Twelve girls have made it to the live stage of "American Idol" this season and they had to overcome stage fright to garner votes from home audience. This is also the first time that judge Ellen DeGeneres, who replaces Paula Abdul, is seen judging live.
The first girl to kick off the night was Paige Miles. She sang "All Right Now" by Free and the judges agreed that it was a bad song choice although Simon Cowell added that she has the best vocal of all the girls. Randy Jackson said, "I think it was a great job" while Kara DioGuardi said she has to put soul in her performance.
Ashley Rodriguez was next, taking the risk to sing a contemporary song "Happy" by Leona Lewis. "I thought it was clumsy, your version. I think you're going backwards, I don't feel you as a contemporary recording audience. Just somebody who sings somebody else's song and not very well. I think you could be in trouble tonight," Simon said.
Janell Wheeler brought Heart's "What About Love" to the stage and again the judges criticized the song choice. Kara said, "The song was way too big you" while Simon said there were "moments in the song" when he did like her voice. Ellen simply said, "I liked it and I like you."
Lilly Scott saved the day with her rendition of The Beatles' "Fixing a Hole". With her jazzy voice, she turned the unfamiliar song into her own version. Simon said, "Definitely the best we've had so far. I'm still not feeling much star power from you." Randy chimed in, "I love that you don't care what everyone thinks. I love the honesty," adding he liked "real indie artist" that the show has never had.
Things were running smoother for Katelyn Epperly who sang the classic "Oh Darling". Simon said, "Even though it was very messy, I actually really like you." Ellen praised her to have an "amazing" voice but Kara criticized her make-up. Meanwhile, Randy said, "I think you can go places."
Haeley Vaughn butchered her song, The Beatles' "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" which she turned into an acoustic version. Kara said, "Every time you take that stage you have fun, but you need to work on technical abilities." Simon snapped, "If I'm being honest, it was verging on terrible." Randy agreed with him especially on the high notes.
Lacey Brown did not do well either. Randy said her Stevie Nicks' "Landslide" was "pitchy". Even Ellen who was full of praise throughout the night said "I just didn't think it worked out." Simon said, "After 15 seconds I was working out how much longer there was in the song. And I thought it was indulgent. It was just boring, sorry." Kara hoped America gives her one more shot.
Michelle Delamor who hardly had air time before the semifinal gave Alicia Keys' "Falling" a try. She actually impressed the judges. Simon gushed, "You're a very very professional singer. There wasn't one moment in the performance where I thought wow. And you look fantastic, by the way." In the other hand Kara said, "There were some spots that weren't perfect. But I think you have a lot of good things about you."
Didi Benami sang "The Way I Am" by Ingrid Michaelson. "Too many people trying to sound like the same person," Simon said. "... I think you are a good singer. What I'm missing is a spark here, something which excites me." Kara agreed to this but she added, "You at least made some changes to the original recording."
Siobhan Magnus took the stage next, singing Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game". The judges generally liked the performance with Simon saying "You really are a funny little thing, aren't you? I liked the song, but I didn't love the song." Ellen commented, "I thought it was a great song choice. I was being entertained."
Crystal Bowersox amazed everyone in the judging panel, especially Simon, with her "Hand in My Pocket" by Alanis Morissette. "The truth is there are thousands of you doing this outside subway stations everywhere. You've got to do something and make it your version. I think you're refreshing. But I don't want to be too critical because I really, really like you and I want you to do well," Simon concluded the whole message.
The last act of the night was 17-year-old Katie Stevens who chose Michael Buble's "Feeling Good". Although her song was impressive technically, the judges did not love how she presented herself. "Like your mum and dad had dressed you and given you the song for this audition, so it started to become annoying," Simon said. Ellen went a little nicer, saying "It was good, but you're 17 and it was very intense. I want to see you be 17."