American Idol Season 9 - Top 11: March 23, 2010

Top 11 - Billboard Hot 100 #1 Hits Week - March 23, 2010

At least this year, they narrowed down the theme from everyone's favorite, the disastrous "Top Downloads". Still, sometimes having themes this broad (how many #1 hits have there been in Billboard's history?) can prove dangerous. And tonight, it did.

Lee Dewyze - "The Letter" (originally by the Box Tops) B+

I LOVE this song. I must say Lee's version was not the best I've heard of it, but I give him props for choosing a great song and doing something solid with it. Which is more than I can say for some of these other contestants. However, for a truly fantastic version of "The Letter", you HAVE to check out the Michael Johns/Carly Smithson duet which they performed live in Season 8 at some results show or other. It blows the mind. The second half of Lee's performance definitely shone brighter than the first.

Paige Miles - "Against All Odds" (originally by Phil Collins) C+

I really don't think this was as bad as everyone made it out to be. She sounds a bit breathy, but it works with the vulnerability of the song. I could have done without some of the runs however. The opposite of Lee, the first half of the song was much better for Paige. Overall, the performance was a bit sleepy, but it wasn't a disaster, in my opinion.

Tim Urban - "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" (originally by Queen) B+

OK, so here is a song I am not at all a fan of. I love most songs by Queen, but this song always gets to me. The judges may have criticized both Tim's vocals and his stage movements, but I loved all of it as usual. Maybe it was the comparison Kara made to Zac Efron that got me. I give Tim extra points for that awesome stage slide. I can't wait for him to pick a better song than this though.

Aaron Kelly - "I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing" (originally by Aerosmith) A

Interesting fact - this is Aerosmith's first and only #1 song. I won a trivia contest based on that question when I was 13. But anyway. Aaron's version was beautiful, with just the right amount of country added into the vocal. This is MORE than worth a download, especially considering that he was sick for this performance. The song came off very effortless, although the backup singers were very annoying. Aaron has come a LONG WAY in terms of stage presence, in fact I think he has made the most improvements in this area of all the contestants.

Crystal Bowersox - "Me and Bobby McGee" (originally by Janis Joplin) A-

A very smooth and incredible rendition of a very iconic song. Unless you can put your own spin on it or sing just as well, this is a difficult song to sing live. I liked how she sang the song in a way I can only describe as "pretty". It was nice to see from her, as Crystal usually puts a more gritty tone into things. I also liked the arrangement; it meshed well with Crystal's vocal. She made the song her own, but stayed true to the original.

Michael Lynche - "When A Man Loves A Woman" (originally by Percy Sledge) A-

A beautiful performance. I was shocked that Kara wasn't just as touched by this performance as she was by the lyrically similar "A Woman's Work" in the semi-final round. This version is worth a download, although Big Mike may have tried to tackle a few too many vocal runs, when the song didn't need quite as many. He definitely connected with the song and it showed. I loved that last note.

Andrew Garcia - "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" (originally by Marvin Gaye) C

This song is a true soul classic and a song that I grew up on. And I don't think Andrew truly did it justice. The first time I watched his performance on TV, I thought it was fairly solid and that it was his best performance in a while. But when I listen back to the audio alone, I cringe. I don't like the way he pronounces the words in this song and his vocals don't really seem to match the music of the song.

Katie Stevens - "Big Girls Don't Cry" (originally by Fergie) B+

It seemed Katie, who has been criticized for seeming robot-like, had a lot of fun with the song. She showed a lot of ease as she performed and shockingly, made me like this horrible song which usually makes me switch the radio station. Who knew this song featured a line about UNO cards? Maybe if I had known that a little earlier, I would have liked the Fergie version better. Katie's voice sounded clear and pure.

Casey James - "The Power of Love" (originally by Huey Lewis & the News) A-

Simon criticized Casey for sounding like an 80's cover band, which is probably exactly why I liked this fun performance. Casey always seems at ease, unlike some other contestants. If Casey was the lead singer in an 80's cover band, I think I would be first in line outside the bar. Maybe Casey can parlay this to become the successor for Constantine when he eventually leaves Rock of Ages on Broadway. You heard it here first!

Didi Benami - "You're No Good" (originally by Linda Rondstat) C+

I was not very impressed with Didi's performance. I am not sure which I liked less - the song or her vocals. Some combination of both I suppose. I didn't agree with the judges that Didi was trying to play a role, she looked more beautiful than she has ever looked, and seemed to be having a good time. But in the end, this was a forgettable performance. Even Didi herself may want to forget this one.

Sibohan Magnus - "Superstition" (originally bye Stevie Wonder) B-

I am a fan of Sibohan's, I must say. Her version of "House of The Rising Sun" was transcendent and even won over my mom, who has claimed that song as her favorite probably since it was released. Yet, I couldn't get excited over "Superstition". The glory note/scream/patented Siobhan move was a bit out of place in this song, which is more of a midtempo in comparison to "Paint It Black" or "Think". Sibohan may have the best voice of them all (see her "House of the Rising Sun" or "Wicked Game" performances) but she needs to use when to use that scream effectively and when not to.

Best of the night: Aaron
Worst of the night: Andrew