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American Idol started off the show tonight by announcing that all proceeds from tonight’s iTunes downloads will go to American Red Cross to help victims in Japan. Tomorrow night, they will reveal how you can text in donations. Now onto the show as the contestants had to choose to sing a song from “The Year They Were Born.”

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Naima was up first with “What’s Love Got To Do With It.” She is already in the death spot by going first and this rendition isn’t doing her any favors. It has a really strange background beat. And just sounds like she is shouting at times. Steven “just loved it.” Jennifer said, “Last week, I gave you a pass on the pitchiness. But you are consistently pitchy.” And Randy felt the same, “The vocals were kind of a mess.”

Paul has been sick all week and it definitely showed in his rendition of “That’s Why They Call It The Blues.” He was really hoarse. And he has this whole shtick of kicking his legs and pointing at the crowd which is fun and quirky, but could get tiresome. He could be near the bottom. Randy thought “some of the notes were very pitchy. You try to find a way to make it your own, which I love more than anything.” Steven said, “Your swagger is way cool. You have a very distinctive voice.”

Thia was up next with “Color of the Wind.” And it was just boring. She needs to stop singing ballads and show some personality. She could be in some big trouble this week. Will her fans pull through for her? Randy said that she is “always safe and it was boring.”  Jennifer also thought it was a little safe and her “vibrato needs some work.”

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James rocked it out with “I’ll Be There For You.” It was so great. Now two weeks in a row that I am really liking him. It was the perfect song choice for him. Steven said, “Don’t get too Pop-py on me. But it was good.” James said, “Aerosmith had some great songs, but I want to save that for the finale.” Watch out James, don’t get too cocky. Jennifer loved it and Randy thought it “was tastefully done.” Steven even said he’d sing Aerosmith with James. Wow!

Then came Haley with “I’m Your Baby Tonight.” Whitney is tough to do, but this is actually the first time I like dHaley. She looked like she was having a blast and wasn’t trying too hard. And some awesome notes at the end. Funny moment when Ryan had to wipe lipstick off her chin. Jennifer thought she “seemed unsure in her moments. Do what you feel.” Steven wants to hear “more blues.” But Randy is confused by her, wants to know who she wants to be.

Stefano sang “If You Don’t Know Me By Now.” His birth year had a tough list including Milli Vanilli but this was a great choice. I loved it so much! Such a great song for him and he put so much energy into it. I think Stefano is this season’s dark horse just sneaking in. Randy called it the best performance of the night. Jennifer said, “You could take this thing!”

Pia sounded great on “Where Do Broken Hearts Go.” She has an incredible voice, but she needs to work the stage more. She could go all the way, but she really needs to show some more personality. Steve said, “You nailed it.” Jennifer was so glad to hear her do something untempo. Randy said, “Pia is in it to win it!”

Country boy Scott again picked the perfect song for his voice. He always does it right and honestly, I don’t think he even needs to win. He could record a killer country album right now. Jennifer said, “You pushed the notes at the end, keep growing!” Randy loves “seeing you take chances.” Steven thought it was really good.

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Karen was not so good with “Love Will Lead You Back.” She started off by saying she doesn’t only do Latin songs, but then she still threw Spanish into this rendition which was kind of weird. Karen is in real trouble. She is just not showing what she can do. However, Jennifer thought she “attacked it. Never expose your weaknesses. You sing beautifully.”

Idol has finally let a WGWG out of hiding! A guy played a guitar that is! It’s the first time this season! It was a fun and energetic choice with “Smells Like Teen Spirit” but it was all over the place. It actually seemed like a parody. It just wasn’t Casey. Way too much screaming. Jennifer said, “That was a rick but a little screechy. I think you’re sexy.” Randy said, “It wasn’t your best vocal, but I like that you are fearless.”

Lauren was up next and she has been fighting the flu. It seems like when one gets sick, it gets passed pretty quickly. And amazingly, she sounded much better than last week even while sick. Being sick actually worked and gave her a nice raspiness in her voice. But the song was a little  too old for her. “Randy said, “Have a cold every week! That was very nice.” Steven said, “You are a shining star.”

Jacob had the pimp spot and closed out the show with an amazing version of “Alone.” Jacob’s pipes always blow me away but he can’t keep doing the same thing every week. Randy thought it was genius. Steven said, “Gospel had a baby and they named it Jacob!” Jennifer said it best: “We have a competition.”

And Jennifer was right about that. We have some great talent this year and it really is anybody’s game. Who will get the boot this week?

As for bottom 3: I pick Naima, Karen and Thia, with Naima saying goodbye.

Tune in tomorrow night at 8 p.m. for the jam-packed results show that will also include performances from the Black Eyed Peas and last year’s winner Lee DeWyze!

Written by Rana Meyer

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