As Fox tries desperately to compete with NBC’s Winter Olympic coverage, they keep unveiling “first time in American Idol history” type stuff, which really is just a small break in format during Hollywood week.
But I’ll give them this…they are getting down to the final 24 quickly. Almost too quickly.

Last night’s two-hour episode began with the final 71 contestants being broken into three rooms. Two rooms would hold those advancing to the next round, and one room full of those heading home. This, after one final shot to impress the judges with a solo performance.

Since they showed bits and pieces of various performances in rapid-fire fashion, we’ll make comments the same way…..

28 year old Angela Martin, who has had the longest string of bad luck any of us has ever seen, was decent but notably shaky in her performance. Of course, her mom was reported missing, I believe right before Hollywood week began. You are not human if you don’t feel bad for Angela…..Casey James did Colbie Caillat’s “Bubbly” and it was a super cool acoustic guitar version (though I personally can’t stand the song)….Jermaine did “Brick House,” and while it was one of the choices available, you have to wonder why dude chose the song played at every single American wedding…another Jermaine, Jermaine Sellers, did a decent version of Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror”….then 19 year old Siobhan, who we haven’t seen much of so far, did an amazing version of Stevie Wonder’s “Livin’ For the City.” Keep an eye on this girl….then guitar-wielding Crystal Bowersox did a pretty good version of Sheryl Crow’s “If it Makes You Happy.” Good but not great…..Alex Lambert broke out his ukelele and did a song that I hate more than “Bubbly,” Jason Mraz’ “I’m Yours.” It was okay, but I still hate the song….then big Michael Lynche also did the Jason Mraz tune, and he was okay but the version was not as good as Lambert’s….17 year old Thaddeus did an awesome version of “Man in the Mirror, much to the delight of his very animated mom…17 year old Charity Vance did “Gravity,” though I’m not sure whose song that is, and it was okay, as was Tasha Layton’s guitar version of Coldplay….Mary Powers, who for my money is way too cocky to make the final 24, was as cover bandy as ever….big Lloyd Thomas, after crying in front of the microphone for a while, did an okay version of “Man in the Mirror”….Brian, the police officer from Tennessee, didn’t do very well but was pleased with some sort of weird hand gesture Simon gave him….20 year old Hope Johnson did a not-very-good rendition of Daughtry’s “Home”….19 year old Shelby Dressel, who has that disorder that affects the nerves on one side of her mouth, chose Boston’s “More than a Feeling,” a very very odd choice both for her and for the producers who made it available, and it was just okay….Aaron Kelly, who forgot the words to Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel,” was still pretty good….Ashley Rodriguez did Jordin Sparks’ “Battlefield,” a curious choice because you then are going to be measured with an Idol champ, and it wasn’t that great….Then Lee Dewyze, Joe Munoz and Haeley Vaughn all went in very rapid-fire fashion, and were all just mediocre, at least in my book….finally there was Janell Wheeler, who was losing her voice during Hollywood week and struggled in her final showing before the judges.

So the contestants were then split into three rooms, and the judges met with them one by one. First, Room 1, and it was a yes for them. That room included Siobhan, Andrew Garcia, Katie Stevens, Casey James and big Michael Lynche. Then Room 2, and they let Simon give this group the bad news that they were going home. This group included Mary Powers (thankfully), Brian the cop, Charity Vance, Lloyd Thomas and Hope Johnson. Finally, Room 3 was a yes, and this set included Ashley Rodriguez, Angela Martin and Shelby Dressel.

So after that, we were down from 71 to 46, as the 25 contestants in Room 2 were sent packing. But wait, there was more than an hour left in the show at this point. So they would begin the next round, which was meeting with each contestant, not in a conference room, but on a small stage in the middle of the Kodak Theatre “for the first time in American Idol history”… lame.

One by one, they were ushered to meet the judges by Ryan Seacrest, and the four judges would tell them individually if they had made it to the next round, which was the Final 24, the TV round in which America would do the voting.

First up, Michael Lynche, the dude whose wife had given birth to their first child at the start of Hollywood week. Simon said something about how he didn’t feel Michael believes in himself the way that the judges believe in him, but that the news was good–he was in the Top 24.

Didi Benami was next, and while none of us remember much about Didi, she also advanced. So did Catelyn, who I don’t remember much about and I can’t even picture her now, but I did write “eh” next to her name, so I don’t think I agreed with the choice.

Shelby Dressel was next and she was the first to be told she was going home. Too bad for her, but I have to believe part of the reason was that horrible song choice of “More Than a Feeling.”

Casey James made it to the Top 24, and Kara, who quite obviously has a crush on this dude, lifted one of her legs when hugging Casey, something Randy Jackson noticed and made fun of profusely afterward. Ha! 16 year old Aaron Kelly also made it through, because you always need a short, wimpy Kevin Covais or David Archuleta type….Lee Dewyze, who has a voice like (argh) Scott Stapp from Creed, also made it to the TV round, and I really have no idea why… did Todrick, who I think is the dude who sang alongside Fantasia in “The Color Purple.”

Finally, Jessica Furney was told she was going home, but then she unleashed a fury of begging and pleading that was, well, epic. This had to be a producer’s dream, as Jessica repeated over and over, “You have no idea what I can do.” Um, yes, Jessica, they do have an idea, because you just sang for them like four times. As Mrs. Mike pointed out, Jessica had the “crazy eyes” and started to get more and more belligerent with the judges, who simply told her their minds were made up and that was that.

So 7 of the final 24 have been announced with 17 more being chosen tonight–10 more girls and 7 more guys. I have to admit, I’m starting to get nervous for my favorite so far, Andrew Garcia. Seacrest made some comment about a “shocking elimination” and they even showed a dejected Garcia walking down the aisle at the Kodak in previews….please, tell me they didn’t let Lee Dweeby in and not my boy…please, don’t tell me that, because if you do, I’m going to go all Jessica Furney on you.

So that’s it everyone…after tonight we will have our Top 24, and the real competition will begin next Tuesday. Thanks for reading and see you all back here tomorrow….