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Heejun Han, Jessica Sanchez and Joshua Ledet early 'American Idol' top 24 favorites

Pittsburgh contestant Heejun Han, who lives in Flushing,

Pittsburgh contestant Heejun Han, who lives in Flushing, charmed and surprised the judges with his personality and his version of "How Am I Supposed to Live Without?" on the "American Idol" show airing Jan. 19, 2012. Credit: Fox

"American Idol" filled 14 of its top 24 spots Wednesday night with early favorites such as Heejun Han, Jessica Sanchez, Joshua Ledet and even annoying Briel von Hugel soaring through.

Surprisingly, big-voiced Lauren Gray and velvet-voiced Neco Star were cut, passed over in favor of some unmemorable (at least to me) contestants.

Below's how I ranked everyone; put in your own thoughts in the comments, or on Twitter using #ndidol.

1) Heejun Han has been my favorite contestant all season; sincere, passionate, honest, funny. This competition means so much to him and he wears his heart on his sleeve, even for all his jokes. He'd be an unlikely Idol in lots of ways, but this show is all about stumbling across diamonds in the rough, and watching as they realize their potential.

2) Jessica Sanchez might be the favorite right now to win it all; you have to listen when she sings, there's something compelling about her powerful voice. She's also got complete control and a burning desire.

3) Big-voiced Joshua Ledet is another of the early favorites -- he's got power and passion, but can also go tender. Randy Jackson called him  "a church kid that's gonna go a long way."

4) I may find Briel von Hugel and her mom pushy and annoying, but she can really sing. As Ryan Seacrest put it, "certainly has the moxie of a star, but she has to prove she also has the skills."

5) Phil Phillips had Jennifer Lopez grinning like crazy as he went tender on "Treat You Right." Good guy, with an easy smile.

6) Colton Dixon may have initially shown up only to support his sister, but he's got real talent and presence.

7) Baylie Brown has the complete package -- looks, voice, niceness. Glad she came back five years after she tried out at 16.

8) Drummer Reed Grimm's mix of personality and creativity had Jackson gushing, "that kid is so mad talented, dude; oh my God, I can't even believe it." We'll see if there's some arrogance in that package.

9) Creative Creighton Fraker, whose birth father was in a heavy metal band, has a unique tone and is a bit goofy; looking forward to his take on songs.

10) Powerhouse Erika Van Pelt didn't do as great as the judges hoped, but is so talented they gave her another chance.

11) Chelsea Sorrell forgets the words during her final performance, but is through anyway, based on her strong priors.

12) Jen Hirsch isn't really someone I remember, although Jackson does tell her she's "one of the best singers this year."

13) Elise Testone's nice rendition of "It's a Man's, Man's, Man's World" shows she's got some real chops; looking forward to seeing what else she can do.

14) I don't really remember Haley Johnson from before; she says her "biggest goal in this competition was to break out of my shyness." I think she's gonna get lots of chances to do that in the top 24.


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