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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
Host Ryan Seacrest
Judges Simon Cowell
Ellen DeGeneres
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
Origins CBS Television City, Los Angeles
Web americanidol.com
Airs 8p Tues & 9p Wed, Fox
Available In High-Definition Where AvailableStreaming Online

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Round of 10: R&B Soul
March 30

Happy Passover! For Jews all over the world, this is the first few days (depending on when you're reading this) where you must strike out all leavened things from your eating menu. We'll see who Haterade (who has nailed the last 2 elimnations) thinks will be stricken from your musical diet. 

This week's theme will be R&B, and the mentor is Usher, who should be very good for the remaining contestants. Not so good; the idiotic backstage cam (which is another way to fill up time, since we have the same 2 hours to fill and less people to fill it with).

For those of us who want to hear more music and less Seacrest, we have Siobhan Magnus, who starts us off with Chaka Khan's 'Through the Fire'. 
The Good - Great choice of song. It's the perfect song that she can belt out, as long as she can control her voice - something she promised us she would do and not overscream it. 
The Bad - And she did that through the first 40% of the song. Then once we got to the chorus, we got loud, screechy, out of tune Siobhan. I know why the fans are called Siobhombies - because those last pitches were notes only zombies could enjoy. And the el bizarro 1980's new wave boot with small dress and strange sideways shirt looks like she was auditioning to be an extra in the next George A. Romero film - 'Singers of the Living Dead'. 
The Jason - This song proves that she is a legit contender to win the whole thing. There were a few flat off key notes, but she hit the money note and showed she is not a screamer. 
The Chico - She nails the tone of the song alright, but that's all she nails. There are the couple of high notes that she couldn't just jab at. Not enough to put her in danger, but she needs to realize her limits. This week, she wasn't her usual self. She was so-so.
The Verdict - I completely disagree with Jason. Simon is 100% right. Worst performance by Siobhan ever and the screaming is becoming boring. Worst of all, she's becoming irrelevant, and the challenge wasn't to take a hard song, but it was to take a song and control her voice - something she failed on. She can't push her voice and she's doing it, and like I said last week, she's turning into a caricature. Next week is going to be crucial to see if she's going to be a dark horse or finish in 6th.

Casey James feels that R&B is his roots, which is good. He forgot the lyrics in front of Usher, which is bad. He's going to try to R&B is up with 'Hold On, I'm Coming' by Sam and Save. Can he hold on to a top spot, or will the bottom 3 be coming for him? 
The Good - Very smart choice of song. It's never been done on Idol, yet it's a well-known song. His tremolo also works perfectly on a song he can play around with. 
The Bad - Hey, it's another big band performance with a guitar. Whoopie. And although he sang it well, he completely sang it by the numbers here. It was good Karaoke, but Karaoke, which is something I could hear any time in a Texas bar which could be sung by anyone who downs a few beers watching Baylor lose to Duke in the NCAA Tournament. 
The Jason - This was a great choice. While I liked the vocals....get rid of the freaking guitar. It's a crutch. Sing without it...please. 
The Chico - Perfect song choice for him. Perfect performance from him. This song fits into his blues repertoire. 
The Verdict - What the judges are saying is that he's singing safely. And although it IS his strongest week so far, Casey needs to be diverse, because all I see him as is a old smoky bar singer, and that's not going to win the competition. I think he will get more fans thanks to his performance this week, but he needs to go slow and acoustic next week and take a risk to try to get to the top of the pack. Fortunately, he says he will do just that next week, so let's see what happens.

Michael Lynche, who I have been accusing of being way too old for this competition, has decided to go contemporary with india.Arie's 'Ready For Love'. 
The Good - It's an excellent song choice for a multitude of reasons. He gives us something contemporary and something different than the past few weeks, when we've been getting R&B standards. 
The Bad - I understand what Randy says when he says that it was too pulled. He needed to put more emotion in the song, which felt a bit flat to mee in the middle. Also flat in the middle was his pitch, which waned a tad. And a very special boo to Kara for never hearing the song before. The song has only been sold 2 million times, and I think it would be in your job profession to know these things. 
The Jason - I liked this choice of song. He slowed it down, and really proved his vocal range. He sang with a passion and energy that was infectious. This was real and honest. 
The Chico - Not the best we've heard from him. I mean, it's technically proficient, and he sings it well with the subdued timbre and the guitar and all... but if I didn't know him, I'd swear there was a disconnect. But he's ready to show Crystal, "Hey, i can do the guitar, too..." 
The Verdict - It wasn't his best performance, but it was his biggest one. I mean that he finally connected with the youth and like Casey, he is going to build a fan base from it. Hes going to cruise to the Top 4, regardless, but If he can keep these sort of performances going, he can set up his spot in the finale. 

Didi Benami cries in front of Usher. She's singing for her dead friend. We know. Jimmy Ruffin will also know, as she croons 'What Becomes of the Broken Hearted'.
The Good - For the first time, she finally belts out a song with emotional timbre. And I actually like her glittery bronze/golden dress. 
The Bad - This is actually reverse day for Didi. She's usually pitch on and has a terrible song choice and performance. This week, the song choice and emotion was there, but the pitch clearly wasn't. And the ending notes left me with not a broken heart, but broken eardrums that wanted to call it a night after that. 
The Jason - The first person in trouble tonight. I didn't FEEL the song. While the song was technically excellent, I was bored. Yawningly bored. 
The Chico - Oh boy. Brokenhearted is right.
The Verdict - I think she will stick around for next week, but if she isn't there, it's because of this performance. She probably won't be relaxing during the last 15 minutes of the show.

And if my eardrums didn't have enough pain, here comes Tim Urban, who has spent the last few weeks in the bottom. He's hoping he can get out of the bottom with...Sweet Love by Anita Baker? Oy.
The Good - I'll give him credit for trying. Usher gave him a great choice of adding emotion to the performance, and there was the potential - the POTENTIAL - of him emotionally pulling it off.
The Bad - Despite the potential, it all comes off completely and hideously wrong. I'm not going to go into the pitch, since we all know that's going to be bad. The real problem is that he's as emotional as a brick. And because he doesn't commit to the song emotionally (and because he's slowly walking towards the camera), he looks less like someone professing his love to a girl and more like the crazy guy in the movies who is going to leave the woman he's going after a gift of a boiled bunny in a pot on her doorstep. I mean look at those eyes. Brrrr, creepy. 
The Jason - Good Grief...one of the greatest soul songs of the 1980's gets murdered by this bad arrangement. This Zac Efron wannabe made the wrong song choice here in a big way! I was bored yet again. 
The Chico - Haterade texted me saying that he was "Scared". He has every right to be after this performance. I mean, it's supposed to be deep, smooth, flavorful jazz stylings... Tim fails on all accounts.
The Verdict - I agree with Simon that, 'it doesn't matter what anyone says' about Tim. But I think that for a completely different reason. Why? Read on. 

Andrew Garcia, after being told to be serious by Usher, decides to be acoustic with 'Forever' by Chris Brown. 
The Good - I did like what Andrew did with the song. This time, the guitar works. He's back to picking good, relevant songs. And he looks suave in the outfit.
The Bad - I don't know if people are going to vote for someone who sang Chris Brown. I agree with Simon that Andrew does need to show more of who he is, because right now, his mama has more personality than Andrew does. If I'm Rihanna, I come over there and beat the snot out of him for the lack of pitch he had for the beginning of the song. 
The Jason - OOOOOH...tough choice given Chris Brown's legal troubles. But you know what, this works. I like this. This was his best performance since the voting shows began. 
The Chico - The problem with "having a moment" is that it just lasts that one moment. Rarely do you see even a relapse of said moment. Andrew... is back to form. Still not upper crust, but he's going back to what works. He can only grow from here. I hope he grows from here... He BETTER grow from here.
The Verdict - I was all ready to put Andrew in the bottom 3, but I think his mom will bail him out. That makes me feel very weird writing that. 

Katie Stevens was in the bottom three last week. How is she going to get out of it this week? She'll try to get there with 'Chain of Fools' by Aretha Franklin.
The Good - From a performance standpoint, miles better than last week. The vocals, form a pitch standpoint, was solid, and there were no glaring pitch errors like last week.
The Bad - When you get an Aretha Franklin song, you need to belt out the pitch, like Siobhan did with 'Respect'. We get a very lukewarm rendition of the song, in terms of the volume and challenge. This was not the right song for Katie to select, and once again, she needs to get younger. The youth is where you're going to get her votes, not old standards. 
The Jason - Not sure on this one. While I don't think the vocals are terrible at all, the believability factor on this performance is ZIP. 
The Chico - My name is Katie. I have only one tone. I sing it sharply. And I'm not quite human.
The Verdict - I think she will be ok this this week because 1. it was much improved and 2. she was in the bottom three from last week, and her fans will be mobilized to vote to get her out of there.

Lee DeWyze is still on the hunt to create a moment. Despite having walking pneumonia (which I've had, and it sucks), he's going to try to battle through it with 'Treat Her Like a Lady' by the Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose. Can he create a moment this week? 
The Good - Yes he can. He finally shed his shell and let it all out on the stage. He was emotionally belting out the song instead of screaming out and oversinging. That was the one missing piece that we needed to see from Lee. Where did this Lee come from? 
The Bad - It's a great moment for all of us who know that song, but it's not a well-known song, and it doesn't really tailor to the youth (though Lee did tailor it that way). So it won't make as much of an impact as the audience think it will. 
The Jason - Killer Killer Country Rock Spin on this soul song. Loved it. This was the best performance of the night so far! 
The Chico - That whole spiel about when the singer becomes the song and when you realize what you want to do with yourself vocally, the most pretentious bollocks I've ever heard. That said... Lee's got the chops to back it up. 
The Verdict - That does elevate Lee, but the question is how much? More importantly, what will he do next week to propel what he did this week further? 

Crystal Bowersox is going to do something different...and play a piano. Well, that's not exactly the change I would have made, but that's what she's going to do while singing 'Midnight Train to Georgia'. 
The Good - Once she got off of that piano, it was Crystal and the audience. This was something I was waiting to see. She nailed the hard top vocals. Great choice of song, and beautiful vocals. 
The Bad - When I said that she should do something different, I mean to be without an instrument, not play something that would make her seem more distant and distract from her vocals, which it did for the first 10% of the song. Shut up, Kara. 
The Jason - She plays the piano? Wow. If she only opened up her eyes and we could see the emotion while she was playing, because this was a killer vocal. All the female singers need to line up behind her. She IS the leader of the female pack. 
The Chico - Crystal's showing off yet another trick in her ensemble. I would lose the backfat dress... I'd lose the background singers... and I'd've stayed at the piano. But hey, nice job.
The Verdict - I'll disagree with Simon when he says to not expand yourself. You must expand to win this competition, and Crystal did just that. Any thought that she's not the favorite is gone after this performance, Easily the best performance of the night, and the title of Season 9 Champion really is hers to lose. 

The end of the night belongs to Aaron Kelly, Aaron Kellywho wants to emotionally embellish the 'I Know' for Bill Withers' 'Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone'. Will Aaron know that he's got a good performance to end the show? 
The Good - He was ok with 'I Know'. I like his stage presence, and is maturing nicely for that aspect.
The Bad - The problem was the rest of the song. Pitchy all over the place and continuously flat. If Tim was as emotional as a brick, than Aaron was the mortar that held the dull bricks together. Uninspiring for a singer in the last spot of the night. 
The Jason - Not one of his best performances with some of the off-key vocals, but he wasn't even close to being in the bottom of the pack. 
The Chico - I have a friend. We'll call him Micah. That's his name after all. Of everyone I've ever heard sing this song... he's probably the best at it. Aaron is nowhere near Micah. this is just play-by-numbers R&B in a contest where it would behoove you to take SOME risk. 
The Verdict - The trouble here is that America I'm not too sure that America will vote in droves for that performance. It wasn't great and the fans may think that he's not in danger of being booted - especially because Simon said as much. That's asking for problems tonight. 

Overall Verdict: After last week's cesspool, this was markedly better. We see some separation from the Top 4 (Crystal, Lee, Michael and Casey) and everyone else. I think we can save chairs for TIm and Didi at the bottom this week. Andrew (who raised his game) and Katie (who was in the bottom 3 last week, so she'll get a boost of votes this week) will be safe. This leaves us with 2 singers in a crowded pop field who were not very good, and who may get America to not call in as much because they appear safe. And in American Idol, that's very bad. So let's flip a coin between Siobhan and Aaron... 

Trouble: Tim Urban, Didi Benami, Siobhan Magnus

After a huge gasp from the audience, Siobhan will be sent to safety, which leaves us Tim and Didi. According to the big book of Idol Statistics, the number of people who have survived to get to Week #3 when they were in the bottom for the first 2 weeks of the finals: One (Kristy Lee Cook). I don't think Tim will be joining hers.


The Jason: You can see the pack separating now. But these three I believe are in the bottom three! 

TROUBLE: Katie Stevens, Didi Benami and Tim Urban. 

Tim is the Sanjaya of 2010. He will be safe again for another week. So who gave the least believable performance...

OUT: Didi Benami 

The Chico: Ladies and gentlemen. The kid gloves are off amongst the top five. We have five singers who are in this for blood. The other five just got lost in the shuffle. And now I need to pick three of them out of his nebulous cloud of singers who just sucked the soul out of soul night to put in the bottom. That SHOULD be no problem. 

TROUBLE: Didi Benami, Andrew Garcia, Tim Urban 

Look at that. I sometimes even surprise myself. Okay... Didi is going to get a little of Paige's vote, so she's going to go back to safety. Which leaves one person who redeemed himself, and one person who didn't. Andrew had a step up, but is it enough to make up for the errors of weeks past? When you consider that the other person is Tim.... yes. 


We'll see in 24 hours who may need Usher's contact to get a new gig.


To see this episode in its entirety, go to www.americanidol.com.