In progress post and spoilers after the jump ...
(Jason Yeager, Alexandrea Lushington, Robbie Carrico and Alaina Whitaker are out.)
Opening comment. Credits. Ryan. Judges. Ryan asks Randy to explain the theme weeks. Randy says everyone knows the songs on the radio so it's a better test to go back. Ryan asks Paula if it's tough to give up control (to the voting audience). She says "it's about connecting with America." Ryan brings up Simon's hand gesture. "It's a code," he says. "There is a gesture I could give you but I won't."
Group sing: "I Saw the Light." Johns starts, then David Cook, Jason and Danny together, Archuleta. ... The women come in for "It's a Heartache," starting with Kady and Carly. And on it goes. All boring, and a lot of bad singing, and the overall audio is spotty. Break.
Guys first. Recap. Asks back row to stand: Jason Y, Danny, Chikezie, Jason C, Michael. Michael and Chikezie are safe. Jason C is safe. Jason Y is out. As Jason Y talks, camera goes to Danny, who looks absolutely indifferent; he must not have gotten the act-as-if-you-care memo. After Jason Y does his sing-off, there's a group hug -- but Danny's over to the side, hands on hips and pouting. I want this guy gone. He's a bad singer and a little snot.
After a break, the women's turn. Recap. Ryan makes back row stand. Kristy, Amanda, Alexandrea, Brooke and Asia'H. One is out, says Ryan. Kristy is safe. Asia'H is safe. Brooke is safe. Leaves Alexandrea and Amanda. Alexandrea is out. Randy says it's not the right choice but she picked the wrong song. David Archuleta is crying -- hard -- through her sing-off.
Women again. Front row: Carly, Alaina, Ramiele, Syesha and Kady. Carly is safe. Ramiele is safe. Syesha is safe. Leaves Alaina and Kady. Alaina looks terrified, Kady relaxed. Kady is safe, Alaina is out. Alaina is incredibly upset, consoled by Kady, consoled by Ryan. Ryan explains to her that someone has to go, and gets her one more round of applause. Paula, also distressed, calls her a "gifted, bright young talent" and "this is the start of an amazing career for you." And NOW Danny is crying?
Ryan offers to excuse her from the group sing. She carries on, surrounded by the other women. Gets stronger as she goes along. But it's all a reminder of how very young and fragile some of the contestants are.
"Idol" announcement: On March 11 -- top 12 night -- new set, new graphics, new exit song recorded by Ruben Studdard and, as has already been reported, the show has gotten some Lennon-McCartney song rights.
Promo for "Idol Gives Back," with bunches of footage from last year. Lonnnnng promo. Break.
Ryan talks more about "Idol Gives Back": Brad Pitt, Miley Cyrus, Reese Witherspoon, Daughtry, Carrie Underwood, Snoop Dogg expected.
Last row: Luke, David H, Robbie, David C, Archuleta.
Luke and Robbie are brought forward. Robbie, the big rock poser, is out. He admits to bad song choice and that he could have done it better. Simon brings up the lack of authenticity. Robbie doesn't argue. Ryan brings up the other three people dropped for the video recap of their journey. (His word, obviously, not mine.) Robbie sings out.