'American Idol' recap: The top 13 are revealed
And so, America, you have picked your top 13 contestants for "American Idol," Season 11. Or rather, you picked 10 singers and judges Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler (or more likely just Jackson and Lopez, with Tyler merely nodding and uttering the word "beautiful") picked three "wild card" contestants to round things out.
At the end of the night, as the last of the booted wannabes were briskly dismissed by Ryan Seacrest with a curt "What a night. Thank you very much. You may exit" (try that at your next dinner party), I found myself left with a few important questions:
Where has Jimmy Iovine been all season long? Didn't he know how desperately we needed him? Why didn't we realize how desperately we needed him? Also, why did we actually bother voting? Why didn't we just let Jimmy Iovine make the decisions for us? Because he called the results, if not 100% perfectly (two words: Heejun Han -– though "American Comedian" isn't a bad idea for a show), then pretty darn close.
Yes, my friends, the judge we've been waiting for all season long has finally arrived: the one who actually seems to know his stuff, musically, and have a clear sense of good and bad, listenable and unlistenable, cheesy and genuine; the one who's not afraid to tell it like it is; the one whose opinion, even if it doesn't always completely match ours, makes sense and doesn't contain the word "goosies" or "yo" or "beautiful." (Those are three pretty good cue words for an "American Idol" drinking game, no? Though I'd actually suggest the phrase "Jennifer, whachu think, Jennifer?")
Welcome back, Jimmy! (Please don't leave us alone with those three kooky judges again.)
So anyway, halfway or so through the two-hour results show, after Seacrest had to read "after the nationwide vote" who knows how many times, we were left with our top 10 contestants. They were …
And -- the evening's only real surprise -- "gentle giant" Jermaine Jones, who was eliminated in the last round and then (for reasons that are still somewhat mysterious) brought back by the judges to compete.
The judges were then able to invite six of the 15 remaining contestants to sing for the last three slots.
First up was Jen Hirsh, who had been a favorite coming out of Hollywood Week, but who hadn't sparkled in the first night of live competition. Out to prove she could stand out from the pack, she tackled "Oh! Darling" by the Beatles, earning measured praise from the judges. Oh, well.
"Nice boy" Jeremy Rosado –- or Jer Bear, as Lopez now likes to call him -– sang a Carrie Underwood song so hard he cried. Lopez cried too, but tried her best not to show her cards too soon when Seacrest probed for a response.
Brielle Von Hugel (ugh, her?) managed to get in what would prove to be one last reference to herself in the third person, and then sang a karaoke-esque version of Adele's "Someone Like You." Bad song choice. Why must people try to sing Adele? Really, no one sings Adele like Adele. And people who try to sing Adele like Adele end up only proving how much they pale in comparison to Adele. Anyhow, thank goodness even the judges didn't like Von Hugel's performance. "I'm really sorry, baby," Tyler said. When even he can't muster a "beautiful," well … At least he didn't tell her she looked pretty.
Judge fave and accomplished hair flipper DeAndre Brackensick sang "Georgia on My Mind" –- really, how many times must we hear that song each season? -– and when I woke up the judges were using words like "dynamic" and "fire" and "greatness."
Erika Van Pelt then really woke us all up with Lady Gaga's "Edge of Glory," proving to the judges and the audience and the rest of us that she deserves to stay in the game. Jackson pulled out his trademark excited finger-point move, and Tyler exclaimed, "Out of the park, baby. Out of the park!"
Then Reed Grimm proved that America knew what it was doing when it kept him out of the top 10, turning in a truly weird version of Bill Withers' "Use Me" that for some reason required the removal of one of his shirts. The judges looked vaguely alarmed (really, who didn't?), and Jackson declared that Grimm was "unique and very different." Only Tyler seemed to genuinely enjoy Grimm's peculiar shenanigans, declaring them to be -– you guessed it -– "beautiful."
So if, at the end of it all, you, like me, predicted Van Pelt, Brackensick and Rosado would get those three remaining top 13 seats, and that Lopez would be the one to deliver the news to Rosado? Well, you were right.
But did you predict that clinch between Lopez and Rosado? Or the ones between Rosado and the other judges? Yeah, me neither.
Wonder what Jimmy Iovine thought of it …
What do you think of the top 13? Do you think America and the judges picked the right people to go through?
-- Amy Reiter
Photo: The final 13 contestants, front row left to right, Hollie Cavanaugh, Skylar Laine and DeAndre Brackensick, back row left to right, Colton Dixon, Elise Testone, Jeremy Rosado, Joshua Ledet, Jermaine Jones, Jessica Sanchez, Shannon Magrane, Heejun Han and Phillip Phillips. Credit: Kevin Winter / Getty Images.