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'American Idol': Ranking the Top 7! (Again!)

Watching Wednesday night's Idol, it was hard not to think of the dearly departed Dick Clark. Not just because the show paid tribute to him at the top of the show, and not just because Idol's is essentially a contemporary version of American Bandstand. But also because his presence is so felt in Ryan Seacrest. And thank the TV gods. The Idol host — who started Tuesday's episode by telling the audience, ""I know that he's in a better place saying, hey, let's get on with the show, okay? You got it, boss"" — channeled the late Clark and his pitch-perfect professionalism throughout the night, regardless of the fact that you could tell the somber host was mourning his own idol. Gone was the wacky, often deliriously tired Seacrest. Replacing him was an engaged, mature force that connected with audience members, contestants, and viewers at home.

Too bad Seacrest was the the highlight of the evening. (That and CVS, otherwise known as Creepy Violin Stalker. More on him tomorrow.) Though Idol gave the contestants a wide range of music to choose from on Now and Then night (1995 nostalgia flashback!), only a few were able to prove they could tackle any generation of music. So who did the two eras proud? Below, see my Top 7 rankings, and check back tomorrow morning for a full recap of Wednesday's show!

7. Elise6. Hollie5. Jessica4. Colton3. Joshua2. Skylar1. Phillip


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