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American Idol: Top 10 plus three wildcard contestants. Surprised?

American Idol introduced viewers Thursday night to the Top 10 contestants chosen by vote, plus the judges' three wild card picks. In one round, 11 singers – including Brett Loewenstern, Robbie Rosen, Clint Jun Gamboa – were sent home. We now have the 13 official American Idol Season 10 contestants.

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Steven Tyler, (l), and Jennifer Lopez, new judges on the FOX series "American Idol," react during a panel discussion on the show at the FOX Broadcasting Company Television Critics Association winter press tour in Calif., Jan. 2011. The new judges completed the final eliminations of their first season, Thursday night.

Chris Pizzello

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The objective of Thursday night's American Idol show was pretty clear: 24 contestants vying for their place in the coveted Top 10 based on America's vote. Also up for grabs was an undisclosed number of wild card picks from the judges. Did Idol really need two hours to sort this out?

Absolutely not, but Idol has always been that guest, you know, the one who is really entertaining but does he really have to come by your house three nights a week? And if so, why does it have to take him two hours to tell a story? Doesn't he realize you have to get up for work the next morning, for crying out loud??

So, American Idol took the circuitous route to get to what turned out to be the final thirteen contestants. The top 13 is a big deal, which must have been why so many people dressed up. Judge Steven Tyler wore his ruffled magenta shirt. Paul McDonald wore his lovely white suit jacket with the red sparkly roses on it . . . again, and Thia Megia opted for a multi-colored, alphabet blocks sweater that looked like a leftover Romper Room prop.

Ryan got down to the first hour's task - introducing the Top 10 - relatively quickly, although there were the obligatory flash backs, amusing interviews with our contestants, and commercials to slow things down. The second hour involved six of the fourteen contestants who didn't make the Top 10, singing to the judges one last time in the hope of becoming a wild card pick. There is something paradoxical about having viewers listen to the contestants they didn't like, sing again. And seriously, how many more times do the judges need to hear these contestants sing?

Before we get to the wild card picks, let's introduce America's Top 10:

  1. Scotty McCreery: Yay!
  2. Lauren Alaina: Duh!
  3. Thia Megia: Yawn.
  4. Pia Toscano: Pretty.
  5. Jacob Lusk: Double Duh.
  6. Paul McDonald: Double Yay! (Enough with the suit though, Paul, even this blogger's love has its limits.)
  7. James Durbin: Scream.
  8. Karen Rodriguez: Muy bien.
  9. Haley Reinhart: Huh?
  10. Casey Abrams: As the universe intended . . .

There were no real surprises with America's Top 10 choices, except for Haley Reinhart, who didn't seem like someone that America would necessarily connect with. The remaining contestants were then left to pull themselves together as they waited to hear if they were one of the six the judges wanted to hear sing again. It was unclear whether the judges not choosing to hear a contestant sing again meant that person was not being considered for a wild card. Ultimately that was the case, but it would have been an interesting twist for them to give a wild card to someone who wasn't asked to perform again. Which, they could have easily done and saved us all a lot of time!

Out of the 14 left behind, the judges asked the following individuals to sing for their lives:

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After they performed and the show returned from commercial, the judges pleaded with Ryan for more time to deliberate, which he grudgingly agreed to even though they were almost out of time. And, they just so happened to have a new Jennifer Lopez video they could show while the country waited for them to finish. Disaster was narrowly avoided there. We were almost forced to watch three minutes of dead air time, instead we got to watch JLo dress up in various outfits and personas, all of whom liked to run their hands through their hair as much as Brett Loewenstern. Another amazing coincidence: the judges wrapped up their decisions just as the video was ending. This episode was obviously charmed, especially for Ashthon Jones, Stefano Langone and Naima Adedapo who were the three wild card picks.

That meant the elimination of:

Leaving us with the top 13 contestants:

  1. Scotty McCreery
  2. Lauren Alaina
  3. Thia Megia
  4. Pia Toscano
  5. Jacob Lusk
  6. Paul McDonald
  7. James Durbin
  8. Karen Rodriguez
  9. Haley Reinhart
  10. Casey Abrams
  11. Ashthon Jones
  12. Naima Adedapo
  13. Stefano Langone

All in all, the previous predictions were pretty solid, aside from Clint and Brett whose departures weren't expected and Haley's whose departure was. The official competition begins next Wednesday when the Final 13 take the stage.

Check out the video of Brett Loewenstern doing a Britney Spears cover. Do you think he left too soon?

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