And then there were 13.
American Idol named its Top 13 of Season 13 Thursday night, with viewer votes and judges' wild cards determining who ended up among the finalists from a pool of 10 guys and 10 girls who were selected earlier this week.
The season's first live results show (thankfully) cuts right to the chase — looks like they're getting ready for those 30-minute Thursdays! — and Ryan Seacrest before wastes no time in naming the first group of finalists.
The first 10 finalists, as determined by viewer votes (in no particular order):
1. Malaya Watson
2. Ben Briley
3. Emily Piriz
4. Alex Preston
5. Jessica Meuse
6. Dexter Roberts
7. Caleb Johnson (who lifts Seacrest up in a hilarious giant bear hug)
8. Majesty Rose
9. MK Noblette
10. Sam Wolfe
Some... interesting choices there. Left behind to rely on the judges' wild cards are C.J. Harris, Emmanuel Zidor, George Lovett, Spencer Lloyd and Malcolm Allen from the guys; and Kristen O'Connor, Briana Oakley, Jena Irene, Bria Anai and Marrialle Sellars from the girls.
Of the remaining 10, the judges ask five people to perform live and will hand out their wild cards to three of those five. Though the decision will be based on the contestants' trajectory throughout the season, "your performance tonight is going to make a huge difference," judge Jennifer Lopez tells the chosen quintet.
Singing for their lives:
C.J. Harris: C.J. chooses Sam Cooke's "Bring It On Home to Me" for his Save Me song. Astonishingly, he looks even more relaxed than he did on Wednesday — but his soft, raspy tone doesn't win over the judges. "It was not a strong start. It was average," Harry Connick, Jr. tells him, but gives C.J. the benefit of the doubt and blames the performance on the band screwing up. Keith Urban agrees that the performance "drifted in and out" emotionally.
Jena Irene: In contrast to her rocking Rolling Stones performance from Tuesday, Jena opts to play her original piano ballad "Unbreakable Me." It's a great choice, showcasing a different side of her singing. "That was a really good use of that moment ... to show that kind of talent," Keith tells her.
Spencer Lloyd: Probably the biggest shocker of those who weren't selected by viewers — apparently all those high-pitched screams from Wednesday night didn't translate into votes — Spencer plays to his fan base, dedicating a John Mayer-esque original song to the "unordinary girls." But unfortunately, this decision is up to the judges, and the song may solidify his heartthrob status but does nothing to showcase his vocal talents. Even Jennifer admits: "I'm not sure that that was what I would have wanted America to see right now."
Bria Anai: Bria admits to feeling cripplingly nervous when her name is called. Her selection of James Brown's "It's a Man's, Man's, Man's World" is an interesting one. The song's been done to death on Idol before, but Bria gives it her all, pouring emotion into the performance while keeping her seizure-like movements from Tuesday in check. Harry disagrees, calling the song "all over the place" and telling Bria she "overshot the mark."
Kristen O'Connor: Last but not least is Kristen. And ... oof. Her rendition of Katy Perry's "Unconditionally" is out of her range and out of sync with the music. (What is with this band?!) Keith tells her it was a "good performance," but notes that she was out of key for most of it. Aren't those mutually exclusive?
The wild cards: Jena, Kristen, C.J.
Going home: Emmanuel, George, Malcolm, Briana, Marrialle, Spencer and Bria.
So, it's on! The competition really heats up next Wednesday, when the 13 finalists perform live for viewer votes.
What did you think? Were you surprised by the viewer voting results? Did you agree with the judges' wild cards? Who's your early favorite? Weigh in below!
American Idol airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8/7c on Fox.