It's been a long and winding road to get to this point on "American Idol." Endless auditions, endless Nicki Minaj wigs and weaves, and an endless succession of boob-bearing outfits from Mariah Carey. Not to mention a whole lot of "ladybug" and "baby boy" contestant nicknames, courtesy of the judges. But the Top 10 is finally set and coming soon to a summer tour near you.
While judges Keith Urban, Nicki Minaj, Randy Jackson, and Mariah Carey have made all of the elimination decisions up until now, America made the most brutal cuts of the season when 10 out of 20 contestants were sent packing following the first week of live shows.
The biggest surprise this season? The best singers actually made it through -- given the goofy gender quota, that is. Not a Sanjaya in the bunch, as America didn't vote for the worst.
Paul Jolley, Burnell Taylor, Curtis Finch Jr., Devin Velez, and Lazaro Arbos made the cut on the boys' side, while Janelle Arthur, Amber Holcomb, Angie Miller Candice Glover, and Kree Harrison advanced on the girls' side. One has to wonder if the voting had turned out differently, would producers have pulled a wildcard slot out of their back pocket to save face? Thankfully it wasn't needed, and we can get on with the important business of finding the next "American Idol."
With America's votes tallied (nearly 39 million of them, 10 million more than last year at this time thanks to the misleading SuperVote which allows viewers to log 50 votes at once), the biggest upsets went to Zoanette Johnson and Charlie Askew. The quirky singers were the top picks on the website Vote For The Worst: A site that's helped skew "Idol" votes since 2004 by campaigning to bring the "worst" singers to the end of the show. (According to Entertainment Weekly, VFTW is actually shutting down at the end of this season, citing "American Idol's" refusal to stay relevant.)
While some fans will miss the turtle-toting Askew, his butchering of the Genesis classic "Mama" wasn't forgiven by voters. (His on-stage mini meltdown surely garnered him sympathy, but it wasn't enough.) Ditto for Zoanette Johnson, whose on-stage antics seemed straight out of a comedy act. Clearly, America wasn't laughing.
Past "Idol" winners took to Twitter to post congrats to the newly-minted Top 10, with Carrie Underwood tweeting, "Congratulations to the @AmericanIdol top 10! You are going to have a blast on tour. I can't wait to meet all of you! Welcome to the family!"
Season 6 winner Jordin Sparks advised the finalists to "Keep your heads on straight & soak it all in!"
Meanwhile, a melancholy Nicki Minaj tweeted, "I'll miss Charlie & Cortez."
"American Idol" airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8 PM ET on FOX.
More from this contributor:Life after 'Idol': What the former judges have to say