'American Idol': Top 24 starts reveal with Naima Adedapo, Ashthon Jones and more

julie-zorrilla-tim-halperin-american-idol.jpgIn the penultimate "American Idol" audition round episode, the 60 or so finalists left are taken to Las Vegas and given 24 hours to learn a Beatles song, then are whittled down to the Top 24.

The kids struggle with the task, which is no wonder since they just finished the Hell that is Group Week and are once again being made to sing in groups, which is kinda stupid.

After a montage of a crazy vocal coach, we get a "we're young" montage since most of the kids are like, "Biebers? Beatles? Who are they?" Vocal mentor Jimmy Iovine plus a team of music producers are there to intimidate help.

Group 1 is Stefano Langone and James Durbin with "Get Back" and it's good. Durbin is stronger than Langone, but Langone does alright. It really depends on how the other boys do whether Langone makes it through, but I think we all know Durbin's in.

Group 2 is New Jersey's Pia Toscano and "MySpace's" Karen Rodriguez, like she's from the land of MySpace. They went to high school together, which is cool. They got "Can't Buy Me Love," which is a great movie but not my favorite Beatles song. There's just not much there there. The girls do what they can with it.

Group 3 is Haley Reinhart, Jacob Lusk and Naima Adedapo on "The Long and Winding Road." Haley struggles, she's really breathy. Conversely, Jacob oversings a bit. But Naima hits the sweet spot without gettin' too crazy.

Group 4 is Rachel Zevita and two nameless people on my favorite Beatles tune, "Eleanor Rigby." This leads into a montage including Lauren Turner and Jovany Baretto on "Let It Be" and Tim Halperin and Julie Zorrilla making beautiful music on "Something."

Group 7 is Lakeisha Lewis, Tatynisa Wilson and Jerome Bell on "Saw Her Standing There." I have to give props to the groups stuck with the fluffy Beatles pop songs because they are infinitely harder to make interesting than "Let It Be," "Eleanor Rigby" or "Something." They don't get good reviews from Randy and J.Lo, but Steven says they nailed it.

Group 8 is Paul McDonald and Kendra Chantelle on "Blackbird," which is very pretty. Their voices are extremely complementary to each other and the song is perfect. Man, I remember seeing McDonald in a snippet during a montage of auditions on "Maggie May" and I'm glad to see him reappear on the show because he was good in that snippet.

Group 9 features two young 'uns in Thia Megia and Melinda Ademi on "Here Comes the Sun." Melinda can't quite keep up with Thia and the performance was totally vapid. Thia gets the better comments, but neither one gets rave reviews.

Group 10 -- wait, now we take a break to find out about Ashley Sullivan's recent wedding at the same Vegas chapel where Britney Spears got married. (*high voice* Oh my god, nutjob.) Ashley Suraiva (nee Sullivan) and Sophia Shorai get "We Can Work It Out." And it's ... weird, but not bad, necessarily. Just very different and I applaud them for putting a different spin on it. The judges don't love it, which is always an "Idol" trap you can fall into.

Group 11 features Lauren Alaina, Denise Jackson and Scotty McCreery on "You Say Goodbye and I Say Hello." It's nice to hear Scotty sing in a higher register. His stage presence is hilarious and awkward, but in a totally charming way. The arrangement is cute and they do good stuff with it. All they needed was "Yakety Sax."

Group 12 features Carson Higgins and Caleb Hawley on a song I honestly could not recognize and Group 13 is Casey Abrams and Chris Medina on "Hard Day's Night." Both arrangements are off the wall, but the judges seem to like Casey/Chris better than Carson/Caleb.

Group 14 features Aaron Sanders, Jordan Dorsey and Robbie Rosen get "Got to Get You Into My Life." Aaron and Robbie do well, while Jordan is too breathy and can't seem to support his singing. Did he run around the block before he came on stage?

The judges now pare down the 61 contestants. They call Thia Megia, Scotty McCreery, Jordan Dorsey, Ashthon Jones, Robbie Rosen and Lauren Alaina forward (this is so "A Chorus Line"! God I hope I get it. I hope I get it!) and then put them through.

Ones who don't make it include Molly DeWolfe-Swenson, Carson Higgins, Caleb Hawley, Denise Jackson, Melinda Ademi and Ashley Sullivan.

Back in Los Angeles, it's time for one last performance. In an airplane hanger. Because these Idols are going to fly high! These Idols are hot like jet fuel? This is the Mile High Club of competition reality shows.

Up first is Naima Adedapo, who has kind of a Fantasia-like backstory, but I think her voice is better, honestly. Her last performance was "Put Your Records On," which is very much the type of song she should release. The judges torture her for a minute, then put her through. She's adorable.

Hollie Cavanagh is next and I have a feeling she's going home. She's just been kind of on the periphery all along. A name so we can feel sad she goes home, but not hyped enough to keep. Her final performance was "No One" and the tiny snippet we saw seemed alright. After some chit-chat, they cut her. Yeah. Hugs all around, she's very gracious

Lakeisha Lewis and Alex Ryan get cut, which it's like ... who? Yeah.

Up now is Clint Jun Gamboa, who has been so hyped, even after his kinda being mean to little Jacee Badeaux, so he's gotta be safe. His final song was "Hello" (with no blind sculpting in sight, so that's a shame). And then he gets through. Duh.

Haley Reinhart makes it through after her final song of "Baby It's You" and frankly, I was kinda wondering what she was still doing here because she hasn't ever really knocked my socks off. But that's a moot point now. I mean, she's obviously not bad, but just not my cup of tea, I guess.

Deandre Brackensick is the next one cut after "Good Lovin.'" He's one of the youngest contestants and it's still a shame to see him go because he has an interesting sound, plus he's like if Justin Guarini and Jason Castro had a kid.

We now get Paul McDonald, who has pretty much just emerged tonight but whom we like a lot. His last performance is on an original song, which is very cool. He is put through and we can't wait to see more of this guy.

Ashthon Jones is the next one advanced. Her choice for her final song was "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" and I'm happy to see her stick around, she always seemed like she had a lot of potential. She goes out and does the total fake out to her family, which is just mean.

The final contestant we see tonight is Chris Medina after a performance of "Fix You" and I am stunned that he gets cut. Wow. "Idol" curveball after the sad fiancee story. It then becomes all about J.Lo as she cries and cries, while Medina is total man about it.

So by our count, the Top 24 has five members, two men and three women. Tomorrow night we get the last 19 semi-finalists stretched out over two hours. Fun stuff, right?

Photo/Video credit: FOX