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'American Idol' hopefuls whittled down to top 40 in Las Vegas decades challenge

The “American Idol” competition continued in in Las Vegas, where the 70 remaining contestants sang hits from the ‘50s and ‘60s–appropriately enough–on the Viva Elvis Stage at the Aria Hotel in Las Vegas.

Many hopefuls took the mid-century theme seriously, even if they were off by a decade or two. 

Quirky Reed Grimm and his group’s arrangement of "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes" by Bobby Vee sounded more like the ‘70s than ‘50s–or perhaps it was an interpretation of how the ‘50s revival of the ‘70s sounded. 

It’s a shame Grimm wasn’t born 30 years earlier, as his dance moves would have been right at home in the Acapulco Lounge on “The Love Boat” or as one of the supporting acts on the “Captain & Tenille Show.”

Despite the excess of schmaltz, the judges loved the performance, sending Grimm, Haley Johnsen, Eben Franckewitz and Elise Testone on to the next round.

Smooth-beyond-his-years David “Mr. Steal Your Girl” Leathers, Jr. was a standout in his group, effortlessly belting out an infectious version of “Rockin’ Robin” that would make both Frankie Lymon and Michael Jackson proud.

After being unceremoniously ousted from the M.I.T. quartet, Richie “Cowboy” Lawson was stuck looking for a new group. After several false starts, Lawson eventually paired up with fellow baritone Jermaine Jones.

“We’re two deep voices, we’re going to rock this,” said an optimistic Lawson. “I feel great right now.”

Meanwhile, M.I.T. member Heejun Han was just relieved to be rid of Lawson. “(His) new partner is going to go crazy,” said Han. “I feel so bad for him.” 

Despite pairing up late in the competition, the deep-voiced duo of Lawson and Jones took the stage and belted out a strangely harmonious version of “Make It Easy on Yourself.”

“That was definitely the right song, man,” praised Judge Randy Jackson

“You wouldn’t think that this pairing would work–I mean, you both have very low voices–but it was so perfect,” raved Judge Jennifer Lopez. “Like, where would you see something like this?”

“We’re so happy it became a duet and not a duel,” said Lawson. “We blended so well, it’s been a pleasure working with (Jones).”

“You’re both through to the next round,” cheered Lopez. “We love you both!”

Meanwhile, M.I.T., joined by new member Neco Starr, proved their mettle with a lush version of the Flamingos’ “I Only Have Eyes for You.”

“So good!” enthused Lopez. “You guys were great,” agreed Judge Steven Tyler.

Naturally, Starr, Han, Phillip Phillips and Jairon Jackson all moved on to the next round.

But M.I.T.’s joy was not to last. “It’s not going to be easy, but more cuts must be made,” host Ryan Seacrest ominously warned.

In a brutal, step-by-step elimination held on a lighted staircase, Jairon Jackson was sent home, along with half a dozen others.

Up next: The remaining 42 contestants are cut to 24 in what’s being billed as “The Final Judgment,” parts 1 and 2. 

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