After the long slog of the Rush Week performance shows, the results show on which "American Idol" assembled its top 13 was a brisk, breezy affair.
We began the night with 10 men and 10 women. Five men and five women would form the top 10 based on the audience vote. Then the judges would select five of the remaining 10 to sing again. After some deliberation, they would choose the best three.
Bria Anai was robbed!
Ahem, sorry, that just slipped out. We'll get to that part later.
We learned quickly which lucky/talented contestants America had voted through.
As Ryan Seacrest called the names of each one, he or she leaped up, ran downstage, took a turn in the spotlight and then scooted back to sit on one of 13 stools. There was high-fiving, happy-dancing and hooting. One contestant swept Seacrest clean off his feet and swung him in the air. The audience was hollering names. It looked a lot like a game show.
The resemblance wasn't lost on Ryan Seacrest. "It's like we're playing 'The Price Is Right' here," he drily observed.
So which contestants "came on down"? The vote-selected women were Malaya Watson, Emily Piriz, Jessica Meuse, Majesty Rose and MK Nobilette. On the guy side, America voted through Ben Briley, Alex Preston, Dexter Roberts, Caleb Johnson and Sam Woolf. Fine work, America. All deserving contenders.
The judges had their work cut out for them, and they picked C.J. Harris to sing first. His take on Sam Cooke's "Bring It On Home to Me" was tonally sharp and emotionally flat -- and something was apparently off with the band -- but he still came off as likable. "It wasn't your best performance," Harry Connick Jr. told him.
Next up was Jena Irene, who performed an original song at the piano. It was spot on in every way. "Yeah! Jena! Yeah, baby," Keith Urban told her. "That was a really good use of that moment."
Then they summoned Spencer Lloyd to center stage, apparently toying with making it a white-guy straight flush in the top 13. He sang an original song called "Ordinary Girl." It made him sound like an especially ordinary singer.
"We wanted to give you another chance because we saw something in you from the beginning," Jennifer Lopez said, adding that she was "not sure this is what we would have wanted America to see."
Bria Anai was then called up, and after saying something about her heart beating out of her chest, she dug deep and sang a sultry, impassioned version of "It's a Man's Man's Man's World," going a bit off at the end, but so what? The crowd loved it. Connick, not so much.
"You definitely sang for your life, but Bria, it was all over the place," he said. "It was very, very passionate, but I think you overshot the mark." Anai left the stage looking resigned, if not dejected, and I can't say I blamed her. But would the other judges come to her rescue?
The last singer to be tapped to sing was, no, not early favorite Marrialle Sellars, but pretty nurse Kristen O'Connor. "We think there's something special in there and I hope we see it tonight," Urban said, by way of explanation. Apparently the judges saw whatever it was they were looking for in O'Connor's shouty, stagey performance of "Unconditionally," which Urban called "really good," if not in her ideal key, because O'Connor made it into the top 13, as did Jena Irene and Harris.
Anai and Lloyd headed home with five other disappointed contenders: Sellars, Briana Oakley, George Lovett, Malcolm Allen and Emmanuel Zidor. Don't let Zidor hit you on the way out, guys. (That was for you, pun-loving "Idol" judges.)
What did you think of Thursday night's results?
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