Fourteen of the 24 semifinalists were revealed last night on American Idol. For most of these, it was fairly predictable whom was going to be sent on and whom was going to be cut, but that didn't stop Randy Jackson from again having his fun with the contestants' emotions.
The format to last night's episode was a bit strange. Instead of showing full performances for the round, we were treated to clips of the contestants singing in an Idol performance room that looked like a bad Ryan Seacrest acid trip: a central platform surrounded by a moat of water, with campy strobelights, giving off sometimes a serene, music video vibe, sometimes a floral vibe and sometimes a fiery one.
If the contestants were able to make it past the scene and perform accordingly, they were then forced to sit through a one-on-three session with the judges, in which Steven Tyler was quiet, Jennifer Lopez was somber and Jackson was just plain mean.
For a handful of semifinalists Jackson gave full-on speeches about finding just the right talent pool for the Top 24 before announcing their fate. He, along with Lopez on occasion, spouted off about performance consistency, vocal strength and charming personality, plus "that certain something" -- the surely copyrighted "X Factor" -- that would define the 24.
Jackson would do his best to make it seem like the contestant was going to be cut, as if the contestant in question was the antithesis of these ideal qualities, then he would break eye contact, look down, look back up and tell the contestant they made it. Hell, if these starstruck semifinalists can survive that emotional gauntlet, they can survive anything. The most notable fit of excitement at the news he was in the Top 24 came from Joshua Ledet, who let out a gospel-flavored "hallelujah!" when he found out. The enthusiasm was contagious.
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However, this season's two most unique voices, Lauren Gray and Richie Law (from Centennial!), didn't make the cut. The news was devastating -- for them and us -- because it came from left field. Despite minute inconsistencies, Gray's performances were always above par. Law, likewise a strong contestant drew many comparisons to Scotty McCreery, last season's winner, and for good reason.
Only 14 of the Top 24 were revealed last night. They are:
01. Baylie Brown 02. Colton Dixon 03. Creight Fraker 04. Reed Grimm 05. Heejun Han 06. Jen Hirsh 07. Brielle von Hugel 08. Haley Johnsen 09. Joshua Ledet 10. Phil Phillips 11. Jessica Sanchez 12. Chelsea Sorrell 13. Elise Testone 14. Erika Van Pelt
The remaining 10 of the Top 24 will be announced during tonight's episode of American Idol , which airs at 7 p.m. on Fox 31.