Contestants continue to drop like flies on "American Idol" as the show works to trim the field to 40, but we're still grumbling about some of the crazy choices made by the judges during Wednesday night's episode, where common sense went to die.

We're certainly hoping for better results tonight when 47 girls will become 20. We're told that, for this round, the contestants will be able to sing an established song, or one of their own originals.

Angela Miller is the first up and she takes the latter path, sitting at the piano and calmly delivering "You Set Me Free," which she described as a song about "being set free from baggage and the weight that you carry from hard times."

Her voice was so sweet and angelic that she had the judges raving.

"If that was recorded right now, I'd play it in my car," Keith Urban said.

Up next was big-voiced Candice Glover, who delivered a soaring version of Alicia Keys' "Girl on Fire," and returning contestant Janelle Arthur with a lovely take on Carrie Underwood's "I Know You Won't."

"I think you are a superstar," Nicki Minaj told her. "A country superstar."

Then, Ryan Seacrest prepped us for a "shocking" performance by the manic Zoanette Johnson, she of the wild outfits and prodigious cleavage. Zoanette took to the drum kit and unleashed an original ditty called "Ba-Da-Bading" that she claimed to have made up just the day before and included lyrics about the judges. She paused at one point, apparently to look for a lost drum stick, and then ended the whole absurdly hot mess with some kind of high-pitched shrieks.


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"It was a classic," blurted Mariah Carey. "Seriously, I think people are going to be looking at this performance for years."

With that, the judges deliberate and decide to send Candice, Janelle, Angela, Zoanette and someone named Jet off to Vegas.

The next group includes Shubha Vedula, who impresses Mariah Carey with a Mariah Carey song, and 15-year-old Juliana Chahayed, who delivers a gorgeous version of "Landslide."

Not quite as lovely is Kez Ban's weird original song, which she abruptly ends after just a few seconds. That's OK, though, because we're so over her and her bizarre antics. Nicki tells Kez that "We salute your artistry," but only moments later she is sent packing.

"I'm a square peg in a round hole around here," says Kez, who takes her dismissal in stride, but has had so much fun in the "Idol" camp that she's willing to stick around and work with the crew. Next thing we see is Kez operating the boom mic.

The last group of the day is led by Ashlee Feliciano, who is totally off-key during her performance, which is so dreary and downbeat that it prompts Randy Jackson to give the remaining girls a pep talk.

"Music is supposed to be fun," he insists.

After a few more bummer songs, Melinda Ademi livens things up with a springy take on Jessie J's "Price Tag, which gets the judges swaying in their seats and Keith singing along.

"It's effortless, it's clear, it's energetic," says Keith. "You have such a good light about you and I've seen it consistently with all your performances."

She, of course, goes through, along with Kree Harrison, who gave Keith a case of the goosies with her rendition of "Stars" by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.

"I feel like today, you became a star in front of me," Nicki tells Kree.

Not as fortunate is Antioch's Briana Oakley, who is among the girls eliminated from this final group. Her performance doesn't get any camera time, so we don't know whether the judges' decision was valid or not. Nor do we get a reaction, so it's an anticlimactic exit for the Carondelet High School junior who impressed us so much during her Long Beach audition.

That leaves us with 24 girls and we need to get down to 24. Holly Marie Miller, Ariel Sprague and Lauren Mink are all abruptly sent packing. Then, we have a dramatic sing-off between Stephanie Schimmel and bubbly Rachel Hale for the final spot. Stephanie does Phillip Phillip's "Home" and Rachel sounds much more powerful on Haley Reinhart's "Undone." The edge goes to ... Rachel.

Despite Briana's ouster, the Top 20 does have a Bay Area connection -- not that the "Idol" producers pointed that out to us. But we did happen to spot Oakland's Kamaria Ousley among the jubilant bunch. She's a vocal coach who was seen performing with The Swagettes Wednesday night.

But wait, we're not finished. The boys have been hanging out in the holding room and eight of them still have to walk the plank.

After several solo performances, Peter Garrett, Marvin Calderon, Devyn Jones, Kenny Harrison, Will White, Tony Foster, David Leathers Jr. and Adam Sanders are all culled from the herd. It's a tough one, especially, for Leathers, who was cut at this same point last season.

Now, it's on to Las Vegas.