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    American Idol Recap: Meet the Top 24, Part One

    Over the course of two hours tonight, 42 became...14?

    The fans will start voting for their top-24 favorites on American Idol next week, but the judges have to cut the competition in half first.

    And who says they have to even do that all at once?

    One by one, the remaining hopefuls took the long, solitary walk to sit in front of Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler and find out whether the competition gods were smiling on them.

    The first two kids down the hall, Jen Hirsh and Creighton Fraker, got good news. Did the throaty-voiced Lauren Gray make it three-for-three?

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    Alas, no. The 23-year-old from Arkansas was the first aspiring star to get bad news Wednesday—but she obviously wasn't the last.

    Rocker Caleb Johnson lost his way during his final solo performance and asked for water. "You're surrounded by it!" Tyler cracked. Epic fail.

    Country darlin' Chelsea Sorrell had to hum through some lyrics, too...but she made it! And 21-year-old Baylie Brown, despite being yet another country singer, made good on her second Idol tryout, five years after her first one. Same went for Colton Dixon, who almost didn't audition again this year after being cut at this exact moment in 2011.

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    Among those joining Caleb and Lauren in the dustbin, however, were Neco Starr, Richie Law (they passed on Scotty McCreery, part deux), Clayton Farhat and Naomi Gillies.

    But let us not ignore the triumphant first seven-twelfths of the top 24! Here they are:

    • Jen Hirsh
    • Creighton Fraker
    Joshua Ledet
    Haley Johnson
    Elise Testone
    Reed Grimm
    Erika Van Pelt
    • Chelsea Sorrell
    • Baylie Brown
    Heejun Han
    Jessica Sanchez
    Phil Phillips
    • Colton Dixon
    Brielle Von Hugel

    These lucky ducks start singing for your votes next week, to be joined by, possibly, Adam Brock (he was tonight's cliffhanger) and then seven more.

    What do you think of the judges' last round of decision making? Any surprise cuts in your book?


    (Originally published Feb. 22, 2012, at 7:15 p.m. PT)