'American Idol' recap: Windfall of the House of Usher Season 9, Episode 26

American Idol is kind of like an axe murderer in a horror-movie franchise. Just when you think it's good and dead, and you're ready to walk away from it and start your life anew, it lurches into the upright position, clutches you by the ankle, and drags you back to your inevitable fate - sitting on the couch every Tuesday and Wednesday night from now through the end of May.

Oh, go ahead and scream all you want - no one's paying attention. Everyone's too riveted by the sequence of unexpected events that occurred during tonight's Top 10 performance telecast: Ellen DeGeneres stepped up her critique game, offering her most pointed and useful feedback since Hollywood Week. Ryan Seacrest did everything but kick Didi Benami in the shins to try to activate her tear ducts. Lee Dewyze transformed into a legitimate front-runner (even if he's still totally unaware of it). Crystal Bowersox put down her guitar and tickled the ivories, and was (mostly) quite lovely doing so. Plus, Anita Baker's biggest hit got indoctrinated into a chilling cult of smiles. And Big Mike Lynche's bare arms of terror lunged indiscriminately toward any contestant experiencing emotional turmoil and/or caught in a stationary position.

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