In the end, it was a bit anticlimactic -- after all the leaked list of semi-finalists proved exactly correct, albeit for a few missing last names and minor misspellings. But we weren't disappointed by the outcome, since there are a good number of people who made it whose voices we really like.
So without further ado, here, America, are your Top 24 semi-finalists:
Sanjaya Malakar came to Hollywood accompanied by Shyamali, his Golden Ticket-winning sister and support system. He'll have to proceed on what he now calls this bittersweet journey without her. He's made it through, she was eliminated.
Melinda Doolittle is the little train that could, but didn't know it. Even when she's told she made the Top 24, she seems unbelieving. Simon has to tell the now former back-up singer that she belongs up front because she's a really good singer.
Brandon Rogers is the other professional back-up singer who made it to the Hollywood rounds. He, too, is also told by the judges that he deserves a shot to come out from the background and take center stage.
Gina Glocksen has done the Idol Hollywood trip before, but unsuccessfully. She will be the first of three tonight to prove that when the judges tell you not to give up and to come back next year, it's not just a bunch of platitudes.
Haley Scarnato goes from bridesmaid to bride, as the now former wedding singer enters the Top 24. She backs up a good voice -- which sounded better in Hollywood than in San Antonio -- with great looks, a combination that could prove tough for the other contestants.
Phil Stacey has had a big year. He became a father the morning he first auditioned for Idol and now he's going to miss seeing his new little girl a whole lot more, as he tries to climb the Idol ladder.
Chris Sligh is already the lead singer of a band, but could probably make it as a comic, as well. His disarming personality has kept us laughing, and his voice keeps us swooning. We hope Simon was just pulling his leg when he told Chris he wasn't one of the better singers. Until we see different, we'll be voting for him like crazy.
Blake Lewis is a beatboxer, a vaguely interesting talent. We've yet to be bowled over by his voice, and though we knew he was on the leaked Top 24 list, we were still surprised to see him make it, rather than someone such as his group sing partner Tom Lowe.
Rudy Cardenas, the L.A. band member who won over Randy Jackson in Seattle with his "Open Arms" audition, seemed more impressive there than in Hollywood. We'll take a wait-and-see attitude with him.
Paul Kim, otherwise known as the anti-William Hung, gets through on a split decision. He said he will depend on two good-luck habits to get him through the rest of the competition -- he will always sing barefoot, and on "cut" days he will wear his so-far lucky underwear. Thanks, but more information than we really needed.
Jordin Sparks is a perky 17-year-old who was told she auditioned well in Seattle, but fell apart a bit during the Hollywood rounds. We beg to disagree. She sounded good to us in Seattle and she still sounds good to us now.
A.J. Tabaldo should win a medal for persistence, if nothing else. This was the fifth time that he auditioned for Idol. Listening to him, we don't know why it took so long for him to make it to the Top 24, but five must be his lucky number, because in he is.
Stephanie Edwards was not shown during the preliminary audition rounds, as far as we can recall, but based on what we were shown of her Hollywood performance, she seems to be a strong contender.
Leslie Hunt is another contestant whose audition we don't remember seeing. She seems exuberant, but we'll have to reserve judgment until we hear her perform.
Nick Pedro is the third returnee who proved redemption can be achieved. He resigned from the competition last season after a bad group sing during the Hollywood rounds, but came back to show the judges he has changed and has what it takes to be an Idol. So far he has.
Alaina Alexander, this season's fine California whine, carries on too damn much. It began with her Los Angeles audition, where she weepily went on about how the audition was her last shot as a singer. On Wednesday night, we had to listen to her unending stream of consciousness on how she'll cry either way, whether she gets it, or whether she doesn't get it, but she hopes she does get it ... and then before the judges, with "I'm too nervous to sit, OK I will sit" ... sheesh! Just SHUT UP! What is it about these girls with runaway mouths that attracts the judges in the first place? We've suffered through Mikalah Gordon during Season 4 and Brenna Gathers in Season 5. Enough!
Chris Richardson, who Randy Jackson dubbed a Justin Timberlake look-alike, seems nice enough, but his New York audition and Hollywood performance failed to impress us much.
Sabrina Sloan is yet another contestant we never heard during the preliminary audition rounds. It's strange that they've shown us almost all the men previously, but barely over half of the women. Anyway, from the clip tonight, Sabrina appears to be a contender.
Lakisha Jones is one of our favorites already, and not only because of her big voice. She seems humble and centered and possesses a sense of maturity not readily apparent in the rest of the group.
Nicole Tranquillo is the first of three in a row who reach the Top 24 whose auditions were never shown on previous shows, so we'll reserve judgment.
Jared Cotter had a scant three seconds of previous Idol airtime on Tuesday, when he was shown with his group talking about rehearsing. But we heard our hometown boy's voice both tonight and on his MySpace.com site and we're rooting for him. Besides, as Paula would say, he sure is easy on the eyes.
Amy Krebs has not been featured on earlier shows either, so we'll reserve judgment here as well.
Antonella Barba, who we'd rather not convict on guilt by association with best friend Amanda Coluccio, will have to prove that she's a decent person aside from a decent singer. She still carries Amanda stink on her, and until that evaporates we'll continue to be uncomfortable with her.
Sundance Head seems like a fluke and mistake to us. The son of '60s pop chart singer Roy Head seemed impressive during his original audition, but completely fell apart -- except for his ego -- during Hollywood. Do we smell another Scott Savol in the making?
And don't forget: For the next three weeks, until we reach the 12 finalists, Idol is on three nights a week. Tuesdays the men perform, Wednesdays the women perform and Thursdays the bottom two men and bottom two women are eliminated.
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