After weeks of grueling competition, Wednesday night's installment of "American Idol" finally began the task of winnowing down the remaining 42 contestants to the Top 24. Next week, those lucky 24 will go on to sing for America's vote for the first time this season.
On Wednesday 14 contestants were given the go-ahead; the remaining 10 will be revealed Thursday night. The show ended on a cliffhanger, as Adam Brock, the soulful, bearded guy with the baby daughter, waited to hear if he'd made it through.
Despite its two-hour length, there wasn't much singing during the episode. Instead, each contestant's "Idol" journey was painstakingly recapped as they took the long, slow walk to the circular, water-surrounded stage of the Le Reve theater, located inside the Wynn Las Vegas resort. There, they faced Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler, learned their fate, and tried not to be distracted by the fact that the reflections of the water and lights off of J-Lo's sequined dress were turning her chin green.
Occasionally, viewers were treated to bits and pieces of the contestants' sudden death performances, where they had one last chance to sing before their final judgment. For example, Colton Dixon, the Mohawked guy whose sister was cut after Vegas week, performed Coldplay's "Fix You." He dedicated the tune to her, and told the judges he wished she had made it too.
Viewers also learned new things about some contestants. For example, viewers found out Creighton Fraker was adopted, and his biological father was the lead singer of Flotsam and Jetsam, an '80s thrash metal band whose lineup once included future Metallica bass player Jason Newsted. Creighton learned that when he was 25 years old.
With few exceptions, the contestants viewers have seen a lot of over the past few weeks were all told they had made it through, while those who were never or barely seen on camera before got the axe. Of course, the lucky ones learned they had advanced only after being mentally tortured by the three judges, who would hem and haw and pretend the person hadn't made it before finally telling them they were part of the top 24.
This year's spotlighted crop of returning contestants, who had been cut in past seasons of Idol, finally made it through. They included Colton Dixon; blonde country singer Baylie Brown, who first tried out in season 6, and Brielle Von Hugel, the girl with the bossy mom who got cut last year after singing with eventual season 10 finalist Pia Toscano.
The funniest line of the night came from Heejun Han, the deadpan guy who spent most of the last few weeks dissing bossy cowboy Richie Law behind his back. Richie got cut, and as Heejun went to learn his fate, he said that if he didn't made it, he would hug Jennifer Lopez and kiss her, because "that's every Asian man's dream right there." Luckily, Heejun made it through, sparing viewers the sight of him attempting to forcibly lock lips with J-Lo.
Here's a rundown of who has made it through to the Top 24 so far:
Jen Hirsh Creighton Fraker Joshua Ledet Haley Johnsen Elise Testone Reed Grimm Erika Van Pelt Chelsea Sorrell Baylie Brown Heejun Han Jessica Sanchez Phil Phillips Colton Dixon Brielle Von Hugel
Here's who got cut:
Lauren Gray (the one true surprise elimination of the night) Blaire Sieber Naomi Gillier Neco Starr Clayton Farhat River St. James Caleb Johnson Richie Law
Fate unknown: Adam Brock
"American Idol" returns Thursday night at 8 p.m. Eastern time on Fox.