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Published: Friday, 3/2/2012

American Idol down to 13 singers


LOS ANGELES — American Idol is down to the top 13 singers.

Smooth 21-year-old pawn shop worker Phillip Phillips of Leesburg, Ga., quirky 22-year-old nonprofit organizer Heejun Han of New York, and spunky 18-year-old country crooner Skylar Laine from Brandon, Miss., were among the finalists revealed Thursday on the Fox singing contest.

They and seven others received the most viewer votes after the 13 male semifinalists performed Tuesday and the 12 female semifinalists sang Wednesday.

The other viewer-selected finalists included soothing 18-year-old vocalist Hollie Cavanaugh of McKinney, Texas; 20-year-old alt-rock musician Colton Dixon of Murfreesboro, Tenn.; 25-year-old “gentle giant” Jermaine Jones of Pine Hill, N.J.; booming 19-year-old student Joshua Ledet of Westlake, La.; soaring 16-year-old vocalist Shannon Magrane of Tampa, Fla.; 16-year-old Jessica Sanchez of San Diego, and soulful 28-year-old teacher Elise Testone of Charleston, S.C.

“America, you’re on fire, because this is an amazing top 10 brewing,” said judge Randy Jackson.

Jimmy Iovine, chairman of Interscope Records, critiqued the contestants’ previous performances and noted that he’d sign Mr. Phillips, “on the spot.”

Once the fan favorites were all revealed, the show’s panel picked five remaining semifinalists to deliver a last-chance tune in hopes of becoming one of the judges’ “wild card” selections.

The judges ultimately chose 17-year-old student Deandre Brackensick of San Jose, Calif.; 19-year-old receptionist Jeremy Rosado,of Valrico, Fla., and 26-year-old disc jockey Erika Van Pelt of South Kingstown, R.I., to be among the top 13.

For their “last chance” songs, Mr. Brackensick chose “Georgia on My Mind,” Mr. Rosado tackled Carrie Underwood’s “I Know You Won’t,” while Ms. Van Pelt took on Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory.”

“I love somebody who can fight through the tears and still deliver,” judge Jennifer Lopez told a weepy Ms. Van Pelt.

Judge Steven Tyler was wowed, yelling, “Out of the park, baby, out of the park!”

The finalists will return to the stage to sing next Wednesday for the first round of season 11’s finals.

Idol host Ryan Seacrest announced Thursday the male singers will perform Stevie Wonder songs and the female contestants would pay tribute to the late Whitney Houston, who died last month.

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