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'American Idol's' top 40 singers: What were the judges thinking?!

The judges made their top-40 picks on
The judges made their top-40 picks onFox

“American Idol” cut its singers to 40 on Thursday, and the judges made some strange choices in who they sent onto Las Vegas and who got plane tickets home instead.

With two singers left and only one slot available, the judges had Stephanie Schimel sing for her life against Rachel Hale for the final spot among the girls. Both were among the stars of the auditions, and both had shone in their appearances before the cameras to date. No matter -- one of them had to go, lest “Idol” have to pony up the bucks for another plane ticket and hotel room -- and Schimel got the bad news.

Which begs the question, were these really the 20th and 21st best women in the competition? We obviously haven’t seen a lot of some of these women, but if you’re looking for someone who has the potential to be memorable enough to win, both Schimel and Hale had the potential to go a long way.

Let’s put it like this -- Schimel would have had an infinitely better chance of winning than Zoanette Johnson does. Johnson is super entertaining to watch, and walks that fine line between compelling and trainwreckiness better than anyone in a long time. But at some point she’s likely to crash and burn. And before she drums again, she should at least practice hanging onto the drumsticks.

Between Schimel and Schyler Dixon, eliminated on the first day of Hollywood Week, there are plenty of folks unhappy with the judges. Dixon, the sister of season 11’s Colton Dixon, was eliminated in Vegas a year ago amid much wailing and gnashing of teeth from her brother, but was only shown in the background this time around. And Briana Oakley, who auditioned in Long Beach with a tale of her problems with being bullied, also exited surprisingly early.

The Kez Ban era ended as well. Unpredictable to the end, it was only as she was exiting the show that she gave some indication that she cared about her fate. “I'm a square peg in a round hole around here, but my mom loves the show and I wanted to make her proud,” she said. She then asked to stick around and keep working for the show in some capacity, so look for her doing some of the interviews at the finale.

Then the guys came back to cut the final eight to get them to the requisite 20. The biggest surprise among the boys wasn’t Adam Sanders, who got smoked in his sing-off with Josh Holiday (although at least Sanders didn’t split his pants in the process, like Holiday did). For those who watched season 11, the shock was likely the early exit of David Leathers Jr., a late cut a year ago who seemed to wilt onstage following a second consecutive agonizingly late exit.

“Idol” is clearly looking for something different in season 12, and they would really, really appreciate it if fans would vote for a girl this time around. And if that’s what they’re shooting for, perhaps the judges should actually keep all the girls with potential, rather than letting some potential contenders depart too soon.

What do you think of the top 40? Did the right singers make it through? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.

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