Delayed a night because of Tuesday's presidential address, American Idol is finally back tonight. The Top 10 will be taking on the songs of Motown.

Host Ryan Seacrest lets us know that the contestants are over last week's outbreak of flu. Then we talk about how hard it was to let Alexis Grace go and not save her. *yawn* Then he asks Paula Abdul about how she often wants them to step out of their box and what does she expect from them tonight. She says something about challenging their artistic integrity. Can we get to the singing now?


For the young and/or uninformed, we get a little history about Motown (which, by the way, is turning 50 this year). The contestants got to meet Smokey Robinson and Berry Gordy when they visited Detroit. The tour also included a tour of historic Studio A.

Smokey rejoined them in L.A. to help them prepare for tonight's performances.

Matt Giraud is up first. He's singing "Let's Get It On" (however, unlike previous Idol contestants, he does not dedicate it to his parents). He starts out at the piano, then stands up and works the stage for the rest of the performance. Strangely, he's dressed like it's business casual day from the waist up. That aside, he does a lovely job with the song, and doing part on piano and part not was a good plan. Randy Jackson says he just proved he's a front-runner. Kara DioGuardi says it was a solid performance and definitely appealed to the women in the audience. Paula says his riffs were tasteful, classy and spot-on. Simon says it was a "brilliant performance" and "cool" except for the part where he came up to the judges' table.

Next is Kris Allen. He's going with "How Sweet It Is," and he's playing guitar himself again. Smokey says he blew him away in rehearsal and told him not to change a thing. He kills it. Dead. In a good way. Kara says it's great that he did it his own way, not like James Taylor or Marvin Gaye. "You did everything right on that performance," she goes on. Paula says he's coming into his own and comfortable on stage. Simon says he's having a good competition and a smart choice. He adds, though, that he needs to believe in himself and add a little swagger. "Even the way you're standing now, you could be at a bus stop." Randy says he's hit his zone and his stride. "It's all good."

Scott MacIntyre is going to slow down "You Can't Hurry Love," and yes, he is going to play piano tonight. Well, he slows it down at first; it gets faster after the first section. Anyway, it's OK, pleasant enough, I suppose, but not exactly ground-breaking. Paula says he brought new life to his performance. Simon says there was a line in the song about how much more can I take. He says his piano playing was all over the place, and it was the wrong song. He ends by calling it "cheap." "You are better than that as an artist. ... That as a standalone performance; I've seen it a million-billion times." Randy agrees that it was "a very hotel kind of performance. ... Nothing great happened with that." Kara says he brought tempo tonight, but she didn't love that he took liberties with the melody and then didn't quite nail it. Ryan asks Paula to rank Scott and the other two guys so far, and she of course totally fails to answer the question. Simon gives her crap, telling her to "answer the question ... answer the question ... answer the question." She gets flustered and goes under the table (prompting inappropriate comments all around) and comes out throwing Crayons and coloring books at Simon because he's so juvenile. Um, yeah. By the way, doing a sight gag when the blind guy is on stage isn't too considerate, Paula.

Megan Joy Corkrey (who seems to have dropped her last name, eyeroll) is going to sing "For Once in My Life." I feel like she is still maybe a little sick and tried to cover by going as loud as possible. Randy says it was a trainwreck for him. He adds that it was too fast for her to show off her voice. He calls it rushed and hectic. Kara says she should have done "My Guy" or something that suited her voice better. Paula says she's stunningly beautiful, which means she isn't going to say nice things about Megan's performance. Yep. She didn't love it. Simon says it was horrible, "and whoever is advising you, I would fire because you are getting some really bad advice. ... I think you could be in serious trouble after that performance." In case you missed it, that's Simon pushing her fans to dial like crazy. (Hey, that's what happened with Woz on DWTS, except I don't think they wanted him to stay.)

Anoop Desai is going with "Ooh Baby Baby." Smokey told him the story of how the song was created during their rehearsal, which Anoop says was amazing. When he first starts, I feel like maybe he's a little too high for his range's comfort. During the middle part, he sounds great, but during the end chorus, it sounds a little uncomfortable again. But he sells the heck out of it. Kara says it's a tough song because it goes from your chest to your head in terms of how you sing it and that he had some great moments, and some not so great, but overall, she was impressed. Paula compliments his phrasing, delivery and falsetto. Simon says it was a great vocal but that he looked half-asleep instead of the serious look he was going for. Randy says next week he needs to turn it back up and bring the good vocals too, and put it all together.

Oh, yeah, Michael Sarver is still on the show. He was sick last week and didn't get to go on the Detroit trip. He's going to sing "Ain't Too Proud to Beg," and he says he's going to "take it to church. ... I mean, sing it off the cuff and have fun with it." He's definitely got more energy than usual, though the end part is supposed to blow us away, and it's kinda bad. Paula says it felt "old Las Vegas loungey." Simon says, "I couldn't wait for it to end. You were screaming and shouting the song. ... You are taking part in this competition, but you have no chance of winning it based on that performance." Randy says the song was too big for him and he made it a little corny because he was trying to do too much. Kara says it's not about singing, but artistry right now, and that wasn't great.

Lil Rounds is taking on "Heat Wave." Smokey says she could sing the phone book. Hate that saying, but somehow when Smokey says it, you can believe it. She sings like she's singing to save her life. She seems a little manic and over-sings it some. Randy says she has mad-crazy vocals, but the front of the song "was a little bit tortured for me. ... I felt like you were rushing through the song. ... You needed a little more space." Kara says she looks great (OK, Paula), but she was the diva everyone was waiting to hear, but she doesn't think Lil nailed it. She adds that they need more from her, some interpretation. Paula disagrees completely, except that she thinks she looks awesome. Simon says she did an authentic tribute to Motown, but he doesn't think it was the right song because it didn't create "a moment" tonight.

Adam Lambert gets really nervous singing "Tracks of My Tears" for Smokey, but Smokey loves it. He goes "unplugged," Ryan says, pointing out the musicians on stage with him. He's all pompadoured out for his slowed-down, smooth performance. He does a lot of falsetto, and some of it is a little rough, but overall, he does a nice job even though it's totally different from his usual screech-rock. Smokey gives him a standing o, and how freaking cool must that be? Kara stands up, too, then: "I've got six words for you: one of the best performances of the night." Um, that's eight words. Paula says he is exciting, and "you are it." Simon: "I'm going to disagree with Kara because it was the best performance of the night." He adds that Adam did the right thing, giving it an original spin. "You tonight really have emerged as a star." Randy says he showed that he really can do anything and showed off everything in his arsenal.

Danny Gokey is going to sing "Get Ready." (When he walks in to talk to Smokey Robinson, I can't help but say, "Smokey and Gokey!") Smokey tells him he needs to sing the end of the verses himself and not leave it for the background singers. Danny says oh yeah, he's so right. But then when he performs it, he doesn't do that at all. I feel like he's singing it really fast, and maybe he just couldn't handle that much speed and the ends of the verses, too. It kind of makes him look bad, though, that he interviews about how he's going to do what Smokey said and then didn't do it. I'm sure we'll hear some explanation, though. Paula says they have to move fast, but he's undeniable and reliable and it was a first-class performance. Simon says it was clumsy and amateurish. Paula says he's nuts. Randy says he has a dope voice, but it wasn't his best performance, but the energy was great. Kara says it was good, not great, but she's still a big Danny fan. I guess because we don't have time, we won't hear why he changed his mind.


Allison Iraheta is going to show off her "little funk side" with "Papa Was a Rolling Stone." How. Is. This. Girl. 16? She does an amazing job, especially with her big closing note. Kara says it's crazy that she is 16 and that she was in the bottom three last week. "You sing like you've been singing for 400 years," she adds. "That is from God. You can't teach that." Paula has a mustache drawn on her by Simon, so Paula can barely get a sentence out. Simon is cracking up about Paula but manages to tell Allison that she was great.


Dunno why they rushed through Gokey's judges' comments. They have so much time left over that Ryan interviews Smokey and Barry afterward.

So what did you think? Who'd you vote for? Did they do Motown proud? I'd say some did, some not so much.