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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, Jason Block, Don Harpwood & Gordon Pepper, GSNN

Ryan Seacrest
Judges: Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson
Creator: Simon Fuller (based upon "Pop Idol")
Nigel Lythgoe, Ken Warwick, Cecile Frot-Coutaz, Simon Fuller
Packager: 19 TV, FremantleMedia North America
Origin: CBS Television City, Los Angeles, CA
Airs: Tuesdays at 8pm ET and Wednesdays at 9p ET on Fox


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Round of 24 - Men
February 19

Over 100,000 have finally been whittled to the best 24. Tonight, it’s all about the guys, and it’s all about the decade of free love… the 1960s. Ladies sing tomorrow.


The judges, starting tonight, will have no say in the outcome, but they’ll give their insight. Randy saw more originality in this group than ever before. Paula tells America to hone in on who picks the right song. Simon gives a few motivating factors: personality, originality, and ability.


So, as we see the journey in fastforward set to Blake Lewis’ “Breakanotha”... Ten minutes in…, and as Joe Buck once said... “Finally... football.”


First up, David Hernandez, who first wowed the judges with “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg”. He says he’s been through a lot, having been raised by a single mom in the project. When he sings, it’s an escape. Tonight, he’ll try to prove Simon wrong with “In the Midnight Hour” by Wilson Pickett.


And as usual, we’ll give what the judges say... and then what we say.


What they say:  Randy likes the gospel start. “Watch the long phrasing.” Paula says he has brilliant vocals to rely on, and the way that he colors them up is “lovely.” Simon thought it was better than he thought it was going to be. “You’ve got to loosen up.”


What we say:  Yeah, way to prove Simon right. Good to start, but it takes no stylistic risk whatsoever. David’s going to have a steep hill to climb. And it wasn’t that clean of a finish either. Just remember, David. It’s just another performance.


Number two in the night is Chikezie, who has since dropped the surname. He got to Hollywood Week... only to be cast off at the end. He came back more than ready, though. That shows his willingness to stick to his dream. Is he ready with “I Love You More Today Than Yesterday” by Stevie Wonder.


What they say: Randy had a problem with Chikezie being an old-fashioned singer. He needs to make it new and fresh. Paula says he came a long way, and that he’s an infectious throwback. Simon hated it.

What we say: Nice risk on a song that was better known in its Diana Ross version. But other than a radical take on arrangement, it was a little bit lounge for me. By the way, don’t argue with the judge.


We didn’t get a chance to meet Colton Berry, so all we know of him is that he looks like Ellen Degeneres and that he has a background in theatre. We’ll hear him later. Meanwhile, David Cook gets to sing first. He had no idea what to get himself prepared for going into Omaha and as a guitarist in Hollywood. Tonight, he’ll try a subdued “So Happy Together” by the Turtles.


What they say: Randy says the start was weird, but he “worked it out.” Paula pulls a Simon, saying “it was a bit worthy.” Simon thought it was good. “You almost made it believable.”


What we say: Had me for about 30 seconds. But props for stage presence.


Next is Jason Yeager, a singing server who auditioned in Dallas. His son was blown away by the whole experience. He still can’t believe that he’s actually here. He would love to do this for his son. Can he do it with “Moon River” by Audrey Hepburn (yeah, her)?


What they say: Randy says it’s a tough song to sing, but he warns him never to lose concentration. Paula admits she did her first ballet recital that song. Jason also has a tender moment, dedicating that song to his grandmother. Simon bought his first puppy to that song, saying that it was very “cruise-ship”. Not very exciting.


What we say: Wrong tone, dude. He can perform the song, but he can’t really sing it that well, can he?


Next up, Robbie Carrico, who auditioned in Miami from Melbourne. He was in a boy-girl group, where he met Britney Spears, but he wanted to rock. He was a little nervous in Hollywood, but his performance of “Hemorrhage” raved. He’ll try and do it again with “One (is the Loneliest Number)” by Three Dog Night.


What they say: Randy was rocked out and moved simultaneously. Paula says he picked the perfect song. Simon says it’s the only current performance. But is he comfortable as a rock singer? “You tell me.”


What we say: For the first time tonight, I’m impressed. He used the song as a template and injected himself into it.


Next up, David Archuleta, who sang with Randy in San Diego. He is an early favorite to win according to the judges, and he sees this as an opportunity. He gets shaky just thinking about it. Hopefully he won’t shake on stage with “Shop Around” by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles.


What they say: Randy thought it was brilliant. “This kid is ready to go.” Paula thought it was brave and bold for him, forgetting about how old he is. Simon called it the best so far.


What we say: This is your classic case of “making something out of nothing.” I wasn’t moved on the song choice. But this was David in his element and he switched it up. Couple of cracks, though. And it wasn’t tailored to his range.


Halfway home, and here comes Danny Noriega, whose original tenure on Idol’s Hollywood Week in season 6 lasted all of one week. He made it longer this year, though, which in and of itself is an accomplishment. He sings “Jailhouse Rock” tonight.


What they say: Randy thinks Danny’s determined to have a good time, but the vocals didn’t do him justice. Paula loves his range, but the song was safe. Simon thought it was verging on “grotesque.”


What we say: This one was all about stage presence. Danny’s not one of the stronger voices in the competition, but he knows what had to be done in this song, and he did it. Wasn’t that good, but he did it.


“Starlight” was Luke Menard’s first song in the audition phase in Omaha, but one year removed, he was cut after auditioning with “How Deep Is Your Love” in Memphis. He came here to be the next American Idol, and he’ll try to sell it with “Everybody’s Talkin’” by Willie Nelson.


What they say: Randy said the “P” word... Pitchy. Paula agrees, saying this was not a good vocal for him. Simon uses the “F” word... Forgettable.


What we say: he was sharp, but he had the eye-schmooze and the camera-humping move down. Unfortunately, so did everyone else who got cut in this phase of the round historically (anyone remember Paul Kim? Didn’t think so.)


Now back to Colton Berry, who accomplishes the seemingly impossible... Nailing “I Believe I Can Fly”. His way of de-stressing… Singing the Teletubbies theme. How appropriate. Elvis is alive again with “Suspicious Minds”.


What they say: Randy thought it was a pretty good job. Paula wanted to see something different, and she got it. It wasn’t his best, but he gave it an eager attempt. Simon got nothing from this performance. “Young kid singing an Elvis song quite well.” That’s it.


What we say: Welcome to the insta-fodder. Immediately he’s going to be compared to Danny, neither of whom did the King any justice, but Colton managed to deliver a more believable performance. Although one can argue that he did too much with the end.


Next up, a person we’re convinced needs to deliver, Garrett Haley. He’s been watching this show since he was 9 or 10, and he does get the Leif Garret thing a lot. He auditioned while on vacation in San Diego. Confidence was an issue for him, and he says that he’s got to work with what he’s got. What does he have with “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do” ... the Carpenters version? Let’s find out.


What they say: Randy says he didn’t do anything with it. Paula was waiting for a beat to come. Simon agrees with both.


What we say: Nasal bad. Sharpness bad. Lack of confidence very bad. Boredom REALLY bad. Hulk smash!


Jason Castro is a born drummer. He’s only sung in public five times before Idol. He was one of the judges’ favorites in Hollywood. Tonight Jason views his coming out party, six-string in hand, with “Daydream” by the Lovin’ Spoonful.


What they say: Randy cites pitch problem, but it was otherwise alright. Paula was blown away. Simon said top 2 of the night. “You made it sound perfect. It was effortless. You had charisma. I thought it was terrific.”


What we say: You know what Simon meant, right? You’re #2 for the night. A good vocal. Great on the guitar. It’s everything Garrett’s performance wasn’t. Nice and dynamic and fit the song perfectly.


Rounding out the night today is the fourth Doctor... sorry, Michael Johns. He comes from Atlanta by way of Australia, and he cites this journey as destiny in the process being fulfilled. He’s closing the night by putting soul on the Doors’ “Light My Fire”.


What they say: Randy loved him the day he saw him. He thinks that he’s seeing the second coming of Michael Hutchence. Paula agrees. Simon: “the most consistent we’ve seen.” He just got it.


What we say: Michael is the master of making a song his own. An excellent way to close the show, by putting everyone else on notice.


So to rundown.


Groovy: Robbie, David A., Jason C., Michael
Solid: David H., David C., Colton
Whoa…: Chikezie, Jason Y., Danny, Luke, Garrett


So what did your votes end up doing? We’ll find out Thursday. Meanwhile, it’s time for the ladies to take the stage. Back in 22, y’all.