March 30, 2010 07:04 PM by Candace Young
Tonight’s episode of American Idol begins with a stolen smooch between Simon Cowell and Ellen Degeneres backstage. Ryan Seacrest then kicks off the evening before a huge crowd of screaming fans. He introduces Simon, Ellen, Randy Jackson, and Kara Dioguardi, and explains that it’s R&B/Soul night on FOX, and Usher is the mentor this week! Keep reading for highlights…
Siobhan Magnus is the first to meet with Usher – she’s a little starstruck, but he compliments her unique vocal abilities. Siobhan takes the stage to sing Chaka Khan’s Through the Fire wearing a gladiator inspired outfit with boots. She hits and hold a lot of high notes, but Randy and Ellen both think it was pitchy and not her best. Kara feels she was nervous, and Simon thinks she sounded like a person running a marathon while singing – and he’s bored of the screaming at the end of songs.
Casey James meets with Usher next, who declares that Casey is one to keep your eye on. Casey manages to impress him even when he forgets the lyrics! Tonight, Casey comes on stage with guitar and dressed in black with red accent shirt. He sings Hold On, and the seems to sound just right for him. Randy says it was a hot night for him! Nice job! Ellen compliments his consistency, but feels it was a little generic. Kara agrees that he keeps using the same range each week – she thinks he’s got more. Simon, however, goes out on his own and calls it Casey’s strongest week yet!
Mike Lynche plays guitar and sings for Usher in practice. Usher advises him to project his energy to everyone, all the way to the back of the room.Â Mike is singing Ready for Love and is seated on a stool, guitar in hand onstage intimately close to the crowd behind the judges. The audience is still as he performs intently -the result is moving and powerful.Â Randy tells him he’s in the zone. Ellen says it was beautiful. Kara agrees he did an incredible job with the song. Simon says it’s the first time he has taken him seriously as an artist – he did a terrific job!
Didi Benami opts to sing What Becomes of the Broken Hearted this week, and actually breaks down on Usher in practice! Usher tells her to show that emotion while performing.Â She takes the stage in a long, sparkling gown, and delivers in a husky voice – surprisingly intense at moments. Randy says it flat-lined for him – it wasn’t great. Ellen boos herself before saying she thought it was way dramatic and not her best. Kara agrees it was overdone – she says she’s changed since Hollywood Week, she’s lost her way. Simon tells her it was like swimming in jelly – over-the-top, old-fashioned, and off-melody. He agrees she’s lost her way.Â Ryan tries to get Didi to tell why it’s such an emotional song for her, but she won’t. Ryan says she sang it for someone and they’ll leave it at that.
Tim Urban is asked by Usher to imagine that he is the woman he’sÂ in love with while singing.Â Singing Anita Baker’s Sweet Love, Teflon Tim as he’s been dubbed, takes the stage in a suit jacket and jeans, perched on the stapes to start. He brings some real emotion to the tune and really seems to do well! Randy says there was no swag or vibe to it, but at least he sang in tune. Ellen calls him adorable for the people playing the drinking game at home. She adds that he walked like he was sneaking into a bedroom! Kara says he took the soul out of the song. Simon laughs as he tells Tim it really doesn’t matter what they say – he’s going to keep smiling and the audience will keep voting for him – so well done!
Andrew Garcia is very nervous to work with Usher, but he gets through it, and takes the stage on Idol to sing Forever on the Dance Floor with his acoustic guitar – it’s a really different arrangement of the song. Randy says he likes the outfit (a gray suit) and he liked the arrangement – his best in a long time! Ellen agrees,Â noting that he actually smiled! Kara calls it one giant leap in the right direction. Simon feels it was miles better than what they’ve seen, but as a person he comes over as very boring – he’s got to start showing some personality!
Katie Stevens tells Usher she’s going to sing Chain of Fools by Aretha Franklin. Usher advises her on how best to enhance her performance.Â Tonight, Katie strolls onto the stage in a sexy outfit with her hair up to deliver her raunchy rendition of this soulful song. Katie sounds great, but the song seems old for her. Randy says she is mad young and the song was a little disconnected, but nice vocals! Ellen thought the vocals were great but wishes the song was more current. Kara calls it one of her best vocal performances, but she does have to go back to making it young and commercial. Simon argues with Randy about whether she is like Christina Aguilera – he doesn’t think so! He thinks the performance was a little ‘Star Search’,Â and he adds that Kara’s advice about her being an R&B/Pop singer is wrong!
Lee Dewyze is next up to work with Usher.Â He’s singing Treat Her Like a Lady, and Usher calls it a special treat.Â Usher boosts Lee’s confidence in his voice, telling him to own it.Â Lee takes the stage live with his guitar and a gray leather jacket and kills it!! Randy calls it unbelievable! Ellen says it was the best performance of the night! Kare says it could have been on his record – amazing. Simon tells Lee he’s always believed in him – tonight is the night his life may have changed forever!
Crystal Bowersox, who promised to offer up something different this week, is outed by Usher as she plans to play the piano. Usher is excited about Crystal.Â She takes the stage live, accompanying herself on piano to perform Midnight Train to Georgia. She begins understated and builds to impressive vocals, leaving the piano to stand and sing with a mic. Randy loves her dress and stilettos, and the way she switched it up – another great performance. Ellen says she’s always great – and it was a wonderful idea. Kara is glad she took the risk – she can’t wait to see what she does next. Simon says the choice of song was sensational and her vocals were incredible at times. He warns, however, that she was visibly uncomfortable with the piano and shouldn’t let this process change her.
Usher calls Aaron Kelly singing Ain’t No Sunshine, incredible! Usher trains him to sing part of the song with proper inflection and emphasis. Usher feels Aaron could win if he plays his cards right. Aaron appears onstage in his trademark plaid with a black jacket, ripped jeans, and boots. He delivers the tune with a serious demeanor and strong vocals. Randy says it was just alright for him. Ellen thinks it was a good song choice and a good job. Kara wasn’t in love with it, but she still liked it. Simon calls it a cupcake to the main course – he thinks Aaron didn’t believe in it.
Tomorrow night on FOX, the Top Ten will be whittled down to just nine on the American Idol results show. Ryan announces that Usher will perform, as well as Ruben Studdard!
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Photos Courtesy: FOX