Idol: Adam’s Acoustic Comeback!

03/26/2009 AT 12:00 AM EDT



The top 10 finalists mined the mammoth Motown catalog of hits Wednesday, with Smokey Robinson serving as a very gentle celebrity mentor. Going in, everyone may have expected Lil Rounds to triumph -- "This is your week," Kara told her -- but several other singers ended up supreme.

Adam Lambert dropped his flamboyance to sing a controlled, brooding "Track of My Tears." You could argue that even in restraint he tends to be over the top, but the judges loved him. Kara actually gave him an ovation -- that's usually Paula's routine -- and called the song "one of the best performances of the night." Simon went further: "It was the best performance of the night."

Kris Allen strapped on his guitar and sang a cheerful, synocopated "How Sweet It Is." Smokey said the interpretation "blew me away." Kara agreed, saying, "You did everything right" in reinventing the song. Simon's caveat: "You haven't got that swagger and confidence" of a star. Just watch Adam!



And Allison Iraheta, the 16-year-old who was nearly eliminated last week, did yet another amazing-far-beyond-her-years performance with "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone." Randy saluted her as "one of the dopest singers" in the competition. Kara marveled that America would dare not vote to keep her on. Simon and Paula's comments, while both favorable, wound up as footnotes to the odd fact that Simon had drawn a mustache on Paula's face.

Now, what about Lil Rounds? She came out with her hair styled like a classic Motown diva, ready to wow with "Heat Wave," but she sounded surprisingly harsh. Randy said her vocal, at least at the start, was "tortured" and rushed. Lil rounds promised a slower tempo -- if she stays. Which she probably will.

Most likely in trouble:

Scott MacIntyre. He performed "You Can't Hurry Love" with (so he said) the soul of a single man waiting for love. It came out sounding "a bit cheap," in the words of Simon.

Michael Sarver. He promised he was going to "church it up" with his version of "Ain't Too Proud to Beg," and ended up shouting. Paula, who gets nervous whenever she has to offer to-the-point criticism, trembled poignantly as she described the turn as "Las Vegas lounge-y."

Megan Joy. Having survived the flu last week, she tackled "For Once in My Life" with a bizarre interpretation that ranged all over the place. Randy thought her performance was a "trainwreck." Simon, even blunter, told her: "Whoever is advising you, I would fire." Then, he warned her to be ready to be sent home. -- Tom Gliatto

Tell us: Who did you vote for? Who should go home? Whose Motown look did you love?

Check out all our Idol coverage at PEOPLE.com/idol!

Michael Becker/FOX

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