‘American Idol’ Announces 14 Semifinalists

Heejun Han was among the contestants who will move on to the live episodes; 10 more will be announced Thursday.

Rest easy, America. Heejun Han made it through.

Han, the biggest personality to emerge on “American Idol” so far this season, was revealed on Wednesday’s (February 22) episode as one of the 24 seminfinalists who will make it through to the live episodes, which begin next week. From a final pool of 42, 14 semifinalists were unveiled during Wednesday’s episode; the final 10 will be made public during Thursday’s one-hour episode.

Joining Han — producers cued “Hey Jude,” which almost sounds like “Heejun,” when he made it through — on the guys’ side are the incredibly named Phillip Phillips; tiny soul man Creighton Fraker; former family band singer Reed Grimm; gospel-voiced Joshua Ledet; and the mohawk-mulleted Colton Dixon. Representing for the ladies are Erika Van Pelt, Jen Hirsh, Haley Johnsen, Elise Testone, Chelsea Sorrell, Baylie Brown, Jessica Sanchez and Brielle Von Hugel.

This being “American Idol,” however, a simple “you made it!” is never quite dramatic enough. Instead, the judges have to drag out their decisions, cruelly suggesting the contestants have been cut and telling them everything short of, “You’ll never sing in this town again, baby,” before waiting a beat and then adding, “because this town’s no longer big enough for you, because you made it through!”

Consider Randy Jackson’s speech on Wednesday to Ledet. “You know what, sometimes in life, you know, you do these shows and you do these things, and sometimes the better singers don’t quite make it, because everything doesn’t quite line up,” Jackson told him. “You know, it’s heartbreaking for us, you know what I mean? It’s like, that’s why this day is so hard, because we have to say ‘bye’ to so many people that we love that are so talented, that everything just didn’t line up. And this season’s definitely tough, you know; we’re trying to find the exact right 24. So for you man, you made it bro.” Ledet reacted to the news by singing, “Thank you, Jesus.”

Likewise, when Jennifer Lopez told Van Pelt the news that she’d made it through, she framed it by telling her — deep breath — “You know, watching everybody over the past few days, we were just saying some people just blew us away, but we had a lot of people who didn’t do as amazing as we thought they were gonna do, and unfortunately you were one of those people. Because we had our eye on you so much from the beginning, because of that voice that comes out of that body, you know? And we’re all such fans, and so yesterday was difficult, ’cause we have to decide who we’re gonna take a chance on and who we’re gonna say, ‘Maybe next time.’ ” Then she told dropped the hammer: “We’re gonna take one more chance on you, Erika.” Well, at least it’s more dramatic than just texting the singers, “congrats, u made it!”

“Idol” also got rid of a few familiar faces during Wednesday’s episode, and this year’s resident cowboy contestant Richie Law was one of the singers shown the door. Others who were cut included St. Louis standout Lauren Gray and an assortment of contestants who haven’t received much camera time, including Blaire Sieber, Naomi Gillies, Neco Starr, Clayton Farhat, River St. James and Caleb Johnson. Most of them seemed to be delivered the news in a less-harsh manner than the ones who made it to the next round.

Thursday’s episode is set to showcase the rest of this year’s semifinalists, as well as reveal the fate of Adam Brock, the family man whose destiny hung in the balance during Wednesday’s cliffhanger ending.

What did you think of Wednesday’s “Idol,” and are you ready to vote for Heejun already? Let us know in the comments!