And now for something completely different.
For the first time, “American Idol” is doing a Showcase Round, featuring solo performances from the Top 48. How will the performances be laid out? How will the judges make decisions based on the performances? How many performances are we actually going to see over the next two nights?
Click through and follow my recap of Wednesday's (February 18) show as we find out the answers together…
8:00 p.m. ET. “One last show will seal their fate,” Ryan Seacrest warns us, while also saying that we're getting eliminations tonight and Final Judgement. Yup. I'm already confused.
8:01 p.m. The contestants arrive at House of Blues, where they'll perform for the judges and a live audience. Only 12 Guys and 12 Girls will advance to the live showcase. Then contestants will walk the Not-Really-Green Mile. Presumably not immediately. But that's what it'll look like to us.
8:02 p.m. Our first performer is Michael Simeon, sporting a bow-tie and some banter for the ladies. I like Michael's voice, but I feel like he becomes less corny when he's playing an instrument. When he's instrument-free and undoing his tie for the audience, he comes across as a kinda low-rent Justin Timberlake wannabe, especially when he indulges in some subpar rapping. I still assume he did enough to make the Top 24. Michael tells the judges that he hopes his versatility will help him stand out. This isn't a surprise, but MICHAEL SIMEON is in the Top 24.
8:05 p.m. I've never liked Loren Lott as much as Loren Lott likes Loren Lott. Her House of Blues performance of “My Heart Will Go On” was shrill, shout-y and theatrical. This is not a song I would ever recommend doing on “Idol” and I certainly wouldn't recommend it at a venue like House of Blues. Loren thinks it was a good performance, but Harry Connick Jr disagrees. LOREN LOTT is our first Top 24 female. Meh. I really assume her attitude isn't going to play well with voters, even if she promises some “divaliciousness.”
8:09 p.m. I'm also worried that we've put through two people to the Top 24 and they're both singers who struggle with authenticity and can come across as mighty cheesy.
8:11 p.m. Toy designer Adam Ezegelian courageously digs into a little Whitesnake. My problem with Adam is that as fun as he can be, his absolutely best-case scenario is to become a less commercial Caleb Johnson. Keith Urban praises Adam's ability as an entertainer, but wonders if there's more. I wonder, too. But ADAM EZEGELIAN is in the Top 24.
8:13 p.m. I appreciate that Cody Fry recognized that his songs thus far have all been too slow, but I'm not convinced that his House of Blues performance was different enough. I'm OK with Cody being tonight's first singer not to advance into the Top 24. He's obviously talented, but if he comes back next year, I hope he showcases something other than dramatic elongation of already slow songs. Cody's attitude is terrific.
8:15 p.m. Other contestants are shocked that Cody didn't advance. Up next? Lovey James. If Lovey was trying to prove that she's a seasoned performer and not a pageant girl, I sure don't think the House of Blues performance did that. Her cover of Little Mix's “Wings” mostly showcased how young she is and how young she reads on-screen. Harry says that consistency is important and they're looking forward to seeing how she does in the Top 24. LOVEY JAMES is in the Top 24.
8:22 p.m. Harry and J-Lo agree this is the hardest day. That sets up a string of rejection. Hector Montenegro gets a “No.” J. None gets a “No.” Remo Anoa'i gets a “No.” Zack Kaltenbach gets a “No.” Hannah Mrozak gets a “No.”
8:24 p.m. Let's get to somebody actually likely to make the Top 24. Adanna Duru is like Loren Lott only much, much better and much more genuine. I'm not sure she's polished quite well enough yet, but her rendition of “Man's Man's Man's World” is full of passion and big notes. ADANNA DURU is in the Top 24.
8:26 p.m. Implausibly teenaged Maddie Walker went strangely poppy with Fergie's “Big Girls Don't Cry.” Her voice sounded thin and young. She's not advancing, which sounds right. The judges, however, already aren't sure they made the right choice between Maddie and Rachel Hallack, who we haven't seen for a long time if we saw her at all. Rachel was much better at the showcase, though I wouldn't have all that much confidence in her going forward. The judges have reconsidered and they want to do a sing-off between Rachel and Maddie. Ick. I hate this. If they wanted to do this, why did they tell Maddie “No”? And why are they telling Rachel now that she had the spot and now they're taking it back? This is straight-up tacky. And now we have to wait to hear them sing after a commercial.
8:34 p.m. The annoying thing is that I don't think Maddie alter is all that good, but I know she's more likely to do well on “Idol.” Maddie's sing-for-her-life performance is much better than that House of Blues performance. Rachel does a little Dusty Springfield, which is a good fit for her, but a bad fit for this sort of showdown. I think Maddie has a situational advantage. The judges think that everything is pretty evenly split between Rachel and Maddie. MADDIE WALKER advances to the Top 24. What an obnoxious way to make that choice. Rachel thinks the judges should have picked her because she's more experienced.
8:39 p.m. I think Clark Beckham is very good, but for some reason I keep getting him confused with Michael Simeon. Working the piano, Clark's House of Blues solo is damn good. I can't imagine him not advancing, especially after two of the three judges give him a standing ovation. Harry explains to Clark that he has a higher standard for piano-playing singers and tells him “Go practice.” But CLARK BECKHAM still advances.
8:41 p.m. Pint-sized Daniel Seavey did “Straight Up” at House of Blues, singing to J-Lo. She calls him “adorable.” DANIEL SEAVEY is advancing, as “Idol” hopes he'll be able to get the Young David Archuleta vote.
8:46 p.m. Let's get real. Tyanna Jones is gonna be in the Top 24. She has to be. She's awesome. Tyanna had some emotional moments before her House of Blues performance remembering tough times for her family. After some pre-song tears, Tyanna locked in and she's fantastic. Consistently she's been the singer this season who has impressed me most. She's got a great voice, superior stage presence and she feels entirely commercial. J-Lo tells Tyanna that she comes to life on-stage. TYANNA JONES is, of course, in the Top 24.
8:50 p.m. For some reason, Rayvon Owen and Shannon Berthiaume are paired in a segment. I think the inexperienced Shannon has the makings of a star — I always forget her and then the second I hear her voice, I'm jolted to attention — but I'd love for her to get a couple more years of seasoning. I think Rayvon has plenty of seasoning and he's fine, but his upside is relatively limited. RAYVON OWENS is in the Top 24. And SHANNON BERTHIAUME is also in the Top 24. I think the longer Shannon sticks around, the better she's going to get. If she remembers the lyrics.
8:56 p.m. So who's last? Jax is such a no-brainer she can't be last. Her dad was a 9/11 responder. She's got a great voice. And she's been getting so much screen-time this season. Her House of Blues performance was really good, but J-Lo thought Jax pausing mid-song was too big a risk. Oh, that's just silly. After a little messing with her head, JAX is put through to the Top 24.
8:59 p.m. So Jax wasn't last. Instead, Hollywood Anderson gets to close another episode. Last time he closed an episode, he was the star of the New York audition episode. But tonight? We're just reminded of his Hollywood Week struggles, but we'll have to wait for tomorrow to see if he advanced.
That was very clean. We got 12 Top 24 members and we've got 12 more to come tomorrow. Did any of the results surprise you?