Coming to the Top 24 Calls for a Touch of Church and a Tinge of Conviction on ‘American Idol’ Season 11

Time flies when every note means the difference between a career and getting by for the 42 singers who performed with everything on the line at the Wynn in Las Vegas. It was each talent’s choice as he or she chose the one song with the one instrument accompaniment that would be the last audition before the Top 24 decisions, which the judges’ panel would base on all the past history. In such “come to Jesus” moments, truth hurts, as some would stay and others go. So what was the vote?

Jen Hirsch seemed to have the judges in her hand ever since her Galveston audition, and brought them to their feet through Hollywood week. But Randy Jackson flatly told her that her deciding performance was “not the best,” and left the other judges neutral, too. But after having some fun toying with emotions, as they so love to do, the panel passed her through, the gold in her glitzy blouse gleaming with every jump for joy.

Talk about diversity. It’s no wonder that Creighton Fraker has such flavor in his singing, as he revealed being adopted and raised as a preacher’s kid, only to find out that his biological dad was a founding member of the 80s metal trash band, Flotsom and Jetsam, whose heyday may have been short-lived, but who are still around playing to this day! He was just one who chose “New York State of Mind” as his selection and never has Jennifer Lopez had a worst case of leg shakes as she at last spoke the affirmative that Creighton would make the cut!

In St. Louis, Jennifer Lopez, had just two words for the audition, Lauren Gray, and went even further, using the definitive phrase, “the one,” in describing her gifts. But something fell short in the latter weeks, and maybe it was lack of confidence, but the panel tried to let her down easy with the news that her “Idol” journey was done for this year. You can be sure, Lauren is singing somewhere with her dad, with her same soulful conviction, tonight.

Joshua Ledet is another preacher’s son who brought something divine and spiritual to every song he sang, particularly through Hollywood week, his voice had the power of a great sermon on the judges this time, too, as he got the good word he’d be going on, and let out a glorious “hallelujah” that even brought Steven Tyler to conviction! Joshua Ledet will be a name and a voice people will know for a while, as Randy Jackson noted.

Bad news came for Naomi Gilles and Blaire Sieber just before Haley Johnsen took that long walk to hear from the panel. But just as she picked the right moment to shine during her Vegas performances, it was the right moment for her now, and she got her go-through! Neco Starr tried to keep his streak of seducing Ms. Lopez intact with his “Lady in My Life,” but even that didn’t keep him in the competition, and Clayton Farhat, River St. James, and rocker Caleb Johnson, who got lost in his audition, got the same verdict.

Elise Testone sang her most passionate on “It’s a Man’s Man’s World,” and won her way to the elite voices. Judges tried to taunt Reed Grimm about how his scatting was not singing, but there’s no way this turbine of talent wasn’t spinning into the Top 24 with his quirky gifts! Randy Jackson proclaimed him “mad talented” as he made his way back from the walk, recalling inspiration from his deceased dad. Erica Van Pelt pleased everyone as she belted out “Call Me Sugar,” and it pleased the judges again to give her “one more chance” in the top. Chelsea Sorrell had a “love y’all” as she got her chance again, too. It wasn’t Baylie Brown’s best performance with “Here Comes Goodbye,” but it was good enough for a “Hello” to the Top 24, proving that five years practice makes a lot of difference!

Richie Law had his share of partner problems through the competition, but he truly took his news of not making the cut this year like a man of honor at just 19, and former frenemy, Heejun Han was nothing short of spectacular for the second go of “New York State of Mind,” and got to live “every Asian man’s dream,” as he put it, in hugging Jennifer Lopez after hearing he was worthy of the top! Jessica Sanchez chose Broadway to seal her succession to the 24, and Phil Phillips declared he would be pleased and proud either way his decision went, but going to the top is always better. Colton Dixon did Coldplay’s “Fix You,” and honored sister Schuyler, and the panel honored his effort with a positive vote! Brielle von Hugel has always had mom by her side through this trial by fire, and the bossy girl with a big voice gave mom another big hug with her award of a spot among the top!

The night closed with Adam Brock pouring out his soul about all that singing means to him, how it lets him know God blesses him, among many other revelations. Will Adam be blessed among the chosen? Only Thursday will tell!

“American Idol” airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.

Source: “American Idol” telecast, Feb. 22, 2012 FOX TV.

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