The country's red state/blue state split cut a fault line across the "American Idol" stage Tuesday night as Grand Ole Opry night tested the 11 remaining singers' reverence for the most traditional of American genres: country music.
Many performers no doubt delighted "Idol's" red state voters by kneeling at the altar of country standards, but others tempted the wrath of down-home audiences with shocking reinterpretations that promised to please the bluer ends of the "Idol" spectrum. But in the end, it was those who performed between the two colors who seemed to carry the day.
Opry night saw contenders including Michael Sarver, Alexis Grace and early favorite Danny Gokey deliver solid but respectful versions of country standards by Garth Brooks, Dolly Parton and Carrie Underwood, respectively. They won fair to good reviews from the judges -- and the night's mentor, Randy Travis -- but perhaps were held back by their devotion to the material.
At the other end of the scale, favorite Adam Lambert alternately delighted and appalled the audience with a psychedelic, sitar-backed version of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire," which for better or worse is destined to go down in "Idol" history as one of the show's most daring performances. In the Idoldome, the crowd seemed torn between wild applause and heated disdain.