'American Idol' Recap: Top 40 Unveiled
'American Idol' Recap: Top 40 Unveiled
Bill King
Bill King
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
After last week's fakeout, we're finally getting down to the nitty-gritty on American Idol. The girls will perform solo for the last time in Hollywood, while the 28 remaining guys somehow get whittled down to 20, likely with little explanation. Which kind of sucks, cause we'd like to have a say. Even in looking back at the group rounds, I have no idea why or how some of the cuts were made. But that's why we watch from our couches, and why no one REALLY cares until the live shows begin.

The girls have exceeded the boys so far, in my opinion, meaning we should be in store for some awesome performances as the ladies sing for their lives. It's go big or go home, and you can't leave anything on the table. Forty-seven enter, 27 will leave. This going to be deliciously brutal.

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Starting Things Off With Goose Bumps

The girls have the option of picking a song from a list or singing an original song, which seems like a very risky move at this point. Angela Miller is taking that risk, because she feels like her song embodies what she's doing, freeing herself. She's playing the piano, too, which is another questionable decision.

But holy hell, I think she just released her first single. "You Set Me Free" gets a "Good Lord" from Keith Urban and a standing ovation from the judges. Goose bumps all over. Nicki Minaj says Angela wasn't even on the judges' minds before that, but what a way to kick off the show. Follow THAT, Zoanette Johnson.

Candice Glover is up next, and she is not about to be outdone by anyone. "Girl on Fire" = more goose bumps. If Isabelle is next, everyone else might just walk out. 

Janelle Arthur is the unlucky choice to sing third, and it's also her third season trying out for Idol. That's a lot of thirds, so this one's gotta be a charm. It's nice and smooth and subtle, as always for Janelle. It's not quite on the same level as Candice or Angela, but I think it's definitely top 10 worthy. These girls are raising the bar.

What in the Hell?

Zoanette Johnson is up next, and she's playing the drums (probably to help drown out her voice). She also MADE UP her song on stage the day before, and it's about the judges. The only positive thing I will say about her is that she can actually keep a decent drum beat, but then she yells at the band to slow down and I despise her all over again. Nicki is "bowing down at her feet today" and is honored to be on Idol this season just to be a part of "the Zoanette era." I can't believe people actually find her entertaining. I find her so obnoxious.

All four are going through, along with Jett Hermano, who we've only heard sing backup once all season. Going home, however, is Kiara Lanier

Time to Speed Things Up

We're already more than a third of the way through the show, AND we still have announce the top 20 guys. I sense a montage. 

Shubha Vedula continues her strong run, and all the sudden she looks stunning for the first time instead of like a 12-year-old. She sings a Mariah song, and Mariah sings along with her. She is easily top 5 among the girls. Loved her since the beginning. 

Juliana Chahayed, who we are seeing for the first time, gives a goose-bump raising rendition of "Landslide." 

Kez Ban goes shopping with Zoanette before singing an original song that's just not good enough. She says she feels like a square peg in a round hole and asks Ryan Seacrest for a job. He lets her hold the boom.

Wait, What? Last Group Already?

Apparently they're not going to montage it, they're just going to skip it entirely. Already we're on our last group of girls, and Ashlee Feliciano is first. You can hear her potential, but she's just off this time. Randy criticizes her song choice, because Christina Perri's "A Thousand Years," while a long song, bums him out. But I think that if she'd been at her best, there'd be no negative comments. A bunch of other girls, including Briana Oakley and a broken-hearted Sarina-Joi Crowe, are also going home, in part because of their depressing song choices.

Melinda Ademi is just okay for me, but she has great energy. I still don't like whatever accent she sings with, but she dances around and has the judges singing along. She flings her hair around a lot, too. I think Ryan has a crush on her. 

Kree Harrison has had a rough go so far, getting a split decision in her audition and negative feedback during the group round. But she's a survivor and keeps sticking around, and she finally comes into her own with her rendition of Grace Potter's "Stars." She gets a little emotional, because she's singing for her mom, who passed away a few years after her dad died in a plane crash. She gives Keith the chills, and it's really good, but not great for me. Nicki says Kree became a star with this performance. 

Decisions, Decisions

After all the performances, we're down to 28 guys and 24 girls. The ladies are up first, and Randy calls out Lauren Mink, Holly Miller and Ariel Sprague and sends them home immediately. It's a gut-punch after thinking they made it. Stephanie Schimel gets a one last shot to sing with the band, and she picks Phillip Phillips' "Home." Bubbly Rachel Hale is up next, and she has some shaky notes. But overall, it's more powerful and just better. So Stephanie's song choice wound up being an apt one, because that's where she's headed.

The boys hit the stage next, with eight eliminations looming. There are no immediate cuts this time, with Adam Sanders grabbing a mic to sing some Celine Dion. Don't know what changed for him between the group round and these last two solo performances, but it doesn't come close to his previous efforts.

Josh Holiday, who've I've been waiting to hear again since audition day, is up next. His "Georgia on my Mind" is just as good as that first performance, and I'm left wondering what his other songs were like that they even asked him to do this again. And just for good measure, he splits his pants. He literally tore it up. 

I guess they were just doing it backwards, because now Nicki asks the likely damned to step forward. It's Peter Garrett. Marvin Calderon (No! He was great!), Devan Jones, Kenny Harrison, Will White, Tony Foster, David Leathers and Adam Sanders. For Leathers, he's now gotten cut in the same spot two years in a row, and he doesn't know where to go from here. Marvin calls the whole experience a blessing, and I'm still surprised they got rid of him. 

On to Las Vegas!

Next up for our 40 semi-finalists is a trip to Vegas, where they'll be performing in front of a live audience for the first time. They'll start off with one shot and one song, with survival on the line. Who do you think is the best of the best? Who were you shocked to see go home? Why is Zoanette still around?! Tune in next week, as we narrow down the field even further before it's time for the live show and for America to start playing a role in the results!

Your Top 20 Guys:
1. Bryant Tadeo
2. Burnell Taylor
3. Charlie Askew
4. Chris Watson
5. Cortez Shaw
6. Curtis Finch, Jr.
7. David Willis
8. Devin Velez
9. Elijah Liu
10. Gurpreet Singh Sarin
11. Jimmy Smith
12. Johnny Keyser
13. Josh Holiday
14. JDA
15. Kevin Harris
16. Lazaro Arbos
17. Mathenee Treco
18. Nick Boddington
19. Paul Jolley
20. Vincent Powell

Your Top 20 Girls
1. Adriana Latonio
2. Amber Holcomb
3. Angela Miller
4. Aubrey Cleland
5. Brandy Hotard
6. Breanna Steer
7. Candice Glover
8. Cristabel Clack
9. Isabelle
10. Janelle Arthur
11. Jenny Beth Willis
12. Jett Hermano
13. Juliana Chahayed
14. Kamaria Ousley
15. Kree Harrison
16. Melinda Ademi
17. Rachel Hale
18. Shubha Vedula
19. Tenna Torres
20. Zoanette Johnson

You can watch American Idol every Wednesday and Thursday at 8pm on Fox.

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(Image courtesy of FOX)

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