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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.

Is your favorite still in the running? Check out the Idol Set List!

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. 

"Round of 12: The 60s" - March 15-16

After what seemed like an eternity... the series has landed. "You built your top 12. Now let's see what they can do."

Ryan joins us pre-taped on the live set, and if I must say... Best... live set... ever. The game has changed as we prepare to begin the countdown to the showdown at the Kodown.. err, Kodak Theatre on May 24. We're intro'd to the platform, the band, the audience, and the one thing that separates this from Star Search... the panel of three, Randy the dawgfather, Paula the poodle, and Simon the... ahem.

First up, Ryan acknowledges what we knew from Sunday, that as of last Friday, Mario Vazquez is no longer in the competition. After wishing him well, we are treated to his replacement, Nikko Smith, who outpolled Travis Tucker last week. He'll take the stage later.

But back to the competition. As you know, each week of the finals is about a given theme. This week, we're going back to before I was born (the 80s), before Gordon was born (the 70s), and before Simon was... okay, round about the time Simon was born. That's right, we're going to the 60s this week. The good news: the Idols are introduced to music that has been sold as moldy oldies. The bad news... see good news.

After Constantine twists with Bo, we go to Jessica Sierra, who shops herself with Aretha's "Shop Around", which she says has a bluesy feel.

What they say: Randy called it okay, wanting something more from the performance. Paula thinks she had a cool vibe, and thought she did a cool job. Simon called it boring and uninspired.

What we say: Well, it was okay to start, but then something went wrong. She got caught up in the emotion of the song that she just lost course pitchwise. And the last verse was a bit much. Good enough for the opener, but this is the big stage. BIG stage. Think BIG! BIG, dammit! You need to step out or ship out. But it did show off her range.

Next, Anwar Robinson, a favorite to win now that Mario is gone. He takes the Burt Bacharach-come-Luther "A House Is Not a Home" route. But will America phone home? He's known for risks.

What they say:  Randy wanted Anwar to come out... and he didn't. "A really safe performance. Wasn't great for me, dude." Paula called it strange to hear Anwar's flawless voice. Simon echoed both concerns. "You've proven what you're all about. Now we want to see a more fun side. There is a risk that you are going to become a bit boring."

What we say: This is a classic Anwar performance. Which is a blessing and a curse. The good side: it's Anwar. We've seen it. The bad side: It's Anwar. We've seen it. This is no time for feeling out the waters. It's time to dive in head first. And it's only in the last few seconds where he does so.  All in all, it was good, but I've seen better.

Remember, voting commences at the end of the show. Meanwhile, Fran Dres... err, Mikalah Gordon tries out Dusty Springfield's "Son of a Preacher Man", hoping for the votes of, that's right, preacher men's sons everywhere.

What they say: Randy doesn't know what's going on, but that was rough. Paula didn't know if she was singing on mic (for non-singing types, very bad times), but it wasn't her favorite performance. Simon thinks her confidence exceeded her ability.

What we say: The pitch is off. The breathing's off. The attitude's on. But then again, it's Mikalah, so that's to be expected. And attitude, while a key component, can only get you so far. You need to have a voice that can withstand that. And Mikalah.... thinking of a way to put this... DOESN'T.

And she gets no outro music. Hoo boy. This is going to be one hell of a night. Up on the stage next is Constantine Maroulis with one of those songs that you don't admit to singing along with, but we all do... "You've Made Me So Very Happy" by Blood, Sweat & Tears, which Constantine calls "Motown." I actually did research on this, and the Brenda Holloway version is what he's referring to, now the BST version referred to by the Idol chyron.

What they say: Randy calls it his best. Paula says, "Great job." Simon says, "If this were Smoldering Idol, you'd win hands down." He calls him a great performer who will attract the female demographic.

What we say: Constantine did what he should've done three weeks ago, take a familiar song and make it his own. A little shaky a first, but when he hits the bridge, that's when he finally starts to come around. Best ... whoa, note that shook the heavens... Anyway, best Constantine performance, but then again, not saying much.

Next on deck at the biggest show in the US (according to adults age 18-49), the pride of Ponchatoula, Lindsey Cardinale. Eddy Floyd gets the treatment as Lindsey covers "Knock on Wood".

What they say: Randy is still dumbfounded about the performers tonight. Are they nervous? Paula asks how she thought she did. "You can always do better." Simon: "I think 13 million TV sets had their volume turned down simultaneously."

What we say: She's not really selling it. She really should've gone last week, and this performance, everything about it, really - the pitch, the song choice, the delivery - really hammers the point home. I honestly think that, like Mikalah, she's just a pretty face and a pretty body who is not long for this competition. The good news... Did you see the set? I mean... Wow. Heh.

Anthony Fedorov is next with Neil Sedaka's "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do", which is fitting because after making the final 24, he's been doing a lot of breaking, and not in a good way. We'll see if this is more of a match. Probably is for this season's Clay Aiken. He goes for the slow version.

What they say: Brace yourself. It ain't pretty. Randy said, "That sounded like it was in a bad hotel with a really bad performance. I don't know what that was." Paula doesn't think it was up to par with Anthony. Simon, seeing that Randy just stole his thunder, put things in perspective, comparing Anthony with an entertainer at an office Christmas party who fails miserably at his attempt.

What we say: Starts out kinda nice, kinda safe, actually. Then comes the second verse when he does his thing and that's where it falls apart. Actually, tail end of the bridge. It was all over the place pitchwise, but the tone was there. If you can connect the two, then we have something. As is it right now, though, *raspberries* Next?!

Nadia Turner, another favorite, certainly tops among the fairer sex, sings Dusty Springfield's "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me".

What they say: Randy gives her props. Nadia starts the show off. Paula says that she's in it to win. Simon gives the line of the night: "In a competition full of hamburgers, you are a steak."

What we say: F Mikalah's version from earlier this season, THIS is how we do... Best performance so far. Perfect delivery, perfect choice, steps out, does her thing. She is a contender. My only beef... those funky facial gyrations. I guess she was really really feeling it. Or she was hungry. Or something. Oh, and she also stopped prematurely.

Bo Bice is next with another BST tune, "Spinning Wheel", which he used to do in a band before Idol. This fact is relevant.

What they say: Randy called it fearless. Paula says that he's a superstar. Simon says, "You look like you've been doing it for 20 years."

What we say: What Simon said. Exactly. And excellent use of the catwalk. Right up there with Nadia (hate to compare, but this is, after all, a competition). Work the stage, man.

Next on the beautifully rendered stage is Vonzell Solomon, who does Dionne Warwick with "Anyone Who Had a Heart".

What they say: Randy called Vonzell on an ambitious song choice and a big voice, but says that she needs to control her very good instrument. Paula says she looked beautiful and had superb showmanship. Simon says that she's still in the middle, and unless she wants to be one of those fluke eliminations in the round of 7, she needs to step it up.

What we say: The tone is definitely there, but the performance was lacking... well, something. And the pitch is a little shaky here and there. Vonzell gets me there, but she needs to push a little further to really get me there. And the last note was... I couldn't put my finger on it, but something was wrong. I'd give it a B+, though. But B+ don't bring it here, baby.

Scott Savol delivers with one of my favorite Motown songs, The Temptations' "Ain't Too Proud to Beg".

What they say: Randy enjoyed his confidence. Paula also enjoyed it. Simon is pleasantly surprised.

What we say: Good stage presence. Would've liked to see Scott do some more, because you know he loves this song. And I was waiting for him to hi-five the audience members he was walking past. A performer, but needs to do some more. Engage me, dude... Engage me. Otherwise, good show for the round mound of sound.

Two more, and then we go to Roundtable. First up, Carrie Underwood. The country chica takes to the stage with the Everly Brothers' "When Will I Be Loved".

What they say: Randy has high hopes, but the performance was very okay. Paula called it "very safe and boring". Simon takes the opposite road. "There are three people who know who they are musically, and you are one of them."

What we say: Gosh. One of the few times where I disagree with Simon. The three words that no Idol wants to hear ME say... One... Trick... Pony. You have a niche, but you will never be the Pop Idol unless you expand your horizon. Be something you never thought you could be. Now is the time to take a risk, and she didn't.

Finally, we're down to the man that wouldn't be Mario... Nikko Smith, who fittingly chooses "I Want You Back" by the Jackson 5ive.

What they say: Randy is glad that he's back, because he brought the funk. Paula says, "You did your own thing." Simon thought he sounded horrible.

What we say: Good stage presence, but dude... Breath control... Pitch control... You got what most people in this competition would never get, especially this year... a second chance. Don't blow it.

Well, we have the performances, and in 24 hours and 30 minutes, one will have an early flight to catch back home. Let's Fast Forward to the Roundtable!

CONTINUE TO THE ROUNDTABLE

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