Redemption came for many tonight, but only three of the still-running American Idol also-rans could truly call it a job well done in the end.
As promised, the Idol judges exercised—questionably, at times—their authority and rounded out the Top 12 after eight more survival-dependent performances, which contained, as always, a few "interesting" song choices and, not as always, a couple of repeats.
But did Anoop Desai do himself a disservice by resurrecting "My Prerogative," which he also sang during Hollywood Week? And did the talkative Tatiana Del Toro do herself any favors by belting out "Saving All My Love for You" for the second week in a row?
There's an interesting answer to one of those questions, actually.
But first, say goodbye to the tears and the laughter (the really annoying laughter, anyway), because Tatiana's dramatic run has finally ended. Despite an impressive vocal on one of the tougher Whitney songs in the book, her big voice and Vote for the Worst-tailored personality weren't enough to get her over the final hump.
"We love you and we've had a lot of fun with you and you are a brilliant singer," resident mama bear Paula Abdul assured the emotionally stricken singer. "And make no mistake about it, you're going to be going places."
Tatiana's ouster allowed for the addition of another big voice, however.
Jasmine Murray, 16, an early favorite who butchered "Love Song" last week, has another chance to endear herself to America after surprising the judges—Kara DioGuardi, especially—with her big, booming vocal.
"I'm all confused," Kara stated after Jasmine cut the up-tempo act and belted out Christina Aguilera's "Reflection."
Also retaining her early spot in the judges' starry eyes was Megan Corkrey, whose atypical voice massaged K.T. Tunstall's "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" into a very listenable snippet of what could be a burgeoning indie-inspired pop career.
It probably didn't hurt that Megan's superhot, of course.
"Not the best vocal we're ever going to hear, but it doesn't matter. It was terrific," Simon Cowell said. Which, coming from him, means that Megan is cute as a button.
At long last, after goodbyes had been said to Tatiana, Ricky Braddy, Jesse Langseth and Von Smith, dueling piano player Matt Giraud and Anoop-Dogg, who went out on a limb by redoing "My Prerogative," were the only ones left.
Although Simon didn't care for Matt's fedora and scarf (and we didn't really like his skinny black jeans and white shirt), and he thinks Anoop is just so darn likable...the judges went with Matt.
And Anoop, to make the first-ever Idol Top 13.
As a refresher, here are the still-in-it-to-win-it singers on tap to bring it next week:
• Kris Allen, 23
• Megan Corkrey, 22
• Anoop Desai, 21
• Matt Giraud, 23
• Danny Gokey, 28
• Alexis Grace, 21
• Allison Iraheta, 16
• Adam Lambert, 26
• Scott MacIntyre, 23
• Jasmine Murray, 16
• Jorge Nunez, 20
• Lil Rounds, 23
• Michael Sarver, 27
So, how is this season shaping up in your eyes? Was tonight's wild-card round a serious sing-off or a mere formality, because the judges knew all along who they wanted in their precious Top 12/13? Do share!
(Originally published March 5, 2009, at 6:05 p.m. PT)