When we last left "American Idol," Alabama buddies and season-long frontunners C.J. Harris and Casey Thrasher were waiting to find out if they'd made the top 30. This was supposed to be a cliffhanger, but after 13 seasons of "Idol," we all knew how this one would pan out. The outcome was as obvious as one of Nicki Minaj's old weaves. Both got through, of course. "I'm getting tired of y'alls' tricks," Casey told the judges, speaking for much of America.
Casey wasn't kidding. When it came time to find out who else would join the contestants who'd already made it through on Wednesday's show, there were plenty of annoying fakeouts (with the judges pretending to reject certain contestants, only to "surprise" those contestants with good news). But even more annoyingly, there were some really great contestants who didn't get good news at all.
The most shocking reject of the night had to be Savion Wright, the singer-songwriter who waited seven years (until he felt ready) to try out, and had been consistently awesome since his arrival in Season 13. No real reason was given as to why he didn't make it, and he sobbed (to a soundtrack of Season 12 winner Candice Glover's "Cried"; nice product placement there) as he said, ";I thought it was my time." I thought it was his time, too.
Poor Savion had already been through so much (his brother died under mysterious and tragic circumstances just two weeks before he came to Hollywood), and it was hard to watch him suffer another setback, especially one so undeserved. Adding more insult to injury? There was so much male talent this year, the judges decided to have a top 16 boys, and let the public vote on whether Neco Starr or Ben Briley should move on the semifinals. With an extra spot this season, it seemed like there should've been room for Savion. (Side note: I hope America votes for Neco. I think it's this veteran contestant's time, too.)
Another singer who didn't make the cut, but should have: David Oliver Willis, also an "Idol" veteran. David made it to the top 40 last year and performed live in Vegas Week before the judges cut him; that elimination sparked Twitter outrage among "Idol" fans, many of whom were happy to witness his return this season. But this season, David didn't even go as far. More Twitter outrage ensued.
[Listen: Candice Glover's Album Premiere]
Oh well. There are always Wild Cards, right? The possibility still exists that we may again see Savion and David, or some other eliminated contestants, soon enough. Until then, here's my personal ranking of the contestants who did make it through to the top 31 on Thursday…
Ethan Harris - the button-cute "lost Osmond" with true star quality
Caleb Johnson – the awesome Jack Black-like rocker, a veteran of Season 11
Casey Thrasher – the single dad with a heart and throat of gold
Neco Starr – the Bruno Mars-style showman and returning contestant who's on the cusp
C.J. Harris – the small-town everyman with real raw talent
Briston Maroney – the quirky troubadour, who may be just a bit too young (he just turned 16), but is intriguing
Ben Briley – the likable country singer who has a good chance of beating Neco in the first public vote of the season
These boys join Wednesday's Malcolm Allen, Jordan Brisbane, Spencer Lloyd, George Lovett, Alex Preston, Dexter Roberts, Maurice Townshend, Sam Woolf, and Emmanuel Zidor to round out a very competitive top 16.
Majesty York – the breath-of-fresh-air songstress who just radiates amazingness every time she hits the stage
Kenzie Hall – the charmer who inventively covered Macklemore & Ryan Lewis's "Can't Hold Us"
Marrialle Sellars – the adorable Miley/Rihanna type whose first audition was shown twice this season, but who faltered in Hollywood Week
Austin Wolfe – the awesome pop-rock girl with the awesome name
Brandy Neelly – the returning contestant with an old-school country voice, new haircut
Briana Oakley – another returning contestant, also a veteran of "America's Most Talented Kids"; very Jordin Sparks-esque
Jena Asciutto – the feisty piano girl with the big, torchy voice; Harry Connick Jr. called her a "sleeper"
These ladies join Andrina Brogden, Jillian Jensen, Bria Anai Johnson, Jessica Meuse, M.K. Nobilette, Kristen O'Connor, Emily Piriz, and Malaya Watson to comprise the top 15 girls.
You know, even without Savion Wright or David Oliver Willis, this is a pretty darn strong top 31. The cuts during the three-night spree known as "Rush Week," starting next Tuesday, will be fast, furious, and probably infuriating.
But on the plus side, ex-judge Randy Jackson, along with "Idol" alumni Chris Daughtry and Adam Lambert, will be there at Rush Week to mentor these contestants. I admit it…I kind of missed the ol' Dawg, and I'm looking froward to seeing his new tricks.
See you next week, when we find out which contestants are truly in it to win it.