Magnus’s ‘Idol’ reviews mixed

By Matthew Gilbert
Globe Staff / April 7, 2010

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Last night on “American Idol,’’ the always original Siobhan Magnus wore gleaming, sparkling lipstick that had to be visible from Alpha Centauri. So it was perfect that the episode was a Lennon-McCartney tribute and Siobhan chose to sing “Across the Universe.’’

Randy Jackson called her performance “sleepy,’’ but liked seeing her “tender side’’; Kara DioGuardi was surprised Siobhan was so “restrained and polite’’; and Ellen DeGeneres praised her for taking the judges’ advice to resist the crazy high notes. Onstage wearing a zipper vest, a tutu that looked something like a Scarlett O’Hara hoop skirt, and a pair of white boots, Siobhan took the mixed responses in stride. Casey James, with his heartfelt “Jealous Guy,’’ won the night’s biggest critical ups.

But then Simon Cowell, asking Magnus why she chose “Across the Universe,’’ threw her completely off balance. Explaining that she liked singing the line “Nothing’s gonna change my world,’’ Magnus welled up with tears. “I remember saying to you guys at the beginning of Hollywood week, I said ‘I’m here for my baby sisters who are my whole world.’ And nothing’s going to change that.’’ It was genuinely touching, particularly since Magnus is generally so calm and collected. “Sometimes you stop and you’re just like, holy smokes, this is big,’’ she went on to tell Ryan Seacrest.

Oh, by the way: A new “Idol’’ mascot emerged from the audience last night, in the manner of “The Crying Girl’’ from 2007.

His name is Earl, and after some especially loud jeering of Simon and cheering for Magnus, Earl was invited onto the stage. And then he did what a number of viewers probably wanted to do after watching Magnus’s emotional moment — he gave her a big, fat hug.