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'American Idol' determines three more Top 12 eighth-season finalists


By Steve Rogers, 02/27/2009 

American Idol determined its next three eighth-season finalists last night, with Thursday night's live results show revealing that Kris Allen, Allison Iraheta and Adam Lambert had advanced to the Top 12 finals after receiving the most home viewer votes for their performances during Wednesday night's broadcast of the season's second semifinals group.

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Allen, Iraheta and Lambert's advancements mean that the other nine members of the semifinals' second performance group -- Matt Breitzke, Megan Corkrey, Matt Giraud, Mishavonna Henson, Kai Kalama, Jesse Langseth, Nick Mitchell, Jasmine Murray, and Jeanine Vailes -- will now have to hope they will get to perform in the special "Wild Card Round" in which American Idol's judges will determine the final three members of the season's Top 12.

Unlike American Idol's seventh-season semifinals rounds which began with 24 semifinalists and determined the season's Top 12 finalists by cutting the two male and two female semifinalists that had received the fewest home viewer votes after each of the semifinals' three performance rounds, Idol's eighth season is dividing the season's 36 semifinalists into three performance groups and advancing each group's top male vote-getter, top female vote-getter, and the next-highest vote-getter to the season's Top 12 finals.
 
American Idol host Ryan Seacrest revealed each semifinalist's fate during an hour-long results show that also included the 12 semifinalists doing a group performance of Ne-Yo's "Closer" and seventh-season Idol finalist Brooke White returning to the show to perform "Hold Up My Heart," the first song from her upcoming new album.

According to Seacrest, over 25 million home viewer votes were cast after Wednesday night's broadcast.

"I'm just so freaking happy right now, so happy, thank you," Iraheta, a 16-year-old from Downey, CA, told Seacrest after joining the three semifinalists that advanced from last week's performance group -- Alexis Grace, Michael Sarver and Danny Gokey -- in the Idol stage's Top 12 finalists seating area.

Iraheta had sung Heart's "Alone" during Wednesday night's performance show and all four Idol judges had praised the performance.

"Yo, you just blew out da' box right there," Idol judge Randy Jackson said after the performance.  "See it don't matter what age you are or no matter who else is in here or who the contestants [are] up there or whatever, sixteen [years-old] and she blew it out da' box."

"You're serious. This girl is serious. You don't even know how good you are, you really don't," new judge Kara DioGuardi said.  "But from now on you can be sure you're great. You don't need to worry about if you're great, you just gotta get comfortable... with being onstage."

"Allison, I think you can sing the telephone book. You're one of those," Paula Abdul said.  "You did an incredible job. And I will say, another very Kelly Clarkson sound to you."
 
Iraheta even managed to earn praise from the usually hard-to-please Simon Cowell.

"You may be one to watch in this competition," he said.  "I'm very, very impressed with you, great."

"Freaking" was apparently the buzzword of the night, as Allen had admitted to being "really freaking nervous" and having "no idea" about his fate prior to Seacrest's announcement that he'd also earned enough votes to advance to American Idol's eighth-season finals.

"Thank you so much," an emotional Allen said after learning his fate.

Allen, a 23-year-old from Jacksonville, AR, had performed Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror" on Wednesday's show.

All three of Idol's veteran judges had offered positive feedback to Allen's performance however DioGuardi -- the first of the four judges to offer feedback -- hadn't come away as impressed.

"The back half of that performance was way better than the front... the front was really rough for me.  But it still does not come close to what you did in Hollywood Week, " DioGuardi had said. "This was just the wrong song, completely wrong... this just didn't show me really what I fell in love with you in Hollywood."

But Abdul had immediately made it clear she disagreed with DioGuardi's opinion.

"Um, I'm gonna disagree completely," Abdul said. "I think that you showed your personality... it's a beautiful song and you nailed it, you nailed it. And I thought you were charming up there, when you're confident it really shows."

Even Cowell had seemed surprised to find himself agreeing with Abdul versus DioGuardi.

"I'm going to agree... with Paula," he said.  "What you did tonight is at least you did what we asked which was to show some confidence and personality. It's very easy to forget somebody like you, but I think you made an effort, you look good I think the chicks are gonna love you. So I was actually quite proud of you tonight that you actually gave it a go and I think you may have put yourself back in the running."

Seacrest revealed Lambert's advancement after narrowing the pool of potential advancers to only Lambert and Mitchell, a sketch comedian that had drawn Cowell's ire by deciding to perform as his "Norman Gentle" persona during Wednesday's show.
 
"I prayed for about five or six hours non-stop last night and I'm hoping me and God have got a good relationship right now," Cowell joked to Seacrest before the host revealed whether Lambert or Mitchell had been the one to receive enough votes to advance to the finals.

"I thought Nick was hilarious [last night] so I didn't know what was going to happen," Lambert told Seacrest after learning he'd made the season's Top 12 finals.  "I'm really excited, thank you guys so much."

Lambert, a 27-year-old who currently resides in Los Angeles, CA, had performed the Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" on Wednesday.

Similar to Allen, three of the judges had offered positive feedback to the performance, with Cowell being the sole dissenter but predicting his opinion wouldn't prevent Lambert from advancing to Idol's finals.

"Adam I am really finding this one difficult, because there were parts I thought were excruciatingly bad and parts which I thought were brilliant. So this is a really weird one for me," Cowell said on Wednesday. "I thought the end note was terrific but there were parts, particularly at the beginning I thought were terrible to be honest with you. This is going to be one of those 'Love it or hate it' performances, which is fine. I think you're gonna get through."

The other judges had all praised the performance unabashedly, with Abdul gushing that Lambert was "in a league of your own," Jackson stating he was "one of the most current artists we've ever had on this show," and DioGuardi saying he had "outrageous" technique and ability and was "crazy... in a good way."

Idol's third and final eighth-season semifinals performance show will air on Tuesday, March 2 at 8PM ET/PT.  The live broadcast will feature performances by semifinalists Arianna Afsar, Felicia Barton, Kendall Beard, Ju'Not Joyner, Scott MacIntyre, Nathaniel Marshall, Kristen McNamara, Jorge Nunez, Lil Rounds, Von Smith, Taylor Vaifanua, and Alexander Wagner-Trugman.

After revealing the identities of the three third-group finalists that earned enough home viewer votes to advance to the season's Top 12 finals the following night, Idol will broadcast it's special "Wild Card Round" on Thursday, March 4.

"We're going to bring back a selection of people who we think deserve a second shot -- maybe they choose the wrong songs.  I think we're all in agreement, maybe even a couple from tonight, you're going to see again," Cowell said.

(Photo credit Michael Becker/FOX)

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