‘American Idol’: People Get Ready For An Inspirational Top 7

Tonight marks the return of the special two-hour Idol Gives Back charity special, so inspiration is the theme of this week’s song choices on American Idol. And to help the Top 7 radiate a little brighter, the insanely gorgeous Alicia Keys stepped up as the constants’ mentor. So how well did Miss Keys do with putting the gang in their own element of freedom? Let’s find out below.

First off, good news to those who were salivating over the return of Season 8 Idol standout Adam Lambert last week as a mentor—”I hope to come back for the finale,” he told MTV over the weekend. Glambertzons, commence with firing off the glitter canons in celebration!

Okay, moving on to the performances by the Top 7:

CASEY JAMES — “Don’t Stop” by Fleetwood Mac Alicia Keys encourages Casy to connect with the Fleetwood Mac classic, because it’s so well known (just ask anyone who voted for President Bill Clinton the first time around) that she’s worried he won’t stand out as an individual from the song itself. And it’s a shame the guitar-strumming heartthrob doesn’t heed her advice, because he just ends up smiling like a cheerleader the whole time without conveying the raw optimism of the tune. Plus, he sounds more than a little off-key on first on first couple lines. But hey—at least he looks great, right? Sadly, that’s enough to wow the judges anymore—or us. Yesterday’s gone, Casey. Yesterday’s gone.

LEE DEWYZE — “The Boxer” by Simon & Garfunkel Lee looks properly tortured while singing the folk anthem about a down-on-his-luck fighter, and emotes the right amount of anguish that should truly inspire voters to donate texts to keep him in the game. What we’re really trying to say in all seriousness is that he was completely amazing, and Simon rightly points out, “Even though we’re only two in, that was the best of the night.” Now to go dig out Bridge Over Troubled Water

TIM URBAN — “Better Days” by Goo Goo Dolls Let’s just cut to the chase: it’s abominable. And not like a snowman. Although, much like a Yeti, here’s hoping by next week Tim Urban doesn’t actually exist on this show anymore.

AARON KELLY — “I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly A. Kelly takes on R. Kelly, and Alicia thinks he has a challenge on his hands because it’s a song that can possibly read as overkill. (Flip on any lite FM station and you’ll know what she means.) “If he can almost be crying by the end of that song, then he’ll take it to a whole other place,” she says. Aaron ends up just sounding kind of whiny, but the audience laps it up. However, this, folks, is why we’re going to miss Simon Cowell something fierce after Season 9. “In the real world if we’d have heard that on the radio, I’d have turned it off in 10 seconds,” he says. Now that’s inspirational.

SIOBHAN MAGNUS — “When You Believe” – Mariah Carey & Whitney Houston Last week we pondered whether or not Siobhan peaked far too early, much like Andrew Garcia. And she certainly doesn’t do anything to dispel those thoughts by tackling the massive double-decker diva ballad (and failing miserably) “When You Believe.” Randy points out that Shuv probably picked the toughest song of the night. “I don’t know why you picked it,” he says. In her defense we’ll just say that at least she probably sounded better singing it than Whitney would these days.

MICHAEL LYNCHE — “Hero” by Chad Kroeger Sorry, gang, but Big Mike is just getting really boring at this point. After his near Idol-death experience two weeks back—where he was voted off but the judges used their one and only save this season on him—you’d think he’d be running on all cylinders at this stage to keep himself in the game. Maybe Mariah Carey’s “Hero” would have been a better choice? Eh, whatever. Either way, total dullsville.

CRYSTAL BOWERSOX — “People Get Ready” by The Impressions Alicia lets on that Crystal is one of her favorite contestants, and that she thinks she’s “very, very special.” So naturally Mama Sox does completely horrible this week. Oh, just kidding—she rocks it out. In fact, Simon was indeed premature in declaring Lee Dewyze the best of the night, because that gong also goes to Crystal—who, incidentally, performs for the first time this season sans instrument! (Of course, that only puts more focus on her crazy hair. Girl, how do you get those dreads to do those crazy things?) Crystal even seals the deal by sobbing just as she’s finishing up the classic Curtis Mayfield composition—because, she says, her dad is in the audience for the first time. Awwww.

Best Of The Night: We’ll go with a tie—Crystal Bowersox and Lee Dewyze.

Worst Of The Night: Again, a tie—Tim Urban and Siobhan Magnus. (Sorry, Magz. We did love you at one point!)

Final Thoughts: Although one contestant here and there has shined throughout the episodes over the past month-and-a-half, both Crystal and Lee killed it tonight. We’re finally starting to see the cream rise to the top—and getting a clearer vision of who just might be in that final episode next month!