After a grueling four hours that mostly involved watching people walk the length of an airplane hanger, the clock struck midnight and the cast list went up. Here's a sampling of the twenty-four who will demand your vote.
Naima Adedapo once poetically cleaned the toilets at Milkwaukee's Summerfest. Now someone else will clean the bowels of an auditorium as Naima performs! That's magic right there. While her performances haven't met the promise of her audition, Naima still has that "something," according to the judges.
Julie Zorrilla seems to exclusively wear party dresses. This plus her above-average face, skin, hair, etc., has resulted in the judges throwing the coveted "whole package" term around with abandon. She's also comfortable on a piano.
MySpace's Karen Rodriguez, as Ryan calls her, first tried out on MySpace. From then on, she waged a concerted and effective attack on J. Lo's subconscious ego, singing both "If You Had My Love," and a number from Selena. This stealth inception caused J. Lo to say, "It's funny. From the very first time I saw you, I've been a fan."
Ashthon Jones looks like a cross between Beyonce and the Supremes-era Diana Ross. She's got presence on stage, and she seems like a nice girl, based on that time she walked emotional time-bomb/old and married Ashley Sullivan through a panic attack. In Idol, these things matter.
Lauren Alaina turned 16 sometime between her first showing and now, which might be why she's been looking more strained than carefree these days (plus, Idol). She hasn't turned out the kind of performance that had Steven calling her "The One" back in Nashville, but her voice is still more Idol-ready than anyone else who's in the running.
Brett Loewenstern has big red hair and a quiver of talent arrows. He is also extremely sentimental. After winning the final spot over two favorites, he launched into a call for joint recognition. Because they're all winners! No doubt there'll be more heartfelt riffs from this formerly picked-on (and still smarting) teen.
Good ol' Scotty McCreery (we all call him Scotty now, didn't you know?) is actively touted as the lone "country boy." He has a tendency to doggedly repeat a single song about locking doors and turning the lights down low. One of the few times he ventured out — with "I Hope You Dance," by Lee Ann Womack — he fumbled the words, which resulted in the phrase "nuts of wonder." It'll be interesting to see Scotty stretch his repertoire.
Jacob Lusk sings like a hundred-member Gospel choir. His rubbery physicality (think of one of those balloon creatures that whip in the air outside car dealerships), and general over-the-topness might make him more of a novelty act than a serious contender. But his voice is absurd.
James Durbin wails a lot in a high register. The effect doesn't always come across well on TV, though it puts the judges in rapture. This has so far worked well for James, who has Asperger's, Tourette's, a child and no job. An Idol Lotto player, in other words. May he scratch inspiredly at America's heart.
Casey Abrams benefits from looking human. He's got neutral sweaters and some heft and doesn't gel his hair into a fauxhawk, all of which apparently rendered him null and void to the judges when they first saw him. But his prowess on the trinity of upright bass/melodica/vocal stylings drew a compliment from Randy that was basically "best musician ever." Now Casey just needs to learn how to handle his particular appeal, and not give us silly prefaces like the one last night about how even a guy like him can be sexy. Be cool, man. Be cool.
The rest, with personalities still TBD: Thia Megia, Lauren Turner, Kendra Chantelle, Rachel Zevita, Haley Reinhart, Pia Toscano, Tatynisa Wilson, Jovany Barreto, Paul McDonald, Clint Jun Gamboa, Robbie Rosen, Stefano Langone, Tim Halperin, Jordan Dorsey.
So there you go. Those are the people to care about! Caring begins … now.