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''Idol'' Standard Time

By RD Heldenfels Published: April 18, 2006

Here's the latest podcast:

And here are my scribbles on the performance show:

After weeks devoted to Queen and country, ''American Idol'' went back to showing that it had good singers with a night of standards. And not just any standards: Every song had been recorded by Rod Stewart on one of his four American songbook albums. (Rod records those albums, by the way, for J Records, which if memory serves has a relationship with ''Idol.'') Even the subpar performances were not for the most part horrifying.

Chris started things with a respectable ''What a Wonderful World.'' Grade: B. Might have been higher, but I always worry about giving a good grade at the start and then not having any room when someone sings better. But tonight, as far as I was concerned, Chris ended up the class of the field.

(And speaking of class, what was the deal with Paula Abdul's outfit tonight? It looked as if she'd borrowed it from Cindy Margolis's ''Celebrity Cooking Showdown'' wardrobe.)

More later, after I podcast.

And ... I'm back. Paris sang ''These Foolish Things.'' I thought her musical phrasing was good but was taken aback by her stiff enunciation, almost biting some words. B minus.

Taylor. ''You Send Me.'' Dull. Can't believe I once liked this guy. C.

Elliott. ''It Had To Be You.'' Not bad, but still no goosebumps. The jacket was a bad idea. The backup singers were lethal. (Not his fault, I know, but they took away from the overall performance.) C.

Kellie. ''Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.'' Let the record show that I am a Southerner by birth and upbringing. Kellie's twang was still an intrusion in the song. She was wobbly enough that, if there's a week when she might end up in the bottom three, this could be it. C minus.

Ace. Pulled-back hair: Mistake. ''That's All'': Bad song choice, since he was all over the place melodically. When the judges check out the tape of tonight's performance, I hope they'll see that Ace was a case where they couldn't hear well in the hall. D plus.

Katharine. ''Someone To Watch Over Me.'' A personal favorite, [update: I was referring to the song, not the singer] and I expected more from the performance. One of the better ones tonight, but still not a home run. B minus.

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