This is Barry Manilow Fiftie's Music week. Barry just released a collection of Fiftie's Hits, so he took all the contestants to Las Vegas to coach them on their selections. Ryan is appropriately wearing the skinny Fiftie's tie tonight, and from the looks of fashion mags, we all will be soon (if you care about fashion). He also has on a thin lapeled jacket with two buttons from Hugo Boss that I just saw in the Myers Fashion Show from Australia. Can you tell I've been watching Project Runway from two countries and Next Top Models from three?

First up is Mandisa. She didn't know a lot about Barry, but she has a new found respect for him. She is singing “I Don't Hurt Anymore”. Rehearsal was impressive and Barry was knocked out by her. Wow, does she look great tonight. Great dress, hair, and makeup. As usual, Mandisa plays with the first verse slowly, like a cat with a mouse. It takes a couple of lines to get into MandisaDrive, then she takes complete contol of the song and sings it like a pro. This girl can Sang! High notes, low notes, and all the ones in between. Standing O and well deserved! She looks, walks, talks, and sings like a Diva. Everyone, including all the judges were impressed. Simon “absolutely loved it”. That's saying a lot.

Simon is wearing the usual white t-shirt. There are so many great Fifties clothes, it seems he could find something more appropriate. Maybe a Hawaiian tiki shirt? Come on Simon. Hire me as your stylist.

Bucky is singing, “Oh Boy” by Buddy Holly. Barry and Bucky didn't have magic like he did with Mandisa. Bucky is honest if nothing else. He seems much more authentic than Kellie. His raspy voice is OK and he is on key, but he's not a great singer. I still like him better than Ace. Bucky needs to start his own southern rock band with Rocky and take it on the road. Overall, it was OK, but boring. At least his hair is flatter. Bucky accidentally makes a great joke about celebrities usually being “not so nice” just before Simon tells him his performance was pointless and boring. Heh. Sad, but true.

On stage next is Paris and she is singing “Fever” by Peggy Lee. She has no idea who Peggy Lee is. Barry is impressed by Paris's rehearsal and her maturity of voice. Paris is singing with restraint and taste, which is essential to making this song work right. She slowly builds the song to a “Fever” pitch. Great job by Paris. It's a big adult song that could have easily come off as childish or immature, but she did an excellent job holding it in the road, and blowing it out where she needed to. The ladies are working it tonight. She needs to train her spoken voice as well. She is better behaved during the interview this week and will probably draw more votes through her demureness this week over her bluster last week.

Chris the rocker is up next. He is going to sing “Walk the Line” by Johnny Cash. I hope he remembers this is Fifties night. He is going to try something different. Barry says to him at rehearsal, “You don't need me, baby”. The beginning is strange, but the second verse reveals that Chris actually has a better singing voice than I first thought. After that though, he has to rock it. I liked it for a minute, then he lost me again. His style just doesn't do it for me. I think Simon definitely wants to promote someone of the opposite sex and in a different field of music this year, though. He doesn't want another Carrie this year, and Chris is as opposite of Carrie as they come.

Katharine is up next and she busts Simon for not knowing her name in an interview. They show Simon's girlfriend, the interviewer, in the audience and she looks like Lisa Tucker's older sister. Katharine is going to sing, “Come Rain or Come Shine”. Barry suggests that Katharine sing this song to one person. Katharine finally gets to showoff the smoky subtleties of her voice. There is time and space to work the words and work the stage. Her jazz abilities shine on this song. If Katharine doesn't become a recording star, she could go to Broadway tomorrow. They'd love her there, just like they love her on Idol tonight. Also, with the aid of tape, Katharine's dress fits her this week, which helps. Simon thinks she turned into a star tonight, but I think she's been one for a while.

Taylor Hicks is up next. He sang “Mandy” to Barry at rehearsal, but tonight he is singing, “Not Fade Away” by Buddy Holly. My age group might be more familiar with the Rolling Stones version from the Sixties. Taylor can actually sing and becomes more comfortable on the Idol stage with each performance. He's got soul and performs great with the band. You can tell they like Taylor too. How can you not like him? He can't dance, but he knows how to entertain. I'd call Taylor an entertainer more so than a singer. He gives it all when he performs. It wasn't recordable, but it was fun. Simon gives him hell because Simon sells records. He doesn't sell performers.

Lisa Tucker is up next. Ryan is good at relaxing the performers before they perform. Lisa is singing, “Why Do Fools Fall in Love?” I think this could be a great song for her. It's got a lot of OooWah to it. Barry calls her a powerhouse and great. Lisa is bordering on being this weeks fashion victim. She is singing good, but at times she seems a bit breathless with the four key changes. It's good, but feels rushed at times. It wasn't her best performance, more of a copy of the original than anything new or different. Simon feels that it is OK, but no wow. Agreed.

Kevin Covais is next and Barry says that he is the sweetest of them all. That may be true, but sweet does not an Idol make, except in nursing homes maybe. They are playing up on Kevin's vulnerability. He is singing, “When I Fall in Love” sitting on the steps and being as vulnerable as possible. Once again, I think of child pageants when I see Kevin's makeup and styling. I could see him on PBS on one of those singing tenor shows that I turn off as quickly as possible. Yeah, it was sweet and on key. His straight ahead singing makes it as good as possible, but he is not the American Idol. He might get a part in Rent or The Chorus Line as the naive new kid in the big city. He could work that to the max.

Elliott is up next. Someone needs to tell him that wide ties have nothing to do with the Fifties or now. Bad styling. Bad stylist. He admits he didn't appreciate Barry until he met him. Elliot is in mid style change, growing a goatee to help with his chin. Barry is good at coaching Elliott, showing him to emote, not just say the words. Barry is a pro, whether you like his product or not. “Teach Me Tonight” should be a great choice for Elliott, but it shows his flaws also. Barry was right that Elliott has to connect with the meaning of the words as well as pronounce them right. He does that in the third verse or so, but it took a while to get there. He finishes great. I liked it OK, but was maybe more amazed by Barry's performance at the rehearsal.

Next up is Kellie Pickler. Grandpa told her to sing Patsy Cline's, “Walking After Midnight”. I admit this is one of the few country artists I LOVE. She was a singer's singer that crossed the boundary from Country to Pop long before anyone ever considered it. Kellie has vocal ability, but like Carrie last year, she has little life experience to call on for emotion. She just walks around and sings. She gets the words right and on key, but it's just a performance for her. She evades the subtleties of the song that made Patsy a star. Belting it out is not singing it great all the time. The judges of course kiss her ass as usual. I'm more bored by her country girl act than I was before.

How does Ace get so many closing spots on this show? How do they decide the singing order? Who they want to sell most goes last so you remember them the most? It could work against them, because by the time we sit through two hours of this stuff, we're a bit tired by the time they perform. Ace is singing “In the Still of the Night” and “flipping it up a bit”. Barry has reservations about the arrangement at first, but he tells all the kids to make it their own, and seems to like it in the end. It's a jazzed up version, but Ace's voice is more boyband than jazz. He just doesn't have the pipes to make it interesting. He is lost in the sound of the big band. He likes the big transition notes, but you can barely hear all the middle ones that count. The falsetto at the end didn't make it any better for me, just topped off a not very interesting version of a great song. The judges are all on drugs of various sorts tonight, and it seems the combinations are making them say all sorts of wack things. Maybe there was a party in Paula's dressing room before the show. Simon does try to criticize his performance but doesn't have the energy to complete his thoughts. Me either. These two hour shows are a pain in the ass. We could be watching an award winning movie, but here we are, still hoping some kid will sing in some manner that touches something in us that hasn't been touched before. It's what keeps Idol at the top of it's game. The psychological term is intermittent reward, but let's call it the search for an American Idol.

Who is going home? I'd send Ace home, simply because Bucky's baby picture was cuter than Ace's. Either would do. Lisa could go too. I'd pick them for bottom three, but I never get it right. We'll see tomorrow.