Susan Pierce: No surprise Alexis Grace was the top female last week. Her blues version of Aretha Franklin's "I Never Loved A Man" was the night's showstopper, far and away better than any other female that night.
I thought Danny Gokey, the top male vote-getter, did a strong rendition of "Hero," but not as great as the judges were raving. As the last singer of the night, Gokey had that momentum going for him just before the phone lines opened, but I couldn't help but wonder how much of his vote was a sympathy vote.
A lot has been made of his wife's death last year. So much, that in an interview with national media last Thursday, Gokey apologized and said, "There is a fun side of me that's going to come out. I apologize to everybody if they feel like it's shoved in their faces."
The third finalist, Texan Michael Sarver, to me, was the feel-good story of the night: the blue-collar worker wanting to improve his family's life.
Christine Simmons: How could you not want to see someone like Sarver go through to the next round? What a nice guy, and if he can help his family with his singing, then more power to him.
I was hoping that this season no one would get voted through to the next round just because they were cute like Sanjaya Malakar from Season 6, and so far it looks like talent is a priority.
Speaking of talent, Alexis Grace was such a shock for me. What an amazing, soulful voice coming from such a tiny girl. You just don't expect her to open her mouth and be able to belt out that kind of feeling. I loved her performance and will be rooting for her.
The guys were both very good but I agree that Gokey was not as good as the judges were saying. I was wondering if there was something I had missed. Gokey was good, but the way Paula Abdul was carrying on you would have thought he was the next Elvis.
Susan: I really hated that Ricky Braddy Susan Pierce 2/20/09 cq didn't get through and I hope he comes back on wild-card week. The tone of his voice and the melodic riffs he put in "Song for You" were beautiful.
I felt Simon Cowell's comment on Braddy's lack of "star quality" was unwarranted. Remember how last year's winner David Cook started out? He was the geek playing crossword puzzles in the hallway. He grew into his role, and who's to say Braddy couldn't as well?
Another I hated to see fall through was Brent Keith, who sang "Hicktown." I thought he looked just like a younger version of Richie McDonald, former front man for Lone Star.
Christine: I think the judges will bring Braddy back in the wild-card round. He's already got a following on the message boards at idol.com. As for Keith, I thought he was just OK. He reminded me a little of a karaoke singer at your local bar. If he gets another chance, he needs to really do something that will make him stand out.
What was with the song choices last week? The contestants had so many songs to choose from, and it seemed to me like they were all choosing songs that where either too old for them or didn't fit their voices. I think the three that did make good song choices are the three who made it through to the next round.
Who could return
Susan: So, on the fourth week the judges will bring back singers they think deserve a "do-over," and viewers will pick the final three finalists.
I think Anoop Desai is a lock for a repeat performance. Host Ryan Seacrest as much as said so when he pointed out that Desai only fell 20,000 votes short of Sarver.
I'd bet money that drama queen Tatianna Del Toro will be back - if for the entertainment value of her theatrics as much as her vocal talent.
Christine: Toro has a decent voice, but there's just something about her that's so annoying to me, aside from the fact that she's a drama queen and all that begging. I think she was in need of an attitude adjustment.
But we've just scratched the surface and in a couple of weeks will be saying, "Tatianna who?"