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February 25, 2011
'American Idol': Top 24 - finally, finally - announced


By Leigh Grogan

So my "American Idol" cohort Kathy is taking the day off but e-mails, "Are we done with the overplayed drama? Please!"

It took an eternity (some estimates at 19 hours) for the judges to settle on the Top 24 who will compete live next week for America's votes. The results were delivered in an airplane hangar no less, the knocked-over chair (actually caused by Casey Abrams' exuberance) and JLo's "meltdown" -- which took five makeup people to repair -- are history. And cutting one contestant on her 25th birthday was a squirmy moment.

Hollywood Week was painfully long and, at times, painful to the ears. I don't think this group was groomed enough to tackle Beatles songs, though some were not soooo bad.

Now that all the crying and histrionics are over, maybe we get to enjoy the singing. After all, as Randy Jackson is want to emote: "This is a singing competition."

Of the Top 24 (pictured), Kathy likes Paul McDonald, Scotty McCreery, Jacob Lusk and Casey for the guys and Ashton Jones, Naima Adedapo and Julie Zorrilla among the girls. I agree that James Durbin is a wild card -- amazing voice, but too easily out of control. And it's certainly too soon in the competition to compare yourself to Adam Lambert!

A few of the judges' choices are talented but will have a tough time connecting with the viewers, Think: Rachel Zevita, Clint Jun Gamboa and Thia Megia, while a few of the others could just blend into the background: Stefano Langone, Lauren Turner, Pia Toscano and Kendra Chantelle.

There were rumors on some of the entertainment shows that bass-playing Casey has been suffering some sort of stomach ailment and may not be able to perform come Tuesday when the Top 12 guys sing live. That might (a BIG might) open the door for Chris Medina to return.

And, in yet another technological twist, "Idol" will accept online votes. Electronic ballots will be cast on with an assist from the folks at Facebook. They'll be doing the security checks. You can log in through Facebook and vote 50 times during the voting window. Of course, viewers can still vote via toll-free numbers and AT&T texting.

And, next week, I assume we get our first look at the new "American Idol" band after Rickey Minor departed last year to play for Jay Leno's show.


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