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In the world's ultimate talent search - where the eyes of a nation are upon the best undiscovered singers in the country, where the audience has the power to make or break you, and where a million-dollar recording contract is on the line, there is only one rule: If you can sing it, bring it.

Recaps by Chico Alexander & Gordon Pepper, GSNN


FACT FILE:

Host: Ryan Seacrest
Judges: Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson
Creator: Simon Fuller (based upon "Pop Idol")
EP: Nigel Lythgoe, Ken Warwick, Cecile Frot-Coutaz, Simon Fuller
Packager: 19 Entertainment, FremantleMedia North America
Airs: Tuesdays at 8pm ET and Wednesdays at 9pm ET on Fox


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Web design by Jason Elliott. Logo by Chico Alexander. 

"From 75 to 44" - February 15

The week from Hell has ended for 75 singers. Earlier, they sung one more time in our sudden death round. No background music. No judges' comments. No backup singers. Just you, a stage, a song, and a mic.

From there, the singers are wrangled into four separate holding rooms.

In room number one... Sharon Galvez, the singing cocktail waitress from Las Vegas. Her "Greatest Love Of All", is way over the top. There's Shunta Warthen, who made a name for herself by getting on the wrong bus on the first day of auditions. Alicia Keys she isn't on "If I Ain't Got You". Next is Angel Hicks, the vocal teacher who tried out for the show with one of her students (and all but lost it when she made it past the local audition and her student didn't). She's on and off on "'Til You Come Back To Me".  Up next is Rashida Johnson, who has made it this far despite a very bad cold. Her "Overjoyed" is a bit over-range, but she makes it work. Sean McNeill "Your Song" didn't do ANYTHING for me. Do not channel Ewan MacGregor... NEVER channel Ewan MacGregor.

The verdict, as delivered by Randy and Paula (Simon is absent on what Ryan calls "a personal matter")... "Sad to say, you're all going home."

Going to room two... Jamar Jefferson, who channeled Sisqo earlier this week. He takes a HUGE risk by singing "an original piece" that he "wrote at his grandmother's house" for his last audition. The song is called "Shake", and it's alright, but nothing really that we haven't seen before. Mario Vasquez is next, and he displays his pipes on "Bohemian Rhapsody", but dude... now is NOT the time for the big guns yet. Save it for the public vote. Next up is Matthew Kester, who delivers one of Simon's favorites, "Unchained Melody". He sounds pretty good. Plus, will he earn bonus points for singing a song so near and dear to Simon's heart? Then comes Carrie Underwood, who plays off her strengths on "Independence Day". Super Dimensional Dirty Alternative Rocker Constantine Maroulis is in this room, as is Judd Harris, who rode out "Mustang Sally". He can't sing, but he can perform. We'll see if that helps. Also in the room  are David Brown, Anwar Robinson, Janay Castine, and Vonzell "First I'm going to entertain you, then I'm going to kick your ass" Solomon. Oh yeah, this room is going on...

The verdict... "It was a tough decision, but some people get to stay and some have to go home" (fastforward TiVo) And they're in!

Halfway home in more ways than one, going right to room three. There's Dezmond Meeks, the James Brown wannabe that Simon hated, but was good enough to survive two cuts. "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" was overripe, as Paula was once again playing favorites. Next up is Jennifer Todd, who sings "I'm So Excited" for her final performance. It was a bad song selection gone good... But still, a bad song selection. Carrie Zaruba's "Lately", was a little off for me. Of course, it doesn't help matters ANY that her voice just couldn't match the range. Aa'shia Jackson looks like a chipmunk, and sings "Never Can Say Goodbye"... like a chipmunk. Which is good... only if you're a chipmunk. Larry Ellis butchers "One Last Cry" beyond recognition. better than Camile Velasco form last season... but that isn't saying much. Finally, we see that crooner Ross Williams is in this room. He sings Stevie Wonder's "Sir Duke", and he does a very nice job, even throwing in some nice scat singing as well. I think he sounded good, right up until the scats. If you're going to scat, do it right.

Going right to group four... Anthony Fedorov reprises "Angel" by Jon Secada a la Clay Aiken. Use your imagination, folks. Jaclyn Crum, the youngest (and arguably the most dramatic) person still left in the competition, makes a beautiful noise out of  "Beautiful Disaster" Next up is Tammy Nash goes "Somewhere" smoothly, and I'm hoping for good news. Scott Savol does a very good rendition of Stevie Wonder's "Ribbon In The Sky", but we don't hear from roommates John Zisa and Bo Bice. We do hear from Mikalah Gordon, who continues the personality-as-performance vibe on "God Bless The Child". Also in this room are Lindsey Cardinale and Jessica Sierra, both of whom give solid performances earlier in the day.

The vote goes.... to room ... number... wait for it... don't you love drama? ... Four. Room three is going home, as no one is more pissed than Larry Ellis (who begins a frantic search for his version of the truth) or Aa'shia Jackson ("I wasn't fed with no silver spoon... but I'm RICH!"). A humbling experience for both.

So we're left with 44. By tomorrow, we'll have 24. All that stands in the way are a chair, an elevator, three judges, and an acid-tongued recapper named Gordon Pepper. This gon' be gooood. See who has what it takes to be in the Final 24 on the next American Idol.

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