Idol Rich: Two Locals Aim for Top 40

Last night, this season's remaining 50 Idol contestants left the City of Angels for the City of Sin and began working on Beatles classics in pairs and trios. Vocal coaches were essentially flogging them with barbed critiques during rehearsal and in what I assume was meant to be a cute montage, and lots of young vocalists admitted on national television that they didn't know/had never heard/couldn't point out in a line up anything to do with the Fab Four.

Mop top says "What?"

Because he had worked with John Lennon in the past, and is a recurring featured player on this season of Idol, contestants ran through a casual audition for record guru Jimmy Iovine and his posse. Iovine -- and his scarf -- were unhappy with the varied results.

The reason for the Vegas trip? Cirque du Soleil's The Beatles LOVE show is there, so, uh... you know. Makes sense, right? Well, not really, but OK. The kids did get to see the show after their horrendous day, so we all get our product placement and adorable "Ah!" faces in the audience and everyone was marginally happy.

But when it came time for the contestants to perform for the actual judges, there was a lot of schlock, some quality talent, and serious camera time for Fort Worth's Tim Halperin, 23.

He sat behind the keys, opposite Los Angeles' Julie Zorrilla, 20, seated behind her own keys, and the two traded verses on "Something."

Full disclosure: George Harrison is and will always be my favorite Beatle, so I'm a tough critic.

The delivery was a little hammy, with the two performing seated for half of the song before leaving their benches to come forward and face each other. The moony eyes were a bit much, but then, that song will do things -- powerful things -- to anyone with a soul. Jennifer Lopez commented during the performance, "Love him!" Me? I can't say it was my favorite rendition of the song, but it was a strong showing for Idol's patented cheese-fisting of beloved hits... and much, much better than the bed-bouncing (no joke) and Keystone Kops skits that other groups provided with their overwrought offerings.

Back in L.A., the contestants had a final solo performance for the judges before walking the world's most excessively long runway to find out if they'd made it into the Top 24.

Viewers only got snippets of performances, including one by Arlington's McKinney's Holly Cavanaugh -- better known to most as "Crying Girl." She bellowed out Alicia Keys' "No One" and it sounded relatively strong for the short edit we were allowed. But it wasn't enough and, in the first elimination of the night, Holly was given the boot back to Texas. J-Lo said she was out-voted and she thought Holly had one of the best voices in the competition, clearly belonging in the Top 24. However, Randy had pointed out during deliberation that, at 17, she had a greater opportunity to return in auditions to come. And Lopez went on to say that, if she did so, she could win the whole competition.

So there you go, Holly.

Lopez then broke down after eliminating another fan favorite, Chris Medina, and said she couldn't keep doing that to the contestants. Randy Jackson and Steven Tyler consoled her and, frankly, it was sort of disturbing how the focus strayed from the contestants to how hard it must be for an established star to keep her composure when doling out bad news.

The screen then faded to a dramatic "To be continued..." and Ryan Seacrest hinted that Randy and STyler might be the only ones handing out verdicts on tonight's episode. Perhaps, then, said focus will return to the ones who aren't being paid to be on the show. We can only hope.

It seems our Fort Worth boy's fate hangs in the balance until prime time tonight...

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Merritt Martin
Contact: Merritt Martin