Tonight, some of the first 12 semifinalists lived up to the hype they received in the audition phases -- while other more unknown singers surprised us with unexpected talent.
Alexis Grace, a 21-year-old mom who received just a little air time during auditions, wowed us with newly acquired attitude and a soulful set of pipes. And Ricky Braddy, who's basically received no air time, offered one of the most solid male vocals.
While Alexis will likely advance among the females, Ricky has some more serious competition from guys who received more extensive prior air time. Likeable male singers Danny Gokey and Anoop Desai both offered crowd-pleasing ballads.
Perhaps the biggest story was Tatiana Del Toro, the former drama queen who inexplicably seems to have reformed her over-the-top antics. Surprisingly, she offered a controlled, almost restrained take on Whitney Houston that was one of the top female performances of the night.
Viewers can't help wonder if the old Tatiana was simply an act to secure fan appeal by defeating low expectations.
Things weren't easy for everyone. Bikini model Casey Carlson proved that maybe she is just a pretty face, fumbling her way through "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic."
And Stephen Fowler proved the judges didn't do him any favors letting him through despite the lyrics he forgot in Hollywood. His attempt at Michael Jackson was just plain boring.
Here's how I'd rank them:
1. Alexis Grace
2. Danny Gokey
3. Ricky Braddy
4. Tatiana Del Toro
5. Anoop Desai
6. Ann Marie Boskovich
7. Jackie Tohn
8. Michael Sarver
9. Brent Keith
10. Stevie Wrigght
11. Stephen Fowler
12. Casey Carlson