'American Idol' Recap: Fake-Outs Fuel Fast Train To Finals

The judges set contestants up for heartbreak, and then pass them through.

"American Idol" rounded out its top 30 on Thursday -- well, top 31, but we'll get to that in a minute.

The reveals were marked by the usual linguistic fake-outs by the judges, where they set up contestants for crushing disappointment only to pull the old switcheroo on them at the last minute -- even if that meant they wound up not making any sense whatsoever. Typical example: "We could only take the very best of the best this year, and it's really hard to tell you this, because we really thought you had a chance of winning it all this year, but unfortunately, we are very sorry to have to break the news to you that you... are... one of the finalists!"

Early frontrunner Marrialle Sellars said she "forgot how to breathe" when the judges passed her through after acting like they were going to drop her. But contestant Briston Maroney's reaction was the night's best: "You are a wicked man," Maroney told Harry Connick Jr., after he set him up for rejection.

However the contestants made it, the important thing is that they made it. Here are the big moments from the final episode before "Idol" goes live next week.

Cliffhanger Resolved

Wednesday's show wrapped with C.J. Harris and Casey Thrasher in the hot seats awaiting their fates at the hands of the judges. They even had to sing for their lives, after the judges told them only one of them would be able to go to the next round. Alas, they needn't have worried; both of the country soul men made it through.

Outside the judge's room, Thrasher and Harris met up with fellow finalist Dexter Roberts. "We are the 'Bama Boys,'" the three Alabama natives said, and just like that, the year's first power clique was formed.

A Sleeper Is Revealed

Farmington Hills, Michigan's Jena Ascuitto, who played in a band for four years, performed an original song during Hollywood Week, and it was good enough to put her into the finals. But the judges -- or anyone else, for that matter -- still weren't calling her by the right name. "It's Gee-na," she coached everyone ... and we won't forget it again.

Further, Connick described her as "The Sleeper" of the competition, comparing her to a movie that no one expects anything from and it winds up blowing away the competition. "That's a compliment," Connick reiterated. Ascuitto was glad to hear it; she originally thought they called her "The Sleeper" because she took a nap in the waiting room.

Caleb Rocks

Big-voiced rock and roll belter Caleb Johnson previously made it to the late audition rounds in season 11, and if he didn't leave much of an impression then, he certainly has so far this season. But perhaps he's a bit too animated -- Connick compared him, unflatteringly, to a "costumed character" during one of his auditions, while Urban dubbed him "very 'Rock of Ages.' "

Oof. Still, he held enough promise that he made it through to the next round, where he'll get a chance to strut his stuff for the masses. And who knows, maybe there are some "Rock of Ages" fans out there among voters.

Her Majesty

Majesty Rose York doesn't just have her name to live up to in the competition; she also has the judges' expectations sky high. "Rarely are we so enthusiastic about talent," Connick told her, after putting her through to the live shows. Added J. Lo, "We have high hopes for you, Majesty."

All we know is if the Goldsboro, North Carolina, 21-year-old doesn't sing Lorde's "Royals" in the competition, it will have been a wasted opportunity.

America's Choice

The judges couldn't quite narrow the field of guys down to 15, so it's up to America to do it for them. The final two contestants, Neco Starr and Ben Briley, are both up for the final slot among the boys. The winner will be determined by online voting, with the winner going through and the loser forced to curse his friends and family for not voting enough.

The live shows begin next week with the girls performing Tuesday, the guys performing Wednesday and a live results show on Thursday. Five singers from each group will be cut before they even have a chance to sing -- ouch -- and a top 13 will be determined by the end of the week. Everybody onboard? Because this train is chugging down the tracks.

What do you think of "Idol's" Top 30? Let us know in the comments!

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