We are back to the two hour format, since tonight is the first round of the final twelve. It's every singer for themselves tonight and there are several prime suspects for being the first one to go home. I was hoping that Chris had signed with Fuel by now and Gedeon would be rightly back in the Top 12, but if wishes were horses or worth a nickel I might be somewhere other than here watching another two hour debacle called American Idol. The opening segment wraps up the last two weeks, “Keeping the Dream Alive”. Ryan is back to the skinny tie with the Fifties look. The audience is larger and the judges are smarmier. Tonight's theme is the music of the legendary Stevie Wonder. Several of the contestants have already sung Stevie's songs during earlier auditions, not always to the best of results. Stevie actually came to rehearse with the kids. It looks like Stevie is a real fan of the show

Ace is up first and singing “Do I Do?” Each contestant gets to practice their song with Stevie playing the piano. That has got to be exciting, no matter what your musical interest. Ace is all about Ace. He chose this song because it sounds like it's about a lady's man like Ace. He can't sing it, but he is acting like he can. It is not authentic or interesting to me, more like overage boy band music. It's something that is being sold to me, instead of something I'm looking to buy. It wasn't unique or great by any means. I'm still not an Ace fan.

Kellie is up next. Back to her emptyheaded act. She isn't familiar with Stevie's songs. Country is more her field, she tells him. Sometimes stupid isn't cute. She is going to sing “Blame it on the Sun”. She is all dressed up like a big girl, with curls just like Elly Mae. I can't fault her singing, but her lack of interest in the medium is irritating. Just singing it right is not good enough. It was boring because she chose that over learning something new. It was almost like she was mocking what she was doing, instead of just doing it. Strange, not funny, and inappropriately goofy does not an Idol make.

If anyone can make this work tonight, it should be Elliott. At least he had the sense to be moved to tears at his opportunity to sing for Stevie. Due respect and understanding go a long way sometimes. Elliott is singing “Knocks Me Off My Feet”. Elliott is a good singer, but I think the comparison to such a great singer as Stevie Wonder makes everyone look second rate tonight. It was OK, but not the amazing event I had hoped for. Tonight, Stevie is showing the kids what the difference is between a pro and a beginner. It's a hard comparison.

Mandisa looks great tonight, but her shoes are too tight, so Ryan takes them off before she sings. She was very nervous singing for Stevie, but she sounded great. Stevie said he was very impressed with her singing “Don't You Worry About a Thing”, and that she could probably sing anything. Mandisa takes it easy on the first verse like she isn't going anywhere, but takes off for Mandisa World on the second verse. She is singing the song like Mandisa, not like Stevie. Once she finds that groove, she is moving to the beat and right on pitch. Mandisa is still my favorite Idol so far and makes the others look weak.

Bucky is up next and he has never owned a Stevie Wonder album. That is no big surprise. He is going to sing “Suspicion” and Stevie gave him some good pointers, not that they made much difference. Bucky did get his hair rolled before the show and that is an improvement. His singing is NOT an improvement. Even Rocky couldn't sing this one. Paula tried to say she liked it but laughed out loud as she said it. Simon comments on Bucky's hair negatively, but says the performance was fine. Liar, liar, pants on fi-re. Both were not good. Neither/Nyther.

Melissa is the luckiest girl in the Top 12 and the worst singer of the girls. She messed up the lyric when singing for Stevie. She is going to be singing “Lately”, her first ballad and her first time wearing a dress on the show. Maybe it'll help. Not really, as she screws up the lyric again. The huskiness in her voice can be attractive when used correctly. A ballad is good for her, but she doesn't have enough experience to do anything unusual or new with the song. She gets through it, but she doesn't wow anyone in the process. She needs to find the right song and act like she is having fun. She is not the worst singer in the competition yet, and she shows more possibility than others. That's a good thing in some ways.

Lisa Tucker is supposed to be singing Stevie, but she ends up singing Whitney to Stevie during rehearsal. She is singing “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” tonight. She is singing fairly well, but once again the lack of energy in comparison to Stevie is nearly embarrassing. It was fairly fake seeming, like she was forced to perform it instead of loving that she was performing it. Randy liked the end. Paula says she shines outside the melody, whatever that means. Simon thinks she's hot and pretends he really likes her performance. He always likes girls that look like this. His dirty old mannism just can't be controlled sometimes. Check out his last two girlfriends if you don't believe me. They both look like this girl's older sisters. Anyhow, she was OK, but not the star Simon launched in his dirty imagination tonight.

Kevin Covais is up next. They combed his hair over to the side. Some makeover. He hugs pre-pubescent fans on stage. His rehearsal with Stevie was funny at best. “Part Time Lover” sounds like Kevin is trying to keep up with the words and his dance moves and not quite catching up to either. His best moves were his knees knocking from nerves. Make-up on Kevin has that overdone child-pageant look about it. Bad stylist. Bad stylist. The whole thing wasn't very good, but Simon says it was appalling. That pretty much assures that Kevin will be back next week. Vote, pre-teens and grannies! Vote!

Katharine McPhee was awestruck by Stevie Wonder. Stevie liked her singing “Until You Come Back to Me”. I do too. It's in just the right key for her voice. She has a lot of vocal abilities and tricks that we are just starting to see and she sings like a pro. She has great tone and control and just the right amount of tricks. She is going to be one of the one's that just gets better as they continue. She has been one of my favorites up till and including tonight. Great job Katharine.

Taylor is going to try “Living in the City”. Stevie can see that Taylor has soul and sings from within. It is what has gotten him this far. Surprisingly, Taylor reigns it in and does a damn good job of this song. He looks fairly natural in the suit sans tie. No comment on the choreography, but Taylor earned himself another week tonight. He looked and sounded more like a singer tonight than in any previous week. Somehow, it all worked.

Paris had trouble concentrating on her rehearsal because of her emotion. Stevie sees a great future for her and she reminds him of Fantasia. She is singing, “With All I Do”. She starts off with great energy and looking more like the Paris we hoped to see. She sings great, her only problem being that she peaked too early with her energy and seemed a little tired toward the end. Just as she got loose, she ran out of juice. Still, she was great overall and should be back next week.

Chris Daughtry is finishing off the night. Stevie Wonder is not exactly Chris's genre, but a great song is a great song no matter who sings it. He was worried that he wouldn't find the right song also. “Higher Ground” he remembers from the Red Hot Chile Peppers. It's all about generations I suppose. It's the hard rock version tonight and it's OK, but not the one I would buy given the choice of Stevie's version or Chris's. Maybe the rockers were blown away, but it sounded weak toward the end to me. It's hard to judge what is not interesting to one's self. Randy, Paula, and Simon love it. Simon wants a boy idol. Can you tell? Chris is K, but he doesn't have it all for me. He is too genre oriented and my rocker days are over I suppose.

My faves were still the ladies with Mandisa leading the field and Katharine in close second. The boys were underwhelming but it's time for Bucky or Kevin to go home. Taylor was my favorite guy tonight and the rest of them bore me for now. I would have appreciated Gedeon's version of anything over Bucky or Kevin tonight, but I'm not controlling all the buttons in Idoldom yet. Still someone has to leave first and there are plenty of good candidates. Vote America. Vote.