‘American Idol’ Recap: Mandisa’s Lost Her Luster, Katharine Comes Back Strong

Frontrunner slips while survivor from last week's bottom two bounces back.

It seems everyone has something to say about “American Idol” and MTVNews.com is no different. Here’s the latest edition of our weekly performance-night roundup:

April 4 – Theme: Country songs

Surprise performance: Chris Daughtry proved he’s no one-trick pony after all with a poignant performance of a Keith Urban ballad. We can almost forgive him for Creed. Almost.

Fashion hits and misses: Ryan Seacrest called it cupid, we call Randy Jackson’s red paisley vest hideous. Was it the dawg’s attempt at country? No real standouts, but kudos to Katharine McPhee for bouncing back from a train wreck. Mandisa needs to go back to the gowns.

Judging the judges: Not only was Simon Cowell right throughout the night — especially in his props for Paris Bennett — he earned bonus points for referencing “Desperate Housewives” in the wake of those pictures of Ryan smooching Teri Hatcher. Paula Abdul likes to tell singers they didn’t connect with their songs, but she often seems not to connect with her critiques, like she’s just throwing stuff out there. Randy? Still getting over the vest. Nice working in a name drop during country week, though.

Best audience sign: Chicks Heart Hicks. We assume this is a message for Taylor, not Bucky and Kellie.

 ‘Idol’ Season Five Performances

  Photos Of The 12 Finalists

Who will go: Katharine was in the bottom two last week, but that seemed like a fluke and she was solid this week. Ace Young or Bucky Covington appear to be next in line, but both actually had a decent week. Mandisa’s never even been in the bottom three, but she seems to have lost her luster. Based on singing, Kellie Pickler should be the one to go, but Elliott Yamin is forgettable. It’s anyone’s guess.

Who needs to step it up: Taylor Hicks has been our man from the start, but he’s slipping. He still deserves to stick around, he just needs another upbeat tune to shine on and get his name back in the headlines. Pray for Doobie Brothers week.

Who is the one to beat: Chris may have moved back to the top, although Paris is slowly creeping up. The judges predicted the winner would be the most improved and she currently fits the bill.

You told us:

You could tell Taylor wasn’t feeling his country song, but he has already proven himself and I look forward to seeing him perform in the coming weeks. All of the contestants have a bad week. That doesn’t take away from their talent.

J.A., 32

Philadelphia, PA

Taylor is horrible, and he needs to go. Ace is only still around because girls think he is cute. It’s time to vote based on talent.

Dave, 19

Windsor, CT

Katharine definitely has the best vocals, but she needs to reach out to the audience more. Bucky should have been gone a long time ago, and Paris is getting on my last nerve. I do like Elliott, but his phrasing is starting to make him sound like the Cowardly Lion.

Rea, 44

Pittsburgh, PA

This is the worst group of “Idol” contestants yet. Mandisa is the best singer by far and Taylor has a lot going for him, but Katharine’s pretty voice won’t take her anywhere in the real world. And the other contestants are barely OK. What are they doing here? And what is with Paula’s ridiculous comments?

Shelly, 46

Cincinnati, OH

Taylor Hicks has got it. He’s amazingly talented and he doesn’t conform. He knows who he is, he knows what to sing and that is why he’s going to win.

Samantha, 19

Baltimore, MD

Some of the people on “American Idol” are just too old for the competition.

Monique, 14

San Juan, Puerto Rico

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