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American Idol Power Rankings: The Top 16, Part One

After totally missing the mark with our predictions on which girls would still be around (we were convinced that Lacey Brown and Katie Stevens would be dunzo), the ladies took the stage Tuesday night with a few of last week’s lemons making sweet lemonade. The contestants are now competing for a spot in the top 12, with the judges noting that this week’s performances are some of the most important of the season. That being said, many of the song choices were uninspired — especially for an evening that will prove to be pivotal for all of the contestants.

There were some solid offerings, no doubt. But there wasn’t a single one that completely wowed us. With the contestants still choosing their own material, most are sticking with what they know (or what gets them the best critique from the judges) and the resulting performances are getting a little dull. We’re actually looking forward to the themed nights; they’re the ones that will separate the truly original and intelligent performances from the…well…losers. Read on for last night’s complete power rankings.

1. Crystal Bowersox
Risk Level: 3
Payoff: 10
Total: 13

There’s just no stopping Crystal Bowersox. The judges gushed over her performance of Tracy Chapman’s “Gimme One Reason” and, while we thought it was pretty great too, we’re worried that Crystal is becoming a little too aware of herself. Her song choice was a little obvious and we much preferred last week’s “Long As I Can See The Light” by Creedance Clearwater Revival. She did little to update Chapman’s late nineties hit but it perfectly suited her voice and solidified her place as the bluesy rocker. We’re hoping Crystal will think outside the box next week though she was still one of the best of the evening. Ellen called the performance “amazing” and Simon called Crystal “the one to beat” this season. We agree, but have some advice: stay on your toes, girl; it ain’t over ‘til the winner sings.

2. Siobhan Magnus
Risk Level: 7
Payoff: 7 – 3 because we don’t think she’s really going to win this thing = 4
Total: 11

After her soulful and much-praised rendition of Aretha Franklin’s “Think” last week, Siobhan returned with The Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun.” Scratching your heads yet? Us too. Who is this girl? Her off-beat personality and all-over-the-place song choices have us totally confused — and we think this is going to be Siobhan’s downfall. Despite the fact that the judges love her, with Randy calling her performance “hot” and Ellen saying it was “spectacular,” we find it hard to believe any one of them has any idea who she develop into in the recording artist. She’s great within the realm of the competition but we have some serious doubts as to how viable she will be as a professional musician. We expect to see Siobhan next week, but have little faith she’ll be the last woman standing.

3. Didi Benami
Risk Level: 5
Payoff: 7
Total: 12

After a disastrous showing last week with her pseudo-soulful take on “Lean On Me,” Didi Benami came back in a big way with an acoustic version of Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon.” This is exactly the type of music that Didi should be performing and her modern rendition of this classic song solidified her place as a viable competitor. Rather than ripping her to shreds as they did last week, the judges praised Didi’s ability to pick herself up by the boot straps and deliver a solid performance. Kara called it one of her “favorite moments on the show so far this season” and Simon said the whole performance was “wow.” At the end of the day, Didi’s unique but ultimately unremarkable voice will only get her so far, but, for now, she’s showing us she’s in it to win it.

4. Lilly Scott
Risk Level: 5
Payoff: 8 – 2 because she’s so much better than this = 6
Total: 11

Lilly fell down a few pegs this week but, nonetheless, still managed to wow the judges with her lilting voice on the twang-y “I Fall To Pieces” by Patsy Cline. She didn’t do much to change up the arrangement and that’s where we think she missed the mark. A bluesier, more modern take on the song could have knocked it out of the park but Lilly played it safe, sticking to a by-the-book interpretation of the classic hit. As a whole, the performance was a little underwhelming for a contestant with so much promise. The judges liked it though, with Ellen saying, “I love your voice. I love your originality. I love you.” And Kara disagreed with us, telling Lilly, “You kind of made Patsy Cline feel current.” Only Simon was unimpressed, saying the performance didn’t have much of a “wow factor” and could prove to be risky for Lilly.

5. Lacey Brown
Risk Level: 2
Payoff: 8
Total: 10

Lacey continued her comeback story with a solid take on Brandi Carlile’s “The Story.” The song was perfect for her, highlighting the intricacies of her quirky voice. The ending was slightly screechy, but we totally bought Lacey’s singer-songwriter vibe. Randy said it was her “best performance in a long time” and Ellen applauded her song choice. Kara called it “brilliant” and Simon thought Lacey’s polish made it seem like she had been performing for a very long time. We think she’s safe for another week.

6. Paige Miles
Risk Level: 5
Payoff: 3
Total: 8

We’ve kind of lost it for Paige Miles. At first, we loved her big voice, but now it’s clear she has absolutely no idea what to do with it. Instead of marketing herself as the next soul diva, Paige continues to choose offbeat, schmaltzy songs that leave the judges frustrated and disappointed. Last night, it was Charlie Chaplin’s classic “Smile.” Why she would choose such an old-fashioned song when the judges have been banging on their “contemporary” drum all season long is beyond us. Worse yet, it did nothing for her voice. She belted a little at the end, but the breathy beginning was a complete disaster. Randy slammed the slightly bossa nova arrangement calling it “completely flat” and adding that it “didn’t work at all.” Simon dished it out the worst, saying it was “something you would hear at the Holiday Inn in 1974.” Ouch. But we must agree. She might be able to eek one more week out of the voters, but if she doesn’t pick up her game, Paige will definitely be on the chopping block next very soon.

7. Katelyn Epperly
Risk Level: 3
Payoff: 3
Total: 6

Katelyn Epperly is another contestant who is sure to get lost in the shuffle very soon. Last week it was a sleepy rendition of Coldplay’s “The Scientist”; this week it was a piano bar take on “I Feel the Earth Move” by Carole King. Her singing was solid, but we’ve no doubt that most of the people watching the show last night have already forgotten it. Despite being a decent musician and good singer, Katelyn is being upstaged by the performers with clearer points of view. She’s got to figure out who she is fast, though we’re not sure she’ll have another chance. Ellen hit the nail on the head, saying “I don’t think this is what’s going to get people to pick up the phone and vote for you.” Kara agreed, adding that it didn’t seem like Katelyn was competing to win this week.

8. Katie Stevens
Risk Level: 4
Payoff: 1
Total: 5

Katie Stevens tried to win the judges over with Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway,” but it completely backfired, with the young girl straining to reach the notes during the chorus. We were completely surprised when Katie lived to sing another week, but we’re confident that this performance was the final nail in her coffin. A decent singer? Yes. A compelling performer? No. There’s nothing interesting or provocative about Katie and this is what’s ultimately going to do her in. Simon said it best when he told her, “I don’t think you’ve worked out what kind of artist you want to be.” We’re not sure we’d even care if she did.