American Idol: Meet the First Contestants to Make Top 12

American Idol: Meet the First Contestants to Make Top 12
Michael Becker/FOX(2)

02/18/2009 AT 12:00 AM EST

The voting-off has begun.

The biggest surprise of the night came at the halfway point of Wednesday's show: Ryan summoned to center stage both Anoop Desai, 21, and Michael Sarver, 27, (who looks like a countrified Seth Rogan) and told Anoop he was out. Michael would move on to the top 12, thanks to a mere 20,000-vote margin. Anoop had definitely been disappointing the night before, but Michael had been worse.

Did Michael get a boost from Simon saying that -- despite his mangling of "I Don't Want to Be" -- his voice was worth keeping in the competition? In the long run, Simon may be right.

Alexis Grace, 21, by far the best singer in Tuesday's terribly wobbly show, was the one no-brainer of the night, also advancing on to the next round.

Ricky Braddy, 26, had also seemed a plausible candidate to join the top 12. But the fact that viewers didn't even know him before Monday probably hurt him. Bye bye, Ricky. With him and Anoop out, it seemed more or less pre-ordained that the night's third and last finalist would be Danny Gokey, 28, who'd been featured prominently so far in the season's episodes.

But leading up to Gokey's victory, Idol producers couldn't resist the sadistic satisfaction of toying with the much-discussed Tatiana del Torro, 24, one last time. Gokey took the stage with her and Ryan informed them that only one would go through. Given Gokey’s popularity with the judges, you could sense the abyss yawning beneath Tatiana's feet. After all that, she probably doesn't hope to be brought back as a wild card holder.

Then again, she's Tatiana! Dream on, little sparrow.

A special treat for fans of former contestants Carly Smithson and Michael Johns: They performed a duet of “The Letter." Yeah ... it was kind of smarmy. -- Tom Gliatto

Tell us: Did America make the right decision? Who might get a wild card from the judges? Michael Becker/FOX(2)

From Our Partners