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'American Idol' Top 9 results (Elvis week): Did the right people go home?

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Spring is in the air, Idoloonies, even in the hallowed halls of American Idol. And just like most households, The Castle That Kelly Clarkson Built did some serious cleaning tonight, stuffing not one but two contestants into tear-resistant Hefty Cinch Sacks and putting ’em out on the curb for recycling night. [SPOILERS AHEAD, west-coast TV watchers!]

In the case of Andrew Garcia, alas, it was an overdue trip to the Idol dumpster. His Elvis-week “Hound Dog” was limp and unhip, a final sad salvo to one of the more disappointing runs for an early front-runner in recent show history. And his meandering sing-off to “You Give Me Something” only served to confirm that a nation of speed-dialers did the right thing. Waah waah waah waahhnn.

The night’s other eviction came down to the end-of-episode troika of Tim Urban, Michael Lynche, and Katie Stevens, and it might shock you to know I was actually rooting for the permanently smiling Texan with the luxuriously thick hair to last another week. Maybe it’s some form of reality TV Stockholm syndrome, where you start to sympathize with your musical captors? Or maybe, as my pal Mandi Bierly argued in an astute PopWatch piece today, it’s a backlash to the backlash. Whatever the reason, I was not alone. Tim was sent to safety first, followed by Michael (who Ryan announced was not actually in this week’s bottom three), and that left Katie to face the sing-out music. Her struggle to get through “Let It Be” without a complete tearful collapse was a surprisingly gooey moment from a contestant who’s often seemed remote and robotic. Adieu, Katie! Still wish you’d waited five years before auditioning, especially after realizing I actually enjoyed that casual exit-package rendition of “Chasing Pavements” you did with Andrew at a breakfast table somewhere in Hollywood Week.

In addition to this evening’s ousters, we got an Idol Gives Back update from season 5 favorite Elliott Yamin and fourth judge Kara DioGuardi (reporting from Angola), a duet from season 7 favorite Brooke White and visibly trembling If I Can Dream star Justin Gaston, and a ferocious rendition of “Whataya Want From Me,” by this week’s insightful guest mentor Adam Lambert (which took place inside a laser-filled tornado).

Next week’s theme: Inspirational songs! (Don’t all applaud at once, guys.) Next week’s mentor: Alicia Keys. Oh how I hope someone sings “Empire State of Mind.” What? That song has inspired many a morning commute for yours truly.

On that note, I’m off to work on my full-length TV Watch recap. Do check out some behind-the-scenes scoop about Casey James’s Elvis night ditty; and follow me on Twitter @EWMichaelSlezak, where you can get all my Idol-related commentary and exclusive news (like this conversation with Idol’s executive producer about the future of those hard-to-kill Swaybots).