“American Idol’s” third and final batch of 12 contenders vied for a Top 12 slot on Tuesday night and a few of the hopefuls went from contestants to stand-out-stars in the making.
Von Smith, 22, from Greenwood, Missouri, opened the show with “You’re All I Need To Get By,” and his sunny disposition and big vocals caught the attention of judge Simon Cowell, who compared him to an “Idol” legend.
“You remind me of Clay Aiken,” Simon said. “You’ve got the same dress sense… You look appalling, but you actually sang quite well.”
While Von attracted praise, the most lauded contestant of the evening was Lil Rounds, a 23-year-old mother from Memphis, Tenn., who brought down the “Idol” house with her rendition of Mary J. Blige’s “Be Without You.”
Lil Rounds commanded the stage like no other performer of the night, singing her heart out and changing one lyric in the song to “Call this show if you just can’t be without me, babe!”
And despite her bold move, even Simon admitted he was a fan.
“Brilliant,” the British judge, who spent most of the evening unimpressed by the contenders, raved. “My favorite performance by a mile… I think you have great, great prospects in this competition and I think you are undoubtedly one of the best singers we’ve found so far.”
Another standout was Felicia Barton, who was originally rejected from “Idol’s” Top 26. But, when producers disqualified Joanna Pacitti in February, Felicia got the call and began practicing, only to wow the judging panel on Tuesday night.
“I’m really happy that you’re back. You’ve got an amazing voice,” Randy Jackson told Felicia. “I thought it was hot man!…Welcome back baby.”
Scott MacIntyre, the 23-year-old contender from Scottsdale, Ariz., who is legally blind, performed without his piano. But, his rendition of Bruce Hornsby’s “Mandolin Rain” was also a judges’ favorite.
“I’ll be honest with you, I wasn’t crazy about the song… But I have to say Scott, you’re growing on me, because I think you’re starting to believe in yourself,” Simon said. “In a sea of forgettable people tonight, you’re the only one I’m gonna remember.”
And Scott gave Ryan a non-singing moment to remember after his performance.
“I think you need to give me a high five, a stationary target,” Scott laughed, referencing the moment during the audition phase of the competition when Ryan attempted to high-five the blind contestant after he was put through to Hollywood Week.
“A comedian too, I love it,” Ryan laughed.