Okay, it's time for the annual Country Week. This time, we have Martina McBride handing out the advice and compliments. She seems really nice, though the beginning was a little awkward when all the contestants stood in front of her and sang one of her own songs ("Independence Day"). She didn't seem to be of too much help, but she wasn't bad, either.
Phil Stacey - "Where the Blacktop Ends"
I'm not a big fan of most country music, but I thought Phil wasn't bad here. It was a good opening to the show, it showcased his strengths, and the judges loved it. He's still not an American Idol, but he's definitely not the worst of the night. I'd put him in the top three.
Jordin Sparks - "Broken Wing"
Picking a ballad in a genre she's not too comfortable with was totally the right way to go. She sounded so great here, and all the judges were blown away. Simon said for the first time, he could see her winning it all, and I can see it, too, if the voters stick with her.
Sanjaya Malakar - "Something to Talk About"
Eeek! What wasn't wrong about this performance? The bandanna, the hair, the vocals, the awkward, stiff choreography... enough said.
LaKisha Jones - "Jesus Take the Wheel"
I like Carrie Underwood, but not this song so much. LaKisha stretched, and didn't quite pull it off. I feel bad, because she chose the song for its "single mom" theme, but you can't just feel the music; you have to be able to sing it well, too. Unless you're an awkward 17 year old (see above).
Chris Richardson - "Mayberry"
I still like Chris, and he was wise to choose Rascal Flatts (he has the most similar vocals to them, I think). Not his best performance, though. I hope he gets to stay!
Melinda Doolittle - "Trouble Is a Woman"
The real Melinda is back this week, with a sassy, confident number. I couldn't find anything wrong with her performance this week, and neither could the judges. A+.
Blake Lewis - "When the Stars Go Blue"
At times, I heard the Tim McGraw version the show mentioned, and other times I heard the Ryan Adams version (the original?). Blake is smart to pick a song that's already been made over before (he's done this on "Lovesong", as well), and sounds just fine here. He's still the judges' favorite guy.
Bottom Three: Chris, LaKisha, Sanjaya
Going Home: LaKisha. I think it's going to be a shocker this week, no matter what. Unless it's Chris, at which point I will be sad, but it could happen. I have to put Sanjaya in the bottom three this week. He really deserves it.