American Idol Rundown: Ellen, Female Contestants, Guitars Rule Hollywood

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Thank goodness it's Hollywood week on American Idol. Goodbye embarrassing contestants, hello major talent!

Before we get to that talent, however, let's also greet Ellen DeGeneres... with open arms. Wasn't she great on her first night as a judge? The comedian was funny (we loved when she had singers moving all around the stage before letting each one through), but also fresh and straightforward.

Ellen won't be Paula Abdul 2.0, sugarcoating every critique and covering up bad performances by telling the contestants how nice they look. She'll bring the criticism, but in a humorous fashion, such as when she told one dude his routine "scared" her and resembled a leopard stalking his prey.

There were also no contrived cat fights, nothing that Ellen did to bring attention to herself. She seemed steady, focused and, of course, funny.

As for the best of the night...

Didi Benami has finalist written all over her. She came across as a more polished Brooke White, strumming her guitar and bringing an emotional singer/songwriter vibe. Probably our favorite performance.

But the "infectious, real" Crystal Bowersox, as Simon put it, was a close second. She also relied on her guitar and had fellow contestants applauding before she even completed "Natural Woman."

The third impressive female was Haeley Vaughn. Only 16, she offers a unique pop/country sound and a healthy dose of charisma. We were very happy to see her advance.

Ellen on Idol

Two men stood out, as well:

  1. Andrew Garcia proved that guitar-playing was a theme for the top performers so far, impressing the judges with a soulful acousting rendition of "Straight Up." We wouldn't refer to him as "genius" or compare him to Adam Lambert (closer to Kris Allen), as Kara did, but certainly someone to keep an eye on.
  2. The same can be said for Casey James, and not just because he took off his shirt for his initial, pre-Hollywood audition. We loved his bluesy number... played with the help of a guitar, of course.

Watch all five of these performances in our American Idol video section and then let us know: WHO WAS YOUR FAVORITE?

Andrew Garcia Pic
Casey James Pic
Hollywood Audition
Crystal Bowersox Pic

Hey I think Ellen is great. As far as I know Simon cannot sing either. I agree though, when he leaves, the show dies, he is American Idol. To bad I probably won't watch it anymore.


OK, so Ellen doesn't sing, so what? My husband and I have a radio show in Atlanta, yet he's the only one of us with a music-business background. Yet people say they love the music we choose to play.Music is art, and as such, it's subjective. I think people with ears can generally discern between sonic pleasure and sonic disaster. Art is subjective, not objective. And is Howard Stern a musician? I think not. What qualifies him, his nastiness? I'd rather see Joel McHale as a judge. At least he's witty. HowardStern is just sub-adult.


What's to hate about Ellen? She's funny and she seems cool. She's not hateful and she doesn't say snarky things.To me, that suggests a decent person.


ellen ellen ellen... hope they will hire Conan O' Brien as guest judge someday


i agree. i dont understand how ellen got a spot on american idol.
she doesnt sing at all....and to be honest she's not a very good comedian either. if they want funny then simon shouldnt be leaving next season. i was a total fan until now....and when he leaves the show is totally going to sink!!!!


I was wondering how Ellen DeGenerate has any kind of qualifications to judge raw musical talent? At least Paula Abdul could lip sync to her own synthesized 80's songs! Ellen must be on the hunt for a new singing wife/girlfriend.


I fully agree that Didi is the package and her style is unique and refreshing. Crystal was amazing as well as Andrew but they're not the package. Casey I love for his bluesy style and quite a looker. He is the only guitar player whose style is different from rest. Katie is a very accomplished singer at 16. I'm looking forward to Tyler Grady and the 16 yr old Aaron.


Ellen the Carpet Muncher has ZERO musical qualifications to judge anything except for a lesbian carpet munching contest and therefore I stopped watching Idol.
Peace Out!


Casey James kinda sucked. I will be "floored" if he makes it to the top 24, let alone any further. He reminds me of a less talented Jason Castro...



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American Idol Quotes

Brooke White's tears come from the authentic, good soul that she is. Her heart was breaking because she was overwhelmed with the experience she had with the show and the gift that it brought.

Paula Abdul [after Brooke White was eliminated on season seven]

I read some of this online this morning and just for the record, the rumors — they’re not true. She’s part of our family and we love her.

Ryan Seacrest [on rumor of Paula Abdul being drunk on the show]