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Lucky 13: 'American Idol' reveals its finalists

The show revealed its finalists on Thursday night, and though there are already early fan favorites, the judges made three interesting selections for the wild-card spots.
/ Source: TODAY contributor

“American Idol” picked its 13 finalists on Thursday, ending a week that saw the field of 24 semifinalists cut nearly in half.

Ten of the spots in the final baker’s dozen went to the top five vote-getters of each gender. The remaining three were wild-card selections from the judges, who made some unconventional selections.

It would have been very easy to choose Kendra Chantelle and Robbie Rosen, both of whom were among the six selected to sing for their lives one final time (as host Ryan Seacrest so ably exaggerated). Both look the part of an “Idol” contender, and presumably could be shaped to sound that way as well once music exec and "Idol" mentor Jimmy Iovine and his team of polishers gets to work with them.

Instead, the judges used one wild-card spot for Naima Adedapo, the 26-year-old with the huge voice. She’s older and has a jazzier sound than the typical woman who advances, and could easily go out next week. But if Crystal Bowersox can make the finale a year ago, there’s no reason Adedapo couldn’t make a run as well.

The other two spots went to Ashthon Jones and Stefano Langone. Jones has the stage presence of a star and just needs to bring out the vocals to match. Langone, who went with Smoke Norful’s “I Need You Now” for his last-chance song, has been very good when he hits his marks. Bringing in the more gospel-y sound was enough to get him a second chance at making a positive impression on the public.

Fans' top 10
Before Ryan got to the wild-card picks, he revealed (slowly) America's top 10 picks.

There were no surprises among the men. Scotty McCreery, Casey Abrams, Jacob Lusk, Paul McDonald and James Durbin all got enough support to move on without singing again. It will be interesting to see how the votes go from here. The guys' voices are all very different from each other’s, which, if nothing else, should make performance nights less repetitive than in the past.

The top five women were Lauren Alaina, Pia Toscano, Thia Megia, Karen Rodriguez and Haley Reinhart. Alaina and Toscano were the first women selected, getting that lack of drama out of the way early. Reinhart was last, which would have been a more tense reveal had she not been paired with Rachel Zevita, whom the judges panned Wednesday night.

The exiting 11
Instead of just four singers getting sent home, as has been the case most seasons, 11 of the 24 got the boot after a single performance this time around.

In addition to Rosen, Chantelle and Zevita, that meant saying an early goodbye to Julie Zorrilla, who looked the most morose of the semifinalists even before her fate was announced. In the pretaped montage with the women stating what they had to say to America if they were voted into the semifinals, she simply noted that she’d be thankful “because I know I messed up yesterday.”

That was in contrast to Lauren Turner, who warned the voters that if we cut her, she’d cut us — and she knows where we live. Given that 40 million votes were cast, she has a pretty good chance of finding a voter by picking any random house, but she was only kidding. I think.

Brett Loewestern didn’t make the cut, but ran down to give each iof the judges one last hug anyway. Love him or hate him — and clearly, too few people loved him to keep him on the show — he’s officially the most earnest young man in “Idol” history.

On the other hand, Clint Jun Gamboa might be secretly grateful he wasn’t selected to sing again. He looked as if he was about to either throw up or pass out when he got the news he wasn’t popular enough.

And of the three guys who got to sing again on Thursday only to be sent home anyway, Jovany Barreto had to be the least surprised. The feedback he got from J.Lo was, “You did a good job, baby. You did all you could do. You did all you could do,” which is the equivalent of the soccer trophy given to the sixth-place team in a youth league.

Ta-Tynisha Wilson, Tim Halperin and Jordan Dorsey also had their time on “Idol” come to an end. None looked surprised by that.

So there you have it, America. Your top 13. Join me for a live chat at 2 p.m. ET Friday, March 4, to discuss the latest group and your thoughts about the season.

Craig Berman is a writer in Washington. Follow him , where he live tweets each "Idol" show. Want to get the latest Entertainment news?

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