When we left Paula Abdul… errr… Jennifer Lopez, the emotionally unstable “American Idol” judge was bawling and questioning her ability to handle the remainder of the judging process.
Wednesday’s episode ended with a big ol’ “To Be Continued…” leaving as many as two viewers nationwide wondering if J-Lo would be able to return.
Click through for a full reveal of the rest of the Top 24 and to discover if J-Lo mustered up the guts to deliver both good and bad news…
8:00 p.m. ET “Will Jennifer find the strength to go on?” Ryan Seacrest asks before the credits begin.
8:01 p.m. Wow. This is “an emotional crossroads” J-Lo is at. She seems to require a team of dozens to recover her composure. But after a short break, J-Lo is back. She’s A PROFESSIONAL, YO! She’s the true hero.
8:03 p.m. Tonight’s first contestant to face The Chair is MySpace over-singer Karen Rodriguez, who has spent every second of Hollywood week pandering to J-Lo, singing one of the judge’s songs at one point and crooning a Selena tune for her final solo. Will that pandering be enough to see her through? J-Lo gets to talk and it’s clear we wouldn’t have J-Lo delivering bad news, not at this point and not to this J-Lo wannabe. Karen Rodriguez is in the Top 24.
8:05 p.m. Up next is “Bar Mitzvah Idol” Robbie Rosen, a 17-year-old who has the weight of The Tribe on his reasonably talented shoulders. Robbie had a good final solo and if he doesn’t advance to the Top 24, my people may rise up against “American Idol.” Fortunately, Steven Tyler raves that Robbie sang his tush off. Robbie Rosen is in the Top 24. MAZEL TOV!
8:13 p.m. We’ve had too much positivity to start this episode. That means it’s time to throw Tatynisa Wilson under the bus. Randy begins by asking if this is really what she wants. After she agrees that she wants nothing more in the world, the judges seem to be working their way up to breaking it to Tatynisa that she’s done. But… SURPRISE! It’s three straight “Yes” votes, as Tatynisa Wilson is also going to the Top 24.
8:16 p.m. Bye, Britney Mazur and Jimmy Allen. I don’t quite know who either of you are, but I’m relieved that not everybody is making the Top 24.
8:17 p.m. Oh right. Now I remember Tim Halperin’s audition in Los Angeles. He asked J-Lo how old she is. And he didn’t really impress me. But he was great in his Beatles duet and his final solo performance, an original song, wasn’t bad either. Steven Tyler feels like Tim has been up and down, but Tim thinks he’s found himself as Hollywood Week progressed. Tyler breaks the news beginning with, “I’m sorry to tell you, but…” Tim Halperin is in the Top 24.
8:21 p.m. If Tim is in, surely his Beatles duet partner Julie Zorrilla is through as well, right? She’s gorgeous and she’s just talented enough that you can’t hate her for the skimpy outfits and the flirting. Tonight, for example, she’s dressed as Little Miss Muffett. She sits on her tuffet opposite the judges, including J-Lo, who warns that sometimes Julie doesn’t connect enough to the songs. But don’t worry. Julie Zorrilla is in the Top 24. The process of Julie bending over to hug the judges is creating a clear editing challenge for the crew. She ends by trying to lift Ryan Seacrest. She succeeds, and then fails in a sexually suggestive way. Excellent.
8:28 p.m. Scotty McCreery and John Wayne Schulz wonder if there will be room for two country singers in this season’s Top 24. Scotty wasn’t great for most of the Hollywood Round, but his last solo on “Long Black Train,” including guitar accompaniment, is excellent. Scotty also used the final solo as an opportunity to tell J-Lo that he’s a quarter Puerto Rican. Nice. Scotty refers to the Jacee incident as him not stepping up and being the man who should have been. I don’t care if Scotty is wearing a huge cross around his neck. The kid is a mensch. Scotty McCreery is in the Top 24 and I hope he doesn’t become a deep-voiced John Stevens.
8:33 p.m. But Scotty’s success precluded additional success for John Wayne Schulz, who went into The Chair wearing an ironic (or possibly ironic) black hat. Farewell to John Wayne.
8:34 p.m. It seems as if all of the people who made fools of themselves in front of J-Lo have done OK. First, Tim Halperin made it through. Will there also be room for Jovany Barreto? Jovany is a slick young man. He graciously shakes hands with each of the judges up front and settles in for the news… It’s good. Jovany Barreto is in the Top 24, saying farewell to the shipyard for good.
8:41 p.m. Lauren Taylor has a great voice. We’re going to be left to wonder if she’s got the “package” to be a star. And the judges go through the whole “Hollywood Week was up and down for you” thing, but only for two or three second. Lauren Turner is in the Top 24. We keep referring to her as The Maid, just in case that drives a few more people to Netflix to rent “Maid in Manhattan.”
8:43 p.m. Bye, two people I don’t remember.
8:44 p.m. I lack the words to describe Rachel Zevita’s outfit. It involves a bedazzled tie, a big black bow and lots more black and black lace. It’s what 18-year-old Madonna might have worn to her wedding. Rachel doesn’t want to be a failure for her grandmother and the prospect brings her to tears. We remember Rachel’s opera background and I wonder if she has too much voice for this competition. If Simon were here, every comment would be, “You’re more Broadway Idol than American Idol” or something. Her last solo? Really impressive. The judges want Rachel to be herself and to be sincere. You’ve… gotta be sincere. You’ve… gotta feel it here… Rachel Zevita is in the Top 24, though she initially doesn’t understand Steven’s “You’re coming through” verdict. These last four minutes have very effectively humanized Rachel. “God bless you, Ryan,” Rachel’s grandma says.
8:48 p.m. Sorry if I’m distracted, but we’ve got this Charlie Sheen news breaking and providing a distraction.
8:52 p.m. Only 10 of 24 places remain. Uh-oh. Will one of them go to Kendra Chantelle? Kendra keeps being good when they show her and then I keep forgetting she ever existed. One of those things is a positive. One of those things is a negative. The judges talk in circles. The we fade to black. And Kendra comes out and she also talks in circles before announcing… Kendra Chantelle is in the Top 24. “Why are you playing their trick on us,” an annoyed Seacrest asks.
8:57 p.m. J-Lo wants to make it clear that she fought for Jordan Dorsey from the beginning. Who hasn’t been fighting for Jordan? He’s been a front-runner since his audition. Jordan tries putting a good face on his Group Day try-out silliness. He fails, but it hardly matters. Jordan Dorsey is in the Top 24 and I’m probably OK with that.
9:05 p.m. Uh-oh! Slingbox outage. I don’t know if I missed anything, but Lauren Alaina is now meeting with the judge in an outfit she may have borrowed from Julie Zorrilla’s closet (embellished with sparkling pink cowboy boots). It’s not like there’s any doubt on this one, even though the judges have to talk in circles for a bit. In this case, they’re torturing her by talking about all the great young contestants they had. Of course, Lauren Alaina is in the Top 24. J-Lo compares her to Dolly Parton. Steven Tyler, perhaps fearing he hadn’t objectified any minors lately, calls her “so cute.”
9:08 p.m. Stefano Langone sang a composition of his own for his final solo. If the snippet we saw is any indication of the whole, that was a mistake. They’re saying the same generic comments to every single contestant. This is awful. The judges didn’t hold his weak songwriting against him. Stefano Langone is in the Top 24. “I’m gonna be on the live show,” Stefano gushes, perhaps unaware that next week’s show will be pre-recorded. Or maybe he’s just referring to next Thursday’s live results show? But that would be weird.
9:15 p.m. Jackie Wilson yells, sometimes melodically. Jackie didn’t blow the roof off the place the way J-Lo wanted her to. In “American Idol,” there’s no crime worse than disappointed J-Lo. She’s done. “Really? Why?” Jackie asks. The judges say it had to do with peaking too early. “I don’t agree with it. I don’t agree with it,” Jackie says. Her much older fiance is there to kiss her supportively.
9:17 p.m. I guarantee you of this: If Jacob Lusk makes the Top 24, he’s going to be the most polarizing “Idol” contender since Adam Lambert. Some people are going to think his astounding theatrics are tremendous. Some people are going to wonder if he’s even vaguely capable of an understated (or normally stated) performance. He’s a bit much for me, frankly. But that doesn’t mean I’m unaware that he has a gift. Randy Jackson calls Jacob’s performance of “God Bless the Child” the best performance EVER on “Idol.” Wow. That’s saying a lot. But let’s get real, there’s no way they could have had a Top 24 without the VERY animated Jacob Lusk.
9:20 p.m. I’m going to live my entire life without ever being as happy about anything as Jacob Lusk is about making the Top 24. That makes me sad. But happy for him.
9:26 p.m. The room is nearly empty. That means that we’ve missed out on saying “No” to a lot of contenders.
9:26 p.m. If not for Julie Zorrilla, I’d be a lot more enthusiastic about Pia Toscano. Because Julie Zorrilla’s like Pia Toscano, but better. She’s a shouter. Not much nuance. No real complaints about her final solo, though. And she’s definitely easy on the eyes, which helps in making it through a long “Idol” season. Pia has arrived at The Chair crying already. “I’m gonna keep it short and sweet…” J-Lo says. Pia Toscano is in the Top 24, taking the 11th female spot. For some reason Seacrest says that the spot was “stolen away.” Not a fan, Ry-Ry?
9:29 p.m. It’s time for James Durbin, but we can’t welcome James Durbin to The Chair without being reminded of his various Syndromes and his highs and lows. His final solo performance is a wail-tastic rendition of “Change Is Gonna Come.” Personally, when I hear that song, I want to be able to listen to the lyrics. I mean, it’s only one of the best songs ever written for a reason. But James at least has the emotion. There was never any doubt that James Durbin was going to be in the Top 24. “We now turn James over to you,” Ryan says threateningly.
9:37 p.m. For the guys, there are two spots left and one of the guys in the room is somebody we’ve never really seen before. Then again, we’ve also got Casey Abrams, Jacee Badeaux and Brett Loewenstern along with that stranger. That’s a concern. I’m not prepared to say “Bye” to two of those guys. Casey figures even if he’s eliminated, he’ll still get to hug Jennifer Lopez. For his final solo, Casey brought the standing bass back. His did a great version of “Why Don’t You Do Right.” Some people are gonna be irked by Casey as well, but as far as I can tell, the guy is absurdly talented. Randy goes so far as to say that in the 10 year history of the show, they’ve never had a musician as talented as him. Will he be in the Top 24? Of course he will. Beard Power. Casey Abrams is in the Top 24, upending The Chair in the process. I like Casey. He may be my non-Julie Zorrilla favorite.
9:42 p.m. The last two girls are Thia Megia, dressed as a ballerina, and the rubber-clad Jessica Cunningham. They walk The Green Mile together. Based on pre-Semifinals exposure, it’s hard to imagine Thia not making it out of this pairing. In contrast, Jessica has auditioned seven times and never made it this far. We barely hear her sing, but we see that she does have a thing for tight and leg-accentuating outfits. Thia is 15. Jessica is 25. Jessica is also the only female rocker. I get the feeling Jessica may snap Thia’s neck if she doesn’t advance. And, indeed… Thia Megia is advancing. This was not a good birthday for Jessica. “They ruined my birthday,” Jessica says, before enthusiastically flipping off the camera. She does it in a good-spirited way and I’m suddenly missing Jessica. I’m gonna take 25-year-old rocker chicks over 15-year-old phenoms any day.
9:51 p.m. There are three guys now. Brett swears there are two spots left, but DreamCrusher Seacrest swears there’s only one. Seacrest is probably right.
9:53 p.m. Jacee and Brett are both nervous but confident. But what about Colton Dixon? First off, who the heck is Colton Dixon? He can’t seriously hope to make it over two of the most prominent pre-Semifinals contestants. And yet what we see of his piano solo is intriguing.
9:58 p.m. The last member of our Top 24? Brett Loewenstern.
10:00 p.m. With that, we’ve finished the audition and Hollywood rounds. Starting on Tuesday, people will actually just sing whole songs. The judges will actually judge (except for Randy Jackson, who will be a lump). And America will actually vote. Thank heavens…
10:00 p.m. I’m gonna make this plea constantly over the next couple months, but Check out HitFix’s Fantasy American Idol. You should be able to sign up and start your brackets tomorrow.
What do you think of your Top 24? Which decisions made you happy? Which decisions outraged you? And how excited are you to actually be up to the Top 24?