Last night was all about the singing. But tonight, it was all about the stomach-churning selection process.
On Wednesday's American Idol, the remaining 54 hopefuls were paraded through the palatial new judges' mansion and onto the hot seat, where 36 of them were told they have what it takes.
Aspiring pop stars you'll be able to vote for in the coming weeks include widower Danny Gokey, mother of three Lil Rounds, blind pianist Scott MacIntyre and raspy rocker Jackie Tohn. Even Nick Mitchell was invited back—provided he bring Norman Gentle with him.
The usual end-of-show twist had welder and family man Matt Breitzke singing for his supper against oil-rig roughneck and family man Michael Sarver—both big, burly guys with strong yet sensitive voices. But ultimately the decision lies with us, the people—the judges sent both of 'em on through.
However, 36 whoops of joy meant 18 almost-made-its were sent back to their normal lives, some after being asked to give it their all in a sing-off against a fellow competitor. Surprisingly, best buds Gokey and Jamar Rogers were not asked to try to kick the other out of the competition—but only Gokey, a favorite from day one, made it in the end.
Not forced to sing for her life—although she was ordered by Simon to not be annoying for once—was Tatiana Del Toro, whose baffling run continues.
Well, at least Vote for the Worst has a clear candidate to help kick off season eight.
Here's the complete list of American Idol's Top 36 (at the end of which you'll find our poll):
• Arianna Afsar, 16, San Diego, Calif.
• Kris Allen, 23, Conway, Ark.
• Kendall Beard, 23, Austin, Texas
• Anne Marie Boskovich, 22, Nashville, Tenn.
• Ricky Braddy, 25, Nashville, Tenn.
• Matt Breitzke, 27, Bixby, Okla.
• Casey Carlson, 20, Minneapolis
• Megan Corkrey, 22, Sandy, Utah
• Tatiana Del Toro, 23, Los Angeles
• Anoop Desai, 21, Chapel Hill, N.C.
• Stephen Fowler, 26, Beachwood, Ohio
• Matt Giraud, 23, Kalamazoo, Mich.
• Danny Gokey, 28, Milwaukee
• Alexis Grace, 20, Memphis, Tenn.
• Mishavonna Henson, 18, Irvine, Calif.
• Allison Iraheta, 16, Los Angeles
• Ju'Not Joyner, 26, Bowie, Md.
• Kai Kalama, 26, San Clemente, Calif.
• Brent Keith, 28, Blanchester, Ohio
• Adam Lambert, 26, Los Angeles
• Jesse Langseth, 25, Minneapolis
• Scott MacIntyre, 23, Scottsdale, Ariz.
• Nathaniel Marshall, 18, Malone, N.Y.
• Kristen McNamara, 22, Napa, Calif.
• Nick Mitchell, 27, Brookfield, Conn.
• Jasmine Murray, 16, Starkville, Miss.
• Jorge Nuñez, 20, Carolina, Puerto Rico
• Joanna Pacitti, 23, Philadelphia
• Lil Rounds, 23, Memphis, Tenn.
• Michael Sarver, 27, Jasper, Texas
• Von Smith, 22, Kansas City, Mo.
• Jackie Tohn, 27, Los Angeles
• Taylor Vaifanua, 16, Hurricane, Utah
• Jeanine Vailes, 27, Sherman Oaks, Calif.
• Alex Wagner-Trugman, 19, Los Angeles
• Stevie Wright, 16, Phelan, Calif.