferguson for tweeting that last week and "letting" me steal it!) It's hard to imagine Idol without a good diva, and I think the judges really wanted Paige to take that role. And then she comes out and warbles her way through Charlie Chaplin's "Smile" (which is one of the most beautifully heartbreaking songs ever written). Rather than attributing her warbles to nerves or the fact that the song itself is so moving, Paige blamed.....Michael Jackson. Her grief over the loss of MJ apparently made her so emotional while singing. Yeah, I couldn't MAKE that up. Bye bye, Paige. You can blame the King of Pop for a lot of things but NOT for a crappy Idol performance.