Saturday, February 25, 2012

'American Idol' Top 24: How To Tell Hallie Day From Heejun Han

We break down this year's remaining 'Idol' hopefuls, from Aaron Marcellus to Skylar Laine, and everyone in between.
By James Montgomery

Members of the "American Idol" Top 24
Photo: FOX

On Thursday, after approximately 4,256 hours of auditions, callbacks, comparisons, falsettos and fainting spells (not to mention the occasional bit of nudity and some stuff on a battleship), "American Idol" finally whittled the masses of dreamers down to the Top 24.

It was a ride, to say the very least, but at long last, we know the names and faces of the folks who will battle it out to become the heir to Scotty McCreery's crown. Of course, keeping track of all the hopefuls can get rather difficult (especially since so many of them are country singers), which is why we've once again taken it upon ourselves to break down each of them in handy-dandy bios. Because how else are you supposed to tell your Hallie Days from your Heejun Hans?

So here's our guide to the Top 24 — we're not even going to get into the whole "Surprise Save" that'll be unveiled next week ... haven't we been through enough already? — alphabetized and cross-referenced for your perusing pleasure.

Aaron Marcellus: Throwback soul singer too frequently overshadowed by groupmates (and fellow Top 24ers) Creighton Fraker and Jen Hirsch. Seems like he could have a moment at some point during the live shows. Sort of looks like Godfrey.

Adam Brock: Secretomotoristic father/crooner/possessor of magical handkerchief who barely made it to the Top 24. Kind of a combination of Casey Abrams and Ruben Studdard, only with better facial hair.

Baylie Brown: Pop-country pinup who returns to the competition after making a run as a teen. Could charitably be described as "Carrie Underwood Lite." Probably gets lots of dirty looks from Skylar Laine.

Brielle Von Hugel: Empirically named progeny of cloying stage mom, who, not surprisingly, carries herself as a diva-in-training. Wearer of impressively knitted half-blouses. Capable of putting some stank on it.

Chase Likens: Unassuming country dude who sort of recalls Neon Bible-era Win Butler. Vest enthusiast. Uh, yeah.

Chelsea Sorrell: Small-town gal whose childhood dreams included being both "a mom and a country singer." As far as we can tell, she's halfway there. Had some rough patches, still made the Top 24. Dropper of many "Y'alls."

Colton Dixon: Sorta-emo guy who looks like a Tim Burton illustration. Outlasted his sister during Hollywood Week, none too happy about that fact. Gives off a slightly Christian vibe, which, coupled with the fact that he's from Tennessee, probably means he knows Hayley Williams.

Creighton Fraker: Lithe-voiced/creatively haired cabaret singer who flaunted his lack of employment for maximum impact. Seen wearing fuzzy rabbit ears during "Idol" vignettes. Slightly odd, yet may be one of the best male singers in the competition.

Deandre Brackensick: Lion-maned teen with equally epic moniker, he's been down this path before. Finally made the Top 24, yet needs to find his zone to advance in the competition.

Eben Franckewitz: Polite 15-year-old Bieber-ite who bested David Leathers Jr. to nab the final guy's spot (outrage!) Overall lack of confidence nearly as glaring as his bad posture. Proud recipient of the coveted "You're cute!" endorsement from Jennifer Lopez.

Elise Testone: Likeable lifer who absolutely kills it every time she takes the stage. Raspy/sultry notes for days. Can put some stank on it. Still, will probably will get voted off early. If you squint, she kind of resembles Ke$ha.

Erika Van Pelt: Effervescent wedding singer with brassy voice. Kind of a surprise addition to the Top 24. Has a massive back tattoo, ala Crystal Bowersox, yet will probably not make it as far as the 'Sox.

Haley Johnsen: Vaguely indie smokeshow from the Pacific Northwest. Voice like a steam kettle, yet also capable of some stank when the situation demands it. Like Megan Joy, minus the tattoo sleeve.

Hallie Day: Former girl-group member/cautionary tale who appropriately owned Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive." Dark horse. Lips single-handedly keeping Blistex in business. Choice of husband a source of inspiration for slightly chunky dudes everywhere.

Heejun Han: Buttery-voiced, slightly catty people's champ. Seems to understand the inherent ridiculousness of this entire contest. Frequent hugger. Deflects any perceived criticisms (i.e. "He's kind of a jerk") by working with the mentally challenged. Cunning.

Hollie Cavanagh: Last girl in. Scouser/Southern accent makes her sound like Paul McCartney running a cattle auction. Good voice. Appears to be very nice, also appears to be channeling every single girl who sat behind you in Social Studies, neither of which bode well for her chances of winning.

Jen Hirsch: Big (big!)-voiced belter who may very well be the one to beat. Miles of stank. Likeable. Kind of recalls a supercharged Haley Reinhart, yet could definitely out-Reinhart Reinhart herself. We hope she wins.

Jeremy Rosado: Only member of the highly touted Leathers/Sprague/Carruba contingent to make the Top 24 (until Leathers gets in as the "Surprise Save" next week). R&B-esque upper register, yet may not possess the, uh, fortitude to impress voters.

Jessica Sanchez: Supremely driven 16-year-old who can sing the phonebook. Age belies her supreme diva-tude. Could see her winning the whole thing, could also see her flaming out when producers fail to secure correct shade of white linens for her dressing room. Maximum stank.

Joshua Ledet: Twitchy balladeer/preternaturally old soul with talent to spare, yet appears to lack the self confidence required to make a deep run. Makes goofy faces whilst singing, which only makes him more likeable.

Phillip Phillips: Oddball dreamboat/pawnshop employee whose bizarre name seems to suggest he had really mean parents. Probably wants to read you his poetry. Definitely owns hemp garments. Could conceivably win this whole thing if he stops with the whole "Dave Matthews foot shuffle" thing.

Reed Grimm: All-grown-up stage kid who is eternally on. Name recalls Marvel Comics supervillan. Occasionally breaks into ill-advised bouts of scatting. Made sure everyone knew he could play the drums. Sort of looks like Ethan from "Lost." Is annoying.

Shannon Magrane: Talented offspring of former MLB pitcher with career .460 winning percentage. Unwilling target of Steven Tyler's creepy (and borderline illegal) advances. Has undoubtedly met Harold Reynolds, which makes us jealous.

Skylar Laine: Sparkplug Southern gal who keeps getting compared to Bonnie Raitt. Can effectively handle an ATV, yet was also hospitalized during Hollywood Week. Will probably be outshined by both Brown and Sorrell, despite being more talented than either of them. Reminder that sometimes life isn't fair.

Got a favorite to win it all? Let us know in the comments below.

Get your "Idol" fix on MTV News' "American Idol" page, where you'll find all the latest news, interviews and opinions.

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