Clint Jun Gamboa
But how did we get there?
Like a true professional, J.Lo pulls it together from last night's meltdown to tell MySpace Karen Rodriguez her fate. Karen isn't from any place in the world, just FYI. She's a computer being from the land of MySpace. At her last performance, Karen does a Selena song in her beautiful alto voice and J.Lo mouths the words, it's a Very Special Moment and Karen gets through.
Now up is Robbie Rosen, who is totally the real-life version of Guy Smiley. He does "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word" and the judges just love his unassuming dorky smiley face.
7 down, 17 to go. For a recap, we have Naima Adedapo, Haley Reinhart, Clint Jun Gamboa, Paul McDonald, Ashthon Jones, Karen Rodriguez and Robbie Rosen.
Up next is Tatynisa Wilson, with her gorgeous big hair and her scary "I Hope You Dance" from Hollywood. Her final performance was "Unbreak My Heart" and the snippet I heard just didn't do it for me. I bet she's gone. But then she's in the Top 24! Color me surprised. She's the first person I've really thought "cannon fodder" about.
If you are unfamiliar with how this show works, I happen to subscribe to the theory that the show doesn't entirely trust the American public, so when they form the semi-finalists, they put a few kids in there who are total gimmes, as in the public doens't know they and/or they aren't that strong, so they are easy outs to ensure that someone else advances. Hence the term "cannon fodder." I feel like Tatynisa is cannon fodder.
They spend like 10 seconds cutting Brittany Mazur and Jimmy Allen (yeah, who?), then move on to Timothy Halperin, who did the amazing "Something" with Julie Zorrilla in Las Vegas. More of that performance, please.
He does an original song at his last performance and it's very in the Lifehouse/Coldplay lane, which is right on for his voice. He gets through and I am excited to see what he does.
Speaking of "Something," Julie Zorrilla is next and she makes it through. Of course she does. Julie's great. She's got just a smidge of that Lea Michele cockiness going on, but not toooooo much. She's gonna have to watch it, though.
Ryan meets with the two cowboys Scotty McCreery and John Wayne Schulz before they are brought in. Honestly, they are putting them together because they're both Southern. They don't really sound alike and I really hope they both go through.
For the last performance, Scotty does "Long Black Train" and ... it's so good. He will struggle with other genres for sure, but GOD he has an amazing country voice. I mean, holy crap on a stick! He brings tears to my eyes. No, he can't sing Usher or Gaga or whatever, but in his wheelhouse he is phenomenal.
Unfortunately, John Wayne is cut in the face of Scotty's triumph. Aw, that stinks. You can't have two country guys? It's not like they sound anything alike! That is a bummer, I thought JW had a great voice too.
Jovany Barreto is next and his final performance is "Angel" by Jon Secada and it's very pretty, plus he's the Latin lover archetype, so good for him. The mariachi band strains come up as he celebrates his victory into the Top 24.
That's 12 so far - Naima Adedapo, Haley Reinhart, Clint Jun Gamboa, Paul McDonald, Ashthon Jones, Karen Rodriguez, Robbie Rosen, Julie Zorrilla, Tim Halperin, Scotty McCreery, Tatynisa Wilson and Jovany Barreto. We're halfway there.
For the second half of the FINAL JUDGMENT (Seacrest's emphasis, not mine), we kick things off with Lauren Turner. She did "Steal Away," an old Etta James tune, for her last performance and despite being up and down, the judges put her through.
The judges then cut Tiwan Strong and Erin Kelly in a very unceremonious dumping, which leads into Rachel Zevita, a little sprite that Seacrest seems to be rooting for. She's been into trying out for "Idol" since season 6, which it's like - was she 7 years old back then? WTF?
Her last performance was "Speechless" by gaga and it's .... interesting. Hmm. They put her through in a terrible fake-out, with J.Lo screaming, "We want Rachel!" Hmm. Jury's still out on this one.
The next one is Kendra Chantelle, even after doing "Fallin'" for her last audition, which is the song that got her a golden ticket in the first place, but is kind of dated and overplayed at this point, honestly. She says to the judges there are things they haven't heard her do yet, which it's like - really? WHY NOT?! But she gets through anyway.
By my count, that's nine women through and only six men. There are only three girls spots left, y'all.
Up now is Jordan Dorsey and I hope he's not through. He's a fine singer, but kind of an ugly person, so blech. His final audition is "So High" and I don't love it, but the judges seem to. Then they talk to him so long that you know he's going through. Ugh. Fine.
"Winter's-Bone"-meets-Branson Lauren Alaina is up now, decked out for the square dancing contest, and we all know she's through right? 'Cause she is super popular already and can sing. Her final performance is "Unchained Melody" and it's beautiful. And then she's through. Duh.
Also lucky is Stefano Langone, who does an original song for his final performance. He's a little firecracker, I'm excited to see what he does.
For those of you keeping score at home, we're at Naima Adedapo, Haley Reinhart, Clint Jun Gamboa, Paul McDonald, Ashthon Jones, Karen Rodriguez, Robbie Rosen, Julie Zorrilla, Tim Halperin, Scotty McCreery, Tatynisa Wilson, Jovany Barreto, Lauren Turner, Rachel Zevita, Kendra Chantelle, Jordan Dorsey, Lauren Alaina and Stefano Langone.
So there are six spots left. And only two of those are girls. This is gettin' real, yo.
Jackie Wilson is one of those girls left who does not make the cut, which is too bad because she's got a big voice. Her love did not lift her higher than she's ever been lifted before or make the Statue of Liberty crash into Manhattan.
Crazypants gentle giant Jacob Lusk does "A Song for You" for his final performance and it's a bit overwrought, but that's Jacob's thing, so whatever. In his judges time before the final judgment, Randy says Jacob's "God Bless the Child" is the single greatest performance they've ever had on "Idol." Hmmm. I wouldnt' go that far, but Jacob will be crazy fun to watch. He grabs Seacrest and twirls him around like a ragdoll, so that's fun.
There are five. spots. left. I'm hoping for Pia Toscano, Thia Megia, Brett Loewenstern, Colton Dixon and Casey Abrams, but that leaves James Durbin and Jacee Badeaux out. Hmmm.
Pia Toscano is up first with a wonderful "Doesn't Mean Anything" for her final performance. She's through, duh. She's the Paris Tassin who didn't screw up in Hollywood.
James Durbin is up next and his last solo is a lot of screaming but in there I hear "A Change is Gonna Come." I really am not sold on him, but we all know he's going through. Hmph. So who does that leave out? Probably Brett and Jacee, in favor of Colton and Casey.
That's fine for Jacee because he's a baby, but a bummer for Brett.
Casey Abrams gets through next, after a sexy performance of "Why Don't You Do Right," which is most famous as being from "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" and that's awesome. Casey Abrams for President. Seriously, how great and creative was that?
Now we are down to Brett/Colton/Jacee for the last guy spot and Thia Megia/some Jessica girl for the last girl spot. Well, it's gotta be Thia because who is this Jessica girl? Thia's last performance was "You Raise Me Up" and Jessica - oh my god, this was her seventh time auditioning and she made it to the Chair of Doom last year. Dear god. Girlfriend, if you have that much time/confidence, why don't you just move to LA and try to be a star? Good lord.
It's Jessica's birthday, which she tells the judges and they don't care, they cut her. Heh. She's super classy in her exit interview, flipping two birds to the camera. I mean, I get it but like - have some dignity and just leave.
The last tense moment is Jacee Badeaux, Brett Loewenstern and Colton Dixon. As far as this competition goes, I think Colton is the most ready. Brett would be a very bold choice. Hacee would get his face eaten off, so please send him home.
For his last song, Jacee sings a very prophetic and very beautiful "Gone Too Soon." Brett does an original song about his personal struggles and the sentiment is raw and wonderful, but - there's no way, dude. Colton does "Paramore" and it's gorgeous. He is clearly the most ready for the "Idol" machine.
But "Idol" curveball! Brett goes through! Wow.