'American Idol' Top 9 Recap: Katie Stevens and Casey James Shine

The two had the 'best performance' of their time so far in the Lennon-McCartney week where almost everybody, including Tim Urban, received a compliment from the judges.
The top 9 contestants of "American Idol" belted out songs from John Lennon - Paul McCartney songbook. McCartney sent his well-wishes to the contestants through a video before Aaron Kelly opened the show with "The Long and Winding Road". Ellen DeGeneres said it indeed felt like a long and winding road. Kara DioGuardi encouraged him to change his usual performance while Simon Cowell called it "very old-fashioned, and very boring."

Another youngster was put up as early performer. Katie Stevens broke out with a somber rendition of "Let It Be". The audience roared and so did the judges. "That was your best performance ever," Randy Jackson praised. "That was ridiculous." Kara said, "You make the song your own. You're blossoming." Simon pointed out the improvement, saying "It felt, to me, that you were singing it about somebody rather than being robotic. And that's a big difference."

Andrew Garcia then took over the stage with a rock version of "Can't Buy Me Love". While Randy and Ellen generally loved the performance, Kara and Simon agreed that there was nothing new about Andrew and that it sounded corny. "The problem with that performance was the band overpowering that performance," Simon said. "...I think you and the band got this all wrong tonight."

Michael Lynche did "Elanor Rigby", the same song that David Cook sang in season 7. Randy said there were only parts that worked. Ellen said it was a huge risk that Mike did incredibly. Kara praised Mike's vocal, saying he "sold the story". Simon, however, did not love it as much as the three. "This is the kind of thing you see and hear in musicals," he said. "I think if anything it made you go slightly backwards. It was just too over the top."

Crystal Bowersox was next, singing "Come Together". Randy said, "Another solid performance. It definitely worked. you're in the zone right now." Ellen is worried she needed new words to describe how great Crystal is. Kara commented, "I think this is one of my favorite performances of yours. It was playful." Simon said it was a radio-worthy performance, elaborating "That's how you make a song contemporary. Terrific, and much better than last week."

Even Tim Urban received some love from the judges. His rendition of "All My Lovin' " was deemed better than the last couple of weeks. Ellen specifically said, "It was your second best performance after 'Hallelujah'." Kara told him to smile for the improvement while Simon said, "Taking everything into consideration, I thought you did really well with that song tonight."

Casey James was singing "Jealous Guy". Randy was "impressed" that he took the "leap". Ellen deemed it his best performance to date because it was "soulful". Kara said it had depth while Simon gushed, "I think it was the best performance of the night so far. I am very, very impressed with you tonight."

Siobhan Magnus sang "Across the Universe" minus the screaming. Randy loved the tender side of her and Ellen thought it was beautiful. "You showed control, it was good. It was restrained and polite, which something we're not used to seeing from you. But I am still a fan," Kara said. Simon thought Siobhan bounced back from last week's performance.

Lee DeWyze closed the night with "Hey Jude" and surprised the audience with a bagpipe player. The judges were literally giggling over the addition which Lee credited for the arrangement. Randy and Ellen liked the performance. Kara said she saw him more comfortable on the stage although there were some off moments. Simon dropped the bomb, "I wouldn't have done that [bagpiper]. It was like he turned up on the wrong show."

On the result show, Rihanna, Jason Derulo and David Archuleta will perform. Adam Lambert will then mentor the Top 8 next week and perform.

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