Published February 23, 2012
“American Idol” billed Wednesday night’s show as “The Final Judgment: Part 1,” as 12 of the remaining 42 contestants learned whether or not they made it into the Top 24.
To test their fate, each of the contestants performed solo in front of the judges, backed by one musician. “For (Judges) Randy (Jackson), Steven (Tyler) and Jennifer (Lopez), today is the toughest part of the competition,” explained host Ryan Seacrest. “They have to take into account the contestant’s entire journey, and either break their heart–or change their lives forever.”
Two of the contestants who faced the judges were bitter rivals Heejun Han and Richie “Cowboy” Law.
Law sensed that things might not go his way with the judges, “I’ve got kind of a really bad feeling in my stomach,” said the baby-faced baritone before getting the axe.
A nervous Han thought he might suffer the same fate as Law, "Whenever I'm on stage I'm so nervous, but whenever I'm singing I feel like I know someone else is coming into my body," he told the judges before hearing the good news, where he was rendered temporally speechless and dissolved into tears.
After arriving back to the holding room, Han received a supportive hug from pal Phillip Phillips, his former teammate in the M.I.T. quartet. Like Han, handsome Phillips easily sailed into the Top 24.
Also moving ahead in the competition was winery worker Jen Hirsh, New York-based “starving artist” Creighton Fraker and the soulful son of a preacher man, Joshua Ledet.
“Amen, amen, thank you so much! Hallelujah,” praised Ledet after learning that he was one of the Top 24.
“That’s a church kid that’s going to go a long way,” noted Jackson after Ledet left the stage. “That kid’s special,” added Lopez.
College student Haley Johnsen made it through, as did 28-year-old Elise Teston. "You're one of the best singers we've seen," raved Jackson about Teston’s bluesy talents. "(You’re) very, very talented...We’re proud to have you.”
Quirky Reed Grimm played the drums for his solo performance, which may have been a risk. “(Your vocals) were the one thing we were missing yesterday,” said Lopez, before Tyler gave Grimm the good news. “You’re going through, baby!”
Erika van Pelt barely squeaked through. "We had a lot of people who didn't do as amazing as we thought they were going to do. Unfortunately, you were one of those people,” said Lopez before telling a relieved Van Pelt, “We're going to take one more chance on you." Country cutie Chelsea Sorrell, blonde bombshell Baylie Brown, saucy Jessica Sanchez, big brother Colton Dixon and momma’s girl Brielle von Hugel all made it through to the top 24.
Young husband and father Adam Brock sang “You Don’t Know Me” in front of the judges, but they weren’t entirely won over by performance. “Our decision for you definitely wasn’t unanimous,” said Jackson. “This is the moment, the moment of truth...”
Up next: We discover fate of Brock and the remaining 20 contestants on “The Final Judgment: Part 2”