'American Idol' Top Seven: Who Has What It Takes?

American Idols Top Seven: Who Has What It Takes?
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Think of a song that truly inspires you.

Chances are the contestants didn't sing it on Tuesday night's somewhat inspirationally themed "American Idol."

With powerhouse, singer-songwriter Alicia Keys acting as their mentor, the contestants availed themselves of her classical vocal training and pop sentimentality. And with that opportunity, some "Idol" hopefuls soared while others, well, crashed and burned.

Robert Spahr, an active musician and staff writer for the Press of Atlantic City who blogs about "American Idol" for the newspaper, said this week was a mixed bag.

"The show was generally alright," Spahr told ABCNews.com. "The beginning and the end were the best parts. The three weakest performances were in the middle of the show."

Brain Mansfield, USA Today writer and national correspondent who oversees the Idol Chatter community, agreed with Spahr on the show's mediocrity.

"I don't know that there were any absolute train wrecks this week," Mansfield said, "which, honestly, is surprising because the song choices for this week are like a minefield.

"The list was filled with so many songs that the audience associates with great singers," Mansfield continued. "And this is not a cast of great singers, so this is not great territory for them."

Inspirational song week will be capped off by tonight's "Idol Gives Back" two-hour special, which is an annual fan favorite.

Jerrielynn Llerena, an "American Idol" fan who has been watching since season one in 2002, said that she looks forward to "Idol Gives Back" every year.

"I really like the emotional videos of the different celebrities as they go to the different countries," Llerena said. "It is really educational to see what is actually happening all over the world. And, of course, I love the music. It is always amazing."

Tonight's special, which airs on FOX at 8 ET, seems as though it will meet Llerena's expectations.

Scheduled to perform are Keys, Sir Elton John, Carrie Underwood, the Black Eyed Peas, Annie Lennox, Joss Stone and Mary J. Blige. The money raised tonight will benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

One of the seven remaining "Idol" hopefuls will be eliminated during tonight's special, which will be full of inspirational videos and music.

Here are the seven remaining contestants and our experts' take on their performances and prospects.



Crystal Bowersox

Crystal Bowersox

"You just schooled all those contestants," Kara said in response to Bowersox's performance of "People Get Ready" by the Impressions.

Bowersox was herself so moved by the song that she started to cry at the end of the song and couldn't even sing the last note.

Mansfield said that Bowersox really showed that she is more than a folk singer with a guitar with this performance.

"I thought the crying and the explanation [of why she cried] really served to humanize her after the week that she has had in the tabloids," Mansfield said.

Llerena was one of those people for whom the performance humanized Bowersox.

"I almost cried at the end, when she started crying," Llerena said. "I am so glad that the judges liked it."

Spahr said that Bowersox just "gets it."

"She gets what the music is about and what she is there to sing," Spahr said. "She did very good and she picked one of the most inspirational songs ever, which is what this week was all about."



Casey James

Casey James

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