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''American Idol'' With Podcast Info

By RD Heldenfels Published: April 25, 2006

Here's the link to tonight's podcast:

There may be some technical difficulties, including a small clicking sound.

And here are some written notes about the show:

Tonight was one of those where I had to zip through my DVR'ing of ''Idol'' because I was at a church meeting when the thing actually aired. Didn't hear the judges' comments, caught only snippets of the Andrea Bocelli/David Foster guidance for the contestants. Just stuck with the performances.

And have to say that I thought Katharine started the show very well. Yes, she was alarmingly cleavaged, so much so that any lateral movement seemed to threaten a wardrobe malfunction. But her cover of ''I Have Nothing'' was still powerful, if only by sheer force of personality. It reminded me of Kelly Clarkson when she decided that it was time to take over the first ''Idol'' -- and by gosh, did it. B plus for Katharine.

Elliott, Elliott, Elliott. ''A Song For You'' was not a song for me, and I love the tune. I just wanted him to make more of it. C plus.

Kellie. ''Unchained Melody.'' Unbelievably bad. Her eyes were dead, as if she had stripped herself of all emotion in order to remember the words and the notes -- and some of those notes were shrieks. If this doesn't get her into the bottom three (out of six, for crying out loud), then her fans believe in forgiveness on a grander scale than I can conceive. D plus.

Paris. ''The Way We Were'' is an odd song for someone who admits her life is too short to have much ''were.'' Still, I liked her voice, even if she got screechy here and there. B.

Taylor. ''Just Once.'' Man, the guy's range seems to get smaller every week. C minus.

Chris. ''Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman.'' I might have been more impressed if he had reached into the Clapton catalog for ''Have You Ever Loved a Woman.'' (Taylor might have done all right with that, too, getting back to his bluesy origins.) This was good, about a B plus, roughly even with Katharine for best performance of the night. But I wonder if Chris is making the right tactical move.

Tonight was, in key ways, the night that everyone says they can sing that big pop song that waits at the end of the ''Idol'' rainbow. It was as if the presidential primaries are over and now the candidates have to woo the general electorate, moving to different ground to do so. But when you reach out to some voters, you risk losing others.

Given Chris's relatively low vote a week ago, he may be alienating his bedrock constituency but not picking up enough pop fans to compensate or grow. So I wouldn't be surprised to see Chris go this week. Then again, I won't be surprised by the departure of Paris, Katharine or Elliott, either, regardless of this week's performances. The only shocks would be Taylor or Kellie, and both have been just bad enough to deserve ouster.

Still, taking the show as an island of singing instead of as part of the chronosynclastic infundibulum of ''Idol'' performances past and present, there were good performances. (My colleague Amy Carlson Gustafson disagrees, as will be evident if you check out our podcast.)

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