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'American Idol' Recap: Final Countdown

Sparing the lucky few from the crocodile pit

A contestant performs before the judges during the Las Vegas round of 'American Idol.'
Michael Becker / FOX
February 23, 2012 9:40 AM ET

The 11th season of American Idol is soldiering on, and we are now in the final round of the Vegas shows. If the contestants make it through this round, they will move on to the Top 24 and the live shows, where we will have to start caring about these people and remembering their names and voting and stuff.

As Ryan Seacrest offers a . . . what's the future version of a historical reenactment? Well, Ryan walks the smoke-filled path that all the contestants will be walking before being told whether they get to compete on Idol or get fed to crocodiles on live television. Unless they're not doing that this year? But they must be, because the stage is entirely surrounded by water.

Up first is Jen Hirsh, who did an incredible rendition of "Georgia On My Mind" a few weeks back and has generally been a solid performer. Lest you forgot, we are reminded that last week Randy Jackson told her to loosen up, because "we're you're friends. Kind of." They withhold their judgment until Jen's chin is quivering and she's almost in tears. Then they tell her that's she's in, and she collapses in happiness on the wheeled chair. (Maybe the losers are rolled backwards into the crocodile pit?) She is then ushered into her family's waiting arms.

Creighton Fraker tells us his birth father was in a hair metal band called Flotsam and Jetsam back in the Eighties, as if that explains anything about his style of singing. But the judges think a man named Creighton can capture America's hearts and minds and votes, and he is in, too. Lauren Gray, who wowed the judges at auditions and then got yelled at, because "there is no crying in singing!," cries some more when they tell her she is going home. Her competitors give her a standing ovation, though, in thanks for saving a spot for them. Josh Ledet is in and Jennifer Lopez deems him "special." Blair Sieber and Naomi Gillies are not special enough, so they are out, but since we have no idea who they are, it's not a huge loss.

Hayley Johnson is in the Top 24, but Neco Starr is not, despite having the perfect rock star name. Clayton Farhat is out so he can go back to beating up people who make fun of his far-inferior name. River St. James is out so he can go cash in on his soap opera name. And, of course, Caleb Johnson is out because he was the guy who forgot his words last week, asked to start over, and then begged for water, to which Steven Tyler replied, "You're surrounded by it." And then nudged him towards the snapping crocs. Better death by crocodile than dehydration, but I guess public humiliation will just have to do.

Elise Testone claims she is surprised to find herself in the Top 24, but even Seacrest can barely hold back an eye-roll for that piece of humble pie. Reed Grimm, the guy who likes to sing the Frasier theme song over and over again, tells us his father passed away from pancreatic cancer. That means he is through to the Top 24, because Idol doesn't intentionally try to look like heartless assholes. They prefer to do that organically. So yeah, he's through.

Ryan's disembodied voice tells us that it is Erika Van Pelt's turn to "face the chair." It's small, white and on wheels, so I'm pretty sure she can take it. If she wrestles the chair and wins, will you vote for her, America? You're going to have the chance, because she's in the Top 24, too. Next, Chelsea Sorrell is informed that she is through, which probably ticked off a lot of people because she forgot her words in the Hollywood rounds and Steven Tyler let her start over. Bayley Brown is also in, so she can probably overlook that Randy Jackson called her "dude" several times. He probably says that to all the ladies. Ritchie Law, a.k.a. the Talking Cowboy Hat, is out, because he doesn’t play well with others and is no Scotty McCreery to boot. His former nemesis, Heejun Han, is golden, though, once we find out he works with the developmentally disabled. Steven Tyler says, "He makes a better star than he does a singer," which makes no sense, but it's not like Steven Tyler was hired for his logic aptitude.

They replay 16-year old Jessica Sanchez's previous performance and show her entire family (including her mother, who is unemployed, to help Jessica's music career) waiting in the wings, so you know she's in, too. Phillip Phillips is in as well, because we've spent too much time and emotion on him for him to go back to the pawnshop business now. Next is Colton Dixon and his dumb skunk-hawk. The judges want to talk to Colton about why he didn't want to audition in the first place. He mumbles some nonsense and they let him through to actual Idol, where hopefully an image consultant will fix his darn hair. Brielle Von Hugel and her self-professed spray-tanned stage mother make it through as well, under a shower of "I love all of you"s.

Next to face the crocodiles is Adam Brock. He cries and cries and tells us, "I have to sing." He blows his nose on his lucky hanky (which makes it seem even more unsanitary). The judges are about to tell him his fate, but then they don't because they want us all to come back tomorrow! Jerks.

Last episode: What Happens in Vegas

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