Michael Slezak
March 04, 2009 AT 09:34 AM EST

Tonight’s episode of American Idol gets an 8 out of 12. And that’s not just a subjective number. Indeed, I counted eight contestants tonight who gave themslves at least some small chance of scoring viewer votes or a possible Wild Card performance spot on Thursday. To recap, we saw singers get praised by the judges (Von Smith, Scott MacIntyre), play to smart niche demographics (Kendall Beard), receive special lighting/loving closeups from the producers (Jorge Nuñez), expertly reinvent their songs (Ju’Not Joyner), storm the stage with a purpose (Felicia Barton, Lil Rounds), and even overcome hideous arrangements through pure vocal talent (Kristen McNamara). A few of those folks, in fact, fit more than one category! That’s probably not good news for the entertaining Alex Wagner-Trugman. And it’s a crushing blow to those who were either forgettable (Taylor Who, Nathaniel Marshall) or unforgettably awful (Arianna Afsar). But in any event, Group 3 Semifinal  Performance Night was actually pretty entertaining. And on that jaunty note, I’m off to write my full TV Watch recap, which should be live on EW.com early tomorrow morning. In the interim, do watch our latest two episodes of Idolatry — they’ll play back-to-back — embedded below, then hit the comments section with your own thoughts on which three singers will and should advance during Wednesday’s results show!

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