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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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Round of 13: Michael Jackson
March 10

The wheat has finally been separated from the chaff. Now is the time for 13 aspiring pop stars to take the big stage as they compete against each other for your votes. The lights are up... The stage is set... IT'S FINALS TIME!

Randy says that they have to bring it hard tonight and every week. Kara says that she has to be tougher on these kids this go around. Paula says not to be afraid of using the stage. Simon says that the players need to remember words and prove that you're not swallowed up by the stage.

So how will this work? Thirteen people tonight.... but only 11 tomorrow. TWO people will go home in 24 hours.

Tonight, the 13 Idolists are going to tackle the work of a true American Idol... Michael Jackson. His work spans from his childhood as lead singer of the Jackson 5ive to later superstardom in the 80s and 90s. With 100 million for "Thriller" ALONE, he's the greatest selling artist of all time.

If you're going to be a cat, be a tiger.

First up, mother-of-three Lil Rounds. Growing up in Memphis meant that she was surrounded by music. But she's also surrounded by motherhood, as we are reminded of the story that got her to this juncture. She'll sing "The Way You Make Me Feel" (1987).

What they say: Randy says that she put a new spin on the song. Kara says that everyone's like "Uh oh" after that performance. She hopes she gets to hear her on the radio. Paula compliments on the softness of her glam and her falsetto. Simon thought it was good, albeit a lazy song choice.

What we say: She did not hold all of the pitches correctly, but the meat and potatoes of the song was all about attitude. Lil captured that attitude. She's also working the stage, which is something you have to do. My only worry down the line is that she'll use her big guns early, and later on, she'll have nothing and flame out. But that's a worry for another time. Another thing is that song didn't really showcase what Lil was all about.

Next up, Scottsdale up next with Scott McIntyre. He grew up liking sound and music, trying to figure out melodies as a kid instead of going to bed. He'll share "Keep the Faith" (1991) on the keyboard.

What they say: Kara's glad to get him on a piano, but it's not the most dynamic he's been at. Paula says that it's magical to see him in his comfort zone. She points out that the writer, Siedah Garrett, loves it. Simon apologizes to Siedah and says that he hated it. "It's fine being artistic, but not on this show." Randy felt it was a little bit safe. "I want to see more sparks from you."

What we say: Obscure song in his strength. But it's a little sharp. That could hurt him if he doesn't work to correct it. But in the end, this is who he is and he doesn't sacrifice anything for his art.

Heading to Milwaukee to see what Danny Gokey is all about. Danny loves to clap and sing to his father's music. He always dreamt about what he wanted to do when he's older. Now he's singing "PYT" (1983).

What they say: Paula says that the true mark of an artist is when you can close your eyes and hear who he is. Simon says the vocal is brilliant, calling him a white guy with soul, but the dancing was hideous. Randy loves the whole package. Kara says that he's joyous when he steps on stage.

What we say: This doesn't sound like the Danny we voted through. This song should go on the list of Banned Songs Forever. As for Danny... well, the dancing was awkward. The song was meh.

The roadtrip continues to Jasper, TX and the oil rigs of Michael Sarver. Growing up without a dad has made him want to be the best dad that he can be. His life made him who he is, and tonight, he goes with something he isn't... Sensitive. Here's "You Are Not Alone" (1996).

What they say: Simon doesn't think he's the best singer, but this song choice showed passion and heart. Randy calls it one of the best so far tonight. Kara says that he really can sing and that he brings his A-game every time. Paula says that he got room as an artist to color it up, and he did.

What we say: Could be the surprise of the night. Michael had the heart to pull this song off, and it's obvious that he was mentally in a special place, and you have to be when you're on the big stage.

Real time with Jasmine Murray in Mississippi. She's the baby of the family, her biggest fans. They call her the life of the family. Her mother, being the biggest of the big fans, will be there every step of the way. Because she's a minor. She'll be here with "I'll Be There" (1970)

What they say: Randy says that it was funny that she mixed J5 with Mariah. He's impressed. Kara needed to hear it in a half-key down. She sold it. Paula cites her composure and poise, but she had moments of flatness. Simon calls it a good attempt, albeit robotic.

What we say: Please don't Mariah it up, Jasmine. Worked for her. Doesn't work for you. But when she's truly an original, she's rather good, albeit flat.

Next, we're going to Conway, AK, home of Kris Allen. His father played music in church, while Kris picked up the torch. He's been married for 5 months, but the honeymoon will have to wait until after AI is over. He brings out his guitar for "Remember the Time" (1991).

What they say: Kara says the girls love him, and he gets props for helping out the others. Paula says that no one knows more about the catalog than Kris, calling him adorable and sexy. Simon says the performance was okay, but the guitar was clumsy. Randy loves the vibe, comparing him to Jason Mraz.

What we say: Sounds like an R&B country mélange, like he didn't really know how to play it... So he just played it any which way, and it came out sorta... wrong. And sorta clumsy like the guy from England said.

The baby of the group is Allison Iraheta, whose parents came from El Salvador. She sang at her family business, La Curacao. Now she's singing "Give In To Me" (1991).

What they say: Paula calls her poised and authentic. Simon thought it was good for her. Randy says she's got it. Kara called it ridiculous (in the good way... we think).

What we say: I think we have our first person in danger. Allison's calling an inaudible. I say that, because half the song was just that... inaudible. We're not crazy about that sound.

The Idol film crew invades the home of the Tar Heels next. Noop Dawg is in the house, and he performs...Beat It (1984)? This could be really good or really really bad.

What they say: Paula calls it karaoke, Simon thought it was horrible, Randy called it the wrong song choice and Kara thought it was disconnected.

What we say: You know you're in trouble when Paula criticizes you. This was a mess...but as the crowd favorite, I don't think he has a problem this evening.

Jorge Nunez shows us his very large family. She hopes to get a large fanbase with..."Never Can Say Goodbye" (1967)? Okay, Michael covered it, but really? Never Can Say Goodbye?

What they say: Randy hated the song choice, while Kara suggested 'She's Out Of My Life' instead. Paula hopes America remembers what he's done previously, while Simon thought the song was corny, with a terrible arrangement to boot.

What we say: See Desai, Anoop - but he doesn't have the previous musical resume that Anoop has. No instead, we're going to say Goodbye.

We relive Megan Joy Corkrey's trip to Idol, her divorce, and her love for her son Ryder. She wants to rock your world with "'Rockin' Robin" (1972)..complete with cawing at the end.

What they say: The women think it was 'unique'. The men think it was uniquely bad. Gordon Ramsay says something but since he's not miked, we don't know.

What we say: Perhaps Gordon wants to see Megan make 24 Blackbirds baked in a pie. It would probably taste better than what we've just heard.

Adam Lambert struggled while he was living in Hollywood...but he's glad he made it and he's glad he got in now, because he didn't think he was ready 5 years ago. He's white, he's wearing black leather, so the song "Black and White" (1991) is perfect'. Sure. Okay.

What they say: Paula expects him in the finals. Simon thinks he's in a different league than everyone else. Randy thinks he can make a record right now and Kara hopes Michael Jackson is watching the show tonight.

What we say: It was not the best 'performance', but he right now is far and away the best 'performer'. Yes, there is a difference, and he'll easily skate through this week.

Matt Giraud has a hyper little kid growing up, and he did almost everything with his shirt off. Ewwwww. His dad wants him to grow up and be successful. Maybe "Human Nature" (1986) will help him take one more step there.

What they say: Randy thinks he's a pitchy Robin Thicke. Simon calls it a solid meat and potatoes effort. The women both call him talented and want to see more of him.

What we say: Matt could make the women's dreams come true by taking off his shirt - but he won't have to do that this week. He did more than enough to get to the next round.

Finally Alexis Grace got dirty thanks to her dad, who's been a musician for 35 years. She wants to get dirtier by singing "Dirty Diana" (1988). Her kid agrees by saying 'Seacrest, Out'. AwwwwBarf.

What they say: Kara and Paula thinks she was nice and naughty. Kara and Simon thought she over sang it. Randy liked the attitude.

What we say: She definitely oversang it, but she doesn't have a problem. In the news, by the way, we find out that Alexis was given #36 as a number to call in because #13 was taken over by a phone sex line. So the phone sex line was given to someone who was being Dirty Diana. Coincidence?

So we have the usual mixed bag one would expect in the Top 12. The forerunners have no issues, but the Wild Cards and judges picks all have problems ranging from mild to serious. Here's how we see it, Jacko-style.

Michael Jackson in the 70s: Michael, Adam, Lil
Michael Jackson in the 80s: Scott, Danny, Matt, Alexis
Michael Jackson in the 90s: Kris, Allison
Michael Jackson in the 00s: Jorge, Megan, Anoop, Jasmine

Remember... Two people are getting the almighty hook next time. Come back and see which two.


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