With 10 spots remaining prior to Thursday's "Idol," the cuts promised to be deeper than ever before. From young, budding stars to returning contestants, who made it through and who was sent home would be a question of both raw talent and who was able to impress the judges consistently.
However, the most surprising revelation yet occurred at show's end. But more on that later. So, who's in and who's out of the Top 24?
After leaving viewers with a cliffhanger last night, Adam Brock's fate was revealed at the beginning of the show -- and he's in, soulful voice and all. Jeremy Rosado, who rose to prominence as part of the group that featured Eben Franckewitz and David Leathers Jr., also moved on in an unanimous decision.
Shannon Magrane, 16, and Skylar Laine, 17, were also unsurprising additions to the live show. Shannon was arguably one of the strongest contestants throughout, her only misstep being that she forgot the lyrics during a group performance, but her version of Kelly Clarkson's "The Trouble With Love Is" truly set her apart from the rest of the field of girls.
Skylar sweated her meeting with the judges, wondering aloud if they would take two country girls into the Top 24 (Chelsea Sorrell had already made it through). Turned out Skylar had no reason to worry. She's one of the most authentically country contestants the show's ever had, and she looks to have a bright future ahead of her.
Joining them was Hallie Day, Deandre Brackensick, Aaron Marcellus and Chase Likens. Deandre especially showed off his chops with his rendition of "This Woman's Work," showcasing the falsetto that has won the hearts of many. He's got a nice lower register too, but that falsetto is simply to die for, just like his hair (swoon alert).
As the field was whittled down to 24, it was also goodbye to a number of contestants. Scott Dangerfield was a casualty, as was Jermaine Jones, who could barely deal with the pressure of the situation before the judges made their decision. The gentle giant was moved to tears when he was rejected, and even upon his exit, the judges were visibly upset -- Jennifer most noticeably.
At the end of the show, five contestants remained for two spots. Shelby Tweten, Ariel Sprague and Hollie Cavanagh were first. Hollie had shown the most consistency throughout the show, and it paid off -- she made it through.
David Leathers Jr. and Eben Franckewitz were the two finalists for the male spot, and one had to wonder if it had been planned that way all along. Eben made it through while David was cut, and taking in each contestant's performances from start to finish, something still seems downright odd. Let us not take away from the other contestants' achievements, but both Eben and David certainly showed promise enough to make it through. Was cutting one while keeping the other a depressing (albeit clever) ploy for ratings? You decide.
But all may not be lost for David.
Following the reveal of the Top 24, Ryan Seacrest announced a final twist, one he had been prepping since the beginning of the episode: there will be 25 contestants on the show next week.
That's right, instead of 24, 25 will take the stage. The contestant, said Seacrest, will complete a Top 13 of male contestants, and will be chosen from a rather promising crop: David Leathers Jr., Johnny Keyser, Richie Law and Jermaine Jones.
Our take? It'll either be Jermaine or David. The former was the most heart-wrenching cut of the two-night string of episodes, while the latter was the most questionable. Johnny and Richie certainly have a shot as well -- perhaps the show wants another good-looking male or a Scotty-esque country guy.
But wait, you ask -- no Top 13 girls? Why weren't any of the eliminated female contestants (Lauren Gray, perhaps?) given a second chance?
One thing's for sure: next week's shows are not to be missed.
We'll end the recap with a list of the Top 24 -- in order of who I think has the best shot of winning this competition. Agree? Disagree? Think one of the eliminated singers got shafted? Have an opinion on who the 13th guy will be? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to check out "Idol" over three nights next week at 8 p.m. on FOX. The men take the stage Tuesday night, with the girls singing Wednesday. The revelation of the next round's finalists will be announced Thursday evening.
Top 12 Men
1. Reed Grimm
2. Phil Phillips
3. Eben Franckewitz
4. Deandre Brackensick
5. Adam Brock
6. Creighton Fraker
7. Colton Dixon
8. Joshua Ledet
9. Aaron Marcellus
10. Jeremy Rosado
11. Heejun Han
12. Chase Likens
Top 12 Women
1. Shannon Magrane
2. Jen Hirsh
3. Jessica Sanchez
4. Elise Testone
5. Skylar Laine
6. Haley Johnsen
7. Hallie Day
8. Baylie Brown
9. Erika Van Pelt
10. Hollie Cavanagh
11. Brielle Von Hugel
12. Chelsea Sorrell