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AMERICAN IDOL 9: Top 24 Pre-Season rankings (Female)

"American Ido"l Top 12 Girls for Season 9 are, seated from left, Katelyn Epperly, Lilly Scott, Ashley Rodriguez, Lacey Brown, Janell Wheeler and Haeley Vaughn; and standing from left, Didi Benami, Michelle Delamor, Katie Stevens, Crystal Bowersox, Paige Miles and Siobhan Magnus. Photo Credit: Fox

    This year’s “American Idol” theme seems to be “You never know.”
    Will Ellen DeGeneres work out? Can anyone replace Simon Cowell? Will it be Howard Stern?
    The theme extends to this year’s crop of semi-finalists, as well. There’s no overwhelming favorite this year, though there are a few front-runners.
    Tonight, the Top 12 gals take the stage, with two set to be sent home on Thursday. Whoever gets eliminated will bear the mark of “Why did she stay in when they sent Angela Martin home?” which is a pretty good question.

    Here’s the pre-season report:

Didi Benami. The most pliable of the season’s girls-with-guitars, she has a good voice and knows how to butter up Kara, obvs. Will that be enough?

Crystal Bowersox. The best of the girls-with-guitars, the Ohioan has a powerful voice and the presence of knowing who she is as a singer.

Lacey Brown. Her jazzy take on “What a Wonderful World” was strong. She could be a dark horse in the race.

Michelle Delamor. Barely seen, we didn’t even get to hear her verse on “Irreplaceable” on group day.

Katelyn Epperly. Nice voice, but “doing it for mom” isn’t going to take her too far. She’s going to have to prove she wants to work for a finalist slot.

Siobahn Magnus. Big voice, but not too defined yet.

Paige Miles. Seen even less than Michelle Delamor, putting her at a big disadvantage.

Ashley Rodriguez. She sounded OK at her Boston audition, but not all that memorable.

Lilly Scott. The jazzy girl-with-guitar was a little uneven and a little unprepared, showing potential but remaining question mark.

Katie Stevens. An early favorite for her great voice and her sweet backstory about her ill grandmother, the 17-year-old could go far.

Haeley Vaughn. Slate has already dubbed the talented 16-year-old “Black Taylor Swift,” for her love of country pop. If that proves to be true, this girl-with-guitar could be a strong contender. So far, so good.

Janell Wheeler. Maybe the weakest of the girls-with-guitars. She surprised with her breathy “American Boy,” but stumbled after that. She may just stumble right off the show, except she’s very attractive.


THE CONTENDERS:
Crystal, Katie, Haeley
ON THE BUBBLE: Didi, Lacey, Lilly, Siobahn, Ashley
ON THE OUTS: Janell, Katelyn
QUESTION MARKS: Michelle, Paige

Promo note: I'll be filling in over at Newsday's American Idol blog tonight, live-blogging tonight's semi-finals. Swing by!

PHOTO: The Top 12 "American Idol" ladies from Fox.

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