American Idol, Top 10 Girls

Michael Becker/ FOX

Randy Jackson said the guys were "hot" last night.

Even though Randy was exaggerating, if not flat-out lying, the American Idol ladies needed every inch of vocal cord to make up for Tuesday's very lackluster start to the second week of voter-fueled competition.

With week-one fave Crystal Bowersox's Idol fate unknown until the last moment, there was a chance that only nine ladies would take the stage Wednesday.

But lucky for her, for the show, for all of us—Crystal returned looking and, better yet, sounding healthy.

Was that good enough, though? And how did everyone else do?

Crystal Bowersox: We can officially say, we're glad that ladies' night was postponed to allow the 24-year-old mom time to recover. The sometime street musician kicked off the show with a radio-worthy cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's folksy "Long As I Can See the Light." "You are the truth," was Randy Jackson's reaction, which would have been mystifying if it hadn't come from an Idol judge. "Please stay healthy, we need you here," offered Ellen DeGeneres. And Simon Cowell, admitting he "completely underestimated" her last week, compared the performance to the moment when they realized with Kelly Clarkson that they had "a serious artist" on their hands.

Haeley Vaughn: Oh, what a terrible idea it was for the 16-year-old to sing "The Climb." While Miley Cyrus is no Mariah Carey, it turns out Haeley Vaughn is no Miley Cyrus. Even Randy said it was "excruciating" and that she had "no connection to the song at all." Kara DioGuardi said she needed about a year to work things out—so why did they put her through this year?! "There's a certain irony for you singing this song about climbing, when you actually fell off," observed Simon unnecessarily, prompting Ryan Seacrest to take up the kid's defense. "What good did that do, saying that?" he asked.

Lacey Brown: Lacey, she of the tragic Fleetwood Mac song last week, had a few good seconds with Sixpence None the Richer's "Kiss Me." But only a few. Never before this season had we realized just how important the first syllable of a song is as it exits the contestant's mouth. Ellen found her "adorable," but Randy actually groaned with bummed-outness. Simon found it "marginally better than last week," but pointed out the "massive, massive difference" between Lacey's and Crystal's performances.

Katie Stevens: The 17-year-old offered up a few sour notes, but overall, this version of Corinne Bailey Rae's "Put Your Records" on was…all right. Katie's had kind of a Katharine McPhee vibe going on tonight, with the fresh face, wavy brown hair and pretty voice. "I don't want to hear something I would hear in my dentist's office," Ellen said, unintentionally insulting Corinne Bailey Rae. Kara wisely pointed out that there's difference between songs that are great on the radio (Corinne redeemed!) and songs that are great live.

Didi Benami: Megan Joy Didi chose the uplifting Bill Withers standard "Lean on Me" to showcase that pleasantly nasal voice of hers. So, where was it? There were way too many awkward notes. "It really wasn't good," Kara leveled with her. Randy wished she hadn't attempted such a soulful song, and Simon… Let's just say, Didi, her eyes filling with tears, couldn't answer when the judges were finished and Ryan asked her if there was anything positive to take from their critiques.

Michelle Delamor: Even Michelle knew she had pitch problems reworking Creed's "With Arms Wide Open." "Most positive for me? The outfit is hot!" offered Randy, acknowledging the leggy brunette's white ruffly dress set off by a cropped leather jacket. Ellen liked the outfit, too, but both Kara and Simon actually enjoyed the performance, and they appreciated that Michelle tried to mix things up with that song.

Lilly Scott: A standout last week with a less-recognized Beatles tune, Lilly changed the game again tonight with her indie-rock, Woodstock 3.0-style rendition of Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come." While Didi failed at her attempt to filter a soulful song through her acoustic-guitar-girl voice, Lilly totally succeeded. It was Randy and Ellen's favorite performance of the night. "You just had your first moment in this competition," Kara said. "Thank God you tried out." Simon, however, found it great, but still preferred Crystal's performance as the best of the evening.

Katelyn Epperly: Hers was an incredibly believable cover of Coldplay's "The Scientist." Sitting behind the piano, dressed in white, Katelyn—for the most part—sang the hell out of the emotional, deceptively simple song. Ellen, however, "fell kind of asleep" because the slow song was…slow. Kara "kind of loves her," but wants the 19-year-old to figure out what kind of artist she is—besides a "seriously good" one. And Simon finds her performance style "quite corny" at times, but thinks Katelyn may be "back in the race" after tonight.

Paige Miles: A serviceable karaoke version of Kelly Clarkson's "Walk Away," written by none other than Kara DioGuardi. To us, Paige sounded like she was breathlessly playing catch-up with the big song from note one. But Ellen, wide awake this time, "thought it was fantastic." Kara didn't think the otherwise soulful 24-year-old connected with the song enough because she was smiling during the performance. Simon is concerned for Paige and her big voice after two weeks of picking the wrong song.

Siobhan Magnus: Knowing that the judges want something fresh, modern and relevant, the quirky 19-year-old came out and sang…"Respect"? Aretha Franklin's big, booming classic is inextricably linked to everything Simon hates: weddings, parties, karaoke, cabaret, et al. But lucky for Siobhan, she rocked the second half, especially that final "freedom." Randy found it "dope!" Simon hit it right on the head: "Parts of the song were terrible, and then that note was incredible."

All right, so the show started picking up steam in the second half, and we were able to take a handful of fierce performances away from ladies' night.

Thank you, Crystal, Lilly, Katelyn, Siobhan and...hmmm.

Four more contestants—two guys and two ladies—will get the boot Thursday during the live results show.

Please share your faves, your fears and your fury in the comments section.


Simon Cowell, engaged or not? Come on, man, we want to know whether to add you to our gallery of Celeb Weddings We Can't Wait For!

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