Finalists (Clockwise from Left) Lauren Alaina, Thia Megia, Hayley Reinhart, Jacob Lusk, Karen Rodriguez, Scott McReery, Naima Adedapo, Pia Toscano, Ashthon Jones, Stefano Langone, James Durbin, Paul McDonald and Casey Abrams arrive on the red carpet at the AMERICAN IDOL TOP 13 FINALIST PARTY. © 2011 FOX BROADCASTING. CR: Mark Davis/FOX

Finalists (Clockwise from Left) Lauren Alaina, Thia Megia, Hayley Reinhart, Jacob Lusk, Karen Rodriguez, Scott McReery, Naima Adedapo, Pia Toscano, Ashthon Jones, Stefano Langone, James Durbin, Paul McDonald and Casey Abrams arrive on the red carpet at the AMERICAN IDOL TOP 13 FINALIST PARTY. © 2011 FOX BROADCASTING. CR: Mark Davis/FOX

The top 13 American Idol finalists were chosen Thursday night, with the extra three slipping into the expanded top 10 thanks to a few wildcard decisions from judges Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler.

Ashthon Jones, Naima Adedapo and Stefano Langone sang their hearts out for a chance to keep from getting the boot. They’ll join the top five girls and five boys, who landed their positions based on America’s scorecard: Lauren Alaina, Thia Megia, Hayley Reinhart, Karen Rodriguez, Pia Toscano, Scott McReery, Jacob Lusk, James Durbin, Paul McDonald and Casey Abrams.

I’ll admit it, I was disappointed that 17-year-old Robbie Rosen and 23-year-old Rachel Zevita, who bares a striking resemblance to a young Elizabeth Taylor, didn’t stay in the competition, but they were just two out of 24 spectacular singers this season.

AMERICAN IDOL: (L-R) Peter Rice Chairman, Entertainment Fox Networks Group, Jennifer Lopez, and Kevin Reilly, President, Entertainment, FOX Broadcasting. © 2011 FOX BROADCASTING. CR: Frank Micelotta/FOX

AMERICAN IDOL: (L-R) Peter Rice Chairman, Entertainment Fox Networks Group, Jennifer Lopez, and Kevin Reilly, President, Entertainment, FOX Broadcasting. © 2011 FOX BROADCASTING. CR: Frank Micelotta/FOX

If it was this emotional just cutting the group down to 13, just imagine how touch it’s going to be once we get to know them better.

Props again to Executive Producer Nigel Lythgoe, who understood what it would take to reinvigorate the franchise: sensational singers and a trio of insightful and entertaining judges.

The combination of Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler is a perfect balance this season – and Jackson seems to have gotten his own enthusiasm back. His criticisms are constructive and dead-on, while Lopez adds sympathetic touches to her critiques and Tyler uses his sense of humor to soften the blow along with smart assessments.

AMERICAN IDOL Host Ryan Seacrest, and Judges Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson. © 2011 FOX BROADCASTING. CR: Mark Davis/FOX

AMERICAN IDOL Host Ryan Seacrest, and Judges Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson. © 2011 FOX BROADCASTING. CR: Mark Davis/FOX

And because the new judges have been in the same shoes as the top 13, they are spectacular at pointing out what the group needs to do in order to hold onto their position in the competition.

American Idol is getting to be appointment TV again and we’re loving it.