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Idol Season 9: Top 9...Again

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It's Elvis Week and Adam Lambert is the first contestant to come back as a mentor -- and turns out to be one of the best mentors ever. But what was up with Ryan Seacrest's mocking reference to Brian Dunkleman? That was cruel. In general, the typically smooth Seacrest was goofy and distracting.

CRYSTAL BOWERSOX --Sang "Saved" with backup singers and a glittery electric guitar. Elvis did some of the greatest southern gospel ever -- but this is more of a fun roof-raiser. Kara called the lyrics controversial for their time. I'm not quite sure why they would be. Great and appropriate use of backup singers (with an assist from the camerawork). Fine and strong.

ANDREW GARCIA -- Sang "Hound Dog." Adam was straightforward about Andrew's rehearsal: "that was boring." Yep, and so was his pre-song interview. Started strolling back to the stage before the music was even over. Maybe better than the rehearsal but not that good.

TIM URBAN -- Sang "Can't Help Falling In Love." More precise advice from Adam about singing in a higher register at the finale, which he sort of used. Again, it was as good as Tim can do. Smart song choice, smart arrangement, full Tiger Beat mode. (With Ryan dancing in the background, I believe.) Good God, could he make the Top 4?

LEE DEWYZE -- Sang "A Little Less Conversation." Adam tried to break through Lee's poker face and get him to show some expression while performing. You could almost see Lee thinking when he began to sing, "Oh yeah, smile." He was so focused on the crowd, he even got away from the mike for a moment...and then climaxed with his back to the crowd. Weak ending but a lot of fun. And his best moment was the jokey thumbs up and smile at the end.

AARON KELLY -- Sang "Blue Suede Shoes." Aaron was right: the song was totally wrong for him, but not because of the lyric about drinking. He's just not a swaggerer. And where were his blue suede shoes? But it was so-so, including the forced intro where he looked at one camera then another...then another. Karaoke.

SIOBHAN MAGNUS -- Sang "Suspicious Minds," which I first heard via Fine Young Cannibals. Adam got her to speed it up; another good call since she's pretty indistinct and unmemorable on ballads. Oddly, she delivered the song in a sleepy, laidback manner when the tune is all about urgency, ignoring his advice. She only woke up when she got to wail. Even her look seemed tame, though a close-up showed some crazy shoes and quirky detail. Polite comeback from Siobhan to Simon but the problem is not the label; the problem is the performance. She can do anything she wants as long as it's good.

MICHAEL LYNCHE -- Sang "In The Ghetto," which Siobhan suggested to him. Lynche finally understands the difference between performing and being "theatrical," which is over-performing. Quite good, especially since that song can encourage being overly dramatic.

KATIE STEVENS -- Sang "Baby, What You Want Me To Do," an Elvis song I didn't even know. "You just showed us, girl," said Kara. Not quite. Fine, but competent doesn't cut it at this stage.

CASEY JAMES -- Sang "Lawdy Miss Clawdy." Yet more specific, good advice from Adam about the arrangement and letting it build more. Casey seemed to take the advice but couldn't shake the song out of just being a groove number. With the entire Elvis catalog to choose from, he couldn't choose a more propulsive number? Bad bad song choice.

Only four good performances and none of them were great: Crystal, Tim, Lee and Michael. If there's a bottom four, I'd say it should be Andrew Garcia, Aaron Kelly, Siobhan Magnus, and Katie Stevens. The two going home? Andrew and Katie. What do you think?

Thanks for reading. Visit Michael Giltz at his website and his daily blog. Download his podcast of celebrity interviews and his weekly music radio show at Popsurfing and enjoy the weekly pop culture podcast he co-hosts at Showbiz Sandbox. Both available for free on iTunes. Link to him on Netflix and gain access to thousands of ratings and reviews.

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