Ryan walks down a line of the Top 24 on a dramatically lit soundstage, saying the guys are going to be performing live tonight. Then suddenly we’re in the noisy auditorium packed with cheering fans, or whatever word you want to use, and an announcer much better than the one on The X Factor introduces the judges and Ryan, who comes out onstage in a three-piece suit with no tie. Very disco.
Ryan shows off the new stage, which has fancy lighting and architecture and an open-air tech booth that I’m sure the cameras will be catching at every opportunity, and about as many seats as you had in your high school’s theater. Ryan tells us that the new American Idol will be crowned right here on this stage in just a few short months. Yeah, I’ll decide how short they are, Seacrest. He goes on to say that after tonight’s two hours’ worth of guys singing and tomorrow’s two hours’ worth of girls singing, we’ll have to watch two hours of the top five from each group being chosen, and then each judge gets a wild card to create the top thirteen.
Ryan greets Randy (in a Clown Dracula dress shirt), Jennifer, Steven and the female half of the Top 24, who don’t even get to sit down and have to stand between the judges’ table and the edge of the stage. Finally Ryan brings out the male semifinalists: Reed Grimm, Adam Brock, DeAndre Brackensick, Colton Dixon, Jeremy Rosado, Aaron Marcellus, Chase Likens, Creighton Fraker, Phil Phillips, Eben Franckewitz, Heejun Han and Joshua Ledet. Ryan reminds us that another guy will be brought back this week, and we’ll find out who later. Will we find out why?
But first, all of the semifinalists were sent home with cameras to capture their home life. We start with Reed Grimm in Ellsworth, Wisconsin, who shows off his backyard stretching to the horizon, the local delicacy known as cheese curds, and his two preschool nieces for whom he apparently serves as primary caregiver and whom he can’t wait to get away from.