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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 7: Idol Gives Back
April 20

This week, Idol gives back, much to the delight of charities everywhere and the chagrin of Jason Block, who attributes this to rich people feeling good about themselves. We find this week wondering who Idol will be giving back to the land of obscurity. 

We still have tickets left to Idol Gives Back, which shows us just how weak this year's class is. The theme is inspirational songs, and the mentor is Alicia Keys. 

We start with Casey James and Fleetwood Mac's 'Don't Stop'. Will we be saying the same thing? 
The Good - This is Casey James. It wasn't different (meaning no didgereedon't or bagpipes from hell), so I guess it was good. Maybe.
The Bad - After he butchered the opening lyrics, instead of him to not stop, I didn't want him to start the performance. and unfortunately, it didn't get any better. 
The Jason - This is Casey James, and not a good one. Boring, karaoke and the guitar was a crutch again. I hated the vocal. 
The Chico - Hoo boy, that was rough. You could hear by the pitch gradient (the band was at least a full step down) that Casey was expecting something else. So far from him it's been verse, chorus, guitar solo, chorus. It's lazy singing. 
The Verdict - It was another run of the mill Casey James lackluster performance. but the difference is that this was a lackluster out of tune Casey James performance, and that could give him issues tomorrow.

Lee DeWyze, who I think could be in a competition with Casey James to avoid the bottom 3, is singing 'The Boxer', originally sung by Simon and Garfunkel. Is Lee going to score a knockout? 
The Good - Once again, he's the second best performer up there, only second to Crystal. And he's dressed to impress with the dapper tie. 
The Bad - I'm not sure about that song choice, because I don't know how familiar with that song the audience is. The adults? Yes. The kids who vote? I don't know.
The Jason - Two in a row in the round of suck. I didn't care for this version and I didn't connect with it...and Lee's vocals were awful.
The Chico - A genuine emotional connection between singer and song. It shows through the performance. It's almost effortless from the rocker. (and for the first time, I think Crystal sees someone in her rear view mirror) 
The Verdict - I disagree with Jason. That was surprisingly good. As I don't think there will be 3 rockers in the Top 5, I think this performance could send Casey to the bottom 3, barring disasters from Aaron, Tim and Michael.

Tim Urban has had 'Better Days', according to the Goo Goo Dolls. I don't think so - he got to Idol Gives Back, which is a miracle of itself. Can he make it 2 miracles and sing it well? 
The Good - I'll give him kudos for using the guitar and trying to be commercial in his performance. We know what sort of a singer he's going to be whem he markets his cds.
The Bad - However, if this is his first track, I'm not buying the album. My ears have had better days, as they have to run to the bathroom and find some cotton swabs to block out the upper register, which he is clearly doing more screeching than singing.
The Jason - The first song that emotionally connected me. Unfortunately, he was so off pitch that my ears got unclogged.
The Chico - That was absolutely non-remarkable. I mean, we all know he trends upward in pitch and he's done nothing since the callback to correct himself. And with Katie and Andrew out of the running and the competition voting still in self-righting phase... Tim could possibly be WISHING for better days about now.
The Verdict - This is one of those performances that is dull, dreary, and somnabulistic. In other words, one that will knock a contestant out of American Idol. Tim could have major issues tomorrow. 

Aaron Kelly Aaron Kellyhas selected 'I Believe I Can Fly' by R. Kelly, which he has sung since he was 5. Oh no. Please don't sing this song. No no no no no no no no no no no... 
The Good - He stayed within his vocal range and didn't go all over the map like Tim did. From a performance standpoint, he was decent.
The Bad - I believe my ears just ran back into the bathroom to take some Benadryl, in hoping they would be knocked out before hearing the tremolo and out of pitch ending. Oops. Too late. 
The Jason - What's happening here? I hated this one too. My ears want to be clogged after this one. 
The Chico - Over on GSNN, we do the WLTI show weekly, and I made this proclamation... "Aaron Kelly does R Kelly, and because he doesn't have that powerful a voice, he sucks at it." He did. He doesn't. He did. 
The Verdict - I didn't like it nearly as much as the judges did. A decent second half doesn't cover the very rocky first half. I agree with Simon that I liked the end, but less because he sang it well and more because it was over. The same could be said with Aaron's musical career on the show. 

Last week, Sioban Magnus sings 'When you Believe', and she believes she can stick around for another week. I believe that, too. But can she get more voters? 
The Good - She has such an amazing refined voice when she sings controlled. This was one of those performances. I think Kara will hate it (and she did), but it was a solid vocal with a powerful ending.
The Bad - I hate the arrangement to this song. Too much breathing and very old-fashioned. If you're trying to get the young vote, that's a really bad arrangement to get the young vote with. And whoever decided to decorate her with flypaper (which attracted plastic butterfliles) should be shot.
The Jason - Thank you Siobhan for saving us from this terrible night. Pure vocals and an emotional connection! The judges were WAY WRONG.
The Chico - There's a fellow by the name of Leon Jackson who won "X Factor" on the strength of this song. It was the season after Leona Lewis won. I got a feeling when I heard him sing it. Siobhan just inherit the mantle of dark horse on the back of that same feeling, I think. This is her ticket. And now Crystal has TWO people in her rear view mirror.
The Verdict - I liked it more than the judges did. And she gets bonus points for defending her song choice, with her sounding human instead of saying that she had fun. I think she'll be fine, because she had a nice performance and she should be getting the votes of the departed Katie Stevens.

Michael Lynche wants to take flight and soar with the wings of an eagle (or swing like Spider Man) with 'Hero', sung by Nickelback and taken from the soundtrack of said super hero. Can he make like Spider Man and sling his web into action? 
The Good - Well, he's got the physique that he would need to join Spider Man in his fight against people who are committing a crime againts the musical majority...
The Bad - ...and he can start by arresting himself. He had a few visible lyrical flubs and amnesiatic spots. It's 100% the wrong song to sing and the pitch is terrible. What's up with Michael and his song selection?
The Jason - I loved this. Energy, Passion and this was great. 
The Chico - When Big Mike was granted the save, he was given a bye last week... but at the same time, he was put on notice. He could not be allowed to make the same mistakes again. And then the (^_^)er goes and makes the same mistakes again! He can't do that! NO MIKE THAT'S A BAD MIKE!
The Verdict - I think Jason was imbibing whatever Peter Parker was using to make his webs. He doesn't have the tone in his voice to do justice to this song. And Simon was right - the song WAS from the movie soundtrack to Spider Man, which Michael should never be arguing with him about. And unlike Simon, I am not sure that Michael is going to be around next week. 

Crystal Bowersox can't wait to sing 'People Get Ready'. I can't wait for this terrible episode to end.
The Good - I like the musical a capella at the beginning of the song. She was amazing for the first 99% of the song and was spot on. Far and away the best of the night. Completely outclassed everyone. 
The Bad - She overscreams the high notes and parts and of course decomposes at the end of the song. but based on what I have heard so far tonight, that's very forgiven. 
The Jason - Loved the a capella opening. Great arrangement. And she is still the favorite right now. Pure vocals. 
The Chico - Hands down... the performance of the night. 
The Verdict - And that once again ends this episode of American Idol Season 9: The Crystal Bowersox Invitational (Special guest appearance by Lee DeWyze). Now stay tuned for people maiming Madonna songs or your local programming. 

Overall Verdict: A few thoughts:
1. Can we just fast-forward this to a Crystal/Lee final?
2. Idol Gives Back, huh? Can they give me this hour back?
3. Or conversely, can 5 of these singers take their performances back? Once again, I can only put 3 in, so... 

Trouble: Anyone not named Crystal or Lee (but for the sake of the column, I'll say Tim Urban, Casey James and Michael Lynche)

Casey will get sent back to safety, leaving Tim and Michael. Last time Michael was in the bottom 2, he got sent packing. This time, he gets bailed out by a guy who couldn't afford to give a mediocre performance. 


The Jason: The men blew it tonight. 

TROUBLE : Casey James, Tim Urban, Aaron Kelly

In a big shock, Mr, Guitar goes home. 

OUT: Casey James 

The Chico: Crystal may still be the favorite. And she may just sail on to finale night while I take a nap and watch Ninja Warrior reruns and let Haterade do my job for the rest of the season... but Lee and Siobhan have put her on blast, basically saying, if you want the title... you're going to have to earn it. Make no mistake, she's still the overwhelming favorite, but the show is no longer hers to win exclusively... aww, who the hell am I kidding. Congrats, Crystal, on winning the season... Oh, picks? Okay, fine. 

TROUBLE: Casey James, Tim Urban, Mike Lynche 

Now... Casey was lazy... Big Mike was awkward. Tim... Tim was just there. 

OUT: Tim Urban 

Join us in 24 hours to see who gets to give back to their community in a way other than singing.


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