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American Idol Power Rankings: The Top 9 (Redux)

Last night on Idol, the remaining nine contestants (yep, there’s still nine of ‘em; Michael Lynche was saved from the jaws of defeat by the judges) took on the songs of Elvis Presley. Like The Beatles’ songbook, tackling Elvis’ catalog can be tricky. Many of these songs are so iconic that it can be difficult to reinterpret them. As a result, there was a whole lot of karaoke cum Glee happening on the Idol stage last night.

With a few exceptions, many of the contestants’ performances came off as boring and completely uninspired. The biggest shocker of the evening was Tim Urban’s phenomenal take on “Can’t Help Falling In Love.” This had “disaster” written all over it (after all, it’s one of the King’s classics), but Tim managed to totally update the song and really make it his own. Did your Idol fave make the top of this week’s power rankings? Read on to find out.

1. Lee Dewyze
Risk Level: 5
Payoff: 10
Total: 15

Lee Dewyze is no stranger to being on the top of our list — and this week he earned his place with a fantastically bluesy take on “A Little Less Conversation.” His rocker sensibilities have really served him well so far in the competition and, as expected, they helped him shine last night. His voice was in good form and his showmanship has gotten a little better as well. The judges agreed, and totally loved the performance. Randy told Lee he was “in the zone” and Kara commented that his rendition exhibited a “vocal intensity” that she hasn’t seen in him up until this point. Simon merely told him that he “nailed it.”

2. Crystal Bowersox
Risk Level: 4
Payoff: 10
Total: 14

Crystal Bowersox didn’t go out on a limb last night, sticking with her tried-and-true bluesy rocker formula. Her take on “Saved” had some rockabilly flair and gave the song some nice depth. As usual, Crystal’s voice was powerful and gritty — just as it should be for a contestant who chooses to present herself as the heir apparent to the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Joss Stone, and Tracy Chapman. Again, the judges were in love with her. Randy said she had good energy and Kara added that she “did some really good things” with her performance. Simon told Crystal that it felt original and that she “didn’t fall into the karaoke trap.” At least someone didn’t (see below).

3. Tim Urban
Risk Level: 2
Payoff: 10
Total: 12

As we mentioned, one of the more surprising parts of the evening was Tim Urban’s solid delivery of “Can’t Help Falling In Love.” True, it’s not a particularly difficult song to sing and, true, he didn’t do much with it melodically, but his understated acoustic version of the song won the judges over and undoubtedly gained him a few new fans. His voice sounded strong and the performance felt very authentic, which was something he’d been criticized about in the past. Ellen compared Tim to tequila, saying that the more she has of him, the better she likes him (whatever that means). Kara called it his “best performance” to date on the show and Simon told Tim he went from “zero to hero” in the course of two weeks. Maybe we’ve underestimated him.

4. Michael Lynche
Risk Level: 2
Payoff: 9
Total: 11

After being mercifully saved by the judges last week, Michael Lynche had a lot to prove with his performance last night. For the most part, he delivered with his version of “In The Ghetto.” All in all, it was a nice coffeehouse rendition, but it did feel a little boring at parts. There’s no denying Michael has a great voice and it served him well and totally legitimized his performance. The emotion he can display with his pipes is what sets him apart. Randy agreed that it felt “sleepy” sometimes, but Ellen commented that she’s “glad” he was saved. Simon said it was a “million billion times better” than last week. Really Simon? A million billion times better?

5. Katie Stevens
Risk Level: 3
Payoff: 7
Total: 10

Katie Stevens delivered some solid vocals with “Baby What Do You Want Me To Do?” Overall though, she really does come off as a bit of a budget Christina Aguilera — her voice isn’t that great. And while many of the other contestants are proving themselves to be accomplished musicians as well as just singers, we think Katie is eventually going to get lost in the shuffle. For now, she’s probably safe. Randy complimented her voice and Kara loved her attitude. But Simon found it a “bit loud and annoying.”

6. Casey James
Risk Level: 3
Payoff: 2
Total: 5

Casey James had a bit of a fall from grace this week with his take on “Lawdy Miss Clawdy.” True, his nouveau Johnny Lang shtick is getting a little old, but there’s no denying Casey has a great voice and can really play the guitar. Yes, we do think his performance was slightly forgettable, but we don’t think he quite deserved the harsh criticism from the judges. Randy said that Casey didn’t show him “anything different” with his performance and Kara said it “fell short” for her. Simon went one step further, calling it a “wasted opportunity.”

7. Siobhan Magnus
Risk Level: 4
Payoff: 1 – minus 1 points because we thought she really stunk it up last night = 0
Total: 4

We haven’t been impressed by Siobhan Magnus the whole season, but we kept thinking that maybe everyone else was just seeing something we couldn’t. Well, turns out, we were right all along and it’s everyone else who was wrong. Her cover of “Suspicious Minds” did little to stop her fall from grace. She was someone the judges — especially Simon — were very excited about in the beginning, but now she just seems to leave them all puzzled. [Editor's note: We think she sounds like a character from Harry Potter. Perhaps she bewitched them.] Who is this girl? Can she really have a career? While Randy thought Siobhan really came alive during the second half of her performance, both Simon and Kara were underwhelmed, calling it “erratic” and “screechy.”

8. Aaron Kelly
Risk Level: 2
Payoff: 1
Total: 3

After a disastrous showing last week, Aaron also had a lot to prove last night. Unfortunately, he did little to stop the bleeding and we’re pretty sure he’ll be in the bottom three yet again tonight. He’s inexplicably abandoned the country balladeer persona that made Simon a huge fan at the beginning and has now positioned himself squarely as the bad karaoke performer on the show. He’s got a decent voice, but when it was announced that he would tackle “Blue Suede Shoes,” we cringed. And with good reason: it was awful. Randy and Ellen tiptoed around the fact that Aaron totally ate it with his performance. Simon was more direct, calling it pure “karaoke.”

9. Andrew Garcia
Risk Level: 1
Payoff: 0
Total: 1

We had high hopes for Andrew Garcia at the beginning of this season, but he’s completely let us down. His take on
“Hound Dog” was simply awful, with a cheesy arrangement and underwhelming vocals. The song itself is so dated that it’s extremely difficult to make it sound current. Needless to say, Andrew failed miserably in that undertaking. Randy labeled the performance as “not good karaoke.” Simon was brutal, calling it “lazy” and “the part of a musical that you don’t want to see.” We seriously think this was Andrew’s swan song.

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