You endured the cheesy montages, delusional hopefuls and unfunny fake-outs. Now, the outcome of “American Idol” is finally in your hands.
Season nine’s top 24 contestants were announced last week. This week, they’ll perform individually in hopes of securing enough viewer votes to eventually make the top 12.
Don’t have a favorite yet? You’re not alone.
It’s hard to pick a front-runner based solely on the audition phase, when singing often takes a back seat to footage of compelling back stories.
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Last season’s winner, Kris Allen, reminded viewers it’s possible to come out on top after receiving hardly any air time during the show’s early stages.
So while perusing our roundup of the top 24, don’t disregard a contestant just because he or she hasn’t been in the spotlight.
Root for a sleeper and you could earn the satisfaction of ending the season with the right to boast, “I was right all along, and none of you believed me.”
Here’s a rundown of the singers performing this week:
Aaron Kelly, 16 (Sonestown, Penn.)
What we know: He moved in with his aunt and uncle after social services almost removed him from his biological parents’ home. He’s been compared to David Archuleta.
Alex Lambert, 19 (North Richland Hills, Texas)
What we know: Not much, aside from the fact that he shares a set of initials with a big “Idol” name from last season (Adam Lambert).
Andrew Garcia, 24 (Moreno Valley, Calif.)
What we know: This dad has received perhaps the most air time of the batch, from stories about his parents’ history with gangs to footage of his acoustic cover of Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up.”
Ashley Rodriguez, 22 (Chelsea, Mass.)
What we know: We’ve watched clips of her killer vocals, but haven’t seen many personality shots. Some blogs, however, have already pegged her a possible champion.
Casey James, 27 (Fort Worth, Texas)
What we know: He suffered a motorcycle accident that nearly took away his ability to play the guitar. He also took his shirt off for the judges during his audition.
Crystal Bowersox, 24 (Elliston, Ohio)
What we know: She’s a dreadlocked mom who wowed the panel with her acoustic rendition of “Natural Woman” in Hollywood.
Didi Benami, 23 (Hollywood, Calif.)
What we know: She sings to honor a best friend who passed away. In Hollywood, she got rave reviews after performing a song written by “Idol” judge Kara DioGuardi.
Haeley Vaughn, 16 (Fort Collins, Colo.)
What we know; She’s an African-American country singer who almost died after birth. Her dad passed away when she was young.
Janell Wheeler, 24 (Orlando, Fla.)
What we know: She impressed the panel with her acoustic take on Estelle’s “American Boy.” She’s rumored to have been romantically linked to football star Tim Tebow.
Jermaine Sellers, 26 (Joliet, Ill.)
What we know: During auditions, he was billed as a church boy who takes care of his mom. Research his quasi-professional past, however, and you’ll learn he’s very familiar with music.
Joe Munoz, 20 (Huntington Park, Calif.)
What we know: Huh? Joe has received virtually no air time. Is he doomed, or just a front-runner flying under the radar?
John Park, 21 (Evanston, Ill.)
What we know: This Northwestern University student has been compared to Anoop Desai, a singer with a solid fan base last season.
Katelyn Epperly, 19 (West Des Moines, Iowa)
What we know: She’s a curly-haired singer whose back story centers on her parents’ divorce.
Katie Stevens, 17 (Middlebury, Conn.)
What we know: This teenager, an early favorite, takes care of a grandma who has Alzheimer’s. DioGuardi has already said she has a shot at winning.
Lacey Brown, 24 (Amarillo, Texas)
What we know: She’s a repeat auditioner who made it to the final audition phase last year, but was edged out by eventual top 12 singer Megan Joy.
Lee DeWyze, 23 (Mount Prospect, Ill.)
What we know: Lee De-Who? Based on his slim air time, we can only identify him as a guy who plays the guitar.
Lilly Scott, 20 (Littleton, Colo.)
What we know: This sandwich maker is one of the token “quirky” contestants. Her voice is unique, but will it impress?
Paige Miles, 24 (Cypress, Texas)
What we know: When it comes to building a fan base, Paige might have miles to go. She’s received only a sliver of air time.
Tim Urban, 20 (Duncanville, Texas)
What we know: He filled the last top 24 spot after Chris Golightly’s disqualification. Will it help his case? We’ll see.
Michelle Delamor, 22 (Miami, Fla.)
What we know: Her camera time has been scarce, but she’s demonstrated some powerhouse vocals in the footage we’ve seen.
Michael Lynche, 26 (Astoria, N.Y.)
What we know: He’s a personal trainer who’s received lots of air time, mainly because his wife went into labor while he was in Hollywood.
Siobhan Magnus, 19 (Barnstable, Mass.)
What we know: She’s another “quirky” singer who showcased an eclectic wardrobe in Hollywood. But make no mistake: Her voice has some serious depth.
Todrick Hall, 24 (Arlington, Texas)
What we know: He sang an original song during auditions and starred in “The Color Purple” with “Idol” alum Fantasia.
Tyler Grady, 20 (Nazareth, Penn.)
What we know: He’s received a moderate amount of air time, but it’s unclear if his hippie vibe will make him a competitive threat.
Sonya Sorich, reporter, 706-571-8516.