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'American Idol' reveals 14 of eleventh season's Top 24 semifinalists


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 02/23/2012 

American Idol ended the dreams of eight hopefuls and revealed the first 14 of the competition's eleventh-season Top 24 semifinalists during Wednesday night's two-hour Fox broadcast.

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Fourteen American Idol semifinalists, consisting of six male and eight female singers, were unveiled during last night's "Final Judgment" broadcast after the season's 42 remaining hopefuls took to the stage in Las Vegas and performed one final song of their choice backed by only one musician with one instrument.

The six guys who advanced to American Idol's semifinals were Colton Dixon, a 20-year-old from Murfreesboro, TN; Creighton Fraker, a 28-year-old from Queens, NY; Reed Grimm, a 26-year-old from Ellsworth, WI; Heejun Han, a 22-year-old from Flushing, NY; Joshua Ledet, a 19-year-old from Westlake, LA; and Phillip Phillips, a 21-year-old from Leesburg, GA.

The eight girls who also made the cut were Baylie Brown, a 22-year-old from Krum, TX; Jen Hirsh, a 25-year-old from Agoura Hills, CA; Haley Johnsen, a 23-year-old from Beaverton, OR; Jessica Sanchez, a 16-year-old from San Diego, CA; Chelsea Sorrell, a 23-year-old from Stokesdale, NC; Elise Testone, a 28-year-old from Charleston, SC; Erika Van Pelt, a 26-year-old from South Kingstown, RI; and Brielle Von Hugel, a 17-year-old from Staten Island, NY.

In addition, American Idol judges Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson were shown telling eight additional hopefuls -- Lauren Gray, Blaire Sheber, Naomi Gillies, Neco Starr, Clayton Farhart, River St. James, Caleb Johnson, and Richie Law -- that they were among the 42 who had made the season's Final Judgment but hadn't made the semifinals.

Most of the rejected American Idol hopefuls appeared to handle the news of their elimination well, including Law -- who sparred with Han during Hollywood Week's group round when he had attempted to take control of and lead his team -- and Gray, who was asked to come back another year because she was so close to landing one of the semifinalist spots. 

"As the competition went from Hollywood Week on, it just kind of got a little bit more difficult for you. I don't know if you got inside your own head, I don't know what happened. Do you want to talk a little bit about that?" Jackson asked Gray.

"I don't know. I just felt like I didn't want to disappoint you guys because you guys have had so much faith in me," Gray replied.

"It's not only disappointing to us. I think you know it's just disappointing yourself and all that," Jackson said.

"I just feel so blessed to have met you guys. You guys have made me believe in myself so very much," Gray explained.

"Good, because you sang that good," Tyler added.

"You must believe. You did not make it this year," Jackson confirmed.

"I knew it was coming," Gray said.

"What I want to say to you is believe in yourself, do the work and come back," Jackson suggested. "You're 23, you're so good and you were so close."

"And we really want you to come back," Lopez said.

"I'll consider it," Gray said.

Lopez thanked her and then Jackson noted the judges all appreciated her and wished her luck as she walked away. Once she returned to the waiting room, American Idol host Ryan Seacrest told her he also hoped she would come back and audition for the show again, but Gray just said, "maybe."

American Idol will formally reveal the eleventh season's 10 remaining semifinalists and more final cuts will be made during Thursday night's one-hour broadcast.

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