The top 13! How did we get here already? It seems like just yesterday the judges were sitting on an aircraft carrier listening to that girl in the bikini or whatever she was wearing wail away. Weren't we just in Aspen? How long ago was Portland? Time moves pretty fast around here. Ah well. Here we are.

First off, I apologize for my absence during last week's SHOCKING and THRILLING quarter quell. Boy oh boy would it have been fun to write about the not a moment too soon demise of Reed Grimm, one of Idol's most annoying contestants in years and years. Also the elimination of that Brielle girl whose mom is the devil, like the actual literal devil, could have been fun to scribble-type about. But what can you do, that's all in the past now. Now we can only look forward. Meaning let's talk about last night. Haha.

THE GOOD

Joshua Ledet! Oh boy, don't you like him? He seems so friendly and unassuming when he's just standing there looking like a little turtle (Keroppi!!), but then he gets to singing and he's just exploding all over the place. I didn't really get why last week they were calling him Mantasia, it seemed a little strange. I mean, Fantasia Barrino was a gorgeous fire demon who did voodoo on the regular and Joshua is just a little turtle creature who smiles a lot. It just didn't seem to add up. But! When Joshua got to singing Stevie Wonder last night (boys saying Stevie, girls sang Whitney) oh lord. He was doing some 'Tasia bounce, wasn't he? What did she used to cal that? Boboing? I think it was boboing. I mean last night Joshua was stepping around in a manner vaguely reminiscent of the greatest Idol performance of all time. It wasn't quite there, obviously. Very little could ever hope to get all the way there, but it was on the road. I like this kid. I hope he goes far!

She didn't sing it perfectly, but my soft spot for Hollie Cavanaugh, our little British fairy creature, made it easy to forgive the slight wonkiness of her "All the Man That I Need." She just sings like a little angel, doesn't she? An angel that has maybe secretly wailed it at a few underground nightclub gigs here and there. It's just such a fun, giddy surprise, every time, when that big booming mature voice comes roaring out of this tiny tea flower. She's a delight to watch. I unabashedly love her. Deal with it, America. Hollie Cavanaugh has thoroughly Melinda Doolittled me. Cavanaugh? CavaYES. (Incidentally, "Cava? Yes" is often how bad hangovers begin.) Has anyone in the past five years ever wanted to say the phrase "you go, girl"? Because I kind of want to say it right now. Sing on, tiny elfin warbler! Blow down the doors to the mean troll king's fortress with that banshee cry of yours.

Country pumpkin Skylar Laine would be annoying were she not such a surprisingly competent vocalist. The Whitney Houston oeuvre would, at first, seem a bit too big for someone like her, and yet there she was last night, singing "Where Do Broken Hearts Go" all professional-like. She actually got some good advice from Jimmy Iodine and guest mentor Mary J. Blige, which was nice to see. Basically they wanted her to stop it with the big belts because that's not where her sweet spot is, and they were right! So she softened the whole thing up (she did save one last satisfying screech for the end, though) and it was aces. Honestly! Maybe I've grown soft after all these Idol years, but I feel nothing but warm, positive feelings for these three kids up here. They're all so cute and so good and I'd be happy if they were the top three. Sure it'd be nice to see Phil Phillips still up there lookin' like a chipwich in a T-shirt at the end of the season, but vocally, y'know, singin'-wise, these three are my favorite. The best! They're just the best.

(Oh, I know that everyone was gooing their Guesses over Jessica Sanchez last night, and sure she sounded good, but I just didn't feel the soul there. Sorry. What can you do.)

THE BAD

Ohh good grief, that great big tall girl was a great big mess last night. She's the one whose last name is Migraine or something and eesh. Last week she sang this terrible Christian rock song that made everyone's ears weep and yet she inexplicably made it through. Maybe this week she'll be justifiably voted off, though. She attempted to sing "I Have Nothing," and yikety yike yikes. Somewhere about three-quarters of the way in, her vocal chords got wrapped around a telephone pole and started getting electrocuted, and the sound that came out was like a drunk cat receiving some terrible news. "Yeowwwww??? Yeowwwwrrrrrrr." You could see it in this giant's glassy eyes, a look of sudden, disbelieving dread. She knew she biffed it hard, and even our sunshiny lollipop judges couldn't smooth it over. The Tyler witch tried to do a spell involving hair of mule and various stinking poultices to make it all better, but it didn't work. Shannon Migraine sang right terribly last night and that's just facts. Mt. Whitney is a tough one to climb, it is literally littered with the frozen corpses of those that tried and failed, the Asia'h Eppersons of this world, and I fear that Ms. Migraine is one of them. A sad tale for a sad teen.

Last week I liked Elise Totino's Pizza Rolls, with her Adele growl-pianoing and everything. But this week it wasn't working for me. Granted, Jimmy Iodine gave her a new song that she wasn't familiar with, "I'm Your Baby Tonight," so she was a little hobbled from the get-go, but then she didn't try to spice it up or really perform it in any real way. It's like she gave in to defeat, and I don't like that attitude. C'mon, Totino's. The worst thing you can have on American Song Journey, other than, y'know a terrible voice or a pair of Gokey Glasses or the lurid sexual menace of Kevin Covais, is a bad attitude. Bad attitudes on this show just really stink up the joint, filling the air with that acrid Haley Reinhart stench (I loved Haley Reinhart, and she was treated unfairly so a little anger was justified, but man did that kid complain and grumble a lot). Totino's is way too early on in the competition to be all grumpy and stink-mouthed about her performaces, you know? It's just very unbecoming of an Idol singtestant. So chin up, Elise. You'll get 'em next week (if you're not voted off tonight, which is a distinct possibility), but only if you spray some Febreeze on your stinky old attitude.

Is there a more boring American than Jeremy Rosado? At least in the context of this show? Whoo boy. What a waste of a Wild Card! I mean, hell, they could have held on to Reed Grimm for another week or two just to watch him fish-flounder around on stage for a few extra episodes, but they kept Jeremy Rosado? Listening to this dude is like sitting in a waiting room somewhere. When he sings I can practically see the fake potted plant, the muted colors on the walls, the dog-eared magazines. It's just a total snoozeathon and I just don't understand why he's still on the show. Quit putting me to sleep, Rosado! I don't even remember what he sang, but it was something slow and borrringgg and he sang it slowly and boringly and ugh will we ever get out of this doctor's office? Sometimes it feels like never.

The bloom has fallen off the rose for Heejun Han, huh? The limits of his range are becoming clearer and clearer and eventually all the weird guy comedy routines in the world will not be able to mask that. You're not long for this world, Heejun Han! Sorry to say it. (Watch, he'll make it to the top two or something and then I'll have to eat my hat.)

THE SMOLDERING EYES OF COLTON DIXON

Hahaha, oh man. When a wallet chain, some silver cross jewelry, a pair of tight black pants, and a terrible Flowbee accident combine forces, they form the mighty COLTRON. Coltronnnnnnn. He's quite a force, isn't he? I mean, he's completely ridiculous and we should all consider him a vague national embarrassment, what with his whining Christian rock 'tude and utter nonsense hair and spanglies hanging everywhere. He's a ludicrous little opossum, but daggum if he isn't a strangely capable performer! And he's certainly caught the eye of one tittering damsel, hasn't he? After Colton sang, Ryan went up to him and said something about his smoldering eyes and how he could "hear the girls screaming in Hacienda Heights." Hahahaaaaa. "Hacienda Heights," while yes a real place, is also what Ryan calls the sad corner of his heart where he puts all his sad things, so yes of course he could hear the girls screaming in there. Oh how they screamed. And sure Colton terrifies him in a way, sure this business with Tim back at home is mysterious and unsettling, and of course there was the bloody fate of poor Johnny Keyser, but whenever Coltron sings on this show, wriggles around in his goth Working Girl getups, it's hard for the whole of Hacienda Heights, the deep pulpy red of it, to not scream and scream and scream. Those eyes. Those terrible, mesmerizing, hotly smoldering eyes. What secrets do they hold? What cat-like mysteries dwell within them? Ryan cannot stop staring into them, cannot stop, cannot stop, cannot stop... He falls into this trance and the next thing he knows he's waking up in his bed at home and Tim is off somewhere, humming in the garden or wearing a big floppy hat and sunglasses and nothing else while drinking on the porch swing, and Ryan still feels the burn of those smoldering eyes. "Hacienda Heights..." he whispers, putting his hand to his chest. And that's when he notices it, there on the bed, gleaming tinily on the sheets. A small silver cross, there, on the bed, where Ryan has just woken up. He tries to remember what everything that happened after Colton's performance, but there is nothing, just a wide black void in his memory. Well, maybe there is one faint echo. It's some kind of music, some kind of chanting, some kind of communal spirit noise. But that's it. That and this tiny cross. There on the bed. He walks to the window and sees Tim doing lazy cartwheels on the lawn, sees the cheery sun high in the sky, feels a warm and welcoming wind on his skin. And it all feels like a lie, somehow. It somehow all feels unreal. And he turns back to the bed and the cross is gone and only then does he realizes that he's been holding it, that he must have picked it up, that it is pressed into his palm and, he swears he swears he really swears, he can feel it burning into his skin.

PREDICTIONS

Oh so there's a fun little thing tonight where the bottom girl and the bottom boy (har har!) will be announced and then the judges will decide who goes home. That's cruel! So cruel. Who do we think it will be? My guess is Jeremy Rosado for the fellas and Erika von Pelt for the girls. Yeah, uninspired, I know. Just the Wild Cards. Just them. Nobody loves them, so they will be lowest. And I think the judges will keep Erika. But who knows.

Anyway, see you in Hacienda Heights. We'll all see each other there.