“American Idol” Reveals Official Top 31 Photos, Semifinals Twist

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Those familiar with the “American Idol” format knew Thursday’s episode would end with some sort of twist.

Despite all the talk of a top 30, it seemed abundantly obvious that “Idol” would find a means of allowing at least one extra contestant to continue on the road to superstardom.

If, however, one assumed that meant Ben Briley and Neco Starr–the final two for whom judgment was provided–would both get a guaranteed spot in the semifinal round, one would be wrong. While the “Idol” judging trio of Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick, Jr. predictably refused to eliminate either, it also refused to confirm both for the next round.

The decision, instead, will belong to the viewers, who were asked to vote for either Briley or Starr. The more popular candidate will advance to next week’s live semifinal round.

Of course, the nature of that round remains nebulous for more than the Briley-Starr situation. “Idol” also revealed that the judges will cut several of the previously announced semifinalists before they take the stage for America’s votes next week.

That means that the top 31 contestants, whose photos are featured below, are not all guaranteed a chance to perform on next week’s “Idol.”

What is confirmed, however, is that a portion of the remaining girls will perform on Tuesday. A portion of the remaining guys will perform on Wednesday. And the “Idol” finalists will be revealed on Thursday.