American Idol
Top 7 Finalists Perform

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The pre-show recaps of the previous week's eliminations are getting more dramatic all the time. This time, we get to visit a viewing party at a bar in DeAndre's hometown during his ejection. These people look like they just found out John F. Kennedy was shot. And for the remaining top seven, backstage is Air Force One as they vow to go on. Somehow I think they'll manage.

But then things turn happy again so fast we get whiplash, as the judges and Ryan make their entrances into the auditorium. It's almost like DeAndre never even died. Ryan takes a while to get everyone calmed down enough to tell us that the finale is just a month away, and then brings out the top seven. Whereupon it gets noisy all over again. This is going to either be a very short weecap or a very long one.

There's a video clip of Tommy Hilfiger visiting the Idol mansion to set up closets for the finalists so they can have their rock-and-roll style carry over to their offstage lives. As if they get one of those until they're done here. Tommy Hilfiger is trying to take over your entire identity, finalists. Resist! Not just Phillip, either.

Coming back, Ryan tells us that tonight's theme is 2010 to today, and that this week's mentor is Akon. Who, I'm sorry, always reminds me of a harder version of Wayne Brady. I keep expecting the camera to cut to Drew Carey sitting at a desk laughing.

Tonight's other theme is visits to the finalists' hometowns, starting with Brandon, Mississippi. Of course it's Skylarmania full-time down there, including a huge billboard at the edge of town. I'd love to see a small hometown of a finalist that's like, "Meh." Won't happen tonight, though. Skylar's "favorite grandpaw" gives a video message about how he wants his guitar back and for the two of them kill a big deer next year. With the guitar, presumably.

In the rehearsal room with Jimmy and Akon, she trots out a Kellie Pickler song called "Didn't Know How Much I Loved You." Jimmy has his doubts until he actually hears her sing it, and Akon calls her voice "#&*@ stupid." Which he means as a compliment. She's also considering playing the guitar, but Jimmy warns her not to let it get in her way. When she performs onstage, she is indeed strumming the guitar that I assume is her grandpaw's. She's singing as well as always, but being trapped behind the microphone stand does seem to be holding her back somewhat, and it's not like we can hear her strumming in the mix anyway.

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American Idol

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