In two hours on Wednesday, “American Idol” revealed, by my count, the first 17 members of the Season 13 Top 30.
So that means that Thursday’s (February 13) episode is going to take an accelerated pace as we zoom toward next week’s live shows.
Lots of my early favorites haven’t heard judgment yet, so click through and bite your fingernails along with me.
7:59 p.m. ET. In case you’ve forgotten, when we left off, Casey Thrasher and CJ Harris were awaiting what appeared to be an either/or choice from Keith Urban, Harry Connick Jr. and Jennifer Lopez. I’d have taken both of them, but let’s see what the judges decided.
8:03 p.m. WHEW. Office Internet was down, but now it’s back and I’m just in time to see that both Casey *and* CJ got spots. Exactly as it should have been. So CJ HARRIS and CASEY THRASHER are both in the Top 30.
8:05 p.m. Marrialle Sellars, who got a ton of audition coverage, but hasn’t been spotted in Hollywood, is having trouble with the math. I didn’t love her final solo on “Wrecking Ball.” I wish I’d seen what she did earlier in Hollywood, because she seemed like a no-brainer in auditions. Harry says that inconsistency has plagued her, but MARRIALLE SELLARS is in the Top 30. She’s happy and compliments J-Lo on her aroma.
8:11 p.m. Oh, don’t worry, Kenzie Hall. I refuse to believe you’re not in my Top 30.
8:11 p.m. I’m much less sure about Jena “Gina” Ascuitto, who sang a loud and decent original for her final solo. Nobody’s really competing with Angie Miller when it comes to originals, are they? JENA “GINA” ASCUITTO is in the Top 30. Harry tells her that she’s a sleeper, which she thinks is because she took a nap.
8:13 p.m. Is there room for Caleb Johnson in the Top 30? He’s good at what he does, but several people do things similar to what he does. I’m just not sure how many powerhouse male vocalists they’re going to choose even if it’s plainly obvious that superficial teenage girls won’t vote for them. Caleb’s final solo was a very fine stadium-ready cover of “Radioactive.” He could definitely front a Candlebox cover band and play state fairs tomorrow. Keith Urban says that Caleb’s persona is very “Rock of Ages,” which Harry thinks it’s a cartoon character. I don’t disagree at all. Harry tells Caleb that there are a lot of really good singers remaining, but he isn’t sure if he belongs in this competition. The judges’ answer? After the break.
8:21 p.m. And it turns out that CALEB JOHNSON is in the Top 30. He nearly either pooped or pissed his pants. I don’t know which. Harry is concerned.
8:22 p.m. There are only three spots left for the guys. Will Ethan Harris get one? I didn’t love his audition and we haven’t seen him since. He’s better suited for a “Partridge Family” reboot than “American Idol.” But Harry thinks that Ethan is “an interesting cat” and that he could be a star. As if he weren’t freaking out enough about his musical future, it turns out that he also hates elevators. Ethan wants to leave retail. J-Lo pulls the fake on him and ETHAN HARRIS is in the Top 30. Meh.
8:24 p.m. I think it’s time for some bad news. Sarina Joi Crowe gets a “No.” A girl named Nalani who we’ve never seen for a second is sent home. Bye, person I didn’t know.
8:25 p.m. Now it’s time for David Oliver Willis, who y’all know I love. I especially love that he keeps singing Sam Cooke songs. And… BOO. Screw that. He’s sent home, too. I’m pissed off at “American Idol” now. This is the second straight year that the show has disrespected him.
8:26 p.m. Will a great name and a great personality be enough for Majesty Rose York? She forgot the lyrics in her final audition, but it didn’t hurt her. MAJESTY ROSE YORK is in the Top 30. They have high hopes for her.
8:27 p.m. Poor David Oliver Willis. You have my respect, sir!
8:31 p.m. If we sent Ethan Harris into the Top 30, do we really need Briston Maroney? I wouldn’t think so. Dorky White Guys With Guitars With Affected Voices? I think Briston is more interesting than Ethan, but the Ethan choice was already made. Harry tells Briston a long story about his dad not letting him leave home to go to New York. “You’re 15,” Harry points out accurately. The point of the story is that BRISTON MARONEY is in the Top 30. “You are a wicked man,” Briston tells Harry. Somebody’s seen “Copycat.”
8:33 p.m. Time for a duo. It’s Briana Oakley, who I refuse to believe isn’t advancing, and Brandy Neelly, who I forget whenever she isn’t on TV. To me, Briana is among the best they have this season. Brandy isn’t bad at all, but she’s never going to stand out, I fear. Briana, on the other hand, stands out consistently. She seems like a total no-brainer. To me, Briana is Jordin Sparks, right now. Keith says they both have extremely good voices and they’re both unique. Is this gonna be another CJ/Casey situation? Yup. BRIANA OAKLEY and BRANDY NEELLY are both in the Top 30. “The ‘No’ hurts so bad and the ‘Yes’ feels so good,” Brandy says.
8:41 p.m. Kenzie Hall is crying. She dedicated her solo to her mom, but it wasn’t so great. Let’s stop pretending. This show kinda needs Kenzie. And that’s why KENZIE HALL and her anime eyes are in the Top 30.
8:43 p.m. Just as Kenzie was always gonna be in the Top 30, the same is true of Savion Wright, who enters playing his ukelele. Savion is still mourning his brother. He’s also musical. And he has his own style. The judges, however, didn’t like Savion’s final solo. The judges blather for a while about how they’re looking for people with that intangible quality. Holy cow. They voted “No” on Savion. Another thumb down, “Idol” judges. “I thought it was my time right now. I thought this was it. But I guess I was wrong,” Savion says. That’s sad.
8:49 p.m. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the commercial considerations, but putting Ethan and Briston in the Top 30, but not Savion and David? That’s just plain silly. And is there an unavoidable racial component here? Well… Yes. Does that mean “Idol” is racist? Well… No.
8:51 p.m. We’re down to two girls and only one spot and to one guy and only one spot.
8:51 p.m. For the girls it’s Sandie Lee and and Austin Wolfe. They’re rather different. They were both good in their solos and Harry tells them both that they’re special. Keith raises the ante and says they’re both extraordinary. Sandie is gone. And AUSTIN WOLFE is in the Top 30. And… Yeah. That’s not a final pairing they wanted under the circumstances. I’m not saying Austin isn’t better than Sandie, but there’s a clear statement the judges are making and keep making.
8:54 p.m. And for the guys, it’s Ben Briley and Neco Starr. Well, I don’t like Neco. And I think Ben is great. However, I think Ben does things that at least five or six other guys in the Top 15 already do. Neco’s skillset isn’t one that’s over-represented so far. So it’s a tougher choice than it might have been if they’d been the first two people in the room. Anyway, though, we already know where this is going. America is going to get to choose.
8:57 p.m. The judges tell Ben and Neco that this was a tough choice. J-Lo says this is the first time something like this has happened. What, exactly? They’ve never had hard choices? Really?
8:58 p.m. Anyway… Your turn, America!
8:59 p.m. Ladies Tuesday. Guys Wednesday. Results Thursday!
Thoughts on tonight’s results and the shape of the Top 29-so-far?