I can’t believe I did this two nights in a row.

Final Thoughts: Country night was much better than usual, and I credit Martina McBride for being a fantastic coach, along with better song choices.   I actually think the contestants showed more respect and even understanding of country music than those who were on the CMT Awards last night.     My guess for the bottom two: Chris Richardson and Lakisha Jones, with Richardson going home.  I think Sanjaya will be in the bottom three but sent to safety.  Guess I’ll blog the results, too.

As it happened:

8:00 Ryan Seacrest gives a shout-out to the victims of the Virginia shooting immediately, already showing more class than Jeff Foxworthy last night.

8:01 Fantastic intro for Martina McBride. Even I was surprised that she’s been around fifteen years, and I bought The Time Has Come when the “That’s Me” video was in rotation.

8:03 Phil Stacey starts things off, and he’s picked a Keith Urban song that isn’t very singer-friendly, “Where The Blacktop Ends.” McBride notes Stacey’s biggest strength and weakness immediately, yet still comes off sounding constructive. So far, she’s good at this.

8:04 Before the judges pipe in, I’m going to say it sounds like Stacey followed McBride’s advice and put more soul in the beginning. They always seem to bash him, though.

8:05 Let me add, he looks like Kevin Sharp.

8:06 Randy thinks he should sing country, Paula notes that he did what Martina said without giving her credit for it, and Simon says it’s his genre as well. I worry that they’re just saying that because they haven’t found one for the genre yet and need one for the money, but he was pretty good.

8:11 Jordin Sparks is a darn good singer, and she’s going for “A Broken Wing.” McBride’s giving good advice about stage positioning. Again, good guest.

8:13 Jordin’s singing the song in a bluesy-country style and she’s nailing it. But watch at how she followed McBride’s tip on staying put. She’s selling the song completely with killer facial expressions. And she’s hitting the notes, too.

8:14 She frickin’ nailed that final note.

8:15 Paula again praises her for following Martina’s advice, but doesn’t note that it was Martina’s advice. And Simon thinks she can actually win for the first time. So far, so good.

8:17 Sanjaya’s got Trent Tomlinson’s bandana and Little Big Town’s Kimberly Roads’ hair.

8:22 Sanjaya’s picked a good song, and she’s giving him fantastic advice. Again, she’s very, very good at this. I hope he’s smart enough to follow it like Jordin and Phil did.

8:24 He’s gone from being bad to somewhat good. I wonder if that hurts him or helps him?

8:25 Simon says, “Utterly horrendous.” And he’s trying to sink the Sanjaya ship tonight.

8:31 Lakisha’s taking on Carrie, and that’s close to blasphemy if you screw it up. She’s setting the bar very, very high. But Martina is touched by it, so maybe she’ll nail it.

8:32 She’s slowed it down a bit and she’s making it her own. How will she do on the big notes?

8:34 She’s doing a damn fine job, in her own style. She can’t match Carrie’s version, but she definitely does it well.

8:35 Randy and Paula are being tough.

8:36 I actually agree with Simon that the song couldn’t handle it. It’s not a soul song, and as good as her vocal was, it didn’t match up with the song. Carrie’s a natural country singer, not a crossover star who just feels like singing it. It’s in Carrie’s blood, but not Lakisha’s. She does need to break out the soul.

8:37 Chris Richardson I don’t usually like, but he can’t sing a song worse than Gary Levox.

8:38 Unless of course, he sings it like Gary Levox and throws in some Timberlake runs. Bleh.

8:42 I’m glad Simon rolled his eyes at Chris’ Virginia shout-out, which sounded very tacked-on, right after patronizing Simon’s criticism of him. He must know he’s in danger.

8:46 Melinda is funny tonight. I like her. And I knew that a Belmont grad would know something obscure from contemporary country. I bet she interned at Virgin Nashville!

8:48 I loved the Julie Reeves single “It’s About Time”, and forgot how good this one was. I think she’s easily the best singer overall in the competition, and I’m digging this performance. Buy the original here.

8:49 Simon mentioning Tina Turner reminded me that I’d wanted Lakisha to sing “You Ain’t Woman Enough” in the style that Tina recorded it in the 1970’s. You can buy that here.

8:50 What will the Tim song be?

8:54 “When The Stars Go Blue” is so hard to sing that Tim himself lip-synched it on the ACM’s. Gonna be tough. But Blake has been good lately.

8:56 He reminds me of my good friend Bellah from college. Spitting image. Not sure if he edited it well. The flow is off for me.

8:57 Randy likes it, so does Paula.    Simon is getting closer to the truth about it.  Not fantastic, but he acquitted himself.