Finally, after 39 million votes were cast, American Idol has a top 10. To get there, Idol took a page from The Voice and The X Factor and presented the super-sized results in a new and improved fast-paced format that let each of the top 10 contestants perform a victory song. Although it stretched the show to an hour and a half, it was far more entertaining than watching Ryan Seacrest read names while moving contestants from one side of the stage to the other.
There were few surprises among the top 10. For the women, the four strongest performers moved forward, with Janelle Arthur edging out Audrey Cleland and Breanna Steers for the last spot. Also squeaking through was Kree Harrison who, after hearing her name announced, declared, "Let's have some fun y'all. I'm so relieved right now!" before closing the show with a powerful rendition of Susan Tedeschi's "Evidence."
As for the men, after Paul Jolley was sent to the top 10, there were no other surprises, apart from his choice to sing Heart's "Alone" as his victory song. (Although it was perhaps surprising that Vincent Powell didn't make it through.)
Here's what else happened on Idol last night:
Angie Miller's rendition of Beyoncé's "I Was Here" brought Keith Urban to tears. The judge was crying at the poignancy of taking a virtual unknown like Miller and giving her a shot by putting her on television. "You just needed a chance, baby," he said while wiping tears away.
"I don't want to sound too clichéd, but it means everything," Burnell Taylor told Ryan after securing a spot in top 10. The judges were pleased to see him go on in the competition, especially after his victory lap to India.Arie's "Ready for Love."
Curtis Finch Jr. gasped in what seemed like genuine surprise when Ryan called his name. His humility was charming as the judges gave him a standing ovation, and if there is anything like a frontrunner among the men right now, it is clearly Curtis. He selected John Legend's "So High" as his victory song, which is apt considering his version of R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly" earned him the spot. Maybe next week he'll do Nicki Minaj's "Fly" for the triple crown.
Devin Velez's mom was so excited that he made it to the top 10 that she bum-rushed the stage after his performance of Israel Houghton's "The Power of One."
The final male contestant to make it into the top 10 was Lazaro Arbos, who stopped the live television action to instruct the bandleader on how to end his version of Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water."
Third time was the charm for Janelle Arthur, who made it into the top 10 after auditioning for Idol two previous years. Nicki's ladybug/marshmallow "came alive" during her performance of Dierks Bentley's "Home" and Nicki is convinced she will become a huge country star.
Candice Glover charged toward the stage the moment Ryan read her name out. The host had to stop her from bursting out the stage doors so she could talk to the cameras. Her smooth and sultry version of Mary J. Blige's "I'm Goin' Down" was all the justification America needed for putting her through. In the words of Randy Jackson, "This girl can really, really sing."
Special shout out to Amber Holcomb for opting to sing an up-tempo, actually celebratory victory song as she got the audience rocking out to Chaka Khan's "I'm Every Woman."
Going Home: Cleland, Steer, Powell, Elijah Liu, Zoanette Johnson, Cortez Shaw, Adriana Latonio, Tenna Torres, Nick Boddington and Charlie Askew.
Most Mariah Moment: "Mariah, I know you love seeing this," Ryan said after Holcomb made it through. "What do you mean by that, darling?" Mariah asked.
Best Reason to Come Back Next Week: The top 10 perform!
Previously: Curtis Fincher Dips Into R. Kelly Songbook