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Round of 10: The 21st Century - March 28

2000 to 2006. That's where we're headed tonight. Basically, every year that "American Idol" has been on the air in some form somewhere in the world. Tonight, our contestants will be stung by the millennium bug, as they try to tell you that "You're Beautiful", but if they're not careful, they may find themselves "Fallin'".

In case you haven't guessed, it's all about the 21st Century tonight. In case you haven't guessed further, it's an hour-long show, meaning that we get right into the singing.

First, Lisa does up the OG of American Idol with Kelly Clarkson's "Because of You" (2005).

What they say: Randy thought it was a strange opening, an "okay version" of a huge song by a former Idol. Paula thought it was a tough choice, but she can still sing her butt off. Simon: "The song is the song. It was just too big for your voice."

What we say: I'm sorry, Lisa, but Kelly has graduated from the Idol post-op and is now in the league where if you take her on, the onus is on you to do as good, if not better, than she did. And you didn't. Oh, how you didn't.

What Jason Block says: She Hoovered so bad you can call her Monica...SNAP!

Next, Kellie Pickler sings Sara Evans' "Suds in the Bucket" (2002). She likes it because it basically tells the life story of Britney Spears' first marriage. Not in her words, but hey.. I had to sum up something.

What they say: Randy likes her being true to herself, but the performance wasn't exciting. "You're better than that." Paula: "You're WAY better than that song choice!" Kellie: "Sorry." Simon: "The reality is is that you have six years of songs to choose from and you chose one called 'Soap Suds in a Bucket.' I mean, come on! There are thousands of songs to choose from and you chose some gimmicky rodeo lassoing whatever novelty song!"

What we say: QUOTE OF THE NIGHT! QUOTE! OF! THE! NIGHT! Is it me or did Kellie forget the Dan Huff postulate? "Don't just sing the song, tell the story." She sang the song... really horridly... and forgot about the story. In essence, she's just... THERE. And she's doing a drunken rendition of a song that's supposed to tell a story! Simon just cracked the shell.. of Kell...

Next, Ace Young, rock version, is going to pull out Train's "Drops of Jupiter" (2001).

What they say: Once again, Randy calls people on their song choice. "It was a completely different song for you. I did not like this." Paula called it refreshing after the first two. "To me, it wasn't my favorite, but I still think you did a good job." Then Randy and Simon have to subdue her advances. Girl can't keep herself out of trouble. Simon didn't think it was a great vocal, calling it "quite karaoke."

What we say: Way to channel the spirit of Kevin Covais, hair boy. But in all seriousness, you got your second-consecutive solid performance... not to say that it was good, because it wasn't. You needed to do more with it. Still, should be enough to avoid the axe, but you have to sell it next time IF (and it's a big if) there is a next time.

Little time with a-little-less-gray Taylor Hicks before he takes the stage. Despite Gordon labeling him as a country artist, he's got a "Soul Patrol" army of fans. Will he do soul tonight? He does Ray Lamontaigne's "Trouble" (2004).

What they say: Randy would imagine that song for him, but it wasn't a good song choice. Paula agrees, saying she just liked him singing the song. Simon liked the song and the vocal, BUT he has a problem with the "styling". "It's very Clay Aiken." He also liked the difference.

What Ryan says: "If this is Clay Aiken, then THAT is definitely Kelly Clarkson."

What we say: Taylor is taking the lead with this performance here. Which isn't that hard. He just stuck to his guns and strayed from the dancing preacher routine. Good job.

Mandisa takes on the gospel with "Wanna Praise You" (2000) by Mary Mary.

What they say: Randy likes to hear her, BUT couldn't get with the song choice... again. Paula: "There's a new religion and 40 million people have joined the Church of Mandisa." Simon: "I thought it was a bit indulgent, if I'm being honest. Not for me."

What we say: It's definitely Mandisa, god-fearing Christian woman with a bombastic voice that rocked the heavens and stayed true to who she was. And therein lies the problem. If this was Gospel Idol, you'd win hands down. But it isn't, and you just might have taken a BIG hit by alienating some people. Ruben (the only favorite to actually go on and win the whole shoot'n'match) knew this, and waited until he made it big to branch out. You should've done the same thing. But still, good vocal.

Chris Daughtry starts the second half with Ryan, as they talk about... hello, the Live version of "Walk the Line!" (C-Note: Good job.) He loves Live. We know. Chris says he's got something up his sleeve. Tonight: Creed's "What If?" (2000)

What they say: Randy likes the song, but it wasn't the favorite. "I think you were sharp most of the song. It wasn't your best vocal." Paula: "What if what if what if I said I was one of your biggest fans?" Simon thought it was indulgent (again), but there's a line you don't cross. "Creed would not be seen dead on this show. You've got to start showing a different side. I think you've gone too far with that song. It stands out, but you've got to start showing another side. You can't keep doing this week after week after week."

What we say: Beware of becoming a one-trick pony. I mean, even Bo did an a cappella version of something. But it's safe to say he's got the rock vote all but sewn, which could spell the end of Ace.

Next, Katharine McPhee sings "The Voice Within" (2004) from Christina Aguilera.

What they say: Randy thought it was a good song choice, but it was "kinda like the record." Paula wouldn't have changed on that performance. "I think Christina would feel very honored." Simon thought it was the best tonight. "It was almost... ALMOST as good as Christina."

What we say: Starts weak. I didn't like the arrangement. The song was simply too big for her. She's sharp at more than few points. More proof positive: You should NEVER ... EVER... sing your favorite artist's song, because while you think it's passable.. It wasn't. Is she in trouble because of it? Far from it!

Bucky Covington's going to country it up with Tim McGraw's "Real Good Man" (2002), because he "flat out likes it."

What they say: Randy: "This is definitely the right kind of song for you." Paula adds to be careful of diction. Simon... agrees. He thought it was okay. "I think it's very unimpressive. I think you were winging it."

What we say: It's definitely Bucky. That's good. If you're Bucky. Unfortunately, you're no better than you were last week performance-wise. And it seems like everyone's going to be on a level playing field, so you needed to sell it. And you didn't.

Princess P... Paris Bennett for all y'all, wants to "Work It Out" like Beyonce back in 2003.

What they say: Randy thought it was fearless. "That to me was the best one tonight." Paula called her on the "kid moves", then blabbers. Simon thought it was precocious, reminding him of a little-girl-pretending-to-be-Beyonce-whoopee.

What we say: Paris is very current... for once. The vocal didn't do anything for me. It was pitchy and apathetic (C-Note: Thanks to Gordon for that one), but the performance made up for it. But still, Idol is not something you want to half-ass your way through.

Okay, we're down to the last one... Elliott Yamin takes on Gavin DeGraw with "I Don't Want to Be" (2003)... soul flavor.

What they say: Randy wasn't sure about the arrangement, but "this boy can sing". Paula calls him "one funky white boy." Simon: "Great song, terrible arrangement, good vocal, and the dancing was hideous."

What we say: Points to Elliott for doing his own little thing with it, putting a little funk in it. I would've worked on the arrangement a little more, because it's obvious that he can't reach those lower bassline notes. But still... Not as bad as it could've been, especially since he can fake his way out of a lyric flub on that funk vibe. You got lucky, man. Touched by a bloody chorus of angels, you are.

End result: Everyone sucked... Pretty much. There. I said it. Everyone is in the hot seat this week... But some are less than others. Observe.

Okay, they didn't suck THAT much: Taylor, Mandisa
Sucked: Chris, Katharine, Elliott
Really Sucked: Kellie, Ace, Paris
Hoovered: Lisa, Bucky

Tomorrow, the result. Gordon, Jason, and Anthony have those. We'll see you then.


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