‘American Idol’ recap: Top 24, Tyler strips -- and a ‘dramatic twist’

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And so, in only one hour on Thursday night, “American Idol” managed to both wrap things up -- revealing the last 10 contestants to make this season’s top 24 -- and leave them unsettled. Meet your top 24, America! But wait, stay tuned … it will soon be … 25?

In a move reminiscent of the one we saw this season on “The X Factor,” when judge/mentor Simon Cowell eliminated contestant Melanie Amaro in a relatively early round only to travel to Florida to ask her to return to the competition she would eventually win, “Idol” is apparently planning to add back into the mix one of the male contestants the judges have already sent home.

Will it be … irritating cowboy Richie Law? Low-voiced “mama’s boy” Jermaine Jones? The last-sent-home David Leathers Jr.? Or J.Lo-admired pretty boy Johnny Keyser, who was unexpectedly sent home in a previous round?

Personally, I hope it’s Leathers who gets summoned back onto the “Idol” stage. I was both surprised and saddened to see him get cut at the end of Thursday night’s show after the judges had called him in with fellow teen Eben Franckewitz to find out which of them would be handed the final semifinal slot. (I really hate it when “Idol” sends contestants in together -– the least they could do is give each of these poor kids a moment to absorb their good or bad news without having to compose their social face for a contestant who may be getting just the opposite result.)


I was also both surprised and saddened to hear the judges criticize not just Leathers’ swagger (“overconfidence,” one of them called it) but also his pitch, saying he was sometimes sharp, sometimes flat. Those of us at home hadn’t really seen anything off-key about Leathers.

Leathers had a pitch-perfect response to the unfortunate news he received on Wednesday night’s show: “Eben’s a great guy. He deserves it,” he said, adding that the disappointment wasn’t going to derail his dream and that he was “definitely going to come back next year.”

But who knows? It could be any of the other guys too. (Please, not Richie Law, “Idol.” Please?) We’ll find out Tuesday night, when the show returns for the first of a three-night run of two-hour shows. (Yes, six full hours of “American Idol” next week. Plus, the voting kicks off. Better rest up now.)

Here are the 10 contestants who made it into the top 24 … er, 25 … on Thursday night:

Adam Brock: This weepy dad’s “Idol” fate had been left hanging in the balance Wednesday night, but he has landed safely in the top 24. He also prompted Steven Tyler to declare, “I love to watch a man cry.” Perhaps that’s what Tyler was going for when he mooned viewers later in the show?

Jeremy Rosado: We hadn’t seen a whole lot of this sweet-voiced kid, but just before giving him the good news, the judges praised the way he always cheered the other contestants on, making us instantly like him. “Who says nice guys finish last?” Ryan Seacrest intoned as Rosado emerged triumphant.

Shannon Magrane: The model-pretty 16-year-old daughter of a veteran Major League Baseball player made it through. But not before “Idol” reminded us of that uncomfortable moment in which Tyler told Magrane’s bemused dad his daughter was “hot, humid and happening.” The dad said he considered wringing Tyler’s neck. But Magrane’s mom generously called the moment “hysterical.” In any event, Tyler’s interest (professional or otherwise) in their daughter paid off. “I thought you were an American Idol to begin with,” he told Magrane. “And you know what? You’re going through.”

Skylar Laine: The feisty country singer whom the judges say reminds them of a “young Reba” showed up in a right purty dress and made it through –- and then talked deer meat with the judges and planted the idea of diving into the moat in Tyler’s mind. Did I mention she’s feisty?

And then, in quick cuts …

Talented former runaway/girl-group member Hallie Day, country crooner Chase Likens and returning contestant Aaron Marcellus all made it through. “I fought for you last year, and I fought for you just as hard this year,” Jennifer Lopez told Marcellus, “but this year, I won!”

The judges had also cut DeAndre Brackensick last year. But this year, after noting that Brackensick’s voice and confidence had both improved, they said they’d be “crazy, crazy people if we didn’t ask you to be in the top 24.” So they did.

Hollie Cavanagh, who learned her happy fate at the same time two other contestants got the “Idol” heave-ho and did an admirable job of not rubbing it in by jumping up and down.

The aforementioned Eben Franckewitz.

So which of the four fellas will be reinstated in what “Idol” is calling a “dramatic twist”? I guess we find out Tuesday.

What do you think of this year’s top 24? Anyone you were sorry to see go?


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-- Amy Reiter