It’s the final round of cuts before the semi-finals! More cuts must be made, and rumor has it J. Lo can’t handle it. This leads to an additional hour of “Green Mile” programming and an hour less of actual performances. Just what we don’t want.

I’ve been looking forward to the Las Vegas/Beatles “Love” stage so much. I guess we’d better cherish it before Jennifer Lopez starts crying about making cuts. Viewers can’t vote 59 people out week by week, Jennifer, you need to do some of the legwork early on. The smooth, sexy, Venus legwork.

Las Vegas: Who Are the Beatles?

The challenge in Las Vegas will be to learn and perform a Beatles song in just 24 hours. This will be particularly difficult for the youngsters, as they may not have even seen Across the Universe yet. The contestants are already rehearsing under pressure, having ridden in on a bus to what the vocal coach (from hell!) insists is a GIG now.

People are crying and breaking down, largely thanks to this vocal coach who is one harsh mistress. I love her. She mentions that she’s going to be laying in her bed, watching them croak. Then something about putting salt on it and swallowing. Oh-KAY!

vocalcoachhell.jpgFirst the groups rehearse/perform for mentor Jimmy Iovine. By the way, a lot of these kids have NEVER HEARD A BEATLES SONG. I was kidding about Across the Universe, but I joked too soon. This really will be a challenge for them! Instead of rehearsing, the contestants get “inspiration” from the Beatles Love Cirque du Soleil show.

Finally, the 61 remaining contestants perform for the judges on the Cirque du Soleil stage. Look out for trampolines and walls made of contortionists, guys! First up, Stefano Langone and James Durbin sing “Get Back,” and I much prefer Stefano. The stage got a nice little dusting from James’s scarf tail, though.

Ryan Seacrest is finally giving the Coca-Cola lounge some action, as he interviews friends Pia Toscano and Karen Rodriguez. They did a great job with “Can’t Buy Me Love.” Haley Reinhart, Jacob Lusk and Naima Adedapo perform next, and Jimmy Iovine told Jacob Lusk that he can’t over-sing everything. I am loving Jimmy. Jacob almost took his advice. You can tell he considered not over-singing it. A leather jacket-clad Randy told Jacob to take it all the way regardless. “Do you!”

I like that the contestants get some Cirque du Soleil props to sing in front of or around, and plenty of smoke and fog. Tim Halperin and Julie Zorilla won the judges over by playing dueling pianos and seducing the cameras with their eyes.

The next group includes Jerome Bell, Lakeisha Lewis and Tatynisa Wilson. I didn’t know Jerome Bell was still in it, and I am now a Lakeisha Lewis fan. Surely they know who The Beatles are … Randy seemed almost bored by it, giving feedback like, “Yeah you got them big old vocals.”

Randycoolleather.jpgKendra Chantelle and Paul McDonald get some of their first moments on screen with their rendition of “Blackbird.” They were understated, and I think I would like Paul McDonald more if he didn’t seem to know how cute he was being.

The performances and unnecessary flaunting of the Love stage continued. MEANWHILE, in a time-consuming segment that I am infinitely glad they included, Crazy Ashley Sullivan got married in the same chapel where Britney Spears (who she LOVES, if you recall) got married. No one looked happier for them than their officiant.

weddingofficiant.jpgWhen did she have time to do this? Not that I care …

The second group is up, and we are reminded briefly of that mean vocal coach Thia Megia and Melinda Ademi had to suffer for. But the vocal coach may have been right, the girls sort of croaked, and no one needed to put salt on it. Then I was too distracted by J. Lo’s glittery top to notice the vocal performances.

Sometimes it’s fun to pause Disney movies and see what funny faces the characters are making. It’s the same way with Ashley Sullivan. She and Sophia Shorai killed it in the bad way. The way that requires salt and swallowing.

AshleySullivanpauseface.jpgLauren Alaina, Denise Jackson and Scotty McCreery are up next. Is Scotty a real-life Benjamin Button? He looks younger every time we see him. He cracked me up in this performance, with his gimmicky gesturing and face pulling. It was WEIRD.

Scottywhatisthat.jpgCarson Higgins and Caleb Hawley may have dug their own grave by taking a major departure from their song, while Chris Medina jumped on a bed behind Casey Abrams. They had fun with it, but did they “do their thing”? These are the things that matter.

Robbie Rosen, Aaron Sanders and the villified Jordan Dorsey performed a pretty stunning number in front of a giant light-up cross. Jordan Dorsey will probably have to work extra hard to make viewers forget how he slighted his group. Robbie replaced his leather vest for a leather jacket and sleeves were a welcome change.

“Brutal cuts must be made,” Ryan says dramatically. But I doubt they’ll be that brutal for us because we still haven’t seen a lot of these people. It’s probably to their benefit; if they get cut, no one even has to know they were on American Idol.

Randy has seven people we’re familiar with step forward and, naturally, they move through. The group includes Lauren Alaina, Thia Megia, Jordan Dorsey, Scotty McCreery and Ashthon Jones. My new Idol crush, Carson Higgins got cut, along with Molly DeWolf Swenson, who Randy slapped, and Denise Jackson. My boyfriend, Caleb Hawley, was also cut but the offer still stands, Caleb!

In a move that was completely tragic in terms of the show’s entertainment value, Ashley Sullivan was also cut. I will miss her and her multiple personalities. But we’re moving forward. Making cuts is making progress and the group has been whittled down to 40.

The Final Round (“In This Spectacular Hangar”)

You’re right, Ryan, this hangar is truly spectacular. Why do we get two theme songs tonight? What’s the occasion? A different director? Ryan introduces the second segment by taking the “Green Mile” himself. It’s clearly an invention of Nigel Lythgoe, because it reeks of So You Think You Can Dance.

First up is Naima Adedapo, who is wearing a crazy beaded dress one would never clean toilets in. I liked her dress for her final solo performance even better. She has her own style. J. Lo tells Naima she hasn’t been the most consistent but they’re rooting for her. With Steven delighting in the, “I’m sorry to tell you … that you’re going to be here a bit longer!” trick, Naima has made it into the Top 24. If the judges plan on faking everyone out like this, it will be a long three hours ahead of us.

Hollie Cavanagh faces the mile next, and the judges were skeptical about her in the beginning. Her final audition sounded good from what we heard of it. She has one of those almost-accents that makes her difficult to place. Maybe that’s why the judges didn’t put her through. J. Lo tells Hollie that she wanted to put her through, but we will soon learn that J. Lo wanted to put EVERYONE through. She loves everyone, and that’s not a bad thing.

Holliegreenmile.jpgAfter the first cut, Steven and Jennifer wonder if they can do this anymore. But they can, as we say goodbye to Lakeisha Lewis (“one of our favorites,” says J. Lo) and someone named Alex Ryan. We haven’t seen the last of them! We barely saw the first.

Clint Jun Gamboa faces the judges next, and his glasses are getting on my last nerve. He seemed like he might be the type to over-sing and use all the tricks in his bag every time, but apparently he took it down a notch for his final performance. Clint has a good feeling about this, but I wonder how he’ll feel once he sees what he has to overcome in terms of editing and the repercussions of kicking Jacee out of the group.

Chapstickvillain.jpgThe judges give him a chance to defend himself, and then tell him he has made it into the Top 24. He jumps up and says, “I knew it was going to happen!” I don’t feel so bad about disliking him, and now I have reasons aside from his tiny Truman Capote glasses.

Haley Reinhart, who I have come to like, repeats the immortal words of Justin Bieber: “Everything happens for a reason.” She’s smoky and growly, but I wonder if there’s room for both her and Lauren Alaina in the top. I like her personality and personal style, but I wonder how much of her singing voice we can tolerate. Steven Tyler says, “I’m sorry but you’re through,” again (like he just discovered the art of the sike-out).

Deandre Brackensick stood out in the group round with The Minors, but is just a little too Jason Castro 2.0 this year. They tell him it’s a no, but Jennifer tells him, “Of all the people we have to let go today, I think you have the best chance at becoming a recording artist right now.” You should never take Jennifer Lopez to an animal shelter because she will adopt ALL the animals!

Paul McDonald, who we just met and who sings a little like Aaron Neville and likes to dress like an old timey bartender somtimes, is up next. His suit for his final performance was Las Vegas, Mariachi, ’70s chic. He seems polished and professional so of course he’s in. They say you can tell a man’s confidence by the pride he takes in his beard, and he knows he’s good. They don’t say that, by the way.

PaulMcDonaldmariachi.jpgAshthon Jones made an interesting choice for her final performance with, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” leaving me wonder how far she’ll go. I love her hair, though. Jennifer Lopez gets to tell Ashthon she’s in, and has anyone else noticed that Randy Jackson has been taking on most of the rejections?

“Early favorite” Chris Medina is up next. He has had some good performances and some not so good performances. His final solo audition wasn’t too hot, relatively. Chris tells the judges that his fiancee really enjoyed meeting them, and he feels blessed. Jennifer tells him that at the end of the day, it’s about singing. She has to tell him that he did not make it.

Jenniferbreakdown.jpgThen we got to see the much-anticipated Jennifer Lopez breakdown. She took it harder than Chris Medina did, and Randy ends up comforting her. It actually really endeared me to Jennifer, especially when she croaked, “I didn’t want to tell him no.” It touched me even more than Maid in Manhattan.

RandycomfortsJennifer.jpgCan Jennifer find the strength to move on or will Steven and Randy have to carry on without her? I bet she finds the strength! But we’ll have to wait and see!

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(images courtesy of FOX)

Carla Patton

Writer, BuddyTV

Originally from Seattle, Carla recently took a husband and moved to Austin, Texas, where she is finally using her television “problem” to her advantage. It’s sort of like Dexter, but boring and less murdering. Carla’s favorite shows include 30 RockThe Amazing RaceProject RunwayModern Family, anything with murder, and pretty much anything gross and weird (CSIThe BachelorToddlers & Tiaras, etc.). Favorite canceled shows include: Arrested DevelopmentVeronica Mars and Average Joe. In her spare time, Carla leads tours of downtown Austin on a Segway (don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it!), blogs about Netflix Instant, and visits elementary schools telling children they don’t need math to succeed (just kidding, stay in school, kids).