'American Idol': Meet the Top 24 (so far)

baylie-brown-idol-top-24.jpg "American Idol" kicks off by reminding us (in all caps with very serious music) that next week we all start voting - for the five of us still awake, since it seems like the pre-live shows portion of the show has been longer than ever before.

42 contestants become 24 this week, guys. And it will take two hours tonight and an hour tomorrow. If only they could spice things up, by making each pair facing off duke it out in a thunderdome with paintball guns or a hot dog eating contest or something.

The final 42 get one more performance before they are sent packing, and we sort of get to see them. Jen Hirsh is up first and she's on a platform in the middle of swirling water with a psychedelic backdrop that may be the scenery for the Vegas show playing there, but it looks like a photoshoot locale for "America's Next Top Model."

Jen sits in the Decision Chair and since she is first, we of course start things off with a high note, so she's through. And that's cool, we've liked her so far.

Out in the holding room, some dude says you could "literally" cut the tension with a knife. Um, no. NOT LITERALLY. God! Nobody knows what that word literally means, do they? That might be my biggest pet peeve in terms of GUM (grammar, usage, mechanics, for those of you who didn't go to third grade).

Creighton Fraker is next. His final performance of "New York State of Mind" is too yell-y for our taste. We aren't convinced this guy advances, he's been hit and miss with us. But he advances, which makes us nervous for Lauren Gray, who is next. Do they start it off with three yesses in a row? Hmm. And we like Lauren, she's different. But we're right about the editing - she's out. Bummer.

Up next is Joshua Ledet and, while he is very talented, the yelling really bothers us. Use it more sparingly, dude. Because the quiet parts are beautiful. We feel pretty confident he's through, though. And then he does.

Montage of eliminations: Blaire Sieber (who?) and Naomi Gilles (who?).

Haley Johnsen is up now, we vaguely recognize her. Oh, that's her from that "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes" group. That's right. She was really good in that, and then she makes it through.

Now we have Neco Starr, who is someone we aren't sure is advancing. He's a little dramatic when he sings, for our taste. We think he's going home. Yep, he is. The judges think he needs some seasoning.

Clayton Farhat (who?) and River St. James (who?) are also going home. You know, this episode might actually have some tension if we'd seen all the people they're eliminating at some point before tonight. Instead of, ya know, watching that angry cop girl stomp around and be obnoxious for TWO NIGHTS.

Caleb Johnson
is next and he apparently used his last performance to dress like a guy who would be considered a high roller at, like, Circus Circus and sing the song all drunk fathers at weddings totally think is their jam - "Say I'm old-fashioned, say I'm over the hill..." - and then he totally screws even THAT up and has to start over. Thankfully, he is sent home.

Now we have the next person we think should advance, Elise Testone. And she does, followed by her Vegas group buddy Reed Grimm. Good for them.

Now Erika Van Pelt is up and we're a little nervous for her. We like her a lot, but we aren't convinced she's going through, especially after her last performance - J.Lo's right, that wasn't a great song for her. But she's through! Good for her.

We get a face-off now - Chelsea Sorrell vs. Baylie Brown. Our hopes are for Baylie, if only one can make it. But it's not an issue, because they both get through. That's fun, they both are good singers.

So at this point, half of the spots for women are full. I'd be nervous if I was out in the holding area.

In the next face-off, we have Richie the Bossy Cowboy versus Heejun Han and you guys all know who we hope advances and who doesn't. I mean, Richie isn't even the poor man's Scotty McCreary. What's lower than the poor man's something? He's the hobo's Scotty's McCreary? It's just - blech. We hope he has only been kept around because of his antics and not because they actually like his voice that much.

Did you catch Heejun's "mostly water" crack. We hope that was him being sly, not him answering that question so literally. It was funny either way, though.

And thankfully, the way we want is the way it goes - no Richie, but Heejun does make it.

Up next is Jessica Sanchez. We didn't love her Vegas group performance, but her final performance they show tonight was amazing. It was so good, the show broadcast the whole thing, as opposed to only a snippet like many others have gotten. It seems like she should go through, so thankfully, she does!

Phil Phillips
, who is one of our favorite male contestants, is next on the hot seat. The show just has to see dollar signs when they look at him, right? There's no way he doesn't make it. J.Lo almost gives us a heart attack when she says, "You're not going home" because it sounded like she was going to say the other thing.

The guy who stole his sister's spot, Colton Dixon, is up next. We're so very weird about this guy - he's obviously talented, but we've always felt very "meh" about him. We don't know why. And also - Randy needs to stop saying something is "very unique" or "most unique." You're either unique or you're not. It literally means "one of a kind." Sigh. Anyway, Colton makes it. Good for him.

Now we have Brielle Von Hugel, who is obnoxious and so is her mother. Send her butt back to New York, please. But she advances. Blech. Cannon fodder for sure, she's not that good.

The last hot seater of the night is Adam Brock, who we have really liked so far. We would be really shocked if he doesn't advance. The poor guy gets to the hot seat and is already just bawling. Oh man, I just want to give him a hug! Don't cry, Adam.

And instead of telling him, the show is over. Ooooh! Also, what does Randy mean about it not being unanimous?! Who doesn't want him to advance? Bah.

So here is your Top 24 so far (and here in gallery form):

Jen Hirsh, 25, Agoura Hills, Calif.
Creighton Fraker, 28, Queens, New York,
Joshua Ledet, 19, Westlake, Lousiana
Haley Johnsen, 23, Portland, OR
Elise Testone, 28, Charleston, SC
Reed Grimm, 26, Ellsworth, WI
Erika Van Pelt, 26, South Kingstown, RI
Chelsea Sorrell, 23, Stokesdale, NC
Baylie Brown, 22, Krum, Texas
Heejun Han, 22, New York, NY
Jessica Sanchez, 16, San Diego, Calif.
Phil Phillips, 21, Leesburg, GA
Colton Dixon, 20, Murfreesboro, TN
Brielle Von Hugel, 17, Staten Island, NY


Now, at this point, we have no scientific evidence to back this next assertion up (because we'd have to look at the past seasons and crunch the numbers), but it seems as though the average age is higher than it has been recently. The average age of the 14 so far is 21 years old. Not that it matters, but it does make us think back to how those really young kids had no business being on "The X Factor" because they could not take the pressure. Anyway.

What do you think of the Top 24 so far?
Photo/Video credit: FOX