Leaving the futures of 20 different singers in the hands of the American voting public can be an overwhelming thought, but America pulled few surprises Thursday night as it voted in the top 10 finalists on "American Idol" 2013.
In a setup that involved a long hallway, humongous doors and a tense waiting room, contestants got the news one by one, the finalists emerging to find screaming, adoring fans on the "Idol" stage before being allowed a "victory song" to sing for the audience.
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The first contestant to make it through to the top 10 was arguably one of the night's bigger surprises. Paul Jolley, whose good looks and on-pitch vocal had gotten him to that point, improved even more so with the previous night's performance, though he hadn't been universally lauded by the judges in the way that, say, Curtis Finch Jr. had. And yet, through he went, his victory number a relaxed, pleasant "Alone" by Heart.
From there, the voted-in men lined up with judge acclaim. Finch was a shoo-in after some major performances in weeks prior, and once he was through, his version of John Legend's "So High" was just that, with the falsetto for which he's come to be known. Another early favorite, Burnell Taylor, gave arguably the night's top performance with "Ready for Love" after he was sent through, with shades of 2012's Joshua Ledet, though he put his own Burnell spin on it, particularly with the phrasing.
Filling out the top 10 for the guys were Devin Velez and Lazaro Arbos. Both were fan favorites after their turns at the stage Wednesday night, and Arbos was particularly excited, launching into a soaring "Bridge Over Troubled Water," while Velez's "The Power of One" continued to solidify him as a dark horse in the competition, especially after doing a more upbeat number.
But the night wasn't over just yet; the girls still had to be added to the top 10 tally. First up was Janelle Arthur, whose down-on-the-farm country demeanor, looks and vocal has impressed the judges despite two weeks of so-so performances. For her victory song, she chose Dierks Bentley's "Home," fitting quite snugly into the song vocally, perhaps providing a glimpse at what's to come. It was her third time auditioning for "Idol"; looks like third time's the charm.
Candice Glover and Angie Miller, two of the show's most raved about, sailed through, as was expected barring a strange results show. Glover took the moment to do a happy dance and sing Mary J. Blige's "Goin' Down," continuing to assert her dominance in the R&B genre on the show with a commanding performance that did Blige proud. Miller took on "I Was Here," and while it wasn't up to her usual standard, with a few pitch issues, it mattered not -- she was in.
Filling out the rest of the lineup were Kree Harrison and Amber Holcomb, Holcomb with a nice, up-tempo "I'm Every Woman," showing she can, indeed, do more than the ballads.
Eliminations meant the show would say goodbye to the 'Zoanette Era' of "Idol," as Zoanette Johnson was sent packing even after her knockout "Circle of Life" the week before. Joining her was fellow one-time favorite Vincent Powell, as well as Charlie Askew, Cortez Shaw, Elijah Liu, Nick Boddington, Tenna Torres, Breanna Steer, Adriana Latonio and Aubrey Cleland.
All told, the top 10: Paul Jolley, Burnell Taylor, Curtis Finch Jr., Kree Harrison, Janelle Arthur, Amber Holcomb, Lazaro Arbos, Devin Velez, Candice Glover and Angie Miller.
But "Idol" wasn't done just yet. Though the rumors of a wild card eventually subsided, Ryan Seacrest announced that next week, the No. 6 boy and girl in voting will sing for a spot on the "American Idol" tour, giving two singers one last chance to secure a little relevancy.
Next week, the top 10 take the Hollywood stage. Will the girls continue to stand out over the guys, or will the tide finally turn? Tune in to find out.