And then there were 40.
American Idol narrowed the remaining pool of contestants Thursday night to the 20 guys and 20 girls who will be going to the semifinals in Las Vegas next week. First up was the conclusion of the girls' competition, which began on Wednesday's show.
For their final individual performances, the contestants were allowed to either choose a song from a list or sing an original song. As the show reminded viewers at the beginning of the broadcast, it's been six years since a girl won the competition — but, judging from some of the Thursday performances, this could be the year that streak is broken. Let's break down some of the best and worst moments of Thursday's episode — and be sure to check back Friday for videos of each once they become available.
Best Original Song: Angela Miller, 18, wowed the judges with an original ballad that sounded ready for radio. "If that was recorded right there, I would play that in my car," Keith Urban told her. "That is just a beautiful song." Miller deservingly made it to the final 20.
Judges' Biggest Misfire: Eccentric diva Zoanette Johnson elected to handle drums and vocals for her song, but it was marred by a bossypants attitude towards her supporting players that culminated in an epic meltdown behind the drumkit. Strangely, the judges didn't see it as such and expressed nothing but admiration and gratitude for being able to witness, as Nicki Minaj put it, the "Zoanette era" on Idol. We'll take a pass.
Saddest Elimination: Kez Ban Sauerbier said from her first audition that she never expected to win American Idol, but she won't even be making it past the Hollywood round. Kez Ban, whose quirkiness left many of her peers scratching their heads during the group rounds, failed to win over the judges in her second individual performance and was immediately dismissed after singing a folksy number that she described as her favorite original song. In her exit interview, Kez Ban good-naturedly tried to propose other ways she could continue to be part of the show. "I'm a square peg in a round hole around here, but my mom loves the show and I wanted to make her proud," she admitted. "And I thought it'd be fun, and it was. I'm very sad to leave this family so soon. Give me a job. Let me hold the camera. Let me be a runner, like, 'Hey, Kez Ban, run upstairs and get a bottle of water for Ryan [Seacrest].' Okay." (She was last seen holding a boom mike as the show cut to commercial.) Good luck, Kez Ban!
Tensest Moment: When the pool had been narrowed to 24, all the remaining contestants were called up to the stage and the judges were told they had to choose an additional four to send home. Randy Jackson delivered the bad news to three girls, and then called Stephanie Schimel and Rachel Hale up again to have a (seemingly spur-of-the-moment) sing-off. Schimel ended up being the one who was dismissed.
Most Pants-Splitting Performance: While singing for his life (more on that later), aspiring gospel singer Josh Holiday ripped a large hole in the seam of his pants while squatting to hold a particularly passionate note during "Georgia On My Mind." "We won't forget that one, Holiday," Minaj told him.
Oh Yeah, the Boys: At the end of last Thursday's show, 28 guys remained — but of course, only 20 can move on to Vegas. Those who were eventually eliminated included David Leathers, Jr., who was sent home at the same point in last year's competition, and Adam Sanders, who was Josh Holiday's competition in the sing-off.
What did you think? Are you happy with the 40 semifinalists? Weigh in below!
American Idol returns next Wednesday at 8/7c for the first show of the Vegas round. Will you be watching?