By People Staff
Updated March 18, 2010 12:00 AM
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Credit: Frank Micelotta/FOX

Lacey Brown, who’d made it into the final 12 on her second trip to Hollywood, was the first to go on this season of American Idol. To take advantage of the potential redemption of what’s called Judges’ Save, she reprised “The Story,” her best performance overall.

And, just like the first time, it was very sweet with a whimsical wilt. But you could tell from Simon‘s expression that he was not receptive to keeping her around. She was doomed.

This was no shock. She’d been very appealing, in the manner of a flower that pops up unexpectedly in a city sidewalk, but she was very undependable as a live singer. Simon has said she seemed to approach each song as if she were an actress — maybe she’d be better in a musical comedy.

Paige Miles joined Lacey in the bottom two. Even with her voice still a little raw from laryngitis, she remains a powerful singer — as good as Siobhan Magnus, if you ask me, and never as shrill — but she hasn’t generated much excitement, and the judges are never squarely in her corner. She’s an unknown, which isn’t good this far in.

The night’s only surprise was that Tim Urban not only survived being in the final three, but escaped the bottom two or worse. He probably deserved the boot the most. The judges seem to start shaking their heads as soon as he shows up, and Tuesday’s performance of “Under My Thumb” was cheerfully, cluelessly awful. But cuteness can keep a singer going on American Idol — yes, even when he reduces a Rolling Stones classic to the aural equivalent of a soft stick of butter. Good luck, Tim!

Some random comments from the judges:

Ellen said Siobhan had the potential of an Adam Lambert.

Randy said Lacey and Paige probably deserved to be in the bottom two.

Kara, who at one point earlier in the competition had said Katie Stevens could win, wouldn’t reiterate that opinion when Ryan asked her about it. She dodged and said instead that Katie should try R&B-pop; Simon said, no, she should do country; Randy said, no, she should do pop-rock; and Ellen said, no, she should do mariachi. Katie’s head probably started to spin like the girl in The Exorcist.

The show began with Simon revisting the odd unpleasantness of Tuesday night, when Ryan challenged him for not giving constructive criticism. “Do you want to get the eyeballing out of the way? asked Simon. He told Ryan to stop crossing the line, literally and otherwise. Oooh! It s hard to believe any of it s real, except in a pro-wrestling sort of way. But both men played their parts well.

An hour, frankly, is too long a chunk of programming to organize around chucking just one singer, and so the show was as padded as your grandmother’s sofa. David Cook sang “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” Kesha sang “Blah Blah Blah,” and the finalists designed custom graphics for the Ford Fiesta. Why not have them dye eggs, too? — Tom Gliatto

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