American Idol Recap: Contestants pared down to top 30

American Idol judges Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr. (Handout)

American Idol judges Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr. (Handout)

Jane Stevenson, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:02 PM ET

Week five of American Idol saw the return of “Harsh” Harry Connick Jr.

The jazz crooner-pianist kicked off the two-hour show Wednesday night saying he didn’t want to hear any more excuses from the contestants about feeling sick as the judges chose the final 15 girls and 15 guys. The Top 30 will make it on to the live shows starting next week.

“This is show business, we don’t care, I don’t care, just suck it up, sing, it’s entertainment,” said Connick.

Each contestant had to perform one more solo on the Dolby Theatre stage before getting in front of Connick, Keith Urban and Jennifer Lopez again in a conference room where they learned their fate.

Sometimes two at a time.

“Everyone’s calling it the final judgement. That makes it apocalyptic almost,” said Jessica Muese, 23, who triumphed in an a capella sing-off against Jesse Roach, 27.

When another twosome came up - Andrina Brogden, 19, made it and Leah Guerrero, 21, didn’t - there were mixed emotions.

“Oh, my gosh, this is terrible and amazing all at the same time,” said Brogden afterward.

Fellow Alabamans and friends Casey Thraser, 22, and C.J. Harris, 22, will have to wait until Thursday night to find their fate “as the dreaded eliminations continue.”

“This whole episode my nose is going to be red,” said Lopez, who got teary-eyed many times along with the contestants, in particular Emmanuel Zidor, 24, who got through.

“I want to see you and Jennifer have a walk off in heels!” said Connick after his solo performance.

“You got to buy them though,” said Zidor to Lopez, who agreed.

Like Zidor, there were definitely some wild cards getting the green light like farm worker Dexter Roberts, 22.

“We’re trying to find people who are the real deal, you can’t be all hat, no cattle,” said Urban.

Other left-fielders that made it through included 16-year-old glasses and braces wearing tuba player Malaya Watson; unconventional singer-guitarist Alex Preston, 20; and openly gay and pierced MK Nobillette, 20.

Nobillette’s version of Ed Sheeran’s The A-Team sold her to the judges.

“There’s something about the way she delivers a song that gives me goose bumps,” said JLo. “She’s like a quiet storm.”

More mainstream singers getting the green light include pretty boy Spencer Lloyd, 19, despite the fact that he didn’t wow with his original song on guitar.

“It’s like a public service announcement,” said Connick.

And while most people who performed originals didn’t make it through, Sam Woolf, 17, proved to the exception, with I Try, written about when his mom moved away.

Nurse Kristen O’Connor, 24, and her strong version of Katy Perry’s Unconditionally, and Maurice Townsend, 26, and his version of Miley Cryus’ Wrecking Ball got both them through.

“I’m rooting for him,” said JLo.

“He’s a badass,” said Connick.

And baby-faced Jordan Brisbane, who turned 16 on judgement day, had a compelling version of Beyonce’s Halo that convinced the judge’s he was ready for the next week’s live shows.

“That’s a pretty good birthday present,” said Connick. “Sweet 16.”

Even Connick and Urban got in on the action, hamming it up on the Dolby Theatre stage with Fire Water (Big Chief Got Plenty of) in front of this season’s mentor and former judge Randy Jackson, who made his first appearance on Wednesday night for reasons unknown.

 


Photos