Idol: Anoop Desai Rounds Out The First-Ever Top 13

Photo: Michael Becker/FOX

With nine finalists in place for American Idol‘s Top 12, it was time to reveal the lucky singers to fill the coveted last spots. But there was a twist in store for viewers, who learned that, for the first time ever, the judges decided to make it a Top 12 — plus one. What was going to be a night of second chances to fill three spots opened up at the last minute to admit a surprise fourth.

Idol historians, you will want always to remember the moment:

As the Wild Card show’s designated hour spilled past 9 p.m. ET, Ryan called Anoop Desai and Matt Giraud to the stage. Simon informed Giraud, 23, that he’d be staying. (This was the judges’ call — there was no voting.) It was a genuine upset: When Simon earlier told Giraud that his bluesy cover of The Jackson 5’s “Who’s Loving You” gave off a certain Taylor Hicks vibe, you assumed the guillotine blade was being raised. Twenty-one-year-old Desai, on the other hand, had once again impressed the judges with his unbeatable energy and his obvious fan base. “We’ve got to put some personality through,” observed Simon, who compared him to an “enthusiastic dog.”

Instead of being sent home, Anoop was told that this season’s math was changing: He was now the last of Idol’s new Top 13. Stunned, he covered his face with his hands.

I guess no one is worried that 13 is an unlucky number? Did that occur to anyone? Paula?

The other two singers picked were:

Jasmine Murray. The amazingly confident 17-year-old sang Christina Aguilera’s “Reflection” with a brave directness that seemed to underwhelm Randy, but deeply impressed the other judges: Kara, who’d always touted Jasmine essentially as a marketable pop entity, now admitted that “you got this big voice that came out of nowhere.”

Megan Joy Corkrey, 22. She performed KT Tunstall’s “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” with a distinctive tone — oddly nasal — and cute little dance moves. “I think that we need you,” said Kara. “You’re different.” (Jesse Langseth, 25, whose voice has a similar sound, was sent home. Not different enough, perhaps.)

Of those who (as Ryan likes to say) came to the end of their journey, Ricky Braddy, 26, didn’t have enough pizzazz, and Von Smith, 22, toned down his theatricality too much — the judges thought he was dully serious.

As for Tatiana del Toro, 24 … ah me! Simon was especially hostile that she had turned Whitney Houston’s “Saving All My Love For You” into something of a signature song for herself. When Tatiana said she hadn’t had time to clear the rights for anything else, he curtly shut her down: “Rubbish,” he said. Finally told she was out, she was first hugged by Megan, then stood before Paula and was told consoling things by the judges as she wept. It was all rather unpleasant. On to the Top 13! –Tom Gliatto

Michael Becker/FOX

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