American Idol
Top 7: Performances

Episode Report Card
Joe R: B- | Grade It Now!
Country Is A Type Of Singing
In a hurry? Read the recaplet for a nutshell description!

Before we start with anything at all, Ryan Seacrest stands in front of a darkened studio (though he makes sure to stand off to the side so we're not obscuring the incandescent blue glow of the American Idol logo) and conveys the show's thoughts and prayers that are with anyone affected by the Virginia Tech tragedy. This will become a whole thing later, and I'm going to have to talk about it as it pertains to the states of mind of people on a ridiculous TV show, but so long as Ryan Seacrest is taking a time-out to be serious, I can too: Go Hokies. Of course, even (especially?) in times of tragedy, we can also take pleasure in the little things, like how Ryan still manages to emphasize the right syllables as he somberly tells us "This is American Idol."

After the credits, Ryan reminds us how country music has been "very good to many of our previous Idols," a statement just vague enough to be true. He doesn't mention, of course, that none of this season's Top 24 were country singers, specifically, so having a country night manages to be more fair (rather than Carrie Blows Everyone Away week) and yet far less relevant. But whatever, gotta persist with the themes. And for a mentor from the realm of country, whom else could they choose but Martina McBride, who I believe was named co-winner of Season 4 along with Carrie Underwood. Her video package offers snippets of songs that sound vaguely familiar to me, and I'm almost certain that's only because I've heard them covered on this show. "When God-Fearing Women Get The Blues" was on this show, right? Probably Pickler. And, of course, "Independence Day," which you only hoped you'd forgotten by now. Indeed, that's the song she and the Top 7 have chosen to sing during their Gather 'Round The Piano time. Martina's pre-advice to the lot of them is that the best country songs sound like conversations, so they really need to understand and feel the lyrics. Which is, in case you haven't caught on, the exact same advice every mentor has offered these kids all season. And if they haven't caught on by now...

Anyway, first up this week is Phil Stacey, who has chosen a Keith Urban song called "Where The Blacktop Ends." I suppose we weren't gonna get out of this show without a Keith Urban song, so I guess it's best to get it out of the way early. He and Martina bond over being fellow Kansans, and Phil tells us that this song in particular reminds him of Kansas, when he used to "play in the dirt" and was a "real country boy." Martina interviews and goes through the entire Phil Stacey Experience in about ten seconds, saying the beginning of the performance sounded stiff, but at the end he pulled out this really impressive note and won her over. That's our Phil, all right. She tells him to bring more of that kind of "soulful" stuff into the earlier parts of the song.

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American Idol




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