Tonight, "American Idol" presented a special episode, benefitting "Idol Gives Back," the historic Emmy Award-winning television event and music celebration, that has raised more than $140 million to benefit charities around the world and across the United States. Tonight, "Idol" saluted a number of charities, including Feeding America, Save the Children, the United Nations Foundation, the Elton John Aids Foundation, and Idol Aid.
The night featured a number of celebrities helping to raise money for "Idol Gives Back," including Queen Latifa, Barack and Michelle Obama, Jennifer Garner, Captain "Sully" Sullenberger, George Lopez (I especially enjoyed the "Judging the Judges" bit), Bill and MeLinda Gates, Victoria Beckham, Morgan Freeman, Jim Carey, Slash, David Arquette, Elliot Yamin, Wanda Sykes (who had a hilariously on point bit), David Cook, and Russell Brand and Jonah Hill, who hosted a telethon throughout the night, complete with a number of clever sketches with Ryan.
Due to the sheer number of performances tonight, I'm going to discuss the "Idol" results before moving on to the star-studded renditions we heard throughout the evening. Tonight, the bottom three consisted of Casey James, Aaron Kelly, and Tim Urban. This was not a surprising group; these three had the weakest performances last night and have the most work to do if they want to win. The first to be sent to safety was Aaron Kelly, followed shortly by Casey James. Tonight, "Idol" lost its underdog, Tim Urban. Urban was brought back to the top twelve after originally being eliminated and, though he was constantly called out by the judges, he stayed around week after week. The Audience seemed to love him. Urban was clearly the weakest performer out of those remaining, so it was the right decision, but it's always tough to see an audience favorite go.
The Top Twelve reunited for tonight's first performance. The group sang Keeping the Dream Alive by Freiheit Münchener. I had never heard the song before and was quite impressed by the tight harmonies and how well the singers' voices fit the song. Crystal Bowersox had a number of great notes that showed off her more belty side and each of the top twelve seemed to genuinely enjoy the performance. It was nice to see each of the contestants back on stage, including those who had already been voted off: Lacey Brown, Paige Miles, Didi Benami, Katie Stevens, and Andrew Garcia. A great start to a solid night of performances.
Next up on stage were The Black Eyed Peas performing at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. The Black Eyed Peas are always showmen, so the performance they gave was both interesting and different. It did seem, however, that the group was having trouble hearing the music, most notably on Will.I.Am's verse, as he always seemed a half beat behind. They did look good and The Audience definitely seemed to respond. It would have been nice if the performance had been a bit tighter, but it was by no means a poor showing.
Jeff Beck and Joss Stone performed the classic, I Put a Spell on You, matching Stone's incredibly soulful vocals with Beck's inventive guitar riffs. Stone was great; her voice fit the song better than I would have thought and she brought out aspects of the song that aren't apparent in its previous incarnations. Beck's guitar playing was impressive as always, and I especially enjoyed the back and forth the two had.