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'American Idol' picks the top 12 ... or 13?

MB1_7540 After the last wild-card candidate sang and before the judges hashed out their decision on who they'd rescue from the beyond to continue in the next round, judge Randy Jackson said: "This is the toughest night ever."

Earlier, Jennifer Lopez announced she was full-on trembling -- more nervous than when she herself performs.

And, OK, sure, "American Idol" is all about dramatic hyperbole, but no doubt about it, this was one intense night of "Idol."

First, one by one, host Ryan Seacrest introduced us to our final 10, selected based on 40 million votes collected over the last two nights.

They were …

The men: Scotty McCreery, James Durbin, Paul McDonald, Casey Abrams and Jacob Lusk.

The women: Pia Toscano, Lauren Alaina, Karen Rodriguez, Thia Megia and Haley Reinhart.

Fine picks, America!

But then things got really exciting in the wild-card round.

Here's how it worked: The judges could pick as many of the 14 contestants the voters had left behind to give them a chance to sing for their survival. Cue a whole flurry of "it's all on the line" pronouncements, and for once, the do-or-die hype seemed justified.

The judges selected three men -- Stefano Langone, Jovany Barreto and Robbie Rosen -- and three women -- Ashton Jones, Kendra Chantelle and Naima Adedapo -- to reprise any song they'd already sung in competition. And pretty much every single one of the hopefuls sang as if he or she was scrambling for the last life raft on the Titanic.

Ashton attacked "And I Am Telling You" from "Dreamgirls." Stefano sang a pure, sweet "I Need You Now." Kendra gave her all to "Georgia on My Mind." Jovany begged for mercy with "Angel." Naima sang "For All We Know" with a devotion that left her in tears. And Robbie reminded us why "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word."

For a moment there, it seemed as if the judges might never make a decision -- and as we sat through Jennifer Lopez's new video, the tension built. Finally, two names were called out ... and then another.

The last three singers to swim to safety and end up gasping and relieved on the finalists side of the stage were Ashton (OK!), Stefano (Hooray!) and Naima (Thank goodness -- I was so worried she'd have to go back to cleaning toilets!).

And there you have it: the lucky 13.

Were your favorites among them? Were you shocked? Relieved? What did you think of Thursday night's show? The comments section and I await your input.


Is Steven Tyler the reason for "American Idol"'s ratings stamina this season?

Top 12 ladies take their turns

Top 12 men take the stage

Full Show Tracker coverage of "American Idol"

-- Amy Reiter

Photo: Paul McDonald, selected by "American Idol" voters as one of this season's top finalists, performs on "Idol" on March 1. Credit: Michael Becker / Fox

Comments () | Archives (24)

Question: Was part of Jovany's final song in Spanish or Italian?

Based solely on the nights performances top 5:
1. Pia 2. Lauren T. 3. Lauren A. 4. Thia Megia 5. Tie between Naima and Karen. Not feeling Ashton based on the evenings performance. It was a pitchy and unconfident performance and she did herself no favors constantly responding to the judges critique. Not that she was disagreeing but it never pays to say anything other than one thank you at the very end of the judges critique.

I love the show! it is better than ever! I am pretty happy with the top 13, even though I love Brett, I understand that it wasn't his time.. he is still too young... I am sure in a few years he will be a killer!

I thought Robbie Rosen sang absolutely beautifully. He would have been my pick over Naima and Ashton. I would have sent Robbie and Stefano ahead. Stefano was brilliant! Great show! And J Lo is the absolute bomb.

For a moment there, it seemed as if the judges might never make a decision -- and as we sat through Jennifer Lopez's new video, the tension built.

I wanna know: why?

Julie deserved another chance although did not care for her saying she wished she could perform last night with her guitar (sounds like an excuse, or basically saying I CAN do a Kelly Clarkson song ....with my guitar.)...Not the point. May have been what sunk her.

Heck of a lineup although, Ashton's pandering doesn't translate to "Diva" for me. I groaned every time....really annoying. Didn't think she deserved it.

My dark horse favorite is James Durbin, takes guts to do a Judas Priest song on Idol...and do it so well, although I think his fan base will shrink as the field gets smaller.

I like the two youngster girls, Lauren and Thia, who are soo talented and have an infinite of possibilities ahead of them. Just maybe not yet, but wow what a future.

The Winner? Casey Abrams. Talent, Impeccable Attitude and Timing, Humor, Self effacing and is able to fuse musical talent and vocals into unexpected and refreshing deliveries. He seems to have the talent that crosses all niches, races and tastes.

It's his time.

Best performer of this round - Pia Toscano. Beautiful. Stellar, even.

Next up - Casey Abrams, James Durbin, Scott McCreery and Jacob Lusk. Throw in Lauren Alaina as the only other stellar performing female - and there you have it.

What a year when you can be at this point and know that it would okay and alright if any of the above won.

Best season yet. Best ever.


I am with you about Robbie! Tonight he lost the nerves and just went out there and sang his heart out! That is the Robbie that I know and love. I was with him on every single note and so proud that he sang his best. That's all he could do.

I don't think Ashthon should have been given a wild card. Honestly, voices like hers are a dime a dozen. She has that diva, strutting the stage thing going on, but I don't like the tone in her voice. I am surprised that they didn't let Lauren Turner sing for a wild card.

The one surprise in the top ten was Haley. I am not all that impressed by her. The mannerisms when she sings absolutely drive me crazy. I would have traded Haley and Ashthon for Kendra and Lauren Turner. That's really the only major issue I have. I knew that the four girls who had that bluesy, soul r&b singing style couldn't all get into the finals. It was only going to be one or two and I think the wrong two got in the finals.

At least Robbie went out on a high note and showed America just how great he can sing.

Ashton was a mistake! She is not as good as she thinks she is.My pick CASEY!!!! all the way.


For a few seconds there, I thought the judges were going to put all 6 thru and we'd have a Top 16. Glad to see Stefano make it, he totally deserved it, and I was really pulling for Robbie too. I actually liked Kendra better than Naima and Ashthon, but I'm happy with the group they have. So much stellar talent this year, it's going to be a great run to the finish!

Casey Abrams is the new Taylor Hicks! Let's go soul patrol Jacob Lusk as the new Sylvester, disco queen! lol.

I like Ashton..but she needs to prove to me that she can do more, in order to get my vote. I think she's a great singer, but I did not like the song she sang on the ladies night. But I do think she deserved to be in there. I think if Ashton and Naima weren't in the bottom, I don't think they would've picked 13. I am really happy with the 13...I am just a little bummed that Julie Z. or Tim H. weren't in there.
I love Thia! I'm so glad she got in by fan vote. I have loved Casey from day one and I hope he takes the whole thing!

I really thought there was a top 10 out of the 24. Although it was hard not to see Stefano make it at first, I really don't think he has the range to ultimately last a long time in this competition. It is clear to me that the girls have the edge on this years talent pool.

Thanks Obama! This is the best you could do?

The panic attacks by Clint was hilarious. Karma got the best of this drama queen. If you don't get picked by the American voters, don't look surprised and shocked. Back to the karaoke bars for you Clint! Somewhere out there, that fat kid is smiling.

casey and jacob are the two most talented contestants ever on the show, except for adam lambert. adam is the most talented contestant ever. paul is unique and no matter where he places. he will have a career. hope he is in the top 10 so i can see him on the am idol tour this year. i assume casey and jacob will be in the top 10.

steven tyler is the real deal, and he is, contrary to how it seemed before the show aired, an amazingly cool judge.... best judge ever. and he is nice, too.

adam lambert will be on the show on march 10th, and then people (who are not glamberts, like me) will be reminded of adam's incredible voice and showmanship. ideal outcome: duet with steven tyler (i wish!).

I'm so happy America showed Clint you can't treat anyone so rudely and expect to be rewarded for it!! The look on his face said it all. He sealed his fate during the groups competition....moron.

I hope one of the girls wins it. Casey Abrams is in the mold of the last three winners and won't sell any albums. Durbin is just a screamer and McCreery is one note while Lusk is a good singer but overly dramatic. Ashton and Naima won't win because most of the voters are tweens and teens.

How in the world Kendra didn't make it in I have no idea. She was easily one of the most consistent of all the singers.

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