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I caught the last ten or so minutes of Wednesday's show and I must say, as entertainment goes, that was some good cheap television. JLo bawling for the good part of those ten minutes over the “shocking” elimination of Gokey impersonator Chris Medina was way funnier than most SNL skits are these days. The way she went for the big crying scene dabbing away at non-existent crocodile tears, holding her head in her hands as the two supporting actor clowns, Steven and Randy, “comforted” poor Jennifer during her attempt to give the dramtic performance of her life was low brow entertainment of the first order. Was she auditioning for Gigli 2 or maybe a B-grade horror movie? I hope so, because eliminating some mediocre talent sure didn't warrant all that caterwauling. I wonder whether she'll shed a similar amount of tears when the many other former Idol impersonators on this season are going to be eliminated. She is now officially a joke and, man, do I ever love me a good joke! Read on.

Hangars on

Looks like Idol rented some sort of hangar for their big Top 24 show and the contestants are forced to walk what looks like a good mile before finding out their fate on a circular raised podium where the judges are holding court. Too bad they didn't go a step further and installed trap doors halfway through that long walk to drop the losers straight down into the parking lot or something. Could have shaved a good hour off the show.

JLo is still bawling, by the way, and a gaggle of producers are around her looking on with worried faces as she goes on and on saying she can't do this anymore! It's too much! Oh, I think, five million bucks says you can, JLo. Indeed, after she is reminded of her paycheck soothed by her two sidekicks, JLo steels herself and is ready for the next contestant, Karen Rodriguez. We've never seen Karen Rodriguez but she is this peppy thing who previously sucked up to JLo by singing one of her songs which got her into the final round. Once there, she delivered another suck-up Spanish language number by Selena. As we all know, JLo stared in that turnip of a movie about Selena's life which officially launched her career. It would have been cruel to eliminate her after she went to such lengths to kiss ass so Karen is safely into the Top 24.

Robbie Rosen is from NYC and we're reminded of his sob story which involves some sort of childhood disability – a popular angle this season – and shown his final breathy, overly affected performance of Elton John's “Sorry seems to be the hardest word”. He is the proud perpetrator of tonight's first musical murder, although as murders go, this one is not as bloody as some of the ones later in the show. After a silly attempt by Steven to fake him out, Robbie makes it through. Grannies, get your vote on!

After a break, Ryan says only 7 people are in the Top 24 so far. I did the math... Kill me now.

Who the hell is Tatynisa Wilson? I have no idea. Maybe she was on one of the nights I skipped or, most likely, she has never been seen before. Her “journey” reveals some serious out of tune singing, a penchant for bows in her hair and a tendency to cry and forget words. Sounds like two thirds of the contestants so far. Her last performance of “Unbreak my heart” belongs in the oh-hell-no-this-hurts-my-ears category, all 5 seconds that Idol shows of it. Randy wants to know whether she wants this thing and Tatynisa is allowed to beg go on and on about how much she loves to sing on stage and cry a bit for the sake of ratings before being told she made it. She cries some more before walking back through the hangar.

A slew of losers follow but don't worry, none of the ones that Ryan says are “your favorites” were cut while I fast forwarded through the filler and Randy's babbling. Sorry, have to make some cuts of my own or we'll all be here forever.

Tim Halperin is next. I don't recall whether he has a sob story or whether I've even seen him before – that seems to happen a lot since I only bother with every other episode – but aside from an unfortunate fondness for facial hair he is unremarkable. His final song, an original, easy listening cheeseball of a number, is tepid and lifeless but, hey, he plays the piano! There's always room on the show for a piano dude, right? He babbles on about how much of an “artist” he is, the judges babble something back and we find out that JLo is a big his fan of his. Who knew? Scruffy boy is into the Top 24 and will be inflicting his artistry on America for at least another week. Can't wait.

Next up is Julie Zorrilla and her backstory which is something about her parents emigrating from Colombia when she was just a kid. Yes, tales of moving to another country now qualify as sob stories on Idol. I should exploit mine more... If I tell you about how I bought a plane ticket (it was expensive!) and flew nearly ten hours (I hate coach!) to get here (airplane food is atrocious!), do I get a cookie? Julie floated through all the audition rounds and impressed these easy to impress judges finally ending with a piano number. JLo tells Julie that she hasn't been emotional enough which is code for Julie not having shed enough tears yet and maybe a subtle hint to step up the waterworks, 'cause dammit, this is a TV show. Nevertheless, Julie sails into the Top 24 as well.

Glad to see Idol is now using Gaga's new epic Madonna ripoff song in places. I was getting tired of Firework. However, what's with JLo in the commercial break hawking Venus razors? Where are the Steven commercials? I'm starting to think this whole Idol season is just a thinly veiled attempt to pimp JLo's projects and revive her career.

The next segment delivers a big country lump as notable jerk Scotty McCreery, he of the low, low baritone and rotten attitude, is pitted against country dude #2 in a cowboy hat who was probably saved thus far just so Idol could film this dramatic face-off bit. Scotty played the guitar and sang a twangy country song in the final round of auditions while Steven's eyes glazed over. In a final bid to win his place, he even tells JLo he's 1/4 Puerto Rican. Right before his verdict is delivered, Scotty engages in some likely producer mandated fake groveling and apologies about his part in the Jacee fiasco during Group rounds. The judges nod sagely, go on and on about how manly it is that 17 year old Scotty admitted that he was a jerk but in the end he is forgiven. The first token country puppet is in the Top 24. Naturally, his main competition, John Wayne Schulz, the dude with the black hat, is bounced because the twangy country dude quota has already been met. Sorry dude, there shall be no country vote splitting on this show!

Jovany Barretto stripped for JLo during his audition – the dude who did that last season made it to Top 10 so, hey, that can work! - sang cheesy songs in half in Spanish and English and generally made puppy eyes at the judges. This is the sum total of his segment before he is admitted into the 24 club. Told you stripping works! However, dude is probably just cannon fodder.

Cry and cry again

Ryan promises that there will be more drama after the commercial break because there are only 12 spots left to fill. Dun, dun, dun! House maid, Lauren Turner is 24 years old and I have a strong suspicion that she's got Whitney Houston's name tattooed on her ass. Some people just can't help themselves. Randy uses the old you-were-up-and-down speech but she is ushered into the Top 24 with little fanfare. Lauren also demonstrates a willingness to cry on cue, which is a definite plus this season. Either that, or I swear some of these people have a device installed in the back of their heads and the producers zap them whenever a flood of tears is needed for the cameras.

A couple other people are eliminated before Rachel Zavita, who is perennial Idol reject. She has upped her looks from awkward teen in 2006 to tragic fashion victim, but has her singing improved? Not based on her final overwrought performance which is one big ear pain but she is proud of it. Her big bid for viewer sympathy is her 83 year old granny who is waiting anxiously in the holding room to hear Rachel's fate. JLo gives her the sing-from-your-heart speech, Steven employs his bad fakeout routine and Rachel starts bawling when they give her the good news that she's in. So far, every single contestant has seen fit to turn on the waterworks and, without a fail, I wanted to kick all of them. Next.

Kendra Chantelle auditioned in Nashville, was seen very little or not at all, reheated her Alicia Keys audition song for her final performance and is the next one in without much ado. It's so easy to tell the ones who are just filler. However Jordan Dorsey who was highlighted earlier for his bitchy behavior during Group week has a harder time of it. His final song is decent and the judges liked it but first he's got some mandatory explaining to do so people at home would vote for him. He is called the task for dissing people and given mild slap on the wrist after which he is allowed to continue on. Gee, I'm shocked.

Observation: The judges were a novelty at first. Few people missed Ellen, even fewer missed Kara and many were happy about Simon's departure thinking it was going to breathe new life into the show. However, slowly but surely it has become clear that both JLo and Steven are just plain boring and Randy is, well, good ole' useless Randy, same as always. I think I've already seen every facial expression Steven has ever made in his life – all four or five of them he can still make after all that Botox and face work he's had - and seen and heard both him and JLo deliver the same tired platitudes time and time again. She has fake cried on every single episode so far and there's no end in sight to that idiocy not when we all know she is here to promote herself and her career. Back to your regularly scheduled recap.

More cheese to come. Second rate Kelly Clarkson imitator, Lauren Alaina, whose main claim to fame so far has been sucking up to Steven Tyler, is wearing some sort of horrific Barbie getup from hell, complete with pink bedazzled cowboy boots, a sparkly animal print pageant mini dress with tulle underskirts and cheap big country hair. Trust me, it's worse than you can imagine. She looks like a 35 year old Barbie auditioning for a role in a country themed horror flick. Her final song is “Unchained melody” which she riffs to death, pleasing the judges as per the script. After some formalities which start off with her hugging and kissing the judges and way too much camera whore behavior, she is ushered into the Top 24. Naturally, this shocking news calls for a big , obnoxious weeping scene and Barbie does not disappoint. Moving on before I make myself sick.

I don't really remember Stefano Langone but I'm happy to report that he is another one of this year's I-overcame-some-horrific-disability-slash-accident-slash-hardship-so-vote-for-me-suckers kind of contestants. In fact, you'll be hard pressed to find somebody in this lineup who doesn't have something similar to show to the story voters out there. He is through to the next round and as well despite delivering a cheesy original song in the final round that would be awfully at home on lite AM radio. Not exactly the next Bieber. However, dude plays the piano and has a decent voice so, you know, that's almost an automatic yes.

Scream a little scream for me

It's getting down to the wire and I'm running out of patience. Ryan says Jackie Wilson was a favorite but then she went on to mangle a Kelly Clarkson song and that is an unforgivable sin especially if you also forget the words to it. She is out of the competition and will never again have a chance to match her lipstick color to her top or wear super tight hooker skirts. Also a victim of bad fashion, some shouty singing and a bit too of a manic personality is Jacob Lusk. Randy, seemingly overcome by amnesia, even terms his final performance the-best-on-Idol-ever-ever-EVER. Naturally, after all this buildup, Jacob is not roadkill just yet as he is admitted into the Top 24. He whoops and hollers and screams his way back into the holding room with Ryan's camera crew chasing him. I wonder whether the show is withholding his medication...

With few spots left, the artificial tension mounts. Pia Toscano has camera ready looks and a decent voice and according to her she is “ready for this”. Pia is already crying before even finding out her fate which is positive. More tears and she is dispatched back to the holding room. She is the 11th girl in the Top 24.

Obnoxious San Francisco weeper who cemented his status as this season's douche supreme and least likeable contestant during Group week, James Durbin, is up next. He has possibly the most cloyingly tedious sob story ever seen on Idol. Dude claims to have everything from not one but, count 'em, two diseases-of-the-week, teenage parenthood, childhood difficulties, job loss and a fondness for mocking his fellow teenaged contestants and their mothers. I think only Danny Gokey a couple of seasons ago had a bigger weeper of a story and this dude managed to undo him. Amazing! I bet Gokey is sobbing in his oatmeal even as I'm typing this.

If all that were not enough, Idol runs a montage of Durbin's sob story and his many painfully manic, off key performances punctuated by inhumane howls that even JLo found painful to listen to and I'm convinced she's tone deaf. He bawled after all of them, of course, at one point even comparing himself to Adam Lambert amid another barrage of tears. Add delusions of grandeur and extreme presumptuousness to his list of crazy. It's getting to be a long list. However, all of that is just appetizer for his final performance which is a cheap sceamer's version of Adam's brilliant “A Change Is Gonna Come” during final two week of Season 8. Wonder whose brillliant idea this was... The ear splitting banshee wail! The complete lack of vocal control, feeling and understanding of the lyrics! The bandana dangling from his ass! The painful Siobhan Magnus flashbacks! The entitled attitude! Dude's got it all and then some. Of course he is through to the next round and will be given a chance to show even less originality in the future. I'm fully expecting him to lay claim to a third disease-of-the-week if he makes it to the Top 10. You heard it here first.

Eliminating the vote magnets

Slowly but surely we're getting to the end of this thing. Only a few people are left and the most cruel - or entertaining depending on your outlook – part of this show is coming up. With only two spots left for the dudes, Casey Abrams just wants to know his fate already. They judges kept calling him “fearless” during the audition rounds and he upped the ante with a big bass assisted final performance that he hoped was going to prove his sexiness. Well, I don't know about the whole sexy angle given that Casey looks like Seth Rogen's long lost twin but his jazzy delivery was interesting in a distinctly non-
American Idol way. Randy serves up some obnoxious superlatives along the lines of “you're the most talented we've ever seen, ever and ever” that sound like the big old lies they are but the good news for Casey is that he is in. Maybe that untapped that lounge singer lovin' demographic is going to come through for him. You never know.

The last two girls, Thia Megia and Jessica Cunningham are brought in front of the judges together, not to save time but to provide a final helping of drama. Thia sang “You raise me up” for her final song, a performance which was a bit off key, a bit lacking in imagination and a bit undercooked. At 15 she doesn't have the emotional depth to do anything more than power through notes and smile wide. But then neither does the Bieber fetus but at least he's not singing Groban covers. Her competition, Jessica has already auditioned seven times for Idol and this is her 25th birthday which naturally means that she is dispatched home, a victim of Idol's thirst for drama and that all important tweener vote. Not that any of those Bieber loving tweeners will vote for a 15 year old girl but that's apparently something Idol is just refusing or downright incapable of understanding. In a final show of cruelty, Jessica, visibly upset and crying is shown giving Idol a much deserved middle finger. Thia, comes out of the hangar, hugs her mother while glancing slyly over her shoulder at the camera, I guess, to make sure it's running, and utters “thanks mom, you're my inspiration”. I swear the gooey processed cheese is dripping from my TV screen and pooling on the floor. Sometimes, Idol just outdoes itself in the cheap department.

One last hoorah as the last three dudes walk into the hangar holding hands. They are Brett Lowenstern, Jacee Badeaux and Colton Dixon. Ryan tells them there is only one spot left. Jacee's final song, Michael Jacksong's “Gone too soon” was all over the place, Brett crooned an original song that was vocally interesting if not terribly unique and Colton sounded decent behind his piano. The judges give them their tired, patronizing spiel about how difficult the decision was, how talented they all are and how they can just come back next year. Blah, blah, blah. However the only person moving on to the Top 24 is Brett. You'll be happy to know that JLo starts to bawl again while hugging Jacee, because, you know, it's all about her.

With that we have our top 12 of each. The dudes will sing on Tuesday, the girls on Wednesday and Thursday, the finalists will be announced. Hope you took a good look, 'cause nearly half of these people will be gone next week.