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'American Idol' Top 7 tackle 'Inspirational Songs': How did they fare?

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Image Credit: Michael Becker/FoxBullet dodged: The producers of American Idol may have genuinely believed that Enigma’s “Return to Innocence” was an excellent choice for tonight’s “inspirational songs” theme — they did, after all, put it on their list of 77 pre-approved tracks — or maybe they were just setting a trap to stop the surprising run of a contestant whose name rhymes with “Grim Bourbon.”  Either way, nobody took the bait, and the Bandzilla backup singers were not forced to break into full-fledged Gregorian chant mode. Whew. [SPOILERS AHEAD, west-coast readers, so don’t say I didn’t warn you!]

Beyond the “Escape from Innocence” theme, we had good and bad news on the Idol stage tonight. What? You want the bad news first? (So much for the spirit of Idol Gives Back in your hearts!) Okay, so almost half of the remaining contestants — Casey James, Tim Urban, and Aaron Kelly — managed only to inspire fantasies of the Madonna-themed episode of Glee that I’m missing as I finish this blog item. (Thank heaven for DVRs!) Michael Lynche’s attempt to channel his inner Chad Kroeger inspired funny feelings in the pit of my stomach. And Siobhan Magnus inspired the judges to treat her like a punching bag (again!). Yet while her song choice felt too uncool by half, I felt her vocals were actually pretty sweet. I just wish she’d get back to the soulful blues look that suits her best of all.

Meanwhile, pro-tem front-runners Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze separated themselves from the pack, like Affirmed and Alydar coming down the stretch of the Belmont Stakes. Except Affirmed put down her guitar and burst into tears as she came to the end of her Impressions ballad. And Alydar fumbled nervously with his guitar pick during his pre-performance interview. (For the record, Affirmed was a pretty handy winner tonight.) (Also: Nice dress-rehearsal footage on the phone-number playback reel. #ProductionFail!)

On that note, I’m off to work on my full-length TV Watch recap. Post your own thoughts on tonight’s show in the comments, and do follow me on Twitter @EWMichaelSlezak, where you can get all my Idol-related commentary and exclusive news. (Related: ‘American Idol’: The 20 Best Performances Ever)

Tonight’s Set List

Casey James: Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop”

Lee DeWyze: Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer”

Tim Urban: Goo Goo Dolls’ “Better Days”

Aaron Kelly: R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly”

Siobhan Magnus: Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston’s “When You Believe”

Michael Lynche: Chad Kroeger’s “Hero”

Crystal Bowersox: The Impressions’ “People Get Ready”