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VIDEO: "American Idol:" Casey James deserves credit

WHO MUST STAY: Major Brownie points should be awarded to Casey James, whose recent performance showed that he is definitely not a one-trick pony. Throughout the competition, Casey has taken some big strides. I’ll never forget his first audition, where judge Kara DioGuardi gave him the golden ticket just because he took his shirt off during the audition. The moment was disturbing on multiple levels (Kara is married! My favorite show has turned into a “Twilight” movie!) and led me to doubt Casey’s talent. Last week’s performance finally proved to me that Casey deserves to be in this competition.

The thing I liked most about the performance was Casey’s emotional connection to the song. At times in the past, Casey’s facial expression had been the “I-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing-here-but-I’ll-smile-and-everything-will-be-OK” look. Last week, we saw actual emotion in Casey’s eyes and, more importantly, evidence of a potential star.

WHO MUST GO: Andrew Garcia. Prior to “Idol,” I was a big fan of Andrew, having known him from his days on YouTube. I was so confident of Andrew’s abilities that, at one point, I even picked him to be this season’s winner. Ever since I made that prediction, Andrew has gotten worse and worse. With last week’s double elimination, it is more crucial than ever that Andrew step up to the plate.

For this week’s show (which is rumored to be Elvis-themed), Andrew should choose one of Elvis’ slower songs (“Always on my Mind,” “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You”), strip the song of all instrumentation except acoustic guitar, and then give a performance exhibiting vocal ability and emotional connection to the piece. Andrew could even begin the performance a cappella and then add guitar at the second verse. His performance of “Sunday Morning” back in the audition round proved that he is definitely capable of pulling off such a version. He just needs to have confidence in himself. If Andrew can pull this off, Lee won’t have to be a single dad to their Danny Gokey babies. What’s more, Andrew will make me and the entire YouTube community proud.

See more:

‘American Idol’: Analyzing Usher, Urban, Seacrest

‘American Idol’: Sizing up Bowersox, Urban, Garcia

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FINAL WORD: Perhaps I’m alone in this view, but when I heard that big Mike got the save, I was very disappointed. While it’s true that Mike is a better singer than Tim, Aaron, Andrew, and Katie, there is absolutely zero chance that Mike will win the competition.

As any seasoned “Idol” viewer knows, each year there’s always a surprise elimination in which the fans of one of “Idol’s” top competitors fail to vote for their favorite, leading to the ousting of a potential winner. The save of Big Mike forces Lee, Crystal, Siobhan, and Casey fans to be on high alert. If you are a fan of one of these people, I suggest you heed the following advice: Rest your fingers now, for on Tuesday, they will be getting their biggest workout ever.

Kelly Lin is an SDNN contributor.