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'American Idol' Recap: Viewers to Vote on Last Semi-Finalist Spot

For the first time ever, the show leaves the last male spot open for America to decide which of two Atlanta auditionees will advance to top 30.

American Idol Feb 6 - H 2014
FOX
"American Idol"

Adding Harry Connick, Jr. to the panel means not only adding a seasoned musician, but also an accomplished actor in his own right. So after entertaining on the big screen with P.S. I Love You, Hope Floats and Independence Day -- plus a long run on Will & Grace -- he aggravated all the nail-biting auditionees with a ton of well-acted fake-outs during American Idol's Final Judgment round on Thursday.

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"Do you think you're a good singer? Do you think you're a really good singer?" Connick asked one hopeful. After he surprised one disappointed singer with the reveal that he was moving forward to the semi-finals, even Jennifer Lopez leaned over and admitted, "You are a wicked man."

The top 30 spots -- 15 spots for men and 15 for women -- were assigned after a solo round, with Wednesday's episode ending on a cliffhanger that Alabama fathers Casey Thrasher and CJ Harris had to sing against each other for a spot. Luckily for them, they both moved forward, along with Ethan Harris and returning auditionee Caleb Johnson.

Briston Maroney, who went with Passenger's "Let Her Go" for his solo performance, was first told a story of how Connick wanted to move to New York when he too was 15 and still so young. After a long pause, Connick concluded, "What frustrates me even more is that you get the chance to come to Los Angeles," and offered his congratulations.

For the female side, Jena Asciutto, who performed an original ballad while accompanying herself on the keyboard, scored a spot, as well as the nickname "the sleeper" because she's a surprise hit with the judges. She joined Marrialle Sellars, Majesty Rose York, Austin Wolfe, returning auditionees Brandy Neelly and Briana Oakley, and Kenzie Hall, who sang an impressive acoustic rendition of "Can't Hold Us" by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.

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That totals up to one open spot for a male singer, and by the end of the episode, it was down to Atlanta auditionees Ben Briley, who rocked Grace Potter and the Nocturnals' "Stars," and Neco Starr, who belted Beyonce's "Halo."

"We've landed on 16 guys we like, and we can only take 15," said Urban. "We can't decide because you're both so different." Lopez then revealed that for the first time in Idol history, "We're gonna let America decide for the 15th spot." Viewers can vote via calls, text, the American Idol app and online at AmericanIdol.com.

American Idol returns for a special three-episode week with Randy Jackson's boot camp on Tuesday, Feb. 18. Who are you voting for, Idol Worshippers: Briley or Starr? Sound off in the comments below.

Email: Ashley.Lee@THR.com
Twitter: @cashleelee