American Idol Takes Rejection to New Heights

What's the worst job interview you've ever had to go on? Did you have to wait endlessly in the lobby? Was there a nerve-wracking elevator ride to the top floor of an office building? Did you have to sit awkwardly in front of three interviewers with a reputation for being either mean, or quirky, or both? Were there cameras sticking in your face?

Yeah? Well then you know exactly what the American Idol contestants went through Wednesday night as they

learned who would be moving on to the Top 24, and who would be going home.

Photo Gallery: Meet the American Idol Final 24

I know Idol is trying to make this as dramatic and suspenseful as possible, but frankly I thought the whole thing was a little convoluted. After the Hollywood auditions, which we saw Tuesday night, they whittled the group of 160 down to about 50. Then they made their picks and brought each contestant in one-by-one to learn his or her fate. First they sat in a

large lobby waiting. Then, one by one, they had to ride an elevator to the top floor, with a camera inside capturing their angst. Out the elevator doors, they had to walk about 100 feet

or so across a big empty room and sit in a single chair about 15 feet away from Paula, Simon and Randy. Then they got the news.

Hey, I have an idea. Next year, Idol should hold this part of the show in the cave from Raiders of the Lost Ark, and make everyone jump over a bottomless pit, dodge

poison darts, and outrun a huge boulder in order to find out if they've made it to the Top 24.

Seriously, I think they were just trying to drag out the process to fill an hour. The cameras in the elevator sound like a good idea on paper, but didn't really catch any good emotion

from anyone coming or going. It was pretty much what you'd expect. People that made it were happy. People that didn't were sad. Or angry. Or both.

Randy and Simon were pretty direct and to the point when they delivered the news (good or bad) to a contestant. But what was the deal with Paula? Every time she had to break

the news, she rambled on... and on... and on.... Simon even had to tell her to shut up and get a move on with Carly Smithson.

So, any surprises? Not many. Contestants like Carly, Amanda Overmyer, Danny Noriega, and Michael Johns were no-brainers. They almost got me with the Brooke White bait

and switch. She came out of the elevator crying, and Randy played it like she was getting the boot, but told her she had actually made it. Cruel, Randy. So cruel.

I think Josiah Leming getting his walking papers was a surprise. Despite his horrendous rendition of Stand By Me in the final round, I thought they'd give him a pass based on his

previous success. But nothing doing. For Josiah, it's back to living in his car, playin' guitar. He coulda gone far, but he didn't make the bar. (Feel free to write these down if you

want, I'm on FIRE!)

When it came down to the final two girls, the judges chose plus-sized model Joanne Borgella over Cardin McKinney. They've been making a big deal (or at least Joanne has)

about how Joanne has had so much trouble in the industry because she's "big." I'm a little tired of that story line for Idol. After Reuben in Season Two, I think we all stopped

being blatantly shallow about someone's weight. There've been lots of larger contestants since Rueben, including LaKisha Jones and Melinda Doolittle last season. Last year's

winner, Jordin Sparks, isn't exactly petite. Who cares about size anymore?

For the final two guys, the judges selected Colton Berry over uber-nerd Kyle Ensley. Simon said he strongly disagreed with the decision and wished Kyle was going on. (Don't

you run the whole show Simon?) I think the judges and Idol producers missed a great chance for another Sanjaya. Kyle would have been intentionally goofy at every chance,

which would have made for some great TV.

There are a lot of young contestants this year. Nearly half of the Top 24 are under 21, and eight of them are teenagers. That should be interesting to see how they do.

Geographically, most of the group is from the south, including three from Florida and two from Tulsa, Oklahoma. But there are a few Yankees in there too and a smattering of singers

from the west.

Here's the official list, and you can check out everyone's stats here.

Alaina Whitaker, 16

Alexandrea Lushington, 16

Amanda Overmyer, 23

Amy Jean Davis, 25

Asia'h Epperson, 19

Brooke White, 24

Carly Smithson, 24

Chikezie Eze, 22

Colton Berry, 17

Danny Norriega, 18

David Archuleta, 17

David Cook, 25

David Hernandez, 24

Garrett Haley, 17

Jason Castro, 20

Jason Yeager, 28

Joanne Borgella, 25

Kady Malloy, 18

Kristy Lee Cook, 24

Luke Menard, 29

Michael Johns, 29

Ramiele Malubay, 20

Robbie Carrico, 26

Syesha Mercado, 21

Next week, the first performances and the first cut. I can't wait.

Ethan Morris: "Not always right, but never in doubt." Go ahead and write me.