Michael Becker/PictureGroup(4)
March 12, 2010 12:00 AM

Idol finally reached the top 12 finalists, jettisoning two girls and two dudes.

Two of those decisions could be called upsets. Well, the singers certainly seemed upset.

Emotionally, the most disturbing of the two came when Ryan lined up Alex Lambert and Andy Garcia and said goodbye to Alex. Andy’s performances have been a case of diminishing returns, while Alex had been gaining strength. Not too much, that’s true. He never showed Andy’s basic comfort with being on stage, and it cost him. He usually seemed to be singing in a shadow, even in the spotlight.

He was obviously crushed by the news. “I had a lot of fun,” he told Ryan in a sad, teary mumble. He was still crying after commercial break! You felt miserable watching him. The poor guy just didn’t have that almighty drive to fake his way through an awful moment on live TV. That bravery is the hallmark of true performers and politicians.

Then, as the hour ended, Ryan had Lilly Scott stand beside teenager Katie Stevens. Even though the camera had already been doing a lot of closeups of Katie looking as if she were prepped to be burned at the stake, Lilly was the one out. By now she may have struck viewers as a lesser Crystal Bowersox, and more disposable.

She was not happy with this result. (Students of psychology may want to play back her facial reaction.) “I thought that I was appealing to a lot of ,” she said, rather sullen. “A lot of incredible talent is going home tonight. I don’t know what America wants to hear.”

Katelyn Epperly, who earlier this week sang a passable but fundamentally blah variation on Carole King, was the other girl to go — no great upset there. She didn’t have a style that seemed to make consistent sense to the judges. But Ryan, playing his crafty mind games with the viewers, initially brought her down onstage with Paige Miles, a singer with a better voice but a worse track record. It seemed plausible that Paige might be the casuality. But Simon observed that Paige had the greater potential — and she survived.

Todrick Hall was the other guy voted off. He never overcame his image as a Broadway hoofer-chorus boy. This wasn’t altogether fair, since so many Idol contestants have musical-theater experience — but, like Lilly, he apparently was not what America wanted to hear.

Scott McIntyre and Matt Giraud sang Billy Joel‘s “Tell Her About It” facing each other across two pianos. Eh.

Ryan also announced that the first themed show will feature the Rolling Stones‘ catalog. What on earth will Katie sing? –Tom Gliatto

The top 12 are: Aaron Kelly Andrew Garcia Casey James Crystal Bowersox Didi Benami Katie Stevens Lacey Brown Lee Dewyze Michael Lynche Paige Miles Siobhan Magnus Tim Urban

Tell us: What do you think of this year’s top 12? Did America pick the right performers? Who are you rooting for now?Michael

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