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'American Idol' finds its 24 semifinalists

Tuesday night it took two hours to unveil seven of the 24 semi finalists on "American Idol". Tonight they will have just one hour to reveal the remaining 17. Is "Idol" up to the strain?

"Many are just praying to get it over with as soon as possible," show host Ryan Seacrest says. No, he's not talking about you and me - he's talking about the wannabe Idolettes in the holding room, two of whom are seen holding hands, praying.

No one is shakier than twenty four year old Janell Wheeler, Seabiscuit says, explaining that after one of her performances during Hollywood Week she was left feeling "chagrined." We like him better for it. New judge Ellen DeGeneres, who has by now completely memorized the American Idol Torture-the-Idolettes Manual, rambles for several minutes about how hard it is for someone like her to have to tell ask someone like Janell whether she's slept well the previous night and that she's not going to make it through to the top 24 - so she's not going to tell her that! When did Ellen sell her soul? I'm glad I wasn't there.

*Tyler Grady tells us "this is the biggest opportunity that has presented itself to me so far," because apparently Sony Music hasn't phoned yet. Tyler would have been great as a guest actor on Fox's "That 70's Show" playing a dweeby aspiring rocker, but is all wrong for "American Idol." So, naturally, the judges decide to put him through so Simon will have someone to bat around and call his song selections "old school."

After a commercial break, Seabiscuit tells us that for most of the competitors, "this is an overwhelming baptism of fire into the world of 'Idol'." Lacey Brown isn't getting no stinkin' baptism of fire into "Idol." She was in the top-50 LAST season, but got dumped in favor of pretty blonde Megan Joy. Lacey was a mousy brunette then - but she's a redhead now, so she's through to the top 24.

Ashley Rodriguez, Alex Lambert - no relation - and Joe Munoz all get through in the bat of an eye. The producers obviously don't think they have a prayer and have decided not to waste precious minutes on them.

Crystal Bowersox says she's been laid back through the whole process even though "Idol" is seen by about 3 million viewers. When informed she needs to add a zero on to that number she chokes, "Wow - you just made me nervous!" The judges put her through because, despite the fact Simon thinks the show might not be the right platform for her, she is so clearly one of the two most talented singers this year even THEY an't find a way to mess this one up.

Angela Martin, on the other hand - that one they can mess up. This is her third at-bat and she oozes talent. So judge Kara DioGuardi parks herself on the chair with Angela and proceeds to patronize her mad, telling Angela they think she's "so special" and has "improved so much" and "shown such incredible growth," and it was soooo difficult to narrow it down to 12 chicks this season, but she's going to remember Angela "forever." Pop quiz for Kara in five years! Seabiscuit also patronizes her as she leaves the Chamber of Sorrow, demanding she look him in the eye when she looks away, crying.

Katie Stevens, on the other hand, gets put through, but only after Ellen messes with her for a while. Yes, Ellen is now perfectly happy torturing 17 -year-old girls who say their dream is to compete on "Idol" because it would make their grandmother so happy except it has to happen now, or never, because granny has a pretty advanced case of Alzheimers and won't even know who Katie is in the not too distant future.

Peroxide blonde Lilly Scott goes through to the top 24, because, Kara explains, she doesn't think Lilly is one of this year's best singers. You had to be there. And, be Kara.

Also continuing in the competition are Paige Miles, Siobhan Magnus, Michelle Delamor, Jermaine Sellers and John Parks, who we hardly know - if at all. Don't get too invested in any of them - the producers aren't.

Finally, only one chick and one guy slot are left. Haeley Vaughn beats out Tori Kelly - no surprise there. Meanwhile, Thaddeus Johnson gets the hook but lesser singer Andrew Garcia survives. The cameras follow a distraught Thaddeus into a men's room stall, with his mother in hot pursuit.

And then, it's time for the traditional Top 24 Happy Dance. Only, shoe salesman Chris Golightly is among the semi-finalists seen toward the end of Wednesday's episode, but another guy named Tim Urban does the Happy Dance in Chris's place at the very end of the episode. Fox issued a statement in the middle of the night saying "it has been determined that Chris Golightly is ineligible to continue in the competition" and that Urban had replaced him.

By Lisa de Moraes  |  February 18, 2010; 7:12 AM ET
Categories:  "American Idol"  
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What happened to to Golightly?

Posted by: MrsKirby | February 18, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Ah, don't underestimate Andrew Garcia. The day after his first audition a few weeks ago I got an excited e-mail from my son, a college student (minoring in music), saying, "This is crazy, my friends and I have been following him on YouTube for about a year and there he was on American Idol!" Apparently they like his arrangements of popular songs for acoustic guitar, and they learn them off his videos. He could be this year's Kris Allen or David Cook.

And speaking of Kris Allen, and Adam Lambert for that matter, we hardly saw them during Hollywood Week last year either, so who knows what will happen? I did think the way they treated Angela Martin (among others--but that definitely stood out) was awful, though--they took that screechy 16 year-old from Colorado who wants to be a country singer and not her? And hated the way the cameras followed people around as they wept in disappointment or frustration while trying to wriggle away from being photographed. I was wondering why people seemed more emotional than I remember in years past -- maybe because there's more of a sense from past history that it isn't just a talent show, but something that can totally change your circumstances even if you don't win #1.

Posted by: owingsmills | February 18, 2010 9:47 AM | Report abuse

I googled Golightly and apparently, he got a call that he was still under contract with someone else. He disputed it, but couldn't find his release paperwork. By the time the previous contract person e-mailed him the release, it was too late. Idol had already replaced him. No idea how accurate this is, though.

Posted by: ArlingtonGay | February 18, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

So, if Michael Lynche (aka Big Mike) was disqualified, as has been rumored, does that mean Thaddeus Johnson will replace him as the 12th guy?

Angela Martin is a MUCH better singer than at least half of the 12 girls that got through. She and Danny's friend, Jamar, last year are two of the most talented singers not to make the top 24.

I guess Jermaine Sellers will have to fill the diva void.

Posted by: kdinsd | February 18, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

It does amaze how they can mess things up, doesn't it? I still can't believe these fools put Katelyn Eperly through, but not Angela Martin. I think it was a bit of ageism against Angela - too bad, she is good and I wish her well.

Posted by: princessbuttercup | February 18, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Was it just me or does anyone else see *so many jokes* in those words "shoe salesman Chris Golightly?" Visions of Haley Scarnato come back to mind! lol

Posted by: jpstang | February 18, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

When Crystal Bowersox was leaving, Randy called her "Mama Sox". If she's got a nickname already, she's going all the way.

Posted by: DC2LA | February 18, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Thanks ArlingtonGay! I had read conflicting reports.

Posted by: MrsKirby | February 18, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Chris Golightly has Sideshow Bob hair.

Is there really any more explanation necessary?

Posted by: molsonmich | February 18, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

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