OFFSTAGE: Sudden Death Survivors So Far on American Idol

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

They’re calling it sudden death. Which is really just a dramatic way of saying this was part one of American Idol‘s semifinals. The goal Wednesday and Thursday (Feb. 20-21) was to eliminate five girls and five guys, respectively. So what we are left with now are 10 contestants. Some pretty excellent girl singers. And some men that seem like they made the cut just because the judges had to pick five.

Keith Urban prefaced the eliminations by saying, “We’re sending people home who are insanely talented.” But, still, home they went. So here are the insanely talented people who are staying, and a little bit of what Urban had to say about each one.

The Girls
Tenna Torres: “[Natasha Bedingfield's 'Soulmate'] is a deceptively big song that requires a lot of control that I think you mostly had.”

Kree Harrison: “Oh, Kree. You are such a natural born singer, and it’s so beautiful to watch you sing. Blues and gospel play a big role in the foundation of country music, and you embody that so purely. And you don’t over try. You don’t have any desperation in the way you sing. There’s an effortless believability. It’s authentic, and God bless you for that.”

Angela Miller: “You have a huge talent. A big, big gift. I wish I had time to give you more adjectives.”

Adriana Latonio: “You were just channeling into all the soul that song requires. I want to be very careful when you’re performing this close — and I’m glad you did. I don’t want to emote too much and have you become too aware of people’s reaction and have it unhinge your performance. But it was really hard to not react because it was so damn good.”

Amber Holcomb: “Why, why do you make it so hard on everybody else? You took this song ['My Funny Valentine'] that could’ve easily been some old-fashioned song, and you just made it timeless. And you knocked it out of the park.”

The Guys
Devin Velez: “That’s the way to do it, Devin.”

Elijah Liu: “I so wish that we could keep you. And I’m glad that we are.”

Curtis Finch Jr.: “Preach on, Brother Curtis. I feel thoroughly cleansed of my sins.”

Charlie Askew: “I bet nobody left the television set. It’s like if Freddie Mercury had a love child out of Woodstock somewhere.”

Paul Jolley (who tackled Keith Urban’s “Tonight I’m Gonna Cry”): “If you get to go through, I would ask that you don’t underestimate the quality and power that’s in your voice.”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.