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American Idol recap: Feeling inspired?

Tuesday, the eight "American Idol" finalists added some spice to their Chicken Soup for the Soul.

The theme was "inspirational" music, but contestants stayed away from the traditional saccharine goodness of tunes like Mariah Carey's "Hero" and Whitney Houston's "Greatest Love of All."

The night's standout singer was dreadlocked Jason Castro, who took the stage with a ukulele for a compelling performance of Hawaiian singer Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's rendition of "Over the Rainbow."

At the opposite end of the pack was Syesha Mercado, who unwisely chose to cover "Idol" champ Fantasia's coronation song, "I Believe" -- making for an unoriginal performance that resulted in criticism from the judges.

Irish songstress Carly Smithson also struggled, performing a hard-rock take on Queen's "The Show Must Go On" that judge Simon Cowell thought sounded too angry to fit in the "inspirational" genre.

The reality TV competition deviates from its schedule for the "Idol Gives Back" special, which airs tonight at 7:30 p.m. on Fox. Thursday, it's back to business with elimination night at 8 p.m.

Get a full recap of the show at the "American Idol" blog at www.ledger-enquirer.com.

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