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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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"Round of 4: Nashville/Philadelphia" - May 10-11

Hi! So how was your week? Well, if you're anything like the Idol Machine, you've been given more attention than anyone should. "That's what happens when you lose someone like Scott Savol." Agreed. Meanwhile, this audience is giving our judges the applause that will never end because a) they're showing support for Paula, or b) we need filler for today's show.

And speaking of which, today's show promises to be a musical road trip for the senses. First, we go to Nashville and check out the country slang there. And then we head up to the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia.

Each Idol will also be getting messages from home. Carrie Underwood gets a message from her sisters Shanna and Stephanie. Meanwhile, it's off on a "Sin Wagon" for her. Dixie Chicks done by... a Dixie chick.

What they say: Randy says he loves that she knows who she is. "You are ready for the record charts." Paula agrees. Simon calls it effortless, citing that we saw personality.

What we say: Enjoy it while it lasts, folks. This is the only personality that you'll see her have. Simon even said it best. "It would have been a shame if you didn't get that one right." But in all honestly, I much preferred Amy Adams' version from last year. She had the same quality of voice, but had a soul to back it up.

And then she got eliminated. Shows how much a soul is worth in this business. And speaking of last year, Jasmine Trias (AKA last year's suck that refused to leave) is in the house along with Mikalah and John Stevens. Meanwhile, we get a video greeting card from Bo Bice's parents, Earle & Nancy. And from Bo, we get "A Great Day to Be Alive" from Travis Tritt.

What they say: Randy called the performance, but he didn't think the song did anything for him. Paula says, "Now is the time to pick songs that even you can feel like you're rising to the challenge." Simon called it "very boring", "lazy," and "uninspiring", something akin to a "jam in a local club."

What we say: I'll let you know right now... I don't like the song. But I do like what Bo did to it. Even though he wasn't given the option to do much. As for Simon's comment... what's wrong with local jam sessions?

Baby V, Vonzell Solomon is next with "How Do I Live" by Trisha Yearwood and/or Leann Rimes. Gabriel & Kendall Solomon offer their support (and a threat to Simon... you know they can take him, right?)

What they say: Randy says it started rough, and the song was "too slow", but she brought it home, having sung the most difficult song tonight.  Paula calls her beautiful when she notices that Vonzell is very choked up (at the sight of her dad). Simon call her nervous and emotional, and leaves it at that.

What we say: A bit shaky, but charge that to nerves. Even when she gets comfortable tonight, she's bland and poppy, avoiding the song's country inflections entirely, but not taking it to the level that it needs to go to. Even so, she's still a solid talent and a dark horse to do some damage even in this late stage of the competition.

Finally, we go to Anthony Fedorov, who gets a card from his parents Vladimir & Natalia for video greeting week. Meanwhile, he sings "I'm Already There" by Lonestar.

What they say: Randy gives Anthony props. Paula thinks it was good, but he needs to stretch out more. Simon doesn't say much (he thought he did well) about the performance, but thinks the pre-performance packages are a little syrupy.

What we say: It's good... but there are several performers who have come and gone that could have done the song MUCH better. It's typical Anthony plus one... which still isn't much.

Okay, half one... DONE. Time for rankings:

Nashville Star: Carrie, Bo
Country Ham: Vonzell, Anthony

From Nashville, we load up in the Ford Focus and head up to Philadelphia, as we take on the songs of Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff. Remember "When Will I See You Again" and "If You Don't Know Me By Now?" Those were Gamble & Huff tunes. And the Idols will take them all on... with Gamble & Huff watching. First up, Carrie sings "If You Don't Know Me By Now" by Otis Redding.

What they say: Randy says that it just didn't work. Paula faults song choice. Simon faults... the arrangement and the band?!

What we say: Remember that personality that she showed during the first half? Gone. Yeah, let go of the mic, sweetie. Here's the problem. And it's a problem that I've seen in the last couple of weeks. She can't bring herself to tell the story of the songs, and as a result, she pulls only a lackluster performance marked by a lack of pure emotion or pure pitch. As for the arrangement and the band? Simon, come off it already. It's like, you have a gun, and you shoot a deer in the headlights. You don't blame the bullet or the gun if he dies. You blame the shooter! BLAME THE SHOOTER, COWELL! Geez, some people and their egos...

Bo then heads to the stage for the love theme from "The Apprentice", "For the Love of Money" by the O'Jays.

What they say: Randy... eventually...  hopes the song is on the record (so he's getting one, right? I hope so. I'd buy it). Paula calls it his best. And you think that Simon said the most stupid thing with Carrie's remark? Think again. "I thought Donald Trump wrote that song!" You've been hanging around Paula too long. Anyway, he says, "Horrible image, fantastic performance."

What we say: That's what they call injection! Very nice, Bo. Even though it's one person doing a solo track, it's still one of the more jazzier performances from the dude from Helena.

Vonzell returns with a disco classic, "Don't Leave Me This Way" by Thelma Houston.

What they say: Randy called vindication. "You can definitely sing." Paula said that she took a risk, and it paid off. Simon called it "very manic" and "a lot better than the first song."

What we say: Vonzell is back. This is how you sell yourself. This is how you pull out a good vocal.

And finally, we have Anthony singing... the same song Carrie did... Talk about a diss.

What they say: Randy calls it a much better version, harkening back to Simply Red. Paula simply said, "You nailed it." Simon thought this "arrangement" was better, but Anthony is lacking soul. "Yes I have soul."

What we say: Time to go into metaphor mode... it's Underwood back with the pass. She lets it fly, and it's PICKED OFF!! It's picked off by Fedorov!! Fedorov is running it in, he's high-stepping, he's going in for the touchdown! And Underwood just looks like a pansy.

So we go to the chart:

Philly Steak: Bo, Vonzell, Anthony
Philly Cheese: Carrie

Is Bo truly safe? Can Carrie, Vonzell and Anthony leave a mark with their best performance? No one is safe... not this late in the competition...

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