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“Idol” Top 10 women: Strugglin’ in the ‘70s

Idol looked weak

The same haze created by the decade of bellbottoms and disco balls has continued to be overcast, as the ladies try to sort through the ‘70s on Wednesday.

A thinly-veiled "something we didn't know" theme is still in effect, as the evening's first contestant Carly Smithson doesn't exactly surprise us about her part ownership of a tattoo shop. Looking at her right shoulder … well, it's distracting.

Since "Idol" is a singing competition, we'll focus on that. Smithson's effort at "Crazy on You" by Heart is a game one. Catch your breath, Carly.

Syesha Mercado says she has acted in a lot of commercials in Miami and she does her baby-crying impression. Her take on The Temptations/Hall and Oates "Me and Mr. Jones," is … really small. Mercado sings it reasonably well, considering everything.

Brooke White says her surprise for the audience is that she went to beauty school and loves doing hair. It wouldn't be a surprise if she said, "I'm not just the owner… I'm a client."

White smartly mixed guitar and vocals in Carly Simon's "You're so Vain," an interesting but not overly invasive take. Brooke will be back next week.

Ramiele Mabulay used to Polynesian dance as a kid? That's not too much of a disclosure. Then again, Mabulay's energetic, assertive try at Thelma Houston disco tune "Don't Leave Me This Way" makes the introductory frills look like just that – frilly and unimportant. She'll advance to sing again next week.

Kristy Lee Cook showed some serious growl in taking on Linda Rondstadt's "You're No Good." A tall order for Cook, who for the most part, pulled off a reasonable reproduction.

Does anyone believe that Amanda Overmyer is a bookworm? Why does it seem that many folks can't see the bright competitor beyond the striped hair? Choosing Kansas jam "Carry on, My Wayward Son" shows that Overmyer is a thinking person's singer. Even if it wasn't her best performance, it shows Overmyer's creativity and brashness. Rock on.

Alaina Whitaker showed some real skills in tackling Olivia Newton John's "Hopelessly Devoted to You." After all, Newton John set the bar waaaay up there with the original. Whitaker's attempt was a clear, accurate try. Look forward to hearing more from Whitaker next week.

Alexandrea Lushington should get style points for creativity, but her remake of Chicago's "If You Leave Me Now" was accurate, but a bit subdued.

Kady Malloy imitates celebrities and has sung opera since she was about nine years old. Viewers at home would have preferred it to Heart's "Magic Man," a pitchy, rumbling tune that covered over Malloy's talent. Panelists Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell have it right, she needs to find a proper-fitting song and then relax and "let go."

Who knows if the viewing audiences at home will have her back?

Asia'h Epperson closed the show with a classic by Eric Carmen, "All By Myself." Epperson's voice was shaky on the chorus low notes but built in the mid-range and upper register. It was a challenging song; one that Epperson should have left alone. She'll advance on the strength of others flawed performances.

Overmyer and Malloy will land in the bottom two, with Lushington not far behind.

Tune in today at 8 p.m. on Fox to see who America has decided will continue on and who will go home.

Last night's most enlightening performance:

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