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Move over Debbie Boone. Step aside Olivia Newton-John. We’re living in the midst of something special. The new queen of elevator music is in the making. Tonight we have ten ladies who are vying for this title. If you like music generally accompanied by the sound of a dentist’s drill, then tonight is going to keep you on the edge of your seat. Let’s not waste a second more…

The usual opening sequence of verbal wrestling ensues. Simon proclaims his superiority. Randy throws in a couple of “Oh c’mon, dawg” while Paula asks the intern to make her Coca-Cola a little less cola and a bit more Jack. Ryan sends his I love the way you make me feel naughty look towards Simon and yes, Virginia, all is well in the world of American Idol.

Katharine McPhee - Idols01
Per standard Idol format the viewer is treated to a little inside scoop. Tonight’s inside scoop is all the fun and crazy things behind the scenes of American Idol. For Katharine, it has been living with Kellie Pickler as roommates. They like to be able to unwind and act silly and dumb. We’re shown assorted clips of pillow fights, make-up application, wet t-shirt contests and various food related wrestling games.

Tonight Katharine plans to wow us by singing All In Love Is Fair by Stevie Wonder, who I’m guessing must be on the take considering the amount of song selection he seems to be getting this season. It’s nothing spectacular on one hand but not completely coma inducing either.

The judges seem to agree. Randy thought it wasn’t her best performance. It was “just ok, man”. Paula was moved. When isn’t she? Paula proclaims Katharine brilliant and congratulates her on another great week. The voice of reason finally chimes in and lets Kat know that there is more to this competition than just singing great. She can’t get up on stage and be in her own little world without having personality and charisma.

Kinnik Skye - Idols02
Kinnik was overwhelmed when she walked into the performance stage for the first time. She became verklempt. She couldn’t believe she was about to sing for millions of people. You’re not alone honey, neither can we.

Going back to her country girl roots, Kinnik is busting out some Here For The Party by Gretchen Wilson. Uh-oh. Are we cursed with more country music on a pop idol show? Nevertheless, it’s fun. It got the crowd up and clapping. Granted nobody went as far as throwing a whomper of Copenhagen in their mouth but at least we kept our eyes open.

Both Randy and Paula harp on song selection. She needs to choose songs that highlight her amazing vocal range. Simon is again spot-on and likens Kinnik to that of a theme park entertainer. Fun and ok, but overall nothing to write home about. Hilarious!

Lisa Tucker - Idols03
While making her way to the stage, the behind the scenes scoop on her is actually pretty cool. Lisa starred in the Lion King when she was ten years old. She explains that every night she performed in front of two thousand people a night all week long, yet when she first stepped foot into the Kodak theater she became a bundle of nerves.

Tonight Lisa is singing Who’s Loving You by Michael Jackson ala The Jackson Five. She’s cute. She’s eons beyond her years. She’s destined for Broadway. Randy wished she would’ve opted for a cappella while Paula offered nothing at all. Ok she did say that Lisa was an amazing performer which I think most of us can agree with that. Simon is concerned that Lisa will choose too many grown-up songs but guarantees that she will sail through onto next week.

Melissa McGhee - Idols04
Apparently Melissa loves clothes. Lots of clothes. I suppose it’s no surprise but what she secretly tells us is that despite the Mt. McKinley size of clothes she brought with her, she loves her flip flops. So much that she wore them to a press interview and didn’t think anyone would take notice. Oh you silly Florida girls.

Her song selection for tonight is Reba McEntire’s Why Haven’t I heard From You. I think she did much better compared to last week. She’s up and about. The background singers are complimenting her nicely. She has just the right prerequisite midriff showing. Some personality is shining through.

Randy could see her making an album just like that. He, and myself included, was glad to see her smoky voice back in action. Paula is glad to see her coming out of her shell. Simon loves her voice, but…he seems to think she isn’t making a connection with the audience yet. Could this be his personal manipulation to get more votes for her? Regardless, he suggests a song for her that gives her more ‘wow’ factor.

Heather Cox - Idols05
Heather comes from a small town and was warned to watch out for all the snakes in Hollywood a.k.a. Simon Cowell. *Rimshot Thank you folks, she’ll be here all week. Don’t forget to tip your waitress. She was surprised to see real snakes. We see her nervously wrapped by a python and thus the hilarity ensues on American Idol.

Heather chose Hero, that little song sung by some unknown singer by the name of Mariah Carey. Can you guess where this is going? She does ok. Nobody’s ears bled but on the other hand nobody got chills down their spine either.

Paula finally offers up some advice and you know it just kills her to be critical. She clams up and tears start to well in her eyes. Paula cautions against selecting a song by an big time performer. She runs the risk of being compared to an icon and if it’s not “on” she’s left in the off position. Randy reminds us all that he works with Mariah and seconds Paula’s advice. Simon likens Heather to a singer at a “ghastly pageant”. The proverbial light bulb goes off over Randy’s head and he agrees.

Brenna Gathers - Idols06
We’re just over halfway through and the queen of vanity is up next. Brenna’s most craziest experience to date was the walk on the red carpet. Brenna loves to model and pose but the photographers were even too rabid for this queen.

Donna Summers song Last Dance seems like a good choice for Brenna. She struts and preens herself across the stage stopping occasionally to shoot smoldering looks towards the judges table. Vocally not the greatest but she is in love with the camera and you can’t help but watch even if it is a train wreck.

Paula asks Brenna how she felt about her performance. Brenna proclaims it a success and the audience loved it and America loved it. You’re so modest, Brenna. Randy compares Brenna to Simon. They both think they are right. This was a weird one for the Dawg and left him uninspired. Simon comes out with a classic line. He compares her to being at a bar during holiday where someone is always murdering a Donna Summers song. Brenna of course disagrees and believes America will get it right.

Paris Bennett - Idols07
What has been the best thing about the Hollywood lifestyle for this bubbly girl? She loves how she can change with her fashion. From sultry to energetic, her friends call her “Show”.

Paris decides to lighten it up the night with Bette Midler’s Wind Beneath My Wings and I’m instantly curled up into a ball sucking my thumb. I’m having flashbacks to my junior prom where this song was the obligatory slow dance and where all the guys had to pretend to be emotional. Paris does a good job. She has a great vocal range and her family upbringing has helped become more polished than some of the other’s.

Both Randy and Paula want her to celebrate her youth. Randy isn’t sure if he wants to hear a seventeen year old sing songs by fifty year old singers. Simon agrees. They all agree and let’s move on…

Ayla Brown - Idols08
Ayla has a secret to share. She’s loves transforming from a tomboy into a glam girl. Seems she doesn’t wear dresses that often and had to learn how to apply make-up. She left out the part that because daddy is a politician and mommy is a television personality, she usually has the servants apply her cosmetics and wear the dresses for her.

Ok, kidding about Ayla aside, this was one of maybe three performances tonight that I actually liked. Ayla sang a little I Want You To Need Me by Celine Dion and did well with it. She controlled her voice from high to low and put a little emotion into her act as well. You can see the determination in her eyes.

The description for Ayala is “pleasantly surpsised”. All three judges seem to expect Ayala to fail but so far she has done nothing of the sort. Paula would like Ayla’s legs from the knees down. Randy enjoyed her backstory and thought her song selection was perfect for her. Simon recognizes Ayla’s work ethics and feels she is working the hardest of all the contestants. But still she is a little bit mechanical and robotic.

Kellie Pickler - Idols09
You can’t script a better “Aw shucks” and naïve girl into to this competition better than Kellie Pickler. From eating her first spinach salad to tasting squid (or Cal’mari) to the cute clothes that adorn the dogs of Hollywood, Kellie has been wide eyed and amazed at life that exists outside her tiny town in North Carolina.

Something To Talk About by Bonnie Raitt seems fitting enough after that intro. Kellie will do no wrong during this phase of competition. Her perfectly slightly mussed hair, colored with a hint of hometown girlness, the slightly nervous sound in her voice as she plays up her lack of public singing experience. You can’t fabricate this.

There was nothing of significance by the judges. If they had it their way, confetti would be falling and the keys to whatever the winner’s car is this year is would be in her hand. They all adore her and for us at home this means six more weeks of winter.

Mandisa - Idols10
Mandisa tells us she is a practical joker and I’m delighted to see a funny side to her. We learn that Ryan was a victim of one of her pranks called “Dogjaw” where he goes to feel her jaw and Mandisa barks at him. Cute.

Mandisa rounds out tonight‘s Nashville Star Idol with a rousing rendition of Faith Hill’s Cry and finally the best was saved for last. Yes, I’m being extremely biased. She commands the stage. Yeah, she may have been pitchy in some spots but what she missed in perfect tone she made up for with heart and emotion. Not that fake kind of emotion either. The kind that comes from deep within the soul.

Paula is glad that Mandisa is putting her own flavor into the songs she chooses. Randy noted the sharp and pitchy parts of the song and wasn’t impressed with the song choice. He wants to see her throw it down. Simon was disappointed with the Liza Minelli evening wear but is quick to point out that when she is ‘on’, she is probably the best female singer in the competition.

So there you have it. Ten ladies, only eight spots left for this week. Who’s going on to next week? Who will dust off the obligatory Whitney Houston single for next week? Who gave you goosebumps? Email me at speedbump@fansofrealitytv.com with your secret pick.