For a week sure to motivate the masses, Grammy winner Alicia Keys is the mentor to American Idol’s top seven, who selected an array of inspirational tunes highlighting their range and musicianship. While waiting for their turn to take the stage, Casey James showed off newly braided hair, Siobhan Magnus read a comic, Lee DeWyze slipped in a quick nap, while Mike Lynche, Tim Urban and Crystal Bowersox passed around a football in the parking lot and Aaron Kelly leaned lovingly against his mom. On hand at the Idol rehearsal, PEOPLE offers a glimpse of what’s to come Tuesday night. –Jessica Herndon
CRYSTAL BOWERSOX: Dressed in black, Mama Bowersox started off a cappella, filling the soundstage with warm, soulful vocals. There was no guitar this week, but her mic stand and her swaying body were all the props she needed.
SIOBHAN MAGNUS: She took a run-through to get her voice warmed up and struggled to grasp all the notes at first. But she asked the band to slow her song down “just a hair” before really diving into that high octave she’s known for. After adjusting her orange framed glasses, her stance relaxed on the third run and she drew in the crew, who hung on every note.
LEE DEWYZE: He was the only contestant sitting on a stool this week. Casual in a red hat and Chuck Taylor sneakers, he sat strumming his guitar while a group of musicians played a piano and string instruments beside him. Particular about how his song opened, he opted for a stripped down piano entry, which built with backup singers and heavy guitar.
TIM URBAN: With a tune fit for a sweeping love scene in a Nicolas Sparks film, Tim’s turn was slightly predictable, but fulfilling. Always excited to be on stage, he grinned while playing his guitar in front of the judges’ table and sang soft, yet steady notes.
MICHAEL LYNCHE: The comeback kid rocks this week. Not taking his save for granted, the papa worked his guitar, starting out slow and soft, then winding it up and bringing the tempo to a level we haven’t seen from him yet.
CASEY JAMES: Tipping his dark blue fedora, Casey warmed up on his matching blue electric guitar. With three braids in his hair that were done by a friend the night before, he joked that he’s sure he’ll have “quite a fro” on performance day when he lets those braids out. Despite coughing and blowing his nose, Casey was all smiles while singing with all of his raspy might. Be ready for a electric guitar highlight.
AARON KELLY: Using a bit of visual aid in this week’s performance, Aaron threw his arm up at the exact moment his song called for it. But he didn’t move from his position on stage this time, sticking to middle center and delivering strong vocals on each take. Michael Becker/FOX