American Idol: “Alabama’s Strong,” Says Keith Urban; 4 Bama’s in Top 30

C. J. Harris, Casey Thrasher, and audience sweat out cliffhanger

I hate to say I told you so, but . . . I told you so. Throwing in a nail-biting cliffhanger at the last second of show-time after a sing-off between Alabama boys C. J. Harris and Casey Thrasher, was an Idol ploy. Cute, huh? Casey didn’t think so. “I’m tired of the games,” he said. after learning both he and C.J. were going into the Top 30. All I can say is — “get used to it, kid, it’s American Idol.” Ratings. You know? They have to throw in gags to keep us glued to the screen. But afterward, as Casey was walking off, we heard a very relieved, “Thank God.” Then Casey, C.J., and Dexter Roberts got together for an Alabama boys hurrah for their home state. “Alabama is strong,” Keith Urban said the other night. He’s right. Three of them for sure have made it to the Top 30. One is Jessica Meuse.  

Backstreet Cowboys, Ben Briley, Dexter Roberts, and Casey Thrasher

Marrielle Sellars went through after Harry Connick, Jr., gave her a pep talk about being more consistent. Caleb Johnson was one of several returnees — a big guy with a big voice and an all-out-there personality. To test Caleb’s resolve, Connick put him through a gauntlet of self-assurance tests. Do you think you can sing well? Do you think you can sing great? Do you think you’re relevant? Do you think you belong? After Caleb passed that corridor of questions he was told he was on to the Top 30.

Ethan Harris was put through after judges agreed that he had endured some “tough moments” and that the song he chose for his solo was “a crap song”. But his overall journey to this point must have impressed them. Top 30.

We went through another name correction, this time for “Jeeeena not JINNa”. Because of the spelling of her name, Jena Ascuitto, spent part of her time in the limelight correcting everyone from Ryan Seacrest to Harry Connick, Jr. But, a “rose by any other name”. Of course, when a contestant reaches this level, she definitely wants her name spelled out and announced correctly.

Jennifer Lopez said she had “high hopes” for young Majesty Rose York, who sailed through to the Top 30. But after making Briston Maroney sweat out his time in the hot seat, the relieved Tennessean told Harry Connick, ” You are a wicked man.” And, by the way, I think Briston Maroney is a really great name for a celebrity. It stands out like Indiana Jones.

Briston Maroney tells Harry Connick, Jr. he’s a wicked man

Who me?

Brandy Neelly and Briana Oakley took the long walk to final judgment together, but floundered in the elevator before they got there. They were trying to decide how to open it and which side it would open on. But, luckily, we won’t have to find their remains 20 years from now. The door slid open and they finally faced the judges. They had both been on Idol before, and this time, because of their unique voices, they both claimed a spot in the Top 30.

Blonde, quirky, Kenzie Hall, with the unusual voice, was also remembered by judges for the song dedication to her mother. Jennifer Lopez was especially impressed by Kenzie’s devotion. You could tell Kenzie was sweating her final judgment, and, after her obvious angst was relieved, skipped happily out to her waiting family and into her mother’s arms. Mother and daughter look remarkably alike.

Harry Connick had remarked that Austin Wolfe was “recordable”. Then gave him a chance to prove it when the judges sent him through to the Top 30.

It was down to the last two boys with only one spot left, when Tennessee’s Ben Briley, and Nico Starr were called. After stringing them along for a few moments, they were hit with the news that they would not get their results just yet. In another Idol twist, Ben and Nico (as well as voters) were told that it would be left to America to choose between them. So . . . how many good night’s sleep are these guys going to get?

Ben Briley and Nico Starr must await voter results

American Idol will return Tuesday night when the axe falls live on the girls, whittling down the Top 30. Wednesday night will be the boys’ turn, with the results Thursday night. Here’s your top 15 girls and top 14 boys.


1. Jena Ascuitto
2. Andrina Brogden
3. Kenzie Hall
4. Jillian Jensen
5. Bria Anai Johnson
6. Jessica Meuse
7. M.K. Nobilette
8. Brandy Neelley
9. Brianna Oakley
10. Kristen O’Connor
11. Emily Piriz
12. Marrielle Sellars
13. Malaya Watson
14. Austin Wolfe
15. Majesty Rose York


1. Malcolm Allen
2. Jordan Brisbane
3. CJ Harris
4. Spencer Lloyd
5. George Lovett
6. Briston Maroney
7. Alex Preston
8. Dexter Roberts
9. Casey Thrasher
10. Maurice Townsend
11. Sam Woolf
12. Emmanuel Zidor
13. Caleb Johnson
14. Ethan Harris


12 thoughts on “American Idol: “Alabama’s Strong,” Says Keith Urban; 4 Bama’s in Top 30

  1. I was extremely upset by some of the judges’ decisions. At about the halfway point in the show, there were two girls, one black and one white – I don’t remember the names – and they sent the black girl home. I thought she had Jennifer Hudson potential and was shocked that she wasn’t chosen. I’ll take her any day over Jessica Meuse. I think MK Nobilette was a poor choice to keep. There was a blond guy (again I don’t recall his name) who I thought was wonderful and a girl with dark hair that I felt should have stayed. Both had excellent voices.

    I get the feeling that the judges are going for people with “kook” potential rather than truly talented singers. I am NOT happy.

    • Except for the auditions, some of which I missed, I haven’t gotten to hear enough on most of them to have much of an opinion. Mostly, in the beginning, if they are good enough, I concentrate on personalities and attitudes. You probably have a better “ear” than me and can spot a talent quicker. You and I also are about half and half on our likes and dislikes. There is enough divergent opinion that we agree much of the time but not all of the time. Which is good. Sometimes you change my opinion by pointing out things I haven’t noticed.

      Yes. Nobilette was a poor choice to keep, and knocked out someone with a better voice and personality. It was entirely political. I wish they would leave out the politics and judge people on their ability, like Adam Lambert. As with any singer, I don’t require perfection. Just a good talent with a lot of heart. Adam was a great talent with his heart in every word.

      Hopefully you’ll find a few that you can get excited about.

      By the way. How’s Frank? And you?

      • Yes, we definitely agree about so many things. “Viva la difference” on those that we don’t 🙂 I realize that a singer HAS to have some personality to be a great entertainer and I think we’ll see more of that from these contestants later in the season. They’ve all been in scared-to-death mode so far, worrying about being cut. IMO, Adam set the standard for having it all.

        Well, between Frank being away and the 22″ of snow we just got (and it’s still snowing) life has been a bit challenging. He went into the hospital Feb. 2, had surgery on his leg Feb. 4, and finally went to a rehab facility on Feb. 11. His knee was a mess. The surgeon had to mend a ligament, move the knee cap back to where it belonged, and mend two tendons that he described as “shredded.” He stretched the tendons, stitched them both and is keeping his fingers cross that everything holds. The cast will be on until March 6 and Frank will definitely not be home before then. He’ll have to spend at least two more weeks in rehab after the cast is off.

        I’m doing OK. I get to do what I want when I want, but the novelty is wearing off. I miss the structure and routine of having someone else in the house. I have wonderful neighbors who are keeping the driveway plowed and there’s one neighbor I’m especially fond of. We worked it out that I call her every night at 7 PM to check in just so she knows nothing has happened to me..

    • I’m glad Frank is in a nice facility. It makes a really bad situation a little more bearable I would think. It sounds like he’s really in bad shape. Rehab is going to be hard, I know.

      I know what you mean about the contestants being in scared-to-death mode. I found a group picture of the top 30 but didn’t use it because so many of them slouched, or looked hang-dogged. I wish they wouldn’t push them so hard from one competition to another and give them some kind of leeway. The judges fall-back answer about how hard it is in the real world doesn’t cut it. These are kids just getting their feet wet. I say cut them a little slack instead of the nightmare that is Hollywood hell week.

      I’m glad you’ve got a good neighbor to check in with. And, yep, freedom to do anything you want with no interruption can get old. After being by myself for a few hours, I’m ready for Mike to come home.

      By the way, I only found this comment because the comments also come through my email. It didn’t show up where they usually do, so I didn’t think to look for it. I look for the little light to come on telling me I have a comment. When it doesn’t activate, I don’t know it’s there. Like Mike says, that section I click on has limited space, so that’s probably why something long gets bounced to a location with more room.

      • I get an email notice every time you do a new entry and every time you reply to one of my comments. Occasionally, I also get an email when someone else comments on your entry and you reply to them. Don’t know why. I always check the box that says, “Notify me of follow-up comments via email.” Since it’s your blog, do you get that option?

        I agree about Idol being too hard on the contestants at some stages. I think they should have a couple of days, at least, to organize and practice for the group round. It’s downright inhumane that they work until 3 AM, or all night, get only a couple of hours of sleep and some even fall asleep in the hallways. Ridiculous. As you so rightlly stated, most of them a very young and just starting out. They shouldn’t be pushed so hard this soon.

        Yes, Frank is in pretty bad shape. Rehab is going to be a VERY long haul.

      • Yes, I get email notices, but I’m not real conscientious about checking email, though better than I used to be.

        As for the contestants, I wonder how many other viewers agree?

        Oh, and thanks for the link about the new show. Just have to wait and see. As for X-Factor, I watched it most of one season. Did not like it at all. Not because of the singing, but because of the format, most of it rather stupid. I’m not surprised it didn’t have a long run.

        I guess you know we got winter storms here again. Was going to do a post with my pictures, but woke up with a sore throat and severe headache today.

        Lots of jokes going on around here about our Southern snow problem. Just thought I would share this one. Not one I would usually share but it’s just too funny. Oh well, I tried to copy/paste, but didn’t work. Will have to get Mike to do it later.

        Will pray for Frank. I wince just thinking about it.

      • When I go on line, the first thing I check is the news on my AOL home page. Second is my email. Then I lose myself in blogs, my own and others, for the rest of the evening.

        I liked The X Factor the first year, when Melanie Amaro won, but after that, Simon and the other judges started to annoy me. I didn’t particularly like the format either. I have no idea whether or not the new competition show will be good, but I’ll give it a look-see.

        Yes, I’ve been following the weather in ‘bama and the Carolinas pretty closely since I have friends there…and in Atlanta. As of twilight Friday night, we had gotten 22″ of new snow. It’s crazy. It was quiet today, but another snow storm will be arriving overnight tonight and last through Sunday. I’m beginning to think it may not stop until June.

      • Yes, Mike and I have been following your “nice little winter”. Mike has things set up so we automatically receive the weather from his family’s location in Georgia, and yours and Franks. I know you’re getting cabin fever with all of that.

      • My friend in Charleston gets info autimatically for my area, too. That’s cool.

        The odd thing is, I never get cabin fever. I think I could probably go from Thanksgiving ’til Easter without going any farther from the house than the mail box and bird feeders. I LOVE being inside and cozy. Being inside for long periods has never made me antsy. I guess that’s a good thing since we have the kinds of winters where I don’t want to venture out.


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