There was a big surprise on tonight’s “Idol” results show but it had nothing to do with the way America cast their 40 million votes. Nor did it concern the fact that Seacrest & Co. couldn’t edit the show to a measly 120 minutes. (Don’t they realize that 10 p.m. is allotted for “Jersey Shore?”)
No, the surprise was that the judges opted to choose three Wild Card finalists, making this the first Top 13 since Anoop Desai rounded out the group back in Season 8. More on that in a minute.
As for the Top 10, America actually got it right this time, though with such a plethora of talent there was hardly such thing as wrong. The first guy to make the cut was country crooner Scotty McCreery. No Idol Shocker there, as J. Lo told him he has “what it takes.”
Robbie Rosen wasn’t so lucky. Even his past efforts couldn’t make up for last night’s lukewarm performance. Seacrest unceremoniously dumped him and it became clear that with more people hearing “no” than “yes,” it was going to be a very brutal night.
Next up was the trio of Clint Jun Gamboa, Jordan Dorsey and Jovany Barreto, an odd grouping since none of them have the makings of an American Idol. Gamboa looked like he was mid-panic attack as Seacrest laid down the news, axing both him and Dorsey in one fell swoop before turning his attention to Jovany. “I can tell you that YOU ... have not made it into the Top 10 either.”
After watching the dreams of four out of five men wither away and die like the dignity of a New Jersey Housewife, the producers cut us some slack and dealt us a no-brainer. Bubbly country cutie Lauren Alaina and surprise showstopper Pia Toscano both got the greenlight, finally offering McCreery some much-needed company on the winners’ couch.
Ta-Tynisa Wilson and Julie Zorrilla faced the proverbial music together; appropriate since they both had less than stellar performances the night before. With so many deserving contestants, though, there was no room for error. Both girls were cut.
Next up was Kendra Chantelle, Ashthon Jones and Karen Rodriquez, all strong contenders. Despite “feeling like it went really well,” Chantelle was booted along with Jones. Rodriguez will live to sing another “dia.”
Tim Halperin, Casey Abrams and Jacob Lusk faced their fates next. Both Casey and Jacob have been consistently superior with Steven even saying that he was “honored to be in Lusk’s presence.” On the other hand, Tim’s only true standout moment was in Vegas. It was no surprise, then, that he was eliminated while both Abrams and Lusk progressed.
Naima Adedapo, Lauren Turner and Thia Megia hoped to join the other three girls on the winners‘ couch but only one of them would prevail, despite strong vocals from all three. Fifteen-year-old Thia took the spot, making her the fourth girl to survive the mass extermination.
With two male spots remaining, there didn’t seem to be much hope that both Brett Loewenstern and Paul McDonald would make the Top 10. There wasn’t; we’ll be seeing more of McDonald next week. Hopefully Loewenstern’s curl choreography can land him a gig in the musical “Hair.”
Haley Reinhart and Rachel Zevita vied for the fifth and final ladies’ spot on the couch. This one seemed obvious, as Zevita’s butchering of “Criminal” made Britney’s VMA performance look like high art. Thus, Reinhart took her place on the couch and awaited the arrival of the final male.
It came down to Stefano Langone and James Durbin. Seacrest tried to add drama by mentioning that the two were tighter than tight, having roomed together since Hollywood Week. His efforts were in vain, though, as Langone’s tame adult contemporary style was no match for Durbin’s in-your-face screeching. Durbin made the cut and despite the excitement, managed to keep his Tourette’s under control, save for a few twitches.
So there we have it. No huge surprises amongst the Top 10.
But then it was time for the Wild Card picks. This round has always been very vague as far as the rules go but this year’s ambiguity really took the cake. It seemed that the judges made up the rules as the went. There was no set number of contestants who would perform. Instead Seacrest asked how many they would like to see again. They chose 6 out of 14 -- 3 girls and 3 boys -- to sing any song from the season so far.
Stefano Langone, Jovany Barreto and Robbie Rosen were all granted a second chance, an interesting choice since all of them have similar looks and styles of music. It was disappointing not to see Loewenstern have another go on the big stage and surprising that Dorsey wasn’t given a reprieve even after his disastrous Usher performance.
All three sang beautifully but Stefano was the standout with “I Need You Now” by Smokie Norful. An emotional J. Lo was so nervous for him that she said she doesn’t even shake this much when she performs. Not as promising were the comments she directed at Jovany after his performance of Jon Secada’s “Angel”. “You did all you could do,” she all but shrugged.
Rosen’s rendition of “Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word” caused Randy to say that “the Robbie we fell in love with is back.” But then he added some foreshadowing by reiterating that this was “the toughest night ever.”
The girls who sung for their lives were Ashthon Jones, Naima Adedapo and Kendra Chantelle. Again, while it was the right choice, it was surprising that the judges didn’t give Julie Zorrilla another chance, as J. Lo crowned her “a potential winner” after her very first audition. Also getting dissed was the vocal powerhouse Lauren Turner, who would’ve been a strong contender on any other season.
Ashthon reprised “And I Am Telling You” from “Dreamgirls.” Never was a song more appropriate for the Wild Card Round and she really drove the message home by getting in the judges’ faces and meaning what she sang. Lopez “felt her passion” and Randy loved the attitude.
Kendra starting “Gerogia” off in her lower register was questionable at first but by the end she proved why she was there. She went from low to high and showcased her range, not to mention her insane breath support which sustained amazingly long notes.
Naima, whom Tyler dubbed his “own little Porgy and Bess wrapped into one,” opted to sing “For All We Know,” whose lyrics also fit the circumstance. “Tomorrow may never come,” she sang, “for all we know.” She clearly realized how true those words were, as she broke down into tears after singing them.
The judges had such a tough time deciding that they stalled, blaming “live TV.” In the meantime we were treated to J. Lo’s new video for “On The Floor,” a dance song featuring the diva in various states of gorgeousness.
After the video, Randy announced that they had chosen Ashthon to join the finalists. One more spot right?
Not so fast.
Ryan then asked Jennifer how many total there would be from the group and she answered, “We have two more.”
Completing the Top 13 were Stefano Langone and Naima Adedapo. Let’s hope they fare better than Anoop.