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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 3 - The Wheel of Death Round
May 13

A high school student from Utah, an actress from Florida, and a bartender from Missouri walked into an audition room and took the chance of a lifetime. A year since, they are your final three, and are about to be tested in ways never thought imaginable. Welcome... to the Wheel of Death round.

This week is simple. Each singer will get three songs: their choice, the judges' choice, and the producers' choice. And as the name implies... someone's almost guaranteed to die by night's end. Who? Let's find out, shall we?

We start with...


Paula has chosen "And So It Goes" by Billy Joel for David Archuleta, as we find out via the mayor of Murray, UT. She says it show the level of difficulty and versatility that he is known for.

What they say: Randy says he can sing anything, but he wanted to see him sing and play the piano. Still, he's in it to win it. Paula thought he was a storyteller. Simon thought no surprises, predictable, but still really good.

What we say: Technically, it sounds almost effortless, but he mixed and matched the first and last verses. And it seems like he's struggling with the timbre of the song, not so much remembering what the song is about and instead selling himself. It's good... but not great.

Randy has just texted Syesha Mercado in a limo in Tampa.... He's chosen "If I Ain't Got You" by Alicia Keys. She loves the song. She loves the artist. Randy loves the song for her, as this is the kind of record she should make.

What they say: Randy thought she did an amazing job, and she's peaking at the right time. Paula's proud that she's the last lady standing. Simon thought it was sung well, but it sounded a bit too much like the original.

What we say: Simon is dead on this round. Except for a few spots in which she takes some runs and frills... it sounds just like the original. A dangerous notion in this round, but still, she pulls it off.

Now we go to Fox 4 in KC with David Cook, as he's texted on the air by Simon. He's singing "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" by Roberta Flack... It's one of the great songs of all time, and this should prove to be a challenge. "I think you're going to do well," he says.

What they say: Randy loved him since day 1. He loved the high note at the end, but he was waiting for something to rock out with. Paula thinks that he did the song justice. Simon, biased as it may sound, says that this is what makes him brilliant and original.

What we say: This IS a difficult song... It's way out of David's wheelhouse... And I have no idea who that woman was standing for him, but David makes it his own. If I had to call this round right now... It would be Cook 1, others 0.

OH, that's his mom! Okay. That explains everything!


David Archuleta takes a risk with "With You" by Chris Brown. He wanted to give something new a try.

What they say: Randy applauds that he's going youth, but he's not sure he chose the right song. Paula thought it was perfect and in the right tone. Simon applauds that he didn't go the ballad route, but thought that this was like a chihuahua trying to be a tiger. "It's not quite you."

What we say: Song choice, song choice, song choice. This song kicked his butt, especially the opening verse being a little pitchy and mumbly. He gets his footing back on the chorus. Will it save him? Probably. Because he's yet to be done in by such things as, oh, song choice.

Syesha has decided to go with "Fever" by Peggy Lee. She likes the vibe of a song and that she has a shot to use, get tihs... a chair.

What they say: Randy thought it was an interesting song choice and one done very well. Paula is surprised that she picked this song, because it doesn't show who she is as an artist. Simon says she'll probably regret this decision. "You did quite a lame cabaret performance."

What we say: Did she mean to have that pacing issue at the beginning of each verse? Apart from that, it's sexy, sultry, and full of spunk and attitude. The last time she did this... She ended up in the bottom two, because people saw right through it. We shall soon see what this does for her.

The chair, though, has potential, as Ryan takes it for a test run. David Cook is next with Switchfoot's "Dare You To Move". Lyrically, it wraps up the American Idol experience. "It seemed like the appropriate song for the appropriate moment."

What they say: Randy thought it was a little pitchy. Paula wanted more from the song, thinking he got to the beginning at the end. Simon didn't think that it was the best melodic song in the world.

What we say: I see Les Paul's back. Good play on your strengths. Cook has some issues with the lower register. I would've gone a half-step up if I knew I had that sort of issue. But still, it's the rocking performance that Randy wanted, so I guess it's not a total loss. I was waiting for him to completely bust out the bridge, though.

So round 2 is a draw basically.


First, the producers have "Longer" by Dan Fogelberg for Archuleta.

What they say: Randy thought it was another hot one. Paula thought it was lovely. Simon thought the song was very well, but the song and the lyrics are just really really horrible. "Something you choose for a 90 year old!"

What we say: Sappy? Check. Stylistic? Check. Archuleta singing it dead on note for note? Check. This is what we've come to expect from one of his ballads... Nice sounding, but all too bland. Still, though... We'll see him in the final.

Guarini in the house, baby. Next, the producers have chosen for Syesha, "Hit Me Up" by Gia Farrell (from the "Happy Feet" soundtrack).

What they say: Randy says it was just okay. Paula doesn't think it was the type of song that defines him. She doesn't know if it's good enough to get her into the final. Simon: "You had your best moment last week with your Sam Cooke. It's a little bit forgettable, and it didn't give you a defining moment."

What we say: I don't know what Syesha was concentrating on, but it wasn't the pitch. It was way sharp, and she didn't carry the song anywhere. She let the song carry her. And this is why it's called the Wheel of Death.

Finally, the producers give David Cook "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith.

What they say: Randy loves the song, but thought that the song was very predictable. Paula gives props to Diane Warren and says "David, see ya in the finals!" Simon: "David Cook wins the night.'

What we say: A bit of a risk going with a subdued arrangement, but, as is the case so far this season, it pays off, as David pretty much books his ticket to the Nokia Theatre.

Just to make it official...

Win: David Cook
Place: David Archuleta
Show: Syesha Mercado

But nothing is certain until Ryan reads the results tomorrow night. G-Pep, J-Block, and D-Harp will have those in 24.