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AMERICAN IDOL 9: Top 10 power rankings (R&B week)

R&B superstar Usher is the guest mentor on

R&B superstar Usher is the guest mentor on "American Idol" airing March 30 on Fox. Pictured, from left: Michael Lynche, Casey James, Katie Stevens, Lee Dewyze, Usher, Didi Benami, Crystal Bowersox, Siobhan Magnus, Andrew Garcia, Tim Urban and Aaron Kelly. Photo Credit: Fox

   Though “American Idol” regularly shows the power of a great voice, at this point in the competition, it can also be won and lost by the power of a great song.
    Chris Brown’s “Forever” has proven its mettle by not just overcoming the scandal of being written as an undercover Doublemint commercial but also the scandal of its singer’s domestic violence conviction. Even in the wake of controversy, it’s become a YouTube sensation and a popular wedding song. And Andrew Garcia was smart enough to tap into its greatness to pull out of his “Idol” tailspin, delivering his most likable performance since his stunning reworking of “Straight Up” that made him an early favorite months ago. Will that be enough to keep him around another week? Maybe!
    He got some much-needed help from the increasingly robotic Katie Stevens, who unfortunately stumbled through “Chain of Fools,” making her seem, once again, annoyingly older than her years, as well as incompetent. Didi Benami’s horrifying trampling of “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted” was far worse, with her ham-fisted phrasing and flat, blah delivery, but all the crying and her back story of singing it for her friend who died no doubt gained her loads of votes. It was her “Get Out of Jail Free” card and she used it.
    Tim Urban, of course, has been using his “Get Out of Jail Free” smile for weeks and went to it again after his soulless mauling of the Anita Baker classic “Sweet Love.” The thing about Teflon Tim, though, is that he certainly is improving. He was mostly in tune, as the judges pointed out, and he is quite likable handling all the criticism. Nevertheless, barring some sort of miracle/catastrophe, he will be out within a month.
    Aaron Kelly, after all, is not just adorable, but actually also a singer, though he couldn’t quite triumph over “Ain’t No Sunshine.” The same goes for Siobhan Magnus, who is in an ongoing battle of brilliant vs. awful, with her take on “Through the Fire.” This time, awful won out.
    As for the rest of the class, I’m still not sold on whatever it is Simon Cowell sees in Lee Dewyze. (Doesn’t it feel like he’s a lesser remake of Daughtry? Will his band be called Dewyze?) His “Treat Her Like a Lady” was a decent rockish reworking, but also a bit shouty. Casey James delivered “Hold On, I’m Coming” better, but he was hampered by a terrible arrangement.
    Last night, it also felt like the frontrunners felt the need to lower their game to keep things interesting. Michael Lynche’s take on india.arie’s beautiful, but wholly wrong-for-“Idol” “Ready for Love” was good, but not different enough from the original to work for him.
    Crystal Bowersox took up Kara DioGuardi’s ridiculous challenge to leave the guitar behind and stumbled a bit on the piano during “Midnight Train to Georgia,” making her seem uncharacteristically nervous as she sang. Luckily, she is so comfortable that she can afford a slight musical misstep and still pull it out a likable performance in the end. At this point, she could sing practically anything and still make it work, but imagine how well she would have done with a great, original song choice. Perhaps she is saving that for when she really needs it.   


Andrew Garcia, “Forever”
Lee Dewyze, “Treat Her Like a Lady”
Crystal Bowersox, “Midnight Train to Georgia”
Michael Lynche, “Ready for Love”
Casey James, “Hold On, I’m Coming”
Aaron Kelly, “Ain’t No Sunshine”
Siobhan Magnus, “Through the Fire”
Katie Stevens, “Chain of Fools”
Tim Urban, “Sweet Love”
Didi Benami, “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted”

BOTTOM THREE: Katie, Tim, Andrew

PHOTO: Top 10 with Usher from Fox.

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