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VIDEO: Usher Stars, Crystal Bowersox Shines On American Idol Top 10

Usher brought his sunglasses/silver chain cool to Tuesday’s American Idol in a show that saw Crystal Bowersox continue to impress while Casey James, Michael Lynche and Lee DeWyze got high praise from judges on a night that showcased the Top 10.

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Bowersox took on Gladys Knight’s Midnight Train to Georgia and ditched her guitar for a piano, after hinting last week that change was coming. That change didn’t diminish the judges’ praise but caused Simon to warn her not to change her identity based on outside input!

Casey James displayed that elusive quality known as “star power” in a standout performance of Sam & Dave’s Hold On, I’m Coming, that left Usher clapping fer real in the audience. (Trivia buffs note: this song was never before performed on Idol, said Ryan.)  Simon told him it was his strongest week and he was truly impressed.

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Casey even looked good in the lead up, where Usher pointed out his guitar-playing ability as an asset. After that strong performance we now forgive him for singing Huey Lewis & The New last week.

As Idol celebrated soul and R&B (Ryan’s words) Usher mentored the contestants and yes, his new album, Raymond v Raymond dropped Tuesday.

Promotional opportunity aside, Usher seemed engaged in the pre-song tutorial he conducted with each contestant and yeah, his sunglasses are cool.

Lynche gave one of the top three performances of the evening with Indie Arie’s Ready For Love. Randy said he was “in the zone.”  And Ellen said it was “beautiful.” Kara (pay attention) said he did an incredible job. And Simon, get ready, calls him “terrific.”

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DeWyze wowed all of the judges with Treat Her Like a Lady by the Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose. The song put him above the rest of the pack which was, well, the rest of the pack. Highlights/lowlights included:

Didi Benami murdered What Becomes of the Broken Hearted, and the Righteous Brothers called the (judge) police who scolded her.

More notable than the performance was the “oops” feud-starting comment from Simon, who said: “If you listen to one of those dancing shows, they always have a singer murdering a song on it ..if you’ve ever watched it.”

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“Whoa! What kind of dancing show,” Randy said off camera.

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Andrew Garcia sang Chris Brown’s Forever and didn’t miss a beat. Katie Stevens gets a definite maybe for a future career with her performance ending with battle lines of Simon versus The Gang. (Hint: The Gang liked her.)

Aaron Kelly made Bill Withers cry with his version of Ain’t No Sunshine, but they weren’t tears of joy. Tim Urban got Big Time Simon treatment, but kept on grinnin’

By the end of the two-hour show, Bowersox seemed to retain her front-running status. Ellen told her she was “in it to win it” and Kara liked the song choice and said: “I’m so glad you took that risk.”

Usher predicted/suggested her switch to piano this week in the prelude to her performance and she later defended it to Simon, saying: “I was just trying to prove to myself that I could do it.”

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