It happened at least twice last night. "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest, happily and with a tinge of genuine surprise, said, "We've got ourselves a competition!" But Ryan's exclamation felt timely, because "Top 6: Shania Twain Week" was the first week all season the voters were put in a tough spot. Ellen DeGeneres echoed his sentiment after Aaron Kelly's performance: "Man, this is going to be tough." The producers must have been anxiously waiting this moment all season; where they could finally justify having a Season 9. See what happens when you eliminate Tim Urban?

Casey James, this season's driest contestant, had the strongest outing this week, performing "Don't," a ballad that allowed him to forget the guitar soloing and focus on his emotional range. It reaffirmed that Casey is best on a stool, winning over your girlfriend (remember how good he was doing John Lennon's "Jealous Guy"?) rather than turning up the cheese for a Huey Lewis and the News cover.

The last two remaining female contestants — frontrunner Crystal Bowersox and your-guess-is-as-good-as-mine Siobhan — screwed up this week in two very different ways. Crystal, who showed more personality in the pre-taped segment by shouting out her boyfriend, took on “No One Needs To Know” with a pedal steel and an upright bass. It was a nice respite from the inconsistent house band, but the performance had no uumph. The right notes were hit, but it felt like a warm-up performance, not a winning one (this disappointment could be magnified after Crystal’s game-changing tearjerker last week). Siobhan just needs a re-evaluation of who she is. I’ve criticized the judges in the past for knocking Siobhan’s eclecticism, but she’s become a complete wild card (negative connotation). It also doesn’t help that she hasn’t had a truly strong vocal performance in weeks. Her “giving birth note” (thanks, Simon!) didn’t stick this week, and her low range felt hollow when she tried to fit in all of the words in “Any Man of Mine’s” chorus. Quick, Siobhan, get it together or you’re a casualty.

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As for our other two performers, Michael Lynche and Aaron Kelly both had a strong week. Michael went the safe route with “It Only Hurts When I’m Breathing.” Simon called it theatrical, but it felt restrained (for Mike’s standards). He effortlessly goes from full-throated vibrato to a pitch-perfect falsetto, and although he may not win, Mike will get a record deal because his voice is that good. Aaron probably needs a couple years before he deserves a contract, but he has a strong (if not vanilla) voice. Yet Aaron’s rendition of “You’ve Got a Way” (dedicated to his mother, umm) was earnest and charming. Aaron deserves to go home next (based on total body of work), but he’s going down kicking and screaming. So yes, we have a singing competition and I’m actually anxious about this week’s elimination. Damn you, “Idol,” you win again. You always do.

And a final note because it must be said: Ellen, go back to dancing for moms. The talk show host’s judgment has been so insignificant and lame, she makes Randy look deeply thoughtful.

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