'American Idol' Makes its Final Cuts in Hollywood
'American Idol' Makes its Final Cuts in Hollywood
After the hellish but also incredibly delightful group round, the remaining 100 or so American Idol hopefuls must perform in front of the judges solo. This is a make-or-break event for the contestants, as a great performance could really save them for weeks to come (Andrew Garcia's acoustic "Straight Up," anyone?). Also, if they're not featured tonight, followed by a shot of J. Lo radiating approval, there's no guarantee they will get votes from "America."

Haley Reinhart is up first with her crackly but girly voice that I am starting to adore. I was expecting to be a lot more critical this season -- and I'm sure that time will come -- but for now I'm just enjoying watching all these young people who are more talented than I could ever hope to be.

Ashthon Jones, one of my picks for American Idol's "late favorites," showed us how that song from Dreamgirls should be performed. Too bad she's just too skinny for the role of Effie; she would do better in the part Beyonce played. Welcome back, Thia Megia! Thia, like a lot of others, was overlooked in the group episode. While all of these ladies are completely delightful, I kind of want someone to just completely blow it. Someone like Jordan Dorsey.

I got my wish! Some of the guys who followed stumbled when it came to working with a band, as did that girl from The Guaps yesterday with those glasses I don't like. Speaking of glasses I don't like: Clint Jun Gamboa! His glasses, and maybe his attitude, are the only thing I don't like, though. His rendition of "Georgia" was killer and clean. Then two more ladies also sang "Georgia," convincing me that it is a great audition song that someone will surely ruin for everyone in years to come.

Chris Medina took a page out of Andrew Garcia's book and is working on an acoustic version of Bobby Brown's "My Prerogative." But one of my new favorites, Carson "That Guy" Higgins, is also singing it. I think I love him. Even more so after seeing Randy say, "that blonde guy's crazy."

CarsonHiggins2.jpgIn for 2011: Contestants with Instruments. Idol is still trying to convince us of Julie Zorilla's merits, and I am still wanting Caleb Hawley to be my boyfriend. Brett Loewenstern brought his guitar, and Robbie Rosen finally made me like him with a rendition of "Gravity" by Sara Bareilles. Casey "bringing back the grandpa sweater" Abrams brought an upright bass! It was smooth, jazzy, and "Georgia" remained un-ruined.

CaseyAbramsbass.jpgJacqueline Dunford is sick and I don't care. She leaves the competition for her health before they can eliminate her, leaving a "shaken" Chelsee Oaks to sing Kelly Clarkson's "Because of You" in loving memory of Jacqueline Dunford and Nick Fink's "relationship." No, I don't think that's really what she was singing for.

Ryan tells us there has been a "constant flow of unforgettable performances," or at least performances we're not supposed to forget when we pick up our phones to vote for the Top 10. Lauren Alaina is up next and, predictably, nails "Don't Wanna Miss a Thing." New favorite, Jacob Lusk, as far as I am concerned, should also audition for the role of Effie because he could KILL IT. As Randy Jackson would say, "he left it all on stage" with "God Bless the Child." Seriously. What he didn't leave on stage sent him into a weeping pile of emotion beyond the auditorium doors. Team Jacob Lusk.

John Wayne Schulz is still in this? He has a simplicity about him that's nice, I think. But who needs simplicity when you can have Ashley Sullivan! She is such a mess I look forward to every moment she gives us.

ChickenSoupCensor.jpgAfter reading Chicken Soup for the American Idol Soul (that's a thing?), she was so overcome with love (and other drugs) that she kept messing up her song and forgetting the words. I'm sad that this will be the end for my favorite hot mess of season 10.

Is there room for more "spellbinding" performances in this show? Seacrest says YES! Also, a surprise that "no one saw coming."

Stefano Langone, Jovany "shirtless for Jennifer" Barreto and Jacee Badeaux performed next, to varying degrees of success. I liked Stefano more than I thought I would, I didn't even see Jovany making it this far, and Jacee was sweet but just sounds so young.

I laughed out loud when the editing called Scotty McCreery out for singing the same song a million times and when they provided subtitles for the garbled words to Leann Womack's "I Hope You Dance." Nuts of wonder! "You get the fuel to eat but always keep your hunger." That's exactly what that song deserves. Nice work, American Idol team. Scotty was embarrassed but thinks the only thing that might keep him going is his "deep voice." I can't help loving him.

The judges go into deliberations over how to whittle down the contestants and I have a suggestion: keep the ones we've seen! It must be awful going into those rooms, though, especially if you look around and see a bunch of people who weren't very good in your room. And, let's be real, anyone would be nervous to be locked in a room with Ashley Sullivan.

AshleySullivancrazyface.jpgA lot of favorites are in the first room, including Jacob Lusk so of course they're going through. Room 1 also includes Lauren Alaina, Caleb Hawley, Haley Reinhart, Brett Loewenstern, Clint Jun Gamboa, Casey Abrams, James Durbin, Chris Medina and Jacee Badeaux. Everyone moves on, including Ashley Sullivan (WHAT?!). Is that the surprise no one saw coming? Room 2 contains several people we've seen but who weren't very impressive. They heard Room 1 celebrating, and it is absolute torture. The judges say goodbye to Room 2, who we barely knew. Love J. Lo's black sparkly shorts though! Room 3, containing Chelsee Oaks and Mark Gutierrez, is also sent home.

sorryroom2.jpgFinally, the judges enter Room 4, which contains Naima Adedapo, Carson Higgins, Julie Zorilla, Jovanny Barreto and Scotty McCreery. That was not at all as dramatic as I would have liked.

Next week, a new challenge is born to winnow down the talent: The contestants are going to Las Vegas to perform songs by The Beatles! The Top 24 will be revealed! Lauren Alaina will cry!

Do you like how they built up a moment when the judges would make that announcement but then never aired it? Where's the surprise no one saw coming? Don't leave us this way!

Anyone you were surprised to see go home? Anyone you were surprised to see make it through? Who had your favorite solo performance of the ones we saw?

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(Images courtesy of FOX)