‘American Idol’ Recap: Final Judgement Part 1 [VIDEO]

February 23, 2012 7:15 am

After weeks of touring America, running auditions in Hollywood, and putting contestants through the ringer in Vegas, Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson were finally able to narrow down all of the “American Idol” hopefuls to a mere Top 24. It wasn’t easy, and tonight we got to see about 20 singers learn their fate.

It was a bit of a no-brainer that Jen Hirsh would make it through– her performances have been stellar and her impish attitude is so likable. Don’t assume that she’ll get the votes, though– you have to make those calls yourself if you want her to go far in Season 11.

Although we know Creighton Fraker’s distinct singing style well by now, it was cool to find out that he gets his rock and roll side from his birth father, who he just recently reconnected with. Creighton is definitely going to bring some creativity to Idol in the coming weeks.

Although Lauren Gray was hailed as the next Carrie Underwood after her first audition in St. Louis, her star has been falling instead of rising. She insists she won’t come back to Idol next year, but here’s hoping that she changes her mind.

We weren’t surprised that Joshua Ledet made it through because we get goosies every time he sings, but he had the best shock face of the night when the judges broke the news.

Haley Johnsen has been kept under the radar but clips from earlier rounds reveal that we’ve been missing out on a very talented girl. Let’s hope she’s got what it takes to make a big impression next week to make up for her relative anonymity.

Our first glimpse at Caleb Johnson was unfortunately when he halted his final performance in front of the judges. The result was supremely awkward and ruined any chances for a Season 11 run. Neco Starr, Richie Law’s replacement for MIT, was also sent packing, although he was encouraged to return as he gets older.

Elise Testone went from being an unknown to a judge favorite after a very memorable Hollywood Week. Her powerful voice earned her a pass to the Top 24.

After jumping through hoops in Hollywood and almost heading home, Reed Grimm is back with a vengeance. The judges let him through despite the fact that he needs to focus a bit more on singing and less on scatting.

I can’t help but admit my relief when soulful Erika Van Pelt make it through to the Top 24. Her last performance may have been shaky but there’s no doubt that she’s a force to be reckoned with. “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” played right after Erika made it through, making me think that the blonde should cover some Kelly Clarkson in the future.

We don’t know much about Chelsea Sorrell but her edit revealed that she bombed in Hollywood. Her incredible voice is what got her through and the judges are keeping her around so America can cast their votes.

Baylie Brown is a great Idol story– she auditioned when she was 16, didn’t make it, then came back 6 years later more talented than ever. Still, I wasn’t sure if she would make it or not, but the country singer seemed surprisingly self-confident even before she made it through. She smiled during Steven’s fake-out and was completely relaxed during the entire thing.

It’s been a difficult week for Richie Law. He’s had to work with all kinds of riff-raff like Heejun Han and Jermaine Jones. Even though his version of “Walk The Line” was decent, the 20-year-old will have to come back next year and irritate the Season 12 singers.

Affectionately called “Hey Jun” (like The Beatles’ classic “Hey Jude,”) Heejun Han has been a judge favorite ever since he wowed during his first audition. His final performance of “New York State of Mind” was pretty incredible but the singer still doesn’t seem to know how good he is. He told Ryan that he was sweating “mostly water” but when he got through he hugged JLo, which he said is “the American Dream.” Also, Heejun and Phillip Phillips: best bromance ever, or best bromance EVER?

Jessica Sanchez is only 16 but I was blown away by her flawless final performance of Celine Dion’sThe Prayer.” She was hoping to become America’s idol in order to help support her family, and she’s one step closer now that she’s made the Top 24.

I was almost more nervous than Phillip Phillips that the Georgia boy wouldn’t make it through to the live rounds. Despite some struggles in Hollywood, he stunned with an awesome version of Usher’sNice and Slow” that he changed to fit his style– JLo likely freaked out because it’s such an unlikely song for the guitarist to sing. Check out Phillip above and then hear Usher’s original tune so you, too, can be impressed with the complete revamp. I can’t wait to see more of his creative covers in the Top 24.

Colton Dixon dedicated his version of Coldplay’sFix You” to his sister who went home in Vegas. Luckily for the Dixon family, their son made it through for Season 11. Maybe next year, the second time will be the charm for Schyler, too.

Remember bossy Brielle Von Hugel and her mother from Group Night? They’ve stuck it out until the very last elimination, almost losing a can of spray tan in the process! Ryan said that she’s got moxie, but we all know Brielle is a diva, and divas often make it far on Idol.

I knew there would be a cliffhanger tonight, but I was heartbroken when I learned that it was dad Adam Brock’s fate that would be left up in the air. He poured his heart out while waiting for the news, and while he got his answer within minutes, we’re going to have to wait 24 hours!

Check back here tomorrow night to find out if Adam made it through, along with other favorites like country singer Skyler Laine or the surprisingly soulful Shannon Magrane.