In the top 8 women, there were so many great performances I'm wondering if any men are going to show the sort of talent that will make the Top 12 have any sort of balance. Based upon what I've seen, I'd make the final six contestants include five females and one male, though none of the men stand out as a clear leader over the rest, so it's possible I'm being too generous. A few more weeks will separate the wheat from the chaff.
Of the top four I picked from Tuesday's show, I was hard pressed to decide how to order them. I watched them several times, each time getting goosebumps. I was drawn into each of these four performances. I'd be happy with any of them winning this season. But only one gets the prize, so here's my take:
- Crystal Bowersox ("Give Me One Reason" by Tracy Chapman) - One chord gave away the song and her fingers hit every blue note with masterful skill. Even better, her voice. Her rendition surpassed the original. I like Tracy Chapman's music (minus the socialist crap in the song "Talkin' 'bout a Revolution"), but Bowersox showed how to do it even better tonight. From what I've seen, she is the most talented on instruments and the most polished performer. In interviews, she's a bit reserved. I don't have a problem with that, but it may hurt her in the voting.
- Didi Benami ("Rhiannon" by Fleetwood Mac) - Like the judges, I was leery of her taking on Stevie Nicks, but her sweet and haunting voice gave the song something new and wonderful. She's not just another pretty face. I previously compared her to Megan Joy (at Megan's best), but this week she moved beyond that comparison. I was reminded a bit of Brooke White from Season 7, whose "Let it Be" was similarly captivating.
- Lacey Brown ("The Story" by Brandy Carlile) - Close third. Another sweet and endearing performance. She made it seem effortless to pull off that melody. Even better, she gave it all the right emotions, making great use of the camera. I loved the lyrics to that song and, other than the lack of lines on her face alluded to in the song, she made it believable. If I could make one small change, I'd work on the final crescendo, which didn't quite match the quality of the rest of the song.
- Siobhan Magnus ("House of the Rising Sun" by The Animals) - Very close fourth. The other performers did a little better this week due to song choice. But Magnus did a great job with what she chose. Her personality shines through in her interviews and she backs it up with consistent talent. At this point, I'm leaning towards her as my favorite to win this season, though I can't pinpoint why I feel that way. She hasn't played an instrument like most of the others, and that may be a weakness which could change my opinion down the road.
- Lilly Scott ("I Fall to Pieces" by Patsy Cline) - Another very unique and charismatic performer. I liked how she changed up the song a bit, but not enough to lose some of the best qualities of the original. She doesn't have the clear, piercing voice of Patsy Cline, but she used what she had to great effect. Her quirky style, including her facial expressions, may be a bit distracting in this competition, as the other performers appear to be more adaptable. But competition aside, she'd stand up just fine on her own in her niche. Based upon tonight's song, she fell behind the leaders, but taking all three weeks of the Semi-Finals together, I'd put her above fifth overall.
- Katelyn Epperly ("I Feel the Earth Move" by Carole King) - Good performance, though it suffered by comparison to the original. I agreed with the judge who said it was too copycat, especially her look. She should squeak by this week, but she'll have to bring more to rise to the level of the top five women I chose.
It was heartbreaking for me to see the other two stumble this week, especially Page Miles. She did so much better the previous week. Katie Stevens was my favorite the first week, but she peaked early and has done worse each subsequent week. Considering the talent of the remaining male performers, I'd much rather keep these two and get rid of four of the men.