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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 5: Lieber & Stoller/This Week's Billboard" - May 3-4

I could tell you that this week in Idol things go back to normal, but for purposes of my obligations to Game Show Newsnet and its parent partner Stormseeker Digital, I'll elaborate. We're down to five... Carrie, Vonzell, Bo, Scott, and Anthony. Tomorrow night, one of them gets the axe while the other four continue to fight it out.

This week begins our dual theme weeks. First up, the songs of Lieber & Stoller. They were huge in rock'n'roll's infancy, penning hits for everyone from Elvis to the Jackson 5ive. You can hear their songs in "Smokey Joe's Cafe". A good show. I highly recommend it.

First on the ticket, Anthony Fedorov, who narrowly avoided elimination last week, sings "Poison Ivy" by the Coasters from 1959. He's singing because "he's a goofball".

What they say: Randy says he's looking for who's trying to win this. "It wasn't amazing for me. Not a winning performance." Paula gives him credit for having fun, not seeing his goofball side. "Having said that, I'm a bigger fan of singing torch ballads." Simon thinks he's very lucky for two chances, calling it insipid and amateurish.

What we say: Yeah, remember what happened the last time someone was goofy on stage with a novelty. I believe his name was John Stevens. Need I say more? On the bright side, you have one more chance to shake off that off-pitch and whack range.

Next we have Scott Savol sings "On Broadway" (George Benson, 1978), mainly as an "Oh yeah?" to Simon's comment last week, telling him to "pack his bags." And in performance, he makes NO secret of it.

What they say: Randy thought there was some pitchiness, but did come up with just enough to stay in the game. Paula brings up Scott's "moxie." "I really love the way you did that version." Simon said that he has more escapes than Houdini, and agrees with everything Randy says, calling it one of his best.

What we say: Better than last week, but not saying much. The tone is there, but the flat emotion and lack of range are canceling it out. Doing my best Adam Sessler, I'd give it a three... out of five.

Vonzell Solomon drums up the King with "Treat Me Nice" from '57. She wanted to show off her personality.

What they say: Randy brings up his credits (again) and calls it one of the best vocals of a song he didn't even know he liked. Paula calls her the consummate performer. Simon thought there were elements, but overall... "I actually thought it was a bit of a mess."

What we say: A little bit of a pitch issue, but not enough to distract from an otherwise fine performance. This song was made for Vonzell... or is it the other way round. Something like that. Definitely a contender. We'll see how the second half plays out.

Bo Bice on tap with a good old fashioned a cappella standard "Stand By Me" (Ben E. King, 1961).

What they say: Randy says he picks the right songs. "You are definitely on your way." Paula agrees. Simon agrees with both of them.

What we say: Way to make it your own. I like the huskiness that he brings to the party and think that this was one of his best. And you have to like the raspiness and the ad-libs needed to pull it off properly. For the first time I find myself saying, "I think Bo could win this."

Carrie Underwood is up to round things out for this part of the show. She sings "Trouble" (1958) by Elvis.

What they say: Randy says that Carrie knows what songs to choose. Paula calls Carrie a star. Simon agrees with Randy ... again. "You have to give your fans what they want. That's exactly what they want."

What we say: I actually had a friend, Molly Behringer (hey girl), do this song for a show choir concert... If I'm being honest... Carrie could take her in the vocal department. Sorry, Molly. At least you're more animated than Carrie is, though. And that can take you places that Carrie only WISHES she could touch... Yeah, nice save. I'll be taking my beating now.

So we go to the charts for this round:

Rocked and Rolled: Vonzell, Bo, Carrie
Dropped and Died: Anthony, Scott 

Now to round 2, this week on the Billboard Music Charts. Hot 100, Top 40, Top AC, Top Country, Top Urban, it's all fair game. Anthony takes on the Backstreet Boys first with "Incomplete." Remember, he completely blew it in the first half. He's got an uphill battle to fight.

What they say: Randy calls it okay, "but 5 out of 10 compared to the Backstreet Boys version. It was not good." Paula calls it difficult for one person to take on the challenge of a group song. Simon calls the start disastrous, but thought the overall performance was handled very well.

What we say: This is definitely his forte. That said, he isn't that good in it. Seems like the last couple of weeks were a wash. He pulls it from the keychange onward, but relying on a big finish is like wearing your mother's underwear: sure it covers your ass, but if you make a habit of it, you have a serious problem.

Second chance now for Scott, who sings Brian McKnight's "Everytime You Go Away". He loves having a stylist, but if he makes another half-showing, then he just might have to do without next week.

What they say: Randy says that he pulled it out again. Paula had so much joy, saying that this was Scott's best night. Simon calls Scott's flatness. "You were much better on the first song."

What Scott says: "I only did this week for Simon. I'm probably going to have to start thinking about what I'm going to sing next week."

What we say: Brian McKnight you ain't. For one, you're flat. For another, you're out of range. For a third, you're way too cocky for your own damn good. Put all of those together, and you have a serious problem.

Vonzell is next as soon as Randy stops playing with Ryan. She may seal her fate in the top 2 if she delivers with "When You Tell Me That You Love Me" as done by... herself?! Well, herself and the other 11 finalists.

What they say:  Randy calls it "unbelievable." Paula calls it "beautiful." Simon calls her "very vulnerable. You have had a very off night tonight."

What we say: She's a dirty cheater! She did a song she had no problems with because she already recorded it! Overall, it was good for the 53rd time I heard her sing it, but if she doesn't really rise up to the challenge, then we have a serious problem.

Bo returns to the stage with autograph hand and a mic for Los Lonely Boys' "Heaven".

What they say: Randy calls him the captain of the Dawg Pound. Paula calls him "fantastic. Tonight, you rule." Simon said he "acted like the real thing" and "made the others look like amateurish".

What we say: I'll say it again... "I think he can win this." Another flawless Bo performance. And I particularly like that he didn't do the Spanish portion. If he did, and he messed it up, we would've had a serious problem.

And Carrie closes it with "God Bless the Broken Road". Any emotion here?

What they say: Randy says it's another perfect vocal. Paula thought safe first, now elegant. Simon said it best: "the performance was a little robotic."

What we say: Somewhere, a JCPenney window is missing its mannequin. I mean, she's tragically chill about this whole Idol thing. Totally totally frozen. I'll say it again, when Julie Chen is less of an automaton than you are, then you have a serious problem.

And the rankings here?

Still Rockin': Vonzell, Bo
Still Dead: Anthony, Scott 
Somewhere in between: Carrie

Vonzell and Bo? No worries. Anthony and Scott? Worries. Carrie... needs an injection of something other than blank. But that's just me. Let's see what happens when six of my closest friends join me.

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