American Idol Top 30 Announcement Recap: Side-Eye at the Not-Quite-OK Corral [Updated]

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It seems like only yesterday that Candice Glover was singing her victory rendition of “I Am Beautiful” while trying not to get confetti in her mouth, nose and eyes. (Feel free to throw a Gospel hand if that memory inevitably moves you to the brink of tears. And don’t you dare leave me hangin’ misty-eyed all by my lonesome, fellow Idoloonies!)

And yet here we are, nine months later, with a mere 31 contestants left in the running to win Season 13 of American Idol. Time flies when you’re having fun yelling “What in the name of what?” at your TV screen.

Yes indeed, that sound you hear is the first needle screeching across Harry Connick Jr. J.Lo and Keith Urban’s fairly pristine record thus far on the Season 13 panel. Briston Maroney, Ethan Harris and Jordan Brisbane over David Oliver Willis and Savion Wright? For serious real? And how the heck did Sarina Joi Crowe get booted on the basis of that terrific rendition of “Wrecking Ball,” while Marrialle Sellars’ version was notably inferior? I thought Harry said he wanted this year to be an unpredictable dogfight!

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We all know what happened, of course. This was the episode where exec producer Per Blankens & Co. began to suggest possible story arcs that will be turned into grating hashtags at the lower left hand of our screens between now and late May.

“We are the ‘Bama Boys!” shouted CJ Harris, Casey Thrasher and Dexter Roberts — three talented fellas linked by their state of origin. Jen Asciutto is being positioned as the “sleeper” — even though her original ballad was so hauntingly beautiful that it seems kind of ludicrous not to send her directly to the Top 13 (without passing “Go” and without collecting any objectionable tips from in-house mentor Randy Jackson).

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When you’re a storyteller, though — which all reality TV producers are, in the end — Rule No. 1 is “Edit, edit, edit.” In a conference room somewhere in Los Angeles, you just know there was a lengthy discussion about creating the correct ratio of true contenders to absolute cannon fodder. And somewhere in that vortex of fuzzy math and lack of faith in the voting public, Savion and David and Sarina (and Sandie Lee — who sounded quite good in the 11 seconds of singing we got to hear this season) got cut.

It’s easy to blame the judges — but deep down, that just feels like shooting the highly paid, incredibly good-looking messengers. Out of Sight notwithstanding, J.Lo’s not such a great actress that her face didn’t betray the fact that some of tonight’s decisions didn’t sit quite right with her.

But outrage is a longstanding part of the Idol process — along with elation, sadness, befuddlement, couch-dancing and speed-dialing. And so we wake in the morning and we step outside, we take a deep breath… and realize we’re accidentally quoting 4 Non-Blondes to try to come to terms with our emotions. Gack!

Shall we sweve abruptly and get to the facts? Yes!

Women Sent Through to the Top 31 on Thursday’s Episode
Austin Wolfe
Brandy Neelly
Briana Oakley
Jena Asciutto
Kenzie Hall
Majesty Rose
Marrialle Sellars

Men Sent Through to the Top 31 on Thursday’s episode
Briston Maroney
C.J. Harris
Caleb Johnson
Casey Thrasher
Ethan Harris

Left in Limbo
Neco Starr and Ben Briley — with fans voting online to advance one (and only one) of ‘em to next week’s “Rush Week” performances

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Eliminated on Camera
Sarina Joi Crowe
Nalani Quintello
David Oliver Willis
Savion Wright

Eliminated Without Any On-Camera Mention
Megan Miller
Paula Hunt
Munfarid Zaidi
And as Twitter follower @SpencerCoile notes, what the heck happened to Paisley Van Patten?

Before we get to a reminder of who made it through Wednesday — you can read the full recap of that episode here, BTW — as well as two handy scientific polls where you can vote for your faves, some additional observations on the Thursday hour:

* It’s time to call a moratorium on contestants singing Grace Potter’s “Stars.” There, I said it.

* The show has eased up a bit on pushing Marrialle Sellars as the runaway front-runner, but honestly, I thought her final solo put the “wreck” in wrecking ball — even if the bellowing background singers threw her off her game. Yeah, she looks the part of a pop star, but I’m still unconvinced she’s mastered the audio part of the equation.

* Here’s hoping we get to hear the full version of Jena Asciutto’s original ballad during the live shows. I can’t say I know what a hit sounds like anymore — otherwise, wouldn’t “Hit the Ground Running” be a No. 1? — but I’d buy it on iTunes tomorrow if I could.

* It’s got to bode very badly for Caleb Johnson that 80% of viewers tonight voted before the commercial break that he’d be getting the boot based on his big, growly cover of “Radioactive.” If the judges take that number into account, he might be one of the contestants booted before he gets to deliver a single note on Wednesday.

* BREAKING NEWS: Majesty Rose forgot some of her lyrics in her final solo performance of “Stars.” I don’t know how to feel about this, so I’m gonna concentrate on her adorbs crocheted sweater instead, OK?

* So Harry Connick Jr. gives Briston Maroney this whole spiel about how he wasn’t ready for the big time till he was 18 — and then puts the kid through to the live shows at age 15? Does. Not. Compute. Especially based on the teenager’s whiny rendition of “Let Her Go” (done so much better by Cole Vosbury last year on The Voice).

* I’m stoked that Briana and Brandy both advanced — despite being called in front of the judges together. Yeah, I’ve got a soft spot for returning contestants, but their respective takes on “Up to the Mountain” and “My Kind of Love” were pretty darn spotless.

* Kenzie Hall’s “Your Song”? Rated Y…for Yikes.

* I’m gonna say something possibly controversial: I didn’t love-love Savion Wright’s final solo — from a vocal or a songwriting standpoint. But his overall body of work certainly seemed strong enough to earn him a spot in the voting rounds over Jordan or Briston or Emmanuel, no? I mean, why not give every single slot to a srrrrrrrious contender, rather than waste space on obvious cannon fodder?

* Loved seeing Sandie head-bob during Austin’s spot-on “Radioactive.” Hated seeing her have to put on a brave face after Austin beat her out for the final spot among the Top 15 women.

* I know Ben Briley’s probably going to prevail over the underexposed Neco Starr for the final spot among the Top 15 guys, but that’s not gonna stop me from writing a strongly worded tweet asking Fox to open up the voting to include David, Savion and maybe Paisley van Patten and Megan Miller while we’re at it! (OK, it’s not that strongly worded, but it’s hard to fit all that info in 140 characters and maintain a haughty attitude!)

Women Sent Through to the Top 31 on Wednesday (a quick reminder!)
Andrina Brogden
Bria Anai
Emily Piriz
Jessica Meuse
Jillian Jensen
Kristen O’Connor
M.K. Nobilette
Malaya Watson

Men Sent Through to the Top 31 on Wednesday (a quick reminder!)
Alex Preston
Dexter Roberts
Emmanuel Zidor
George Lovett
Jordan Brisbane
Malcolm Allen
Maurice Townsend
Sam Woolf
Spencer Lloyd

With that, I turn it over to you.

What did you think of Night 2 of The Green Mile? Which singers stood out for you? Which cuts had you dialing 911 and reporting a robbery? And have you already got a favorite heading into the Live Rounds? Take our polls below, then sound off in the comments!




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