‘American Idol’ First Seven Top-24 Contestants

Michael Lynche, Didi Benami made the cut, alongside dancer-turned-singer Todrick Hall and balladeer Lee Dewyze.

Another episode has gone past, and the country’s vision of its next American Idol is becoming a bit clearer. On Tuesday’s show (February 16), seven contestants officially made the cut into the top 24, and from talented future superstars to earnest underdogs to overachieving rookies, the eyes of the world are now upon them.

Here’s our breakdown of the names announced tonight:

Michael Lynche – A big man with a big heart, Michael is a new father with new hopes for superstardom thanks to his “Idol” success. Blessed with great guitar-playing skills to go along with his voice, Michael’s story isn’t without scandal — reports indicate that, his father has spoken with the press , and in doing so committed a major “Idol” no-no. Will it result in his disqualification?

Katelyn Epperly – Boasting a beautiful smile and bouncy blond hair, Katelyn has been performing in public since she was knee-high to a grasshopper. The product of a broken home, this Des Moines student brought the house down with Duffy’s “Syrup & Honey” — and is now looking at a future that seems mighty sweet.

Didi Benami – Inspired by her deceased friend Rebecca, Didi also plays guitar and is somewhat reminiscent of Season 7 contestant Brooke White in both skill-set and emotional nakedness. If she continues to make the cut, look forward to lots of tears — and perhaps a sponsorship deal with Kleenex.

Casey James – The chicks dig him. He’s a bad boy with a murky past — ’nuff said.

Aaron Kelly – Our own Jim Cantiello calls him “Countryleta” and, sure enough, this 16-year-old high school student has the potential to be a country version of David Archuleta. The judges love a great story, and it’s hard to beat his: Adopted by his aunt after his parents could no longer care for him, Aaron won the “American Idol Experience” at Disney World and got a boost to the executive-producer round. Sounds like a true Cinderella story, from the very studio that gave us the big-screen tale.

Lee Dewyze – Considered a dark horse, the guitar-playing balladeer with the sensitive eyes and poor man’s Mike Nesmith wool cap has solid stage presence and is intent to do “good things” in music. Is he a sleeping giant? We’ll find out soon enough.

Todrick Hall – A pal of Fantasia’s, he worked with her on “The Color Purple” and is now turning hundreds of castaway wannabes the color green — with envy. “I’m a dancer, that’s what I’ve been trained to do,” Hall has explained. “I’ve never had a voice lesson in my entire life, so for me to be competing with these people is just a crazy, overwhelming experience.”

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