Michael Becker/FOX.
Steve Helling
February 14, 2013 10:00 PM

American Idol really, really wants a woman to win this season. At the beginning of Thursday’s episode, they reminded us that a female singer hasn’t won the show since 2007, when Jordin Sparks bested Blake Lewis for the top prize.

Let’s put this into perspective: The last time a woman won, George W. Bush was still president, J.K. Rowling was still writing the Harry Potter series, and no one had any idea who Snooki was. Well, maybe a few people knew her.

After Ryan Seacrest all but begged us to vote for a female, we finally got to see the level of the women’s talent. Angela Miller sat at the piano and sang her own song, “You Set Me Free.” It was a show-stopping performance, prompting judge Keith Urban to rave.

“If that was recorded right there, I would play it in my car,” he said. “That was just a beautiful song.”

Miller was followed by Candice Glover, who gave an strong version of Alicia Keys‘s “Girl on Fire.” Janelle Arthur also impressed with a pleasant version of Carrie Underwood‘s “I told You So.”

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Shubha Vedula had the nerve to sing a Mariah Carey song in front of Mariah Carey and did a great job.

And then there was Zoanette Johnson. (At some point, she needs to drop her last name and just be known as Zoanette.) She played the drums as she sang a song she had improvised onstage the previous night. It was a rambling tune about her Idol experience. It was manic and baffling. And then she came to an abrupt stop and yelled at the background singers.

“Slow it down! C’mon guys,” she pleaded. “I need this to be right.” At some point, she lost a drumstick.

It’s fun to imagine what Simon Cowell‘s reaction would be to her performances.

Kez Ban, the season’s other memorable contestant, was quickly cut from the competition after singing her original song. There is clearly only room for one unpredictable contestant this season – and her name is Zoanette.

As the show wound down, the judges cut the field down to 20 women, and then brought in the remaining 28 male singers to cut them down to 20. That’s when the judges had Josh Holiday sing “Georgia on My Mind.” He split his pants from crotch to knee.

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But Holiday and 39 others are season 12’s top 40. One of them will be the next American Idol. Will it be a girl?

Top 20 Women

Adriana Latonio
Amber Holcomb
Angela Miller
Aubrey Cleland
Brandy Hotard
Breanna Steer
Candice Glover
Cristabel Clack
Isabelle Pasqualone
Janelle Arthur
Jenny Beth Willis
Jett Hermano
Juliana Chahayed
Kamaria Ousley
Kree Harrison
Melinlda Ademi
Rachel Hale
Shubha Vedula
Tenna Torres
Zoanette Johnson

Top 20 Men

Bryant Tadeo
Burnell Taylor
Charlie Askew
Chris Watson
Cortez Shaw
Curtis Finch, Jr.
David Willis
Devin Velez
Elijah Liu
Gurpreet Singh Sarin
Jimmy Smith
Johnny Keyser
Josh Holiday
Kevin Harris
Lazaro Arbos
Mathenee Treco
Nick Boddington
Paul Jolley
Vincent Powell

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