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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

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  • IDOL 411: Ryan gets in Simon's face on 'American Idol'

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    When you play with Simon Cowell, you play with fire.

    “American Idol” got a little hot under the collar during Tuesday’s Rolling Stones tribute night, with Ryan getting in Simon’s face and Simon not liking it one bit.

    It all started after Michael Lynche’s R&B-style performance of “Miss You,” which was kind of disappointing after his star-making “moment” last week. Simon voiced our disappointment when he said, “I thought the performance… particularly your dancing, was kind of corny. It was verging at times on a tiny bit desperate.”

    Ryan followed up by asking Simon to clarify which moves looked “desperate,” to which Simon rudely responded, “Do you want me to talk to you or talk to Mike?”

    But Ryan wasn’t in the mood to be bullied. He walked up to the judges’ table and got right in Simon’s face, saying, “I’m actually trying to help him out a little bit, buddy, because I want him to stay in the competition.” Simon, clearly uncomfortable, repeatedly asked Ryan to get back onstage, adding that they’d “sort this out in the trailer later.” But Ryan couldn’t resist getting in one more dig, saying, “I know you want to” — implying that Simon “wants him.”

    Are Simon’s comments helpful to ‘American Idol’ contestants — or just nasty? [Poll]

    Speaking of slightly inappropriate remarks, did anyone notice Kara refer to Randy and Ellen as “the guys” not once but twice?

    Back to the contestants: Andrew Garcia is a cool guy with a cool voice, but we thought his version of “Gimme Shelter” was practically an insult to the original song. “Gimme Shelter” has always been one of our favorite Stones songs – there’s a reason why they use it in movie scenes featuring sex, drugs and violence. The lyrics may be about “war” and “children,” but it’s a sexy song! Andrew’s strange, ’80s-style arrangement — and maybe even the tone of his voice — drained the song of all of its raw energy. But as Simon pointed out, he can’t sing “Straight Up” every week.

    Another contestant who effectively ruined the song he was singing was Tim Urban. We have always understood “Under My Thumb” to be about a guy who is happy to have power over a girl who once had power over him. While Urban sang the song nicely and appeared poised and confident, his easy-listening reggae version just sucked all the meaning out of the song.

    We also didn’t love Lacey Brown’s performance of “Ruby Tuesday.” Her singing was fine, but the performance was so dull we were tempted to fast forward our DVR.

    Casey James was also kind of bland. He’s got a great smile and a good sense of humor about himself, but his performance of “It’s All Over Now” just wasn’t memorable. Paige Miles also failed to have a “moment” with “Honky Tonk Woman” — and she needs to have a moment ASAP.

    The remaining contestants fall into two categories: “good” and “very good.” In the good category, we’re honoring Didi Benami and Lee Dewyze. We thought “Play With Fire” was one of Didi’s best performances — it was almost like she really “performed” for the first time. Lee Dewyze is never one of our favorites, but “Beast of Burden” is a cute song and his performance was sufficiently cute.

    In the very good category, we’re awarding Katie Stevens, Aaron Kelly, Crystal Bowersox and Siobhan Magnus.

    In spite of some lackluster performances, we’ve been Katie Stevens fans ever since Hollywood Week. So when she finally regained her stride Tuesday night with her lovely performance of “Wild Horses,” we wanted to get up and cheer. Sure, she doesn’t have as much style or originality as many of the other contestants, but she can belt out a song and look great doing it.

    We’re also big supporters of Aaron Kelly, who gave a beautiful performance of “Angie.” Aaron always picks just the right powerful, emotionally resonant songs for his voice and personality, and this week was his best pick yet.

    And then there’s the final two: Siobhan Magnus and Crystal Bowersox. Siobhan gave what was clearly the best performance of the night singing “Paint It Black.” To quote “Wayne’s World,” Siobhan “wails.”

    WATCH Siobhan Magnus wow the judges with her take on “Paint It Black.”

    But in the final performance of the night, Crystal Bowersox gracefully strode onstage to sing “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” As the judges also pointed out, we’re always amazed by Crystal’s “ease” and “comfort” onstage. She has a natural professionalism that makes her seem out of everyone else’s league — and we felt the same way about Carrie Underwood a few seasons back.

    WATCH Crystal sing “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” and see what the judges had to say.

    However, Simon said that for the first time ever, Crystal was beaten by someone else: Siobhan. He’s probably right — Siobhan’s performance was far more memorable. But we still don’t think either of them gave a truly fantastic performance the way Big Mike did last week.

    —Jennifer D’Angelo Friedman, Amos Content Group

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