Quite what America made of the very strange choice of Elton John interview - a session with Michael Parkinson from 1971 or thereabouts - I have no idea! Of all the clips that must be available in the Fox library why on earth choose one that had neither a question or answer of any meaning? Oh well. We then get a collage of hairstyles and some strained link to some of the Top 11 at a photoshoot at which nine of them must have been wishing they were as photogenic as Pia and Lauren. At least they didn't have them prancing gaily down a Yellow Brick Road or a girl-boy mimed rendition of Don't Go Breaking My Heart with each getting a line each and smiling at the camera afterwards.
Scotty ♪9 ☼9
Country Comforts. Kinda says it all really. One clever last note! Grandma'll also get him a pile of notes. A natural performer, he'll get through and snaffling 100% of the country-style notes will make him difficult to beat until the numbers are well down to two or three choices.
Naima ♪7 ☼5
I'm Still Standing, reggae style. OK but uninspiring. She put her own stamp on the track but it lost it's meaning and urgency in the process. Can't imagine anyone really wanting to buy that.
Paul ♪7½ ☼7½
Rocket Man. Odd choice - reasonable enough track sung quietly and thank goodness his legs stayed in one place for two minutes. Very recognisable voice and he's got fans. Not a memorable performance in a neither one thing or another way. Whether he survives depends on what Haley, Stefano and Naima do, really.
Pia ♪8½ ☼8
Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me. I was hoping no-one would go for this and wish Pia hadn't despite the applause she got from an audience she seems to really appeal to as The All American Girl Who Sings The National Anthem At Baseball Matches. She's good but I still find her top notes tinny - I guess it has to be my speakers as the judges seem to have no criticism at all. She does dress well and has confidence and almost all that an American Idol needs - I just want to see some personality and feel like liking her more. She has to be around for a lot longer though and I really do look forward to changing my mind if she can show another side that's, oh I don't know, a bit more natural and less controlled.
Stefano ♪8 ☼7½
Tiny Dancer. This is an important week for the tiny Stefano, someone I predicted as a finalist back in the early days. He looked good, dressed exactly as he should have been but most of the performance was a little muted and, yes, he was trying to get it across but it wasn't until near the end that he finally began to get through to people. That gentler side is different to most of the others and I can see him appealing to the young girls who vote too. He may have done enough to steer clear of the bottom two but still has to find that real natural something he needs to survive longer. He hasn't had a 'moment' yet.
Lauren ♪9 ☼8½
Candle In The Wind. Oh well, I suppose someone had to do this one too. Wish they hadn't but if anyone was going to I guess her version was the most bearable. Nice performance - gentle and well-interpreted. Definitely through to the next round, no question about that. I like the way she doesn't seem to turn tracks into anthems and just delivers them her way with the natural air that Pia needs.
James ♪9½ ☼8
Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting was the track I wanted him or Lauren to do and it suited him. It was about time the place came alive and I think everyone was glad about that. For that reason alone he deserves to stay on board and, provided American voters don't mind a track comprising 56 Saturdays delivered by a guy with a silly hairstyle, he'll be fine for a while yet. Totally natural, he enjoyed himself and was spot on the notes as usual.
Thia ♪6 ☼7
Daniel was a difficult track for her and I have no clue as to why she chose it. She started off trying too hard but actually got it right half-way through and didn't overplay the notes at all. Quite a mature performance which won't have done her any harm. I was prepared to be scorchingly critical after she transformed my Twitter feed to a Thia nonsense stream for a brief time before I unfollowed her. However, she redeemed herself by listening to her advisors on the night. She was, surprisingly, missing notes more than the others which probably indicates just how much she was trying to interpret words she probably didn't really get but got away with that and has an ability to rescue herself rather than offend our ears anyway. Lots of talent. Still don't see her getting past 5th or 6th place though. If Haley were to really impress everyone then she may find herself panicking a bit. She also has to deal with the ongoing Pia comparisons.
Casey ♪9 ☼8
Your Song. I had this down for Scotty but it was ideal for Casey, especially after the OTT efforts of last week. Nice interpretation - if anyone can read the words and make them make sense then this guy can and all credit to him for that. This balanced the excess he'd let himself in for to date. He was a contender and now could be again. He needs to get through so we can see what else he can do as well.
Jacob ♪6 ½ ☼ 6½
Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word. Another track I'd wished no-one had attempted. It just has too many opportunities for the heavy warbling that this guy is getting a name for. Fair enough, he avoided the obvious to start with and I still get Anthony & The Johnsons but without the subtlety. He's no American Idol, though, in my view, but still doesn't deserve to go this week. He may be bottom three, though.
Haley ♪8½ ☼7½
Bennie And The Jets - I'd never have expected that! She needs something good, something to distinguish her from the other girls and make us want her back for more. There's great talent there and she's got a great personality that Pia and Thia need and a style that's hers rather than rehearsed or instilled by a hovering parent. Giving her the closing spot usually means the producers have seen something a little special so all of this had me wishing and hoping. A great performance and I just hope the American public recognise just how good this girl is. She's been struggling so far, close to the bottom each week I think, and may just not be getting through to enough people that vote. In a world of anthem-deliverers she may still suffer but I do definitely see her with a good future, Kellie Pickler-style perhaps.
Do I dare predict who's going? No. Naima would be my choice. Jacob next. Thia's vulnerable. Then Haley or Stefano. I reckon Jacob and Thia have a big enough core following to survive, though, which leaves Naima and Haley really. Stefano scraping through again. Pity if that's the way it is. We'll see soon enough. America probably knows already. But I won't look.