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'American Idol' recap: Beatles night, and more cuts

Here's Janell on last night's Beatles-tastic American Idol, in which we were promised a Top 24, but only got to see some of the cuts. (Uh, spoiler alert?):

Do you even know how much show they packed into this show tonight? Like, all of it. All of the show. Hardly any time for fluff pieces, even. I don't even have time to tell you what I'm going to tell you, so I'm just going to jump in and tell you.

Remember last week, when two rooms of contestants were put through to the next round, and they ran out into the giant hallway and screamed a lot? Whilst they were screaming, the judges came out and said hey, um, so all y'all jump onto a bus and let's shake this thing down to Vegas. Let's kick it Beatles-style, get in some mondo product placement, and if you survive Vegas, then we'll let you sing for us again in an airplane hangar.  Who's down with that?

Omniscient narrator Ryan Seacrest (and I just typo'd R'yan,;he should totally add a silent apostrophe) informs us that we're down to 61 contestants. They've divided up into duos and trios (so much show that we didn't even see any group-forming drama) and it looks like they randomly chose songs from a box, but then later there's talk of song choice, so let's collectively agree that that song box didn't happen. Or did it? They caravan over to the Mirage hotel, where Cirque du Soleil performs a show set to Beatles music. This is convenient because these bus-riding ne'er-do-wells need a stage on which to get their Beatles groove (on?  I've grammared myself into a corner), and this one has some random wacky stage props.

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It looks like there are a few different rehearsal rooms, with different vocal coaches. One coach is a woman named Peggi Blu, and R’yan identifies her as “the vocal coach from hell.” She’s coaching wee teenagers Thia McGia and Melinda Ademi, and she screams a lot and tells them that they will die on stage. She disowns the performance, then says, “Prove me a liar. I’ll eat crow happily, put some salt on it and swallow.” Are we allowed to like Peggi?

Now record mogul Jimmy Iovine makes his first appearance. He brings his mogul friends and they watch some rehearsals and tell people that, well, “you ain’t gonna win singing that song.”

Time for somebody to sing now, right? Let’s start with Stefano Langone and James Durbin. They rock out, groove and wail at each other while singing “Get Back.” I regret to inform you that James is still wearing a scarf tail. The judges like it (the song, not necessarily the scarf tail), and Steven says that James went “into the way-out-osphere.”

Pia Toscano and MySpace’s Karen Rodriguez (that’s how R’yan identifies her) went to a performing arts high school together. How ‘bout that? They sing “Can’t Buy Me Love.” Jennifer Lopez likes their professionalism, how they had good energy and put on a show.

Jacob Lusk (the “new star”),  Haley Reinhart, and Naima Adedapo (the stadium cleaner) sing “Long and Winding Road.” Their body language has a lot of emotional pleading, and they raise their hands in unison at the end. Like you do. The judges like it. Some vocal coach advised Jacob not to oversing it, so Randy contradicts that advice and tells Jacob to never hold back, “when in doubt, do you.”

We have a bit of a montage of excellent people, including Rachel Zevita and Lauren Turner. Tim Halperin and Julie Zorilla duet on the piano, and J.Lo loves him. He is awesome, actually. I’m upset that I don’t remember him.

Jerome Bell (wearing Randy Jackson’s bright gold sneakers), Lakeisha Lewis, and Tatynisa Wilson sing “I Saw Her Standing There.” Randy and Jennifer were underwhelmed, but Steven thought they nailed it.

Kendra Chantelle and Paul McDonald, both from Nashville, duet on “Blackbird.” She has some excessively dramatic arm reaching. He’s got a quirky, husky voice, and J.Lo shows Steven Tyler her goosebumps. Steven tells Paul that his voice is different and good.

After a brief montage of people getting funky, Randy says you’ve “gotta hand it to the Beatles.” Steven claps with one hand. Hmm, nice try, but, no.

Oh, remember Crazy Emotional Ashley Sullivan, who quit but then didn’t and then couldn’t sing because she was so crazy and emotional? She and her boyfriend are getting married at A Little White Chapel. You know, the place where Britney Spears got married. Everyone make some joke in your head about Britney’s long marriage. We’ve got too much show to get to, I can’t be bothered with this nonsense.

It’s Day 2 in Vegas. Melinda Ademi and Thia Megia sing “Here Comes the Sun.” Their allegedly mean vocal coach Peggi is in the audience, and she’s not a fan of the performance. Randy calls it shaky, J.Lo says they’re cute but not a strong combination. Peggi will not be eating crow tonight.

Suddenly, the red interview couch appears! R’yan couch chats with Emotional Ashley Suraiva formerly known as Sullivan and Sophia Shorai. They sing “We Can Work it Out,” but they changed the tempo and I didn’t really recognize it. It almost worked, but Randy speaks the truth when he says it was not hot.

Lauren Alaina, Denise Jackson, and Cowboy Scotty are up next. They sing “Hello, Goodbye” and they all come out of a phone booth, and at the end they run around it. Acting! Brilliant! Well, the judges give them credit for trying.

My nerdy boyfriend Carson Higgins does some rock screaming with Caleb Howley. Casey Abrams and Chris Medina jump on a bed while playing guitars.

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Finally, Robbie Rosen, Aaron Sanders, and Jordan Dorsey sing “Get You Into My Life.” (Am I messing up the actual song titles? I very well could be, sorry.) They are kind of sexy and funky, oh yeah. The judges are really impressed.

Now the performances are over. What happens next? Everyone is magically lifted onto the stage, and the judges do some fierce cutting. Hey, we lost White House Intern Girl! At least I won’t have to wonder about her anymore. Hey, they cut my nerdy boyfriend Carson Higgins! I feel anchorless. Hey, they cut Emotional Ashley Sullivan aka something else! I’m OK with that. Relieved, actually.

Chop, chop, show, keep it moving. The Top 40 now go back to L.A. R’yan introduces us to a giant airplane hangar where epic things will happen. I fail to see the product placement opportunities in an airplane hangar. Then the show rolls the credits again, because you might have missed what’s been going down. I’ll tell you what’s been going down: stuff. Stuff has been going down. Stuff has gone down and shaken hands with other stuff that is down, that is how down the stuff has been going. Oh, the credits remind me that Nigel Lythgoe is an executive producer, and I forgot to mention that I think I saw his mop of unruly hair onstage in Vegas a few times. He was all, “Watch me executive produce this in your face!”

Then, while I’ve still been contemplating the downitude of all the stuff, Naima Adedapo walks the entire length of the airplane hangar and suddenly the judges put her in the Top 24. Wow, that was right to the point. Naima walks back while the judges congratulate themselves on giving her a shot.

You know how sometimes in the past the judges have been sitting behind a desk, in a room at the top of a tall building, and the contestants ride the Elevator of Judgment? Things are horizontal now, baby. No private elevator, just an exposed, well-lit path straight up to the judges’ platform, where they’re all just sitting back. No desk,

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because then we wouldn’t get to see J.Lo’s awesome shoes, or Steven’s confusing Mary Jane-esque loafers. And now the contestants can’t keep it together and then freak out in the elevator, because there is nowhere to hide. Hmm, I suddenly wonder if they eliminated the elevator so someone in post-production wouldn’t try to play “Love in an Elevator” over a montage of happy people in an elevator. Wise choice.

With that stage set, Holly Cavanagh is next on the cavernous Stage of Judgment. I’m confused by her accent, she’s vaguely Southern but then drops some r’s like she’s British. We see a bit of her final hangar performance, and she wore a lot of glitter eyeshadow as a tribute to J.Lo. She does not make it. Then J.Lo says that she was out-voted, and in a year or two Holly could come back and win. The judges get to watch Holly cry her way out of the hangar.

Alex Ryan is cut. Lakeisha Lewis is cut.

Clint “Junebug,” the novelty eyeglass frame-wearing karaoke host who ruthlessly cut Babyface Jacee from his group on group night (the show will never forget, Clint) is put through.

Hailey Reinhart comes in. She tried out last year, didn’t make it. This year, she’s in! Steven kind of fumbles the “I hate to say this, but you’re a yes” line.

DeAndre Brackensick was in the stage-mom group The Minors, and he can do a good falsetto, quirky voice. But he’s a no. He’s only 16, J.Lo tells him to come back harder and stronger.

Paul McDonald is described as the “laid back musician.” He’s folksy, with a soft gravelly voice. During his final solo in the hangar, he wore a loud floral suit and sang an original song, which worries me. He has very white teeth. They put him in the Top 24. When he comes out, he says he’s got a lot of work to do in the next few weeks. Wow, has anyone ever done homework before the live shows? I’m kind of excited to see what his preparation yields.

Ashthon Jones stood out in her group, and Jennifer calls her consistent. She makes it. J.Lo: “Ooh, she made me emotional!” Then Ashthon fakes out her mom, and poor mom screams and falls on the floor.

Now it’s Chris Medina, who is the caretaker for his fiancee Juliana. His final hangar solo was Coldplay’s “Fix You,” with the melody really changed around. While he chats with the judges, he says that Juliana is more popular than him now, and she loved meeting all of them. J.Lo is in charge of this one, and she tries to get to the point quickly and says that he didn’t make it. Whoa, did anyone see that coming? Not to be too cynical, but I thought they would put him through for his story alone. I’m surprised and impressed that the judges made that decision. Anyway, he takes it well, gets hugs and kisses from everyone, and walks away. R'yan actually looks shocked when he finds out.

Meanwhile, J.Lo melts down. She tries to hold it together, but she’s crying and worries that she didn’t tell him in the right way, and she didn’t want to tell him no. She says she doesn’t want to do it anymore. And… to be continued.

Well. One could get all snooty and say, “Way to make it all about you, J.Lo, how do you think Chris feels?” But I’m not going there. Chris has had a lot to deal with in his life, he knows how to move on, he’ll be OK. Jennifer just had a bad day at work, and I would totally cry, too.

Tomorrow night: Ryan questions whether Jennifer will have the strength to continue, or if Steven and Randy will finish on their own. It’s the “most dramatic final judgment ever.” The fates of Adorable Tomato Brett, Babyface Jacee, Cowboy Scotty, Rocker James, and several other un-nicknamed contestants will be decided. Are you ready? Well, are you, punk?

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