“Today: 42 contestants become 24.” It’s finally here! After weeks and weeks of cutting and auditions we officially have our Top 12 Girls and Top 12 Boys announced for the world to rejoice/argue (actually, Seacrest lied, today is only Part 1 of 2). While I’ve been criticized lately for being too harsh on the kids and not “looking on the bright side of things,” I honestly have to say that this season thus far has not been the strongest I’ve seen. Yes, there have been many great performances that pull at the heartstrings but overall I’ve felt the judges have given some passes to lack luster singing way more often than they ought to have considering the talent pool they have to choose from.

But, today is about the best. Today we see those who have made it along on storyline and one or two good showings get told it wasn’t quite there and the resultant tears will flow. Fortunately for those who watch this show for the singing and not just the drama there were some great clips of final performances that I’ve included below as we get to see what talent brought these young hopefuls to the top in the judges’ minds. So, without further adieu, let’s get to the official Top 24 pics (again, just Part 1) and see what ol’ bitchy Adam thinks of the decisions!

Jen Hirsh is first up today and she’s always just had that star quality thing to her. Not the most stand out on the stage, she has however had a LOT of screen time which often bodes very well especially come viewer voting time when they find it much easier to feel for a singer they’ve seen so often. In the skeptic world I live in we call this a “Producer Choice” as editing helps them as much if not more than their singing itself does. When we see her final performance, Randy is a bit critical but I honestly feel that’s more to balance the scales and not just have positive clips and make it obvious they love this girl. Prediction: she’s soooo gonna make it through. And, she does. Starting off on a happy note you have to wonder how much the contestants back stage HATE when someone comes out with a “yes” and takes one of the remaining spots.

Next up is Creighton Fraker. NOT one of my favourites as the whole funky, weird, hipster red neck thing is a bit… well, not played, rather just not really a thing at all ha. He “doesn’t want to be another artist [he] just wants to be Creighton, whatever that means”, a quotation which well captures him and is a bit endearing even if he ain’t at all MY top pick. Still, he makes it through- of course. He’s one of the very indie pics like whatshisface last year with those god awful rose covered blazers. Creighton’s long-lost father stands proudly next to him as his enthusiasm comes off a little more opportunistic than it does “cool”, unfortunately. Third, is the scratchy and sweet Lauren Gray who didn’t have the easiest time come Vegas. Her final performance was very well done if not a bit overplayed, but hey, when it’s all on the line you gotta throw everything and the kitchen sink at these judges to prove em’ you belong. They pretty much get us ready for the inevitable as her “rocky road” is discussed and we see that the maturity and confidence wasn’t quite there for her this year. No big surprise: she’s sent packing and the judges hope she’ll try again but she does not seem confident that she’ll put herself through this again. Finally, our first “no” of the night and Lauren is told better luck next time.

Joshua Ledet walks up (who?) and his recap sounds a little more screechy than I prefer for a male performer, but he is the son of a preacher man so maybe that’s just how it goes. Personally, what I appreciate most about male singers is their ability to often hold tone more stable than their female counterpart who have to hit such huge runs and high notes that it’s just too hard to stay always in tune. The judges pretty much tell him yes as he sits in the final judgment chair despite Randy’s lame attempt to be dramatic and once again, not my fave but the kid gets sent through. Singing to God as he wins- commence eye roll sequence- he’s ecstatic and church choir sings himself backstage to tell the rest of the kids he’s through. While I don’t think he’ll ever win, I do wonder how far he can play the church boy thing to carry him into some much needed bible belt votes come the live shows. Let’s just hope the audience doesn’t realize he’s a mini-mo in the making however cause that not so rigid wrist doesn’t play well with the man upstairs according to what I’ve read of “the good book”!

Blondie Haley Johnsen – again, who?- pops up and reminds me just how many damn contestants there have been this year if I can’t even really remember these final contenders just from their face alone. Her back story of video clips as she walks the long hall to judgment is actually much shorter than the rest which makes me realize that she might have been one of those pretty, under-featured singers that suddenly shine *cough*look good in a tight dress*cough* come Top 24 pics. Jackson 5-esque Nico Starr reminds us very much of Mr. Jackson as he wanders up with a mini fro and tight leather all around. Not showing exactly the sexiest clips of this young kid I have a very strong feeling this kid ain’t gonna make it and BAM I’m proven right. They rush this kid’s results and he does not look too happy as he leaves the stage. Clayton Farhat,River St. James and Caleb Johnson are next to hear no’s but take it pretty well as they’re sent away.

Suddenly the show slows down for “experienced” (ie. older) Elise Testone who proves to us the importance of maturity on this show. She does a great job- I feel- of presenting herself to the judges in the final sit down, but by this point they’ve already made their decision so I say she should go into viewer-wooing mode as after this point it’s all up to America in the end so you gotta start he modesty and being memorable here on in. Post break it’s one of my least favourite as Reed Grim the unauthentic odd-ball takes stage. I’ve mocked him for his faux drama in the past as he seems to go so A.D.D. come camera time that you can’t take him serious as he refuses to practice, focus or even follow rules. Still, he constantly blows the judges away with performances he pulls out of seemingly nowhere at the last second though I feel he knows exactly what he’s doing as he plays up the drama card. I just wonder if the producers (who clearly make every decision this show sees) decide he’s more trouble than he’s worth… unfortunately I think drama outweighs talent a lot of the time with these shows and I think he’s gonna hear a yes. Drum roll please: yeah, he’s through, ugh. I really, really hope the viewers at home see through this show boater very soon.

Erika Van Pelt and her huge smile contrasts Reed’s fakeness as you can just feel the genuine talent and hopefulness come from this Pittsburgh DJ. However, despite a great recap video, the viewing of her final performance leaves us worried it might be the end as she chooses some manly and Lopez-declared inappropriate song to end on. The judges do their little “you didn’t do the best” thing they do to scare the kids but- no huge surprise- decide to let her through regardless and I think that’s a good choice as this girl has the age and talent to push through. Pitting two pretty girls against one another: Chelsea Sorrell and Baylie Brown are up next. First, Chelsea BOMBS her initial attempt at her last song as she (tsk tsk!!) forgets the words. They give her another chance at it but you pretty much know that she’s not gonna make it… and then WOW she does. I don’t know if it’s the pretty hair or what but they decide to send her through and I’m extremely shocked. Long-standing audience fave Bailey stands up next and immediately I’m worried the Denise Richards lookalike might not make it through as she’s quite similar in background and sound to Chelsea who just got sent through but Steven Tyler can’t hold a straight face and you know this bombshell is gonna get through. She’s definitely one to look out for as returning faves often do well having had so much total screen time.

Heejun Han – “New York State of Mind”

Ahhh, Richie Law and Heejun Han are up and pitted once again against one another thanks to some fun editing. I fully admit I’ve been against these guys since the very beginning and sorry to say but I’m still that way. Richie for very obvious reasons as he constantly comes across as cocky and unoriginal. I’m pretty confident that the way they’ve painted him, he ain’t gonna make it as nobody wants a villain in their top choices but I’ve clearly been proven wrong already today. Thank hell however he’s sent a packin’: very deservedly so. Then there’s Heejun, about whom a commenter on one of my previous posts has already revealed to me he’s making it through and I’m not the most thrilled on this fact. He’s been playing up this dopey, “I’m ugly” and “I don’t understand this” attitude for wayyyyy too long. This guy is no idiot and has been his own publicist since day one realizing the limits of his appeal and acting the part of the little engine that couldn’t to trick the judges and (knowing he was always gonna make it through), the viewers since the first time we saw him.

Jessica Sanchez – “The Prayer”

Sweet little Jessica Sanchez pops on stage and gets a great recap video of her progression through this competition. Hands down you know this lithe little thing is making it through as they give her the old “Producer’s Choice” editing sending this less-screen time offered contestant into a good standing come the live shows as we see her in the VERY best light possible in today’s ep. While I know I’ll be criticized for my skepticism that this whole show isn’t just totes controlled by what is and isn’t left on the editing room floor, sometimes- like here- you have to be able to see how much certain singers are just shoved down our throat to love or hate. And, as she hears her yes you know Jessica is “one to love”.

Phil Phillips – “Nice and Slow” (Part 2)

Though not always my fave, Phil Phillips comes across as very sweet come the final minutes of the show and we get to see a very endearing final performance. I’ve had a good friend mock and point out this guy’s voice actually isn’t as original as the judges love to say and would have us believe but there’s no saying he’s not talented. He’s one of those cute dorky boys that had a nice girlfriend all throughout high school so never really got to play the field and realize just how hot he is haha. I think with a little costume change and lesson from a PA or two and he’s gonna be a cute fave come voting time. I’m gonna stay open-minded with this one as he hears he’s through.

Colton Dixon – “Fix You”

The final really big name of the episode Colton Dixon is up next and you just know how this is gonna turn out. I’m still not sure if I believe or don’t his whole: “I almost didn’t perform thing” as he stole the limelight from his sis but he does do a very good job of constantly nodding to her saying she’s amazing and a great motivator for him. As you can see however in his final performance above, the kid has real talent and, despite some awful hair and costume choices which I’m doubtful he’ll give up come next week, it’s clear what his result is gonna be. Yes to Colton. He’s another one to pay attention to as his comeback story is typically a helpful one when it comes to picking up the phone to vote.

Brielle Von Hugel– oh and her crazy ass mom- are next and I’m not expectant to hear a yes on this one. As Seacrest hilariously declares she: “certainly has the moxie of a star” (ie. she’s a diva bitch) you get the picture that this type-a daughter of a control freak ain’t quite gonna hear a yes and I certainly hope that’s the case but…. NOPE. She makes it through and we roll our eyes as we know we’re gonna see her faux-tanned mother on the big screen again real soon. Then there’s maybe my least liked chubby new dad: Adam Brock who has used his newborn daughter to get more ahead in this competition than he has his voice. Coming across as the teacher who thinks he’s as young as his students, the sweater wearing, untucked dress shirt (sooo played) old man does fine in his final performance and I’m worried that being judged so close to the end of the episode means ending on a “high note” if you can call it that as they’re probably gonna say yes to this bear of a man. Telling him he’s more soulful than the original singers of his song (really Randy?), Adam puts on the waterworks and has some huge final declaration of why God has put him there (ugh) and we hear…. OH WAIT! We hear to be continued!! Not realizing like an idiot that there’s a whole other show tomorrow I’m smacked with the fact that we have to wait till Thursday to hear the rest of the results. So, stay tuned to find out if monster dad Adam Brock makes it through (blech, you just know he does) and who else is cut and who else makes it!

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