American Idol: The dirty on the Top Thirty

American Idol recap: On Wednesday night, American Idol tempted viewers with a glimpse of Season 13's lineup. Did your favorite make the Top 30 cut?

Richard Shotwell Invision/AP
Newest American Idol judge, Harry Connick, Jr. arrives at the Fox All-Star Party on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014, in Pasadena, Calif.

The great thing about a really bad episode of American Idol is the certainty that things can only get better. After last Thursday's snooze fest, America was ready for some good "results show" television and mercifully, American Idol delivered.

Was it the most thrilling episode of Idol ever seen? Not quite, especially since, at the beginning of the show Ryan Seacrest promised to reveal the Top 30 - making us hopeful that the producers had decided to give expeditiousness a try – only to leave us hanging after two hours with only about 50 percent of the results revealed.

Nevertheless, despite Ryan's twisted mind games, there were a number of highlights to Wednesday's show that made us glad we stuck it out.

American Idol producers, who no doubt read last week's article here and recognized the error of their ways, opted to start the show off with great finesse. Cue Harry Connick, Jr.

Launching into a mini tirade about how little he cares about whether or not you're feeling well enough to sing, Harry's irritation filled a huge gaping hole that was left in our hearts when Simon Cowell exited the show. Yes, Simon could be unnecessarily cruel – who could forget the Bush Baby fiasco – but he could also be a refreshing dose of reality and when a contestant received praise from Simon, they felt as though they had earned it.

Watching Harry remain rooted in his chair even when the other two judges were on their feet cheering, it was easy to see that he is not as generous or demonstrative with his praise. However, the level of praise that requires Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban to jump from their chairs, Harry manages to convey with a mere smile.  

Finesse \fə-ˈnes\ : refinement or delicateness of workmanship. See also: Harry Connick, Jr.

Surprisingly, during the two-hour revolving door of contestants, a few managed to captivate as much as Harry. Well, OK not quite as much as Harry but we can't expect him to carry the entire show, can we?

After delivering post-Group Round performances, which should be referred to as the "redemption rounds," the contestants who remained made their way up to "Judgement Day," in a tiny, coffin-like service elevator. This made the times when Ryan announced that the judges wanted to see two contestants at once, even more harrowing.

In two of the dual visits, the judges explained that their jobs were so difficult and trying that they needed to hear the two contestants have a sing-off right then and there. (Am I the only one who was kind of hoping one of the contestants would tell the judges how hearing about how hard their job is – is his pet peeve and that this is show biz and they just need to suck it up? Yeah, I love me some Harry but fair is fair.)

The first two to face their fate together were Jessica Meuse (she obviously wasn't lying when she said that drama follows her everywhere) and Jesse Roach. It was easy to see why the judges were struggling with the two of them since both have a very similar sound. In the end, it was the fire in Jessica's belly that helped her to eke out a place in the final 30 over Jesse Roach.

The other face-off was between Casey Thrasher and C.J. Harris, the two country singing dads from Alabama. C.J. was the first to perform a cappella for the judges and as he belted out an impressive performance, the fear in Casey's face became more and more evident. So much so that it seemed like flight response might be in danger of getting the best of him but then he started to sing and miraculously just came to life, the tension and fear fading with each note. Impressive stuff. It would be gratifying if the next sentence told you who made it through, huh? Unfortunately, that's not going to happen because this was Idol's cliff hanger. Don't shoot the messenger.

But since this writer intimately understands the anguish of impatience, here are a few notables who will be part of Season 13's top 30:

  • Emily Piriz, 17. Emily is a soulful Cuban singer who bears a striking resemblance to Jillian Michaels when she sings.
  • Spencer Lloyd: The pretty boy of Season 13 would have made it through regardless of his sound because eyes like those make people tune in. Thankfully, Spencer actually has a modicum of talent behind those twinkling orbs of jade.
  • Sam Woolf from the Boston auditions delivered a solo performance for his redemption round, explaining that he wrote it when his mom moved away. What followed was a performance so heartfelt and riveting that even Harry looked stricken.
  • Emmanuel Zidor, despite being a crying mess, earned his place in the top 30 and Jennifer reaffirmed her intention of buying him a pair of heels.
  • MK Nobilette is a quiet, powerful little thing explained that although she's "obviously gay" she believes that the country is changing and may be ready for her to become the next American Idol. The judges agreed.
  • Jordan Brisbane, 16: Happy Birthday to quite possibly the most adorable contestant ever.

Check back tomorrow for the conclusion of the Alabama Dad storyline and for your final 30 contestants - unless Ryan pulls another fast one on us and then all bets are off.

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