Clams is a term musicians use to refer to bad notes, the moment when a performer strays off-key. On Wednesday, the final 10 women were served on a musical half-shell.

Clams is a term musicians use to refer to bad notes, the moment when a performer strays off-key. On Wednesday, the final 10 women were served on a musical half-shell.

Not one warbler displayed personality or command of a tune; song selections were abysmal; and when the only number that seemed OK was an old Olivia Newton John hit, suddenly one felt the need to have their taste buds checked.

It’s always easy to slam the first contestant, but the danger is in not knowing if that will be the highlight of the night. Carly Smithson, whose real talent may be in Flowbee and Robocut infomercials should this singing thing not work out, gave a thoroughly unoriginal, bar band reading of Heart’s “Crazy on You.” But at least it was in key.

Oddly, she was probably the only one who could say that about her entire performance.

Sysesha Mercado did a gender switch on Billy Paul’s “Me and Mrs. Jones” that was, in the harsh words of Simon Cowell, not a clever choice. Syseha seemed scared of Mr. Jones; Billy Paul had Mrs . Jones right where he wanted her.

Brooke White pulled out the old six-string to perform Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” and was quite strong on the first verse but vocally fell apart once she hit the chorus. Why the judges the loved it was beyond me.

Ramiele did the perfect middle of the pack tune, the Thelma Houston disco hit “Don’t Leave Me This Way.” The judges tore her a new one – a bit unfairly. The girl did a dull tune and did mostly OK with it.

Kristy Lee Cook pulled a partial decade violation, doing the Linda Ronstadt version of the 1963 tune “You’re No Good,” which was exquisitely recorded by Betty Everett and Dee Dee Warwick. In the filmed segment, Cook proved once again she’s the horse whisperer of the competition. That doesn’t mean she should waddle around the stage like she just dismounted Seattle Slew. This girl thinks she’s at an audition for Felix “Red River” Unger and the Saddle Sores. (Obscure “Odd Couple” reference for you young ‘uns. Genius show – 10 years and it never jumped the shark).

Believing Pepe Le Pew is an up and coming French designer is not a good thing. Amanda Overmyer was all skunk – “Carry On My Wayward Son” was odorous in the ’70s and it still is today. I am very worried that we have seen the last of her.

“Hopelessly Devoted to You.” It’s sort of like “I Just Called to Say I Love You.” If somebody calls you with that sentiment it’s nice, but ultimately you have to say “why are you singing that crappy song?” Well, why are you, Alaina?

The producers do her no favors by weekly showing the three faces of Alaina. There’s the cute goofball with the shtick and the imitations that we see in filmed segs; there’s the singer who loves the camera and the camera loves back; and then there’s the gloomy kid who is not quite sure whether she is to blame for an off performance. Her expression looks like a kid getting a lecture from her parents after she told them she crashed the family car and defended herself – to no avail – by saying at least she didn’t get pregnant in the back seat like that tramp Jennifer did. She needs a “judges look,” something that says I’m proud and yet I understand that you want to help me. Not “um… whatever.”

Kady Malloy sang Heart’s “Magic Man,” a song apparently never played in England because every DJ in America was wearing out the grooves on every copy available in the States. Egads, Simon, get a cheat sheet. The buttons on her dress said Barbra, her vocals screamed barbed wire. Time to go.

And saving the valiant effort for last, Asia’h mangled Eric Carmen’s “All By Myself” in the earlygoing and then recovered. Still, she violated a key “Idol” rule: No Celine, no Whitney. You can’t win.

Clearly, while the world was devouring the Wilson sisters, Simon was busy with a French class project that involved translating Celine Dion lyrics to proper English. He just knows a little too much about her.

'American Idol' women stumble through the '70s

Fox, Wed. 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

Related links: The Set List
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