"American Idol" revealed its Top 13 contestants of Season 10 on Thursday night (Mar. 2), as the judges added three wild card picks -- Stefano Langone, Ashton Jones and Naima Adedapo -- to the 10 finalists chosen by voters at home.
Scotty McCreery was the first to hear the good news from Ryan Seacrest. The 16-year-old country singer, who continues to be a clear favorite among the boys, earned America's vote over Long Islander Robbie Rosen.
Video: "American Idol's" Top 13 hit the red carpet
Next up to hear their fates were Jordan Dorsey, Jovany Baretto and Clint Jun Gamboa, who burst into tears as he anxiously awaited Seacrest's announcement. Dorsey made a point of saying that if given another chance, he would have chosen a different song to perform on Tuesday than Usher's "OMG": namely, John Legend's "Ordinary People." "That would have been perfect," Jennifer Lopez agreed. Unfortunately it was bad news for all three hopefuls, as they were sent back to their original stools in the hopes of being asked to sing for their lives.
Seacrest then called two top female contenders to the stage -- Pia Toscano, who earned the first judges' standing ovation of the season last night with "I'll Stand By You," and 16-year-old Lauren Alaina, who has already earned comparisons to past "Idol" winners like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood from judge Randy Jackson. Seacrest told the audience that even Clarkson herself posted a Facebook update this week saying that Alaina reminded her of Season 5's Kellie Pickler. When Seacrest asked Alaina how she felt about all the comparisons, Alaina delivered the most diplomatic answer she could: "I don't know; I'm just Lauren." Alaina and Toscano both learned that they were in the top 10, effectively becoming the first girls to make the cut.
Next up were Ta-tynisa Wilson and Julie Zorrilla, two of the most underwhelming performers on Wednesday night -- both were told they did not get enough votes for the top 10, and the judges wouldn't call them back for wild card-contention, either. Karen Rodriguez, Ashton Jones and Kendra Chantelle followed, and of the three only Rodriguez made the cut.
Jacob Lusk was the next male to make the top 10, to the delight of his competitor Casey Abrams, who could be heard growling, "Mmmm, yeah!" as the two embraced. Abrams quickly followed in Lusk's footsteps, but Tim Halperin was sent packing.
A trio of girls followed: Thia Megia, Naima Adedapo and Lauren Turner. Megia was sent through, leaving just one spot left for the girls.
For the anything-but-camera-shy Brett Loewenstern, it was the end of the road, as Seacrest would say, while old-school rocker Paul McDonald earned the second-to-last spot chosen by voters for the men.
The last two girls to hear their fates were Rachel Zevita and Haley Reinhart, who were both making their debuts as "Idol" contestants after multiple years of coming close in the audition rounds. Zevita was sent packing, but Reinhart made it through despite giving a weaker performance than Ashton Jones and Kendra Chantelle.
The last male to earn America's vote was James Durbin, while Stefano Langone returned to his seat for the wild card round.
Lopez, Jackson and Steven Tyler called back six hopefuls to sing for the chance at earning one of three wild card slots, and they all rose to the challenge, delivering their personal best performances of the competition. Ashton Jones set out to channel the sultry swagger of Jennifer Hudson while singing "And I Am Telling You (I'm Not Going), and Jackson, a clear fan of the 24-year-old Nashville native, said, "I still love the attitude."
Stefano Langone was up next, and for his survival song he chose Smokie Norful's "I Need You Now," which was well-suited to his soulful vocals.
Kendra Chantelle started slow with "Georgia On My Mind" but showcased her impressive range by the end, while Jovany Baretto clearly felt every lyric as he performed a bilingual version of Jon Secada's "Angel." "You did a good job, baby -- you did all you could do," Lopez told the Cuban-Ameircan singer.
Naima Adedapo showed off her quirky charisma with Rod Stewart's "For All We Know," and Robbie Rosen closed out the wild card round with a nuanced rendition of Elton John's "Sorry to Be the Hardest Word." As the judges deliberated, Seacrest tossed to the debut of the music video for Jennifer Lopez's "On the Floor," which this week leapt on to the Top 10 of the Hot 100 chart. "We just need a couple more minutes [to deliberate]!" a flustered-looking Lopez exclaimed before the video premiered.
When the final decision time came, though, the judges seemed confident in their decisions, and they had every reason to be. Season 10 arguably boasts the strongest set of contenders in several seasons -- already, it's a far compelling group of singers than "Idol" fans ever saw last year. How will they fare under the mentoring of Interscope Records honcho Jimmy Iovine? Stay tuned.
Here is the "American Idol" Top 13 of Season 10:
What do you think of the "American Idol" Top 13? Did your favorite make the cut? Sound off in the comments.