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Freelance entertainment writer, martial arts instructor, and mother of two.

American Idol 9, Feb. 23 – Too Many Playing It Safe


Crystal Bowersox, 24, of Elliston, OH is a musician and mom. She knows Simon is right that she would have looked past the show thinking it wasn’t right for her, but what made her change her mind is her son. It’s time to step it up. She wants to make sure she gives him everything he needs. Tonight she’s singing Hand In My Pocket, and my God, is this one right up her alley. She’s strumming along on her guitar, and this is just … Crystal Bowersox. She also has her harmonica strapped on and does a few bars on that as well. I could listen to this girl all night.

Randy tells Crystal she’s one of his favorites overall and one of his favorites tonight for a bunch of reasons. He loves her originally as an artist, coming out wearing a harp, like Springsteen, Melissa Etherize, Dylan, and he loves the honesty. He’s not sure if it’s the right song, but he just likes her and her honesty, and she’s going to do her thing no matter what. Ellen is also a fan of hers and feels they’re lucky she decided to audition, as she added something fresh to the show. If she’s at home voting, she’s voting for her.

Simon says they like Crystal, they love her baby, they like her story, but the truth is there are thousands of her doing this outside subway stations right now. She wouldn’t stop him in his tracks. Her doing an Alanis Morissette song is doing a soundalike. She needs to do something that is her not trying to sound like someone else. He tells her she could do anything else, but make it her version. Yet, he really likes her and finds her refreshing. She doesn’t quite understand what he’s getting at. Kara tells Crystal she was great tonight, but she’s seen greatness before, when she really builds the performance and has that ability to take them on a journey. She doesn’t want her to be just a coffeehouse performer. She needs to bring it out with her own uniqueness. She shows off her guitar that is signed by Melissa Etheridge and Shania Twain.

Last up for the night is Katie Stevens, 17, of Middlebury, CT. Her most memorable moment was getting the golden ticket to Hollywood with her family excited for her, and then calling her grandmother with Alzheimer’s, and hearing she was proud of her. She’s wishing her family was still with her now. She sings Feeling Good and is sounding as good as she feels, but does have a pitchy moment or two. If we’re talking about people being original, though, this isn’t. Regardless, it’s definitely unexpected from this 17 year old girl.

Ellen feels like it was good, and Katie has a powerful voice, yet at 17, she felt it was conservative. She wants to see her be 17, fresh, current, and modern. It was too old for her. Simon totally agrees, saying it was like her mom and dad had dressed her and given her the song to sing. It’s starting to become annoying, and he’s heard this before, but at 17 with a good voice, she has to become like a young recording artist, not like she’s singing at her mom’s birthday party.

Kara thinks if Katie had sounded good, they wouldn’t be talking like this, but she wonders if she couldn’t hear herself, as she was that pitchy. She has a natural gift and ridiculous chops and she hopes America gives her another shot. Randy thinks what it really was was that she was pushing so hard she was going just a little higher than the notes. She reminds him of Jordin Sparks with that big old voice at a young age. He thinks that’s something she can embrace, and she completely agrees.

It was an interesting night. Overall, I agree with the judges, that there were too many singers that weren’t carving their own path yet, but we generally have that at this stage. The people that did carve their own path will definitely be back next week. The ones that did really bad will be back as well. The ones that won’t return will be the ones in the middle that people won’t remember, the ones with the forgettable performances. The problem for me is that there were quite a few that fall into that category tonight. I remember Crystal Bowersox, Lilly Scott, Siobhan Magnus, and Michelle Delavon. Expect them to stay.

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