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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

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

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Semifinals: Group 3
March 3

We were promised the best of the best this season, but after last week, could we possibly do any worse? ... Ehh, probably not, but still, that won't stop another 12 from trying to break into the top 12...

First up, Simon asks himself why he just doesn't pick the songs? As usual.

Here's your lineup for tonight's festivities.

Von Smith (22; Greenwood, MO)
Taylor Vaifanua (17; Hurricane, UT)
Alex Wagner-Trugman (19; Studio City, CA)
Arianna Afsar (17; San Diego)
Ju'Not Joyner (26; Bowie, MD)
Kristen McNamara (23; Napa Valley, CA)
Nathaniel Marshall (18; Malone, NY)
Felicia Barton (26; Virginia Beach, VA)
Scott McIntyre (23; Scottsdale, AZ)
Kendall Beard (23; Austin, TX)
Jorge Nuņez
(20; Carolina, PR)
Lil Rounds (23; Memphis)

First up, Von Smith, who has made a living off of shouting on YouTube. Hollywood Week was sobering for him. Tonight, he'll show the real him with "You're All I Need to Get By" by Marvin Gaye.

What they say: Randy says that this was the way to kick off a show. Kara says he feels like that he knows what he's doing. "It's not about what you can do, it's about doing it with meaning." Paula says she's quite the showman. Simon is reminded of Clay Aiken, but spicier. He sang very well.

What we say: Is it me or does he look like the Ninth Doctor? There were some moments that are kinda good, but others that were kinda... yikes. But he picks the song, nails it when he has to, and he's a great performer. Could've been better, but it's good enough to get him to next week.

Download your favorites tonight at iTunes.

But Taylor Vaifanua might have something to say about that. You remember her as one of the many who forgot her words in Hollywood Group Day. She's also humbled, but she'll take on a tiger with Alicia Keys' "If I Ain't Got You".

What they say: Kara says she has issues, but she also has talent. She's looking for personality. That performance left her a bit cold. Paula is a little perplexed. She's looking for something new. Simon thinks that she's forgettable, generic, and bland. (music) Dawgfather needs to talk. "You didn't tell us anything special about you."

What we say: She's got a crazy case of the shakes. She's also shaky on the volume. You have to modulate on this song, but you have to do it correctly. It's an adequate performance, but we're past the point where adequate will cut it.

Alex Wagner-Trugman seems a little dorky, so sayeth the Intertubes. He says he's also weak. Will he be weak against Simon today? His only weapon: "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues" by Elton John. While growling and kicking over mic stands... accidentally.

What they say: Paula says she got her money's worth, but she doesn't know how much she'll spend. Simon? "The ridiculous growling halfway through was just stupid. You're like a little hamster trying to be a tiger." Randy agrees. "It was crazy in a buckwild way, the whole dropping the mic stand." Kara just says... he's him.

What we say: Two words. Weak sauce. Wait... one more... Crazyass. Wait... three more... Hamming it up.

Arianna Afsar. Cute. Controlled. Serious? We'll see. She's bringing ABBA to the Idol stages with "The Winner Takes It All".

What they say: Simon calls the irony on that song, calling the performance terrible. Randy didn't think it was that good either. Kara wants her to be younger, less gloomy, and a little less serious. Paula thought the song was a little old-fashioned.

What we say: It's a little wimpy to start, but she needs to have better control from the chest to the head. She needs to pick something that isn't bigger than she is. I'm just not compelled to pick up my phone and cast a vote after that song. I think her problem is that she's not accepting of the cute little button that she's fated to be.

Next up, Ju'Not Joyner, who auditioned with his son. He pimped his son for a golden ticket, but the rest of the journey was all him. Can he continue with the Plain White T's' "Hey There Delilah"?

What they say: Randy thought it was a smart choice. Kara thought it was fluid, but she's waiting for him to just bust it out. Paula says that the liberties he took paid off. Simon says it was better than he thought it was going to be, thinking that he could've had a moment had he just stripped it down.

What we say: Trying to jazz up a rock standard. It's not without risk. But it just limps along. He's a good singer, but this is a BAD song for him. It's way too draggy. he could've done Luther... He could've done Brian... He could've done the Boyz from Philly.... Instead, he did this. Too safe.

Going into the half, we've got Nathaniel Marshall and Kristen McNamara, who were in the same group in Hollywood (the one with the drama). Her strength has always been in her voice. And she'll be using her voice with "Give Me One Reason" by Tracy Chapman.

What they say: Kara says she's a great singer with a great tone, but she can see her as a rock edge. Not the perfect song, but shows that she can sing. Paula says she's safe, but she has a hell of a range. Simon is puzzled, but he thinks that she doesn't know who she is... same with Randy, who thought she was karaoke.

What we say: Probably the most genuine-sounding female on stage tonight so far. Takes a simple melody and sings it straight, and we really see who she is through her extrapolations of said melody. The ironic thing is that right now, she's just a blank canvas style-wise.

And now... Nathaniel Marshall's side of the story, which basically tells the story of a drama queen who has groveled his way to the stage tonight. And, in honor of Paul Harvey, God rest his soul... "now you know the rest of the story." Here he is with Meat Loaf's "I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)".

What they say: Simon says that some people would like it, but he called it excruciating, but he's memorable. Randy worries about the song choice, which Nathaniel called one of his favorites. Simon thinks he can do a headband set of physical exercise videos. Kara wants a different side, saying that he's her Karaoke buddy.

What we say: If you're 'fun', and you decide to select a non-fun song because you 'like' it, that's the definition of indulgent. Wrong choice of song and while Nathaniel's aunt and grandma may both like it, they may be the only ones in America who will vote for him.

Felicia Barton is where Joanna Pacitti would be if Joanna was still in the competition. She isn't, but Felicia performs "No One" by Alicia Keys to show that she belongs.

What they say: Paula is glad that she gets brought back and wants her to continue to return. Simon liked the first half better and thinks it was copycat. Kara says that it was her best performance to date. Randy likes her bangs.

What we say: The performance aspect proves that she should be in the Top 36. The lack of pitch in the song dictates that she should go no further.

Scott Mitchell takes one of my favorite songs ever - "Mandolin Rain" by Bruce Hornsby & the Range - and sings it to us. He also walks around, which is not bad for a visually impaired person to do.

What they say: Randy thought there were some problems, but the great parts were really great and passionate. Kara says that the vocal doesn't matter when it comes from your heart. Paula says that they have been blessed with his gift. Simon didn't like the lyrics, but he's growing on him because Scott's believing in himself.

What we say: It's a good performance. Not top 3 worthy, but the back story and high 5 with Ryan Seacrest should more than make up for it.

Kendall Beard wants to bring some country twang to this stage. She sings that "This One's For the Girls", by Martina McBride, and she's looking for girl relatability - as well as an alligator dance from her dad if she gets in.

What they say: Kara says it's the right song, but she had some pitch problems. Paula loves the outfit and hopes she enjoyed the moment. Simon says that Kendall did the right song - but wanted it to end because it sounded shrilly. Randy thought everything was good - except the vocal performance.

What we say: The only dancing with an alligator we're going to see is if Kendall abducts Simon after tomorrow's results show and feeds him to it after she finds out she's not advancing.

The last male of the evening is Jorge Nuņez, who has 2 objectives tonight: 1. Sing "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" by Elton John well, and 2. Work on his accent, which he's spent months trying to correct with a dialect coach.

What they say: Paula gives him a standing ovation and says that she is proud of him for fulfilling his dream. Simon says to be who he is and calls him a very good singer. Randy called it a really good vocal, adding that while Hollywood week was rough, he was smooth. Kara adds that he was born to sing and he's a singer.

What we say: He has a great voice, but I think the song choice was terrible. If America doesn't put him in, the judges almost certainly will, if not to justify their reason of going to Puerto Rico to begin with.

Finally, Lil Rounds ends the show with Mary J. Blige's "Be Without You". She doesn't want the audience to be without her, so she sings, "Call The Show If You Can't Be Without Me Babe". Heh.

What they say: Simon calls it brilliant and says she has great prospects in this competition. Randy loved that she rolled despite the bad. Kara calls her a powerhouse. Paula thinks that she's going to be around for a bunch more 'Lil Rounds'.

What we say: If the band didn't let her down, this could have been a real memorable performance. As it is, it was the best female performance of the evening. And 'Call The Show If You Can't Be Without Me Babe' was awesome.

We hyped that this group would be the best of the bunch. The show lived up to the hype, and we could only wonder what could have been for some of these people if they weren't stuck in the same bracket against each other. But some people have to be better than others, so here's what we got.

Can't Be Without You: Lil Rounds, Scott McIntyre
With or Without You: Von Smith, Ju'Not Joyner, Jorge Nuņez, Kristen McNamara
Probably Will Be Without You: Taylor Vaifanua, Felicia Barton, Kendall Beard
Can't Be With You: Alex Wagner-Trugman, Arianna Afsar, Nathaniel Marshall

Join us in 24 hours to see who will be with us next week.


To see footage from this episode, visit the official website at