’American Idol’ announces 13 finalists

LOS ANGELES (AP) — “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.

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.

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

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 that the male singers would perform Stevie Wonder songs, while the female contestants would pay tribute to the late Whitney Houston, who died last month.

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Fox is a unit of News Corp.

——— Online: http://www.americanidol.com

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