The fourth of six children in a family from Marston Mills, Mass., Magnus said she was singing for her "baby sisters." The unpredictable singer, dressed in a tutu and zippered top, won back the judges this week with her moody version of "Across the Universe."
Meanwhile, finalists Michael Lynche and Katie Stevens don't need any help from their friends.
The 26-year-old personal trainer from Astoria, N.Y., and 17-year-old high school student from Middlebury, Conn., were in bloom Tuesday with their interpretations of tunes from the songbook of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Lynche impressed on the Fox singing competition with a soulful "Eleanor Rigby," while Stevens wowed with a confident "Let It Be."
"There is no way you'll be in the bottom three," Ellen DeGeneres told Stevens.
Garnering the most attention, however, was not the contestants, judges or host Ryan Seacrest but a bagpipe player who unexpectedly descended on the stage during a rendition of "Hey Jude" from 24-year-old paint sales clerk Lee Dewyze of Mount Prospect, Ill. The judges giggled at the accompaniment, which Dewyze took "100 percent" credit for engineering.
"I didn't realize Jude was Scottish," Seacrest squawked.
The panel was downright adoring Tuesday, praising such previously scorned singers Magnus and 20-year-old college student Tim Urban of Duncanville, Texas. Urban was complimented for his rendition of "All My Loving."
"There was no gimmicks," beamed Simon Cowell. "It really suited your voice."
Unless the judges decide to save a singer, which they have until the top five finalists to do, another person will be eliminated Wednesday based on viewer votes. That will leave eight contestants to be mentored on next Tuesday's episode by over-the-top eighth season runner-up Adam Lambert, according to Fox spokeswoman Alex Gillespie.