Guest Blogger and 'Idol' Alum Katie Stevens: 'I Wish I Was on Season 10!'
As Idol Worship's first guest blogger, the Season 9 standout gives her assessment of the Top 13, defending Paul McDonald's song choice, complimenting Haley Reinhart's understated style and giving points to Naima Adedapo for breaking out the dance moves.
Katie Stevens was a Season 9 standout who was just getting started by the time she was eliminated (Stevens shared eighth place with Andrew Garcia), but that didn’t diminish her own love of Idol.
At last week’s Top 24 show, Stevens was easily spotted in the audience, so we asked the 18-year-old Middlebury Connecticut native to be our first guest blogger of Season 10. What does she make of the new improved American Idol? “I’m jealous because these judges are really nice!” Read on for more of her assessment…It was definitely weird being back in the Idol studio last week. Because it's like you're reliving your experience and how exciting it was, there was almost that jealous factor of the other contestants. I'm in a good place right now, doing what I want and not getting judged anymore, but I was sitting in there thinking, these judges are really nice, I almost wish I was on this season just to see what they say! Oh well. Here’s what I have to say: Lauren Alaina (“Any Man of Mine,” Shania Twain): I remember during our season, we would think, “Does it mean something if you go first or last? Do they save the best for last? Are they putting the most boring person first? Or are they putting one of the really good contestants first?" So you never really know what the producers had in mind. But I think people remember the first person and the last and I loved Lauren. She's one of the younger contestants and she pulled off Shania great. I thought the judges were a little too hard on her. Yes, there are better Shania songs but that's her favorite and she idolized Shania, so she should be able to sing what she wants! I thought Lauren sang it beautifully. She didn't really have pitch problems and it's a singing competition. She is really a true performer. Every time she gets on the stage, she really looks like she's meant to be there. Casey Abrams (“With a Little Help From My Friends,” The Beatles/Joe Cocker): I have been saying that the raspiness of Casey's voice reminds me of Joe Cocker, because he was on the Idol finale last year and he has such a distinctive sound. I like that Casey has a raspy voice but he also has some clean moments, like in the beginning. I didn't really know where he was going with it at first, then when he got to the middle of the song, Casey went crazy and it was awesome! He's just wacky and funny which makes him unique. Last year, they would say that the comic relief was Ellen [Degeneres], but I like how they have comic relief with one of the contestants this season. I love how he said to J Lo that he wanted to prove that somebody like him, who looked like a lumberjack, could be sexy. I was laughing so hard at the show watching that package. I didn't get to meet him at the Top 24 party, but I met him later at the Top 13 party and he was like, “Oh my, Katie Stevens this is so cool!” And I was, like, "I'm excited to meet you!" Ashthon Jones (“When You Tell Me That You Love Me,” Diana Ross): No doubt she’s got one of those diva voices and she commands the stage. She has so much confidence and is so impressive. I agreed with what Randy said, that it was a safe move song-wise, but she definitely put her own twist on it and showed what her vocals could do. There were off notes, but to me that doesn't matter, because I know it's so hard to hear on that stage. Usually when you're performing, you have in-ears so you can hear the music. But with the audience in there and just how big the studio is, your voice and the music kind of get swallowed up in the room so you can't really hear really well. Any other performer you watch -- Rihanna or whoever -- they sing off notes too when they perform live. With Idol, it's such a big show that’s all about singing and they expect every note to be perfect as if it were a recording. I don't think people should really concentrate solely on the notes. I think she deserves to be there and I'm glad she got saved. She has a great voice and could be one of the next big diva singers. Paul McDonald (“Come Pick Me Up,” Ryan Adams): I was actually kind of sad because I love Paul. He was one of my favorites and I just feel like the song started off too low and I kept wanting it to go somewhere and it didn't. But he's such a cool performer and has suhc a unique sound to his voice. I’d love to hear him sing something by Mumford and Sons -- I think he would completely destroy it and be incredible. But I was sad because when People watch Idol, they're expecting to hear songs they know and I feel like nobody's going to remember that performance. I think Paul deserves to be there so I hope America gives him another shot. You have to commend him on taking a risk like that, but it’s also sad to see one of your favorites get buried beneath the song. I think he'll be OK. Girls love him. Pia Toscado (“All By Myself,” Eric Carmen/Celine Dion): Oh my gosh, Pia is unreal. Her voice is amazing. I could see her being at the top but I feel like everything I’ve heard from her is a ballad so I'm interested in seeing her hopefully do an upbeat song at some point during the competition. But I was so impressed because Celine Dion songs are so hard to sing and do justice to, and I think Pia did it justice and more. James Durbin (“Maybe I’m Amazed,” Paul McCartney): I love James and you can't really go wrong with Paul McCartney, as long as you do it well -- and he did. He's definitely the new Adam Lambert, and I hate to say that because I'm sure he gets that comparison all the time, but it's just so rare to find a guy with that kind of range. I think he's gonna go very far and have a career regardless. He's going to be an amazing rock artist. He's already a rock star. Haley Reinhart (“Blue,” Leann Rimes): It's confusing in the competition when you’re choosing from different genres. I don’t want to sound like the judges when they said to me, “You're country, no, you’re R&B,” but Haley is definitely a country singer. I thought she did great. She's got such a rasp to her voice that I think would make her unique in the country world. She’s got great range and is so diverse. I get what Randy was saying about the spacing, but I wasn't bored. Jacob Lusk (“I Believe I Can Fly,” R. Kelly): Oh my gosh, I love, love, love, love him! Honestly, he has one of the most amazing voices I've ever heard. There was one part in the middle that I though, that sounds really off key, but when he got into it, I was, like, I can't even go that high. I almost stood up and clapped, even though he couldn't hear or see me. It helps that he is one of the sweetest people I've ever met. Thia Megia (“Smile,” Michael Jackson): I honestly can't believe that voice comes out of that little body. She's 15 and her tone is ridiculous. I agreed with the judges in that I liked the beginning more than the end, but she took a risk in changing the song -- she'll get people that liked it and people that didn’t, it was that kind of arrangement, but I thought she pulled it off. I like that she took a risk and changed it because she doesn't come off as one of those people that would. So it was a good unexpected change. As for the Charlie Chaplin thing, it's not a big deal. It was funny. Stefano Langone (“Lately,” Stevie Wonder): I thought the beginning was a little shaky, but Stefano picked it up and made it so contemporary. I loved it. It felt new and fun. I look at him as the next Bruno Mars. He definitely has that kind of tone in his voice and I think he'd be great in that genre, but I was really excited to see how high he could go range-wise. I love Stefano. Karen Rodriguez (“I Could Fall In Love,” Selena): That was a perfect choice because she’s definitely the new Selena. She has so much pride in her heritage and being Latina. Everybody keeps saying, “Oh why does she keep singing in Spanish?” I don't think it really matters. She could have done more with the song, like Randy said, but I don't think they should have been so hard on her. I thought she sang it really well. I didn't hear her getting lost in the notes or anything, so I don't know what they were talking about. On the other hand, I watch some of my performances and go, “Ugh, I was off there!” I'm my own worst critic. Scotty McCready (“The River,” Garth Brooks): Scotty never disappoints me -- ever! He's such an incredible country singer and it's weird, because when I watch him singing, it freaks me out to look at him and hear that deep voice coming out. You almost want to say, "That's not real!" But he's no doubt going to be the next big country artist. And because he's so young, he will be the male equivalent of Taylor Swift. Naima Adedapo (“Umbrella,” Rihanna): I love her new edgy look and how it's still fun and crazy, like she usually wears her clothes. I do totally peg her as a Rihanna-type artist just from the vibe I get from, that’s part Caribbean and part African. I loved when she broke out into the reggae rap! I was like, “Yeah, do it again!” And I think it's really cool that she started dancing and bringing that out in her performance, because nobody really does that on Idol. It says “performer.” As for being pitchy, I feel bad for all of them because you look at performances by Rihanna, Lady Gaga or Katy Perry and they're not 100 percent on pitch all the time, because they're dancing and it's really hard to sing and move around. There's no way anybody could do that and be perfect. I remember when I sang "Big Girls Don't Cry," there's one part in the chorus where you have to do it all in one breath. So I practiced -- taking as deep of a breath as I could and finding the place where I could take that breath. It's almost like when you're dancing: you have to do blocking, you have to focus on breath control, you need to practice in order to get it right. It's good to think about in rehearsals, but I loved Naima’s performance, I thought it was really unique. It's hard to say who's at risk because sometimes it's a surprise. In a way, Idol is a popularity contest, everybody has their favorites. Whether or not they did good or bad, they're going to vote for their favorite. Even though Paul didn't have his best performance, I don't think he's going to be in the bottom. I loved Pia's performance, she was probably my favorite. And I just thought that Jacob's was so epic with the choir coming out -- he’s going through. Then I loved Naima's whole dance thing combining the reggae, that was unique. Pia, James and Lauren are definitely going through. I hope Haley makes it, because she's so underrated. Thia, because of the comments the judges gave her, she seemed really defeated, so she might be at risk. But I really hope she's not. It's good that she didn't have her meltdown on stage, she kept herself together. I thought the judges were too hard on Thia, Lauren and Karen. Because Stefano was a wild card pick, I hope America doesn't put him in the bottom again, but that's usually how it trends -- the people that weren't favorites, unless they completely changed the minds of America this week, then they're always at risk of being in the bottom again. Other than that, I loved that the theme was contestants’ personal idols because it brings so much more passion to the performance when people are singing songs by people they admire. It was cool to see.