Ridiculous.

We've gone through a half-dozen rounds of preliminary auditions, Hollywood Week, an hour-long audition episode from Vegas, and an hour-long "final cuts" episode from a airplane hangar in Los Angeles... and the American Idol judges have STILL not narrowed the field down to the Top 24 contestants.

It's like going to the dentist to have a tooth pulled only to have him change his mind halfway through yanking it out and asking you to come back next week so he can finish it then.

(Note to self: Cancel dentist appointment scheduled for tomorrow.)

And when the judges finally did make a decision, it was either the wrong one or J. Lo got so upset about having to do it that she broke down in tears and called a stop to the proceedings.

Only two of the five contestants that made it into the Top 24 during Wednesday night's terribly drawn out episode deserve to be there.

J. Lo told Ashthon Jones that she was the complete package, and she could very well could be. She has to focus more on singing and less on trying to power through songs, but she has been one of this season's most consistent singers.

But Paul McDonald is the best performer to make it through so far. His soft and wide-ranging vocals remind me of a modern-day James Taylor, though I fear that he could have too fresh of a sound and image to win this competition. But if he waters down his - at times - goofy stage presence, he could definitely make it to the Top 10.

Now on to the bad news.

The first three contestants to make it through - custodian mommy Naimo Adedapo, Season 9 castoff Haley Reinhart and obnoxious karaoke host Clint Jun Gamboa - have all failed to show any ability to control their vocals, and they shout more than they actually sing. By this standard, my mom could have been a contestant on the show every time I put glue in my sister's hair as a kid. (Yes, it happened multiple times and, yes, she could yell with the best of them.)

And, even worse, two of the contestants that the judges sent home were easily among the best singers with the most potential in the competition.

Deandre Brackensick repeatedly showcased his great range during his auditions and did it again, with a ukulele in hand, in his final performance Wednesday night. But even though the judges said that he has a great chance of being a successful recording artist "right now," they said he wasn't ready for the show this year. The only reason he wouldn't be right for American Idol is because he's either too unique or not cheesy enough. (Watch one of Gamboa's performances to see what I mean by "cheesy.")

One of this year's fan favorites, Chris Medina - whose fiancé got into a terrible car accident just months before their wedding day - displayed gritty and surprisingly controlled vocals for a rocker during all of his performances, even during the dreaded group night.

But for some bizarre reason, they sent the likeable Medina packing - a decision that sent J. Lo into tears and even seemed to shock Ryan Seacrest as Medina exited the room.

You may have noticed that I have yet to mention the first hour of the show where the remaining contestants were sent to Las Vegas to catch a showing of "The Beatles LOVE" by Cirque du Soleil and perform Beatles song covers in groups of twos and threes for the judges. In my opinion, this was nothing more than a plug for Cirque du Soleil and just another example of Idol's producers trying to drag the auditions out as long as possible.

The judges better step up their game during the "final" eliminations Thursday night or else this is easily going to be the weakest American Idol season yet.

The only people on the show who seemed capable of giving solid advice and making anywhere close to a rational decision were Idol singing coach Peggy Blu and special guest, legendary producer Jimmy Iovine.

Blu told a contestant to step on her partner's tongue in order to show her up or that they would both "die on stage."

And Iovine told a trio of contestants that their if performance sounded like something they would hear in a bar during happy hour or during karaoke, that it wasn't what they were looking for.

Someone... quick... tell that to the Idol judges and producers.

They obviously didn't get that memo.