Annie Barrett
February 17, 2012 AT 09:21 AM EST

American Idol

TV Show
Current Status
In Season
Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban, Ryan Seacrest
Reality TV

The American Idol caravans had hit Las Vegas, and you know what that meant. Costume party!!! The 70 remaining season 11 contestants grouped up to perform songs from the ’50s and ’60s “ON THE STAGE OF ELVIS PRESLEY!” shouted Steven Tyler. These crazy kids thought they were standing where Elvis had once stood, when in fact they were standing on the set of a circus. In so many ways.

Once they miraculously made it out of ringmaster Peggi Blu’s rigorous training sessions alive and sang onstage, the kiddies immediately faced eliminations. Then if they were safe, they might not really be safe! Such needless mindf—ery by the producers. Those unnecessarily brutal callback-cuts were just absurd.

Up first: “Dedicated to the One I Love” with Colton Dixon (the one the Idol editors love — how about that glamour shot of him in a tank top with his huge arm tattoo of a tree?), Skylar Laine, country singer Chase Likens, and Cari Quoyeser. Control-freak Skylar needed to reeeeeelax during rehearsals, but she pulled it out onstage. Cari had my favorite vocal of the bunch, sort of throaty and soulful and like something I’d want to listen to while writing American Idol recaps. She was also so cute — what gives? You can listen to some of her music here.

Enter the teens! Hello, teens. Jeremy Rosado, David Leathers Jr., Ariel Sprague, and Gabi Carrubba had stayed friends since the Atlanta auditions. Gabi quickly identified herself as the local diva — foreshadowing alert — and asked if the group could add another “Rockin’ Robin” at the end of the song so she could get a better part. Yeah I bet those two words will really pump up your performance! Ariel was the standout for me, and the cheesy compliment J. Lo paid her was totally true: “When you smile, you light up the place.” She really does. Her voice is powerful and unpretentious and always a surprise. I’m so into her.

“All the stress that I had the whole day is all gone,” announced Gabi after her whole team was safe. Later the judges would call everyone back and send her home alone. We should have known. She really got the bitch edit for awhile there, and Randy’s high praise of her performance was “You were in there, man!” Man.

NEXT: Brielle Von Huge Turd stays over Schyler Dixon

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