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Eight chicks perform on 'American Idol'

Eight Chicks Night on "American Idol" starts with judge Ellen DeGeneres, dressed in a gingham checked shirt and tie, sitting in Simon Cowell's lap, nibbling on his ear. Simon calls it quite uncomfortable, speaking for us all. It's even creepier than when Paula used to do it -- and that' s saying a mouthful.

"I didn't know we started," Ellen jokes. Turns out, Ellen has a tin ear for music AND comedy!

Siobhan Magnus performs on Tuesday night's episode of 'Idol.' (Frank Micelotta -- Fox)

Teenager Katie Stevens jumps on and off the key of "Breakaway" like a baby mountain goat leaping from crag to crag. Judge Randy Jackson thinks the song too big for her. Katie's too young to feel the words of the tune, theorizes Ellen The Generous. Katie doesn't know who she is as an artist yet, says judge Kara DioGuardi. "You kind of sucked -- the energy out of it," says Simon.

Siobhan Magnus, this season's Adam Lambert, takes on the Animals's "House of the Rising Sun," starting the tune a capella. Randy and Kara address her this week exactly like they did Lambert last season -- except Ellen The Generous, of course, who wasn't there. It's all "We like that you take risks" here, "We can't wait to see what you're going to do next week" there. Simon, on the other hand, has decided he has it in for Siobhan this season, calling her an odd little thing on her best weeks and, during quieter, more controlled performances like this one, nicking her for having no "wow" moment. For whatever reason this season -- maybe it's because he knows he's leaving at the end, Simon has a different quality about him. This season, he's a sort of cross between a Ferris wheel and a werewolf. Besides, Simon has already told Jay Leno -- yes, Jay Leno -- he wants Crystal Bowersox to win this season, before they've even announced the Top 12 Idolettes. We're done with Simon.

Lacey Brown chirps her way through "The Story," which is a terrific song choice for her and her best performance to date by far. The judges say so.

Katelyn Epperly's hair was the only convincing thing about her limp performance of Carole King's "I Feel the Earth Move" -- a performance Simon correctly describes as Request Night at some restaurant at which the wait staff gets up to perform.

Didi Benami does an itty bitty version of Fleetwood Mac's "Rhiannon." yet the judges fawn over here, including Simon, who thinks he may have found the "wow" factor missing from Siobhan's performance, after reminiscing about the "mauling" they'd given Didi last week. "Yes indeedy, Didi!" chimes in Ellen The Generous, demonstrating once again why she was such an inspired choice to replace Paula Abdul. Abdul never would have thought of that line in a million years!

Paige Miles, meanwhile, demonstrates how badly the judges mistook her for one of the best competitors this season when she drowns in Charlie Chaplin's "Smile." Simon calls it a Peanut Performance at a Holiday Inn in 1974 -- apparently a big year for sitting in bars at Holiday Inns eating peanuts while watching mediocre singers. Paige plays The Michael Jackson Card, saying she got choked up while singing the song because Michael Jackson had sung it and she was a huge fan. Nice try, Paige. Bye bye, Paige.

Crystal Bowersox dons electric guitar to perform Tracy Chapman's "Give Me One Reason" which the judges adore. Her press agent, Simon, gushes she will "one million billion percent" be in the Top 12 when they are unveiled after this week's round of competition, adding that she is this season's One To Beat. Because Crystal has never seen the show, she does not realize this is the Simon Cowell Curse -- he said it of Lambert last season, for instance, and he did not win. So she does not panic.

Lilly Scott's voice is too delicate for Patsy Cline's "I Fall to Pieces" -- loud and clear are the standards of country crooning chicks. The judges at this point are so invested in Lilly they are not going to change course now, so instead they praise her for making Patsy Cline "current" and Simon tells her she was terribly brave though maybe it was the teensy weensiest bit too small for the coveted Night's Last Performance slot.

By Lisa de Moraes  |  March 10, 2010; 7:57 AM ET
Categories:  "American Idol"  
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american idol, the show i once loved, died last night. it died when i could no longer deny after watching these performances that no one, not even bowersox, was able to bring a measure of energy, of excitement, a fire to their performances that would signal that they really wanted to win, and that they wanted to give an entertaining performance.

these contestants are starting to look and sound exactly alike - there is nothing making any of them stand out in the crowd, or provide that one ''wow'' moment that let's you know they are a contender, and that they really belong there. i'm even wondering if the casting for s9 is a joke, done to deliberately sabotage idol to make way for simon's ''x'' factor. idol has lost its magic, that mojo surrounding it and the contestants - that something special quality that, regardless if your fave won or not, made you want to tune in each week. clarkson, underwood, aiken, studdard, fantasia, daughtry, hicks, doolittle, archuleta - just a few alums who had performances that lit up the show, created watercooler moments that are lacking in this season, and compelled the viewer to want to watch.

idol's fast descent to the bottom began last year in s8, and last night was evidence of idol scraping it, and scraping it hard. the show is a shell of its former self. the party's over for idol, and this former idol lover, i'm turning out the light as i leave.

Posted by: dyneri | March 10, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Simon was wrong about Siobhan, she did really well, I liked her spin on that song. I actually liked Lacey's voice for the first time. Never heard the song before but it was perfect for her. Also, for the first time, I actually liked a song Crystal sang, she did a good job. And Lilly - I think Lilly has star power. She has a quirky voice that I like a lot, a very pretty face and I like her personality. The whole package as Simon used to say.

Posted by: MrsKirby | March 10, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Siobhan Magnus may have some talent, but there is no way she is the Adam Lambert of the season. There is no one, repeat, no one like Adam Lambert. I suspect this is why Idol seems so blah this year.

Posted by: jolinegkg | March 10, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

"Siobhan Magnus may have some talent, but there is no way she is the Adam Lambert of the season."

I agree. Siobhan is actually listenable. I can listen to her sing without the desire to poke out my eardrums with a sharpened Q-Tip.

Posted by: VTDuffman | March 10, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Also, Siobhan wears less makeup.

Posted by: VTDuffman | March 10, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Siobhan is exceptionally talented, if quirky.
Crystal is just plain exceptional. She's clearly a seasoned, experienced performer. I hope the judges let her perform at least one of her own songs at some point.
I could definitely see these as the top two, if the show were JUST about talent.
I expect to be thoroughly disappointed by the guys tonight.

Posted by: Duodenum | March 10, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

"I expect to be thoroughly disappointed by the guys tonight."

I like the mullet guy, he has a great tone, but lacks experience.

I also like the fat-ish guy with glasses. I think he sounds like John Popper from Blues Traveler.

Posted by: VTDuffman | March 10, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

So far, this year is lining up to find the next Ford Motor Company spokesmodel.

Posted by: molsonmich | March 10, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

They can't let Bowersox perform one of her own songs, since they'd have to pay her a royalty and it'd be unfair that she got more compensation in a competition than the other contestants. Her performance was a little bit more upbeat than the others, which had a tendency towards the dreary.

I'm glad New Orleans native Ellen mentioned something to Siobhan about the House of the Rising Sun. If nothing else she's reminding the contestants to read and actually understand the lyrics. The House of the Rising Sun, while the lyrics refer to it as a gambling house, in actuality it's what is known in New Orleans as a "sporting house", or house of ill-repute. From the lyrics:

There is a house in New Orleans
They call the Rising Sun
And it's been the ruin of many a poor boy
And God I know I'm one

Siobhan didn't even change "boy" to "girl", which would've made sense...sort of.

Paige (another one who didn't read or connect to the meaning of her song's lyrics) has got to go and I think Katie's number may be up, too.

Posted by: SheldonAlexandria | March 10, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Targon killed it last night compared to the other girls. At first I thought she was going to "Fast Car" by Tracy Chapman when they announced it prior to the commercial break, but "Give Me One Reason" was a much better choice. The other girls just didn't do anything impressive and good lord Paige basically commited ritual self immolation with her performance of "Smile". It is really a shame because she seems to be the most talented singer of the group.

Posted by: ozpunk | March 10, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Although I've been pretty disappointed with this season's crop of performers, I think that there are at least three contestants (with a possible fourth if Katelyn gets her act together) that can at least pass for Idol winners. I think there was definitely a "wow" moment with Crystal. She's my #1 between guys and girls.

Posted by: nprk | March 10, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Oh and another thing I learned from last night is that Siobhan's father appears to be Brian Johnson from AC/DC.

Posted by: ozpunk | March 10, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Watching Ellen's "development" as a performer has become a new reason to watch the show.

Posted by: DC2LA | March 10, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Hm. Still no check boxes to be able to select two at a time?

Posted by: anjacarolin | March 10, 2010 7:15 PM | Report abuse

>>Hm. Still no check boxes to be able to select two at a time?

Um, if you really want to select two, why don't you just vote twice? Nothing is stopping you...

Posted by: owingsmills | March 10, 2010 11:09 PM | Report abuse

Siobhan has a clear, pure voice much like Carly Smithson did - but I will agree that there was not such a "Wow Factor" in her "House of the Rising Sun" as there was in Smithson's "Come Together". Yes - I know - different beat - different mood - I'm just sayin' . . . .

Of course, the best voice often doesn't win. Neither did my pick last time, Irahita.

The worst affront, though, is the producer's insistence on gender parity in the Final 12, when there's clearly no talent parity. I would definitely rather listen to at least 8 of these young women any day of the week than at least 6 of the guys, whose performances last night were a total snoozefest.

Posted by: jqw3827 | March 11, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

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