So it's '70s week and the show proves that it can suck the life out of any decade's music. It's also opposite day on "Idol" as last week's stars phone it in and a couple who are lucky to still be around really step up and show they want it.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, Erin is sick today so you’re stuck with me. I’ll try to not be as disappointing as the boys were this week. Erin actually got sick before Michael Johns performance and I’m pretty sure she didn’t feel any better after seeing it.

So it’s ’70s week and the show proves that it can suck the life out of any decade’s music. It’s also opposite day on “Idol” as last week’s stars phone it in and a couple who are lucky to still be around really step up and show they want it.

We start with some advice from the judges. Randy says what he always says: “You gotta be in it to win it.” Simon succinctly says “Be better” and all but three of the contestants promptly dismiss his sage advice. And Paula, well, I really have no idea. Miss Abdul is starting to sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher to me. When she did make sense last night she never actually critiqued the performances at hand. Instead she dwelled on what got the contestants to the top 24: “I know you have a lot of talent” or “You’ve shown us in the past that you have a great voice.” Thanks, Paula.

And here are your top 10:

Michael Johns (TV Guide power ranking #1) What America would be surprised to know about him: He plays tennis… a lot. I thought every hot Australian guy played tennis. Song: Go Your Own Way (Fleetwood Mac) My favorite from last week really held back this week. It was boring and, as Simon said, it felt as if he were coasting. You’d better return to form next week, honey. Looks can only carry you so far in this competition. Unless you’re Katharine McPhee.

Jason Castro (TV Guide power ranking #2) What America would be surprised to know about him: He doesn’t like to do interviews. He cutely states that he “just likes the music stuff” and all of a sudden he’s being asked to do a lot of “not music stuff.” Song: I Just Want to Be Your Everything (Andy Gibb) Jason plays guitar again and this week it just doesn’t work. None of it works. Paula says he’s “cute.” Uh-oh. That’s not good. Just ask Amy. Everyone, including me, dings him for song choice and hopes he leaves the guitar at home next week.

Luke Menard (TV Guide power ranking #9) What America would be surprised to know about him: He is a member of an a cappella group called Chapter Six that has toured all over the world. Yes, Luke, I am surprised someone pays you to sing. He also explains for those in the audience who’ve never heard the term “a cappella” and don’t own a dictionary, that “singing a cappella is a lot different than having a band behind you.” Thanks for that, Luke. Song: Killer Queen (Queen) At least one contestant is consistent. He was every bit as bad this week as he was last week. OK, America, here’s a little something you might be surprised to know about me. Queen is my second favorite band of all time. (I’m sorry, I don’t know you well enough yet to tell you which band is #1). Any contestant who sings Queen when it’s not Queen week, immediately gets on my bad side. Don’t try to match Freddie Mercury, because you will fail. Just don’t. Simon tells him as much. Ryan calls Luke “Dawson’s Creek” and that makes me happy.

Robbie Carrico (TV Guide power ranking #3. Really?) What America would be surprised to know about him: He’s a drag racer. Not so surprising, Robbie. You look like every gearhead I knew in my 20s. Song: Hot Blooded (Foreigner) He’s didn’t do anything to help his “authentic rocker” claims with this dull, diluted performance. He explains in his interview that there are many forms of rock. True that, but I wasn’t aware of the rock form that puts you to sleep.

Danny Noriega (TV Guide power ranking #5) What America would be surprised to know about him: He was in a punk band in the ninth grade. So, that was last year? Song: Superstar (Carpenters by way of Leon Russell) Danny does better than he did last week, but the bar was pretty low after he mangled Elvis. He’s also cut back on the sass, which may keep him in my good graces for another week. I still predict he’s the first contestant who will become unbearably irritating. Was I the only one who thought it was odd that Paula commended him for singing “the Carpenters version” of the song? Did she really think a 17-year-old was going to unearth the Rita Coolidge version? Or bust out with the Sonic Youth version during ’70s week?

David Hernandez (TV Guide power ranking #8) What America would be surprised to know about him: He used to be a competitive gymnast. Yes, that is surprising. Song: Papa Was a Rolling Stone (Temptations) Also surprising was that David really brought it this week. He finally located his personality and his performance was vastly better than last week’s. Good for him. Simon calls him “the best so far tonight” and David nearly wets himself he’s so pleased. Funny how the only opinion that ever seems to matter to any of the kids is Simon’s. Just sayin’.

Jason Yeager (TV Guide power ranking #10) What America would be surprised to know about him: He plays multiple instruments. Song: Long Train Running (The Doobie Brothers) Jason is slightly better than last week but is in no danger of anyone asking “Which Doobie you be?” (Sorry for the obscure “What’s Happening” reference, I couldn’t help myself.) Poor Jason gets some brutal criticism from the judges (karaoke, pitchy, poor song choice, corny, ghastly) and he doesn’t take it well. He looks like he wants to cry. I’m not going to pile on. I just think Jason may want to stick to playing instruments. Also he didn’t bring along that cute son of his, so he may lose some votes there.

Chikekie Eze (TV Guide power ranking #7) What America would be surprised to know about him: His name is Nigerian and means “something well created by God.” Also the proper pronunciation is “she kez yay,” but nobody ever got it right so he decided to stop correcting people. Song: I Believe to My Soul. (Donny Hathaway released this song in the ’70s, so I guess it counts but really Ray Charles wrote and recorded it in the early ’60s.) Chikezie, saved from the brink of elimination last week, proves he really wants to stick around. His performance is by no means spectacular but it’s way better than last week’s disaster so he wins over Simon. Until he defends last week’s orange suit… again. Oh, Chikezie, just give it a rest. Even his mother is embarrassed.

David Cook (TV Guide power ranking #6) What America would be surprised to know about him: He’s a “huge word nerd” who enjoys crosswords; a “geek for vocab.” I immediately like David twice as much as I did last week! Song: All Right Now (Free) David did well enough to stick around til next week. Not a great perf, but not bad. Randy calls him the real rocker in the competition. Simon says the whole “word nerd” admission was boring and a big mistake and that David has no charisma. For the first time this season, I disagree with Cowell.

David Archuleta (TV Guide power ranking #4) What America would be surprised to know about him: He met “Idol’s” season 1 finalists in a hotel lobby when he was 11 years old and sang for them. And he brought video evidence of Kelly Clarkson giving him props. Oh, David, you are so cute. Song: Imagine (John Lennon) FINALLY, a great performance. I am still waiting for someone to give me chills. I haven’t waited this long in any previous season. But David is fantastic and he’s head and shoulders above all the other boys. The judges love him and on the air Simon declares him “the one to beat.” He also predicted David will win in an interview with “Extra” earlier in the day. But don’t get too excited David, Simon called LaKisha the one to beat last season. I do think David is a force to be reckoned with, even though his dad looks like Danny Bonaduce.

Best: David Archuleta, David Hernandez, Chikezie

Probably going home: Jason Yeager, Luke Menard

Tonight, the girls take on the ’70s. Expect a lot of the
Mamas and the Papas.

American Idol: The boys are back in town

Fox, Tues. 8 p.m

Production

Taped in Los Angeles by 19 Prods. Executive producers, Nigel Lythgoe, Ken Warwick, Cecile Frot-Coutaz, Simon Fuller; director, Bruce Gowers.

Crew

RUNNING TIME: 1 1/2 HOURS

Cast

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