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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, Quisla Alexander, Jason Block, Don Harpwood & Gordon Pepper, GSNN

FACT FILE:
Host:
Ryan Seacrest
Judges: Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell, Kara DioGuardi, Randy Jackson
Creator: Simon Fuller (based upon "Pop Idol")
EP:
Ken Warwick, Cecile Frot-Coutaz, Simon Fuller
Packager: 19 TV, FremantleMedia North America
Origin: CBS Television City, Los Angeles, CA
Website: www.americanidol.com
Airs: Tuesdays & Wednesdays at 8pm ET and  at 9p ET on Fox

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Semifinals: Group 1
February 17

The auditions are over... The lineup is set. Now the top 36 are performing for you, America. Every performance counts, and every vote can make a difference. It's time for the semi-finals!

LOS ANGELES, CA - CBS Television City

Randy says you have to come out to win it tonight. Kara's a little nervous. But like the singers, you have to be yourself. Simon basically says that you have one shot at it.

Tonight, we're starting with 12 of the top 36. Of the 12 singers, America will vote through three to the finals - one guy, one girl, and the highest vote-getter of the remaining 10. It's the first three seasons all over again. It's that simple.

Tonight, singing for your votes...

Jackie Tohn (28, Silver Lake, CA)
Ricky Braddy (26, Nashville)
Alexis Grace (21; Memphis)
Brent Keith (20; Blanchester, OH)
Stevie Wright (17; Phelan, CA)
Anoop Desai (22; Chapel Hill, NC)
Casey Carlson (20; Minneapolis)
Michael Sarver (27; Jasper, TX)
Ann Marie Boskovich (22; Nashville)
Stephen Fowler (26; Beachwood, OH)
Tatiana Del Toro (24; San Juan, PR)
Danny Gokey (28; Milwaukee)

First up is Jackie Tohn. You remember her as the person who literally blew the house down in New York. She'll be singing "A Little Less Conversation" by Elvis.

What they say: Randy wasn't blown away by the vocal, but he loves the energy. Kara says she has personality and stage presence. Paula was up dancing. Simon thinks she has a good voice, but she played the clown with a gimmicky song.

What we say: Bad choice of song for Jackie, and she's not exploiting her vocal range. And she's going low vocal range octave instead of high. Bye, Jackie. 12 SINGERS. 3 SPOTS. YOU MUST MUST MUST blow it out of the roof. She...didn't. We're not impressed. You must be EXCELLENT at this point. Good is not good enough. It's good. Good does not get you in the Top 12. It doesn't help matters that Jackie is talking her way out of the Top 12 either

Ricky Braddy is next. He fell apart in group day, but he had the best day on the solo. Tonight, he has "A Song for You" by Donny Hathaway.

What they say: Randy thought that it was unbelievable, and the tone was beautiful. Kara said the he killed it. Paula cites that he was not featured last week, but he did what he had to do to bring it out. Simon's not jumping out of his chair, but he has no star quality.

What we say: He's doing too much with the song. It sounds good, but this is a chance to showcase your ability as a story teller without dressing it up. He has a great voice, but he needs confidence. Couple that with zero screen time from earlier, and he's up against a major 8-ball.

All of our performances tonight are on iTunes.

Alexis Grace was told to be dirty, to go home, and make love to her fiancÚ. She did. And she made it to sing tonight. But she has to do it without her daughter. Tonight, she's singing "Never Loved a Man" by Aretha Franklin.

What they say: Randy says she found the dirt. Kara says the genie is out of the bottle, a pleasure to watch her come out of her shell. Paula says that it's strange to look at how petite she is and see that confidence that she exudes. Simon calls her the best of the first three, with self-belief. She's a dark horse. It reminds him of Kelly Clarkson.

What we say: Very showgirlish. And unfortunately it's sung all at one volume, when she has to fluctuate. And when she finally throws a spin in it, it's too late. What she needed to do was something a little more universal, and with that song as narrow as it is, she may not get the votes that she want.

Fourth on the line is Brent Keith... and live television, folks. He has the bio rolling, as we relive Paula and Kara going under the table. His wife and him have been working paycheck to paycheck. "Hick Town" by Jason Aldean is the song.

What they say: Randy likes that he returned to country roots with a swagger. Kara says that he's a little safe and wasn't rangy enough. Paula wants America to remember the risks he took at the audition. Simon says he has one shot... and he did something unoriginal and forgettable.

What we say: Out of all the good country songs in the world... he had to pick THAT?! This is the type of song that he's comfortable singing... and that's the problem. Lots of AI fans are not fans of country, and he's not going to get the votes he's seeking with a song called "Hick Town". He should've played it out of the box this week. He better hope that all of the Nashville Star fans call and text in or else he's done.

Next is old-soul in a young girl Stevie Wright. Simon has not been impressed through her entire audition. She's singing "You Belong With Me" by Taylor Swift.

What they say: Randy says it was "not hot" and safe. Kara says that she has an identity crisis. Paula agrees with both, saying it was not the right song. Simon agrees with all three. "It was terrible. There was zero chance of you making it after that performance."

What we say: She sounds more like Steven Wright and we should give her a pony. Bye, Stevie.

Next up, Anoop Desai, who has been more than surprising through the entire audition. He wants to bring energy. Every song he sings will have all of him. He sings "Angel of Mine" by Monica.

What they say: Randy thought it was interesting, but the whole song was sharp. Kara agrees, saying that there's a lot of potential. Paula says America has connected with him and that this is a different side of him, comparing him to Brian McKnight. Simon thought it was a little too grown up and/or serious.

What Anoop says: it was all about thanks.

What we say: Risky song choice. Here's the deal... Ricky outsang him, but Anoop had the bigger connection and the bigger likability with the audience. Now it's a matter of which will count for more in the public eye. And yes, it was a little sharp. That's something we can't ignore.

First half is over and so far, we have two people to watch, one possible wild card, and three people who are on the way back to the house. We start the second half with Casey Carlson, who sings The Police's "Every Little Thing (S)He Does Is Magic".

What they say: Randy thought it was weird karaoke. Kara says that everything about it was wrong and she and Randy start getting into a duet. Paula says that there's no connection with that song. Simon called it atrocious and says that she shouldn't have been allowed to sing that song.

What we say: If only she had pre-recorded music to play along with the pretty posters, she would get somewhere. She can stare at the posters all she wants to at home, which is where she's going.

Coming up next is Michael Sarver. the person who survived the faux sing-off with Matthew Breitzke. His song is "I Don't Wanna Be" by Gavin DeGraw, and he doesn't want to be eliminated.

What they say: Randy says he can sing, but it started out rough and wondered about the soul. Kara didn't think it was his best performance, but it was true to him. Paula thought he did a very good job. Simon didn't call it his best vocal, but he heard a lot worse and he hopes America gives him another shot.

What we say: It's not a bad song, but it's not done the way the Idolers who have selected the song have performed it. He needed to come out with the fire. He could slip in thanks to Anoop faltering, but the odds are against that.

Ann Marie Boskovich wants us all to feel...pretty? Uh..okay. She tries to make our eardrums feel pretty with "(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman" by Aretha.

What they say: Randy didn't think it was the right choice of song. Kara said that the song was too big for her and she needed to kill it - which she didn't. Paula thought she did better on this performance than her auditions. Simon, being honest, called her the best hotel singer in California - but not good enough for that song.

What we say: My eardrums felt like a natural battering ram after hearing that. The song was never made to be converted into wimpy country, yet that's what Ann Marie did. Real disappointing.

Stephen Fowler hopes to not do anything wussy with his song. He's going to be taking the manly approach and belt out..."Rock With You" by Michael Jackson? Oy...

What they say: Randy wonders why he chose that song, because it doesn't match his vibe. Kara got more from him when he forgot the lyrics on the David Cook song. Paula is glad that he remembered the lyrics to this song, but thought he should have come out and sang the David Cook song. Simon wanted him to forget the lyrics, because he thought the whole performance was forgettable, and corny (and he thought the accompaniment sucked also).

What we say: I agree with Simon on this one. That song and his voice go together like Alex Rodriguez and a natural body building competition. Brutal song choice and a lackadaisical effort will lead in his departure.

What more can be said about the lovely Tatiana Del Toro that can't be already said? Or written? Or screamed around the countryside? Or plastered on internet site after internet site for the whole wide world to see? Now let's see if she can actually sing with Whitney Houston's "Saving All My Love For You".

What they say: Randy thought she had some moments and that she can sing. Kara doesn't know what Tatiana they are going to get, but she hit some notes. Paula says she's the most talked about contestant and she's not used to the demure Tatiana, and some of those notes were a cross between beautiful and pitchy. Simon thought that this was better than he expected, though lose the demure thing and he wants the old Tatiana.

What we say: She sounded...okay, maybe not great, but if you compare it to the other four female train wrecks we had this evening, she sounded divine. Could she sneak in as a Wild Card?

Finally, we have the star of the evening (and perhaps the show so far) Danny Gokey, who will croon to us Mariah Carey's "Hero". Why Mariah Carey's song? I have no idea.

What they say: Randy calls him the redeemer of the night. Kara says he's a hero and gives everyone hope. Paula called it stellar and 'Sold-Out Arenas'. Simon called it good, but not fantastic and a little heavy-handed.

What we say: Another bad song choice in an evening of bad song choices, but the difference here is that he sings the song very well. Not only the best male performance of the night, but the best performance of the night and there's no way he's not making it into the Top 12. If he doesn't get in, I'll sacrifice Jason Block to a goat.

Predictions:

In: Danny Gokey, Alexis Grace
Wild Card Potential: Anoop Desai, Ricky Braddy, Tatiana Del Toro, Michael Sarver
Sort of Wild-Card Potential: Brent Keith, Jackie Tohn
No Potential: Stephen Fowler, Stevie Wright, Casey Carlson, Anne Marie Boskovich

Join us in 24 hours to see the results.

CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE

To see footage from this episode, visit the official website at www.americanidol.com.