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Hope Johnson grew up poor but blooms on 'American Idol'

"American Idol": Los Angeles auditioners arrive for their chance to become the next "American Idol." Photo Credit: Fox

Hope Johnson closes out the "American Idol" audition round. She says she grew up poor. "I didn't know I was poor," she says, adding she used to take food home from school for her brother when he was hungry.

"There's a lot worse things than going without . . . music was my escape."

Totally unadorned, simple and nice "I Hope You Dance." Kara and Randy both like her tone. "I like you," says Simon. She's so totally happy afterward, "that's ridiculous!" You've got to root for her. It's totally the reason why we watch the show.

She's my favorite out of this "American Idol" clip show. Which thankfully was light on the weirdos and heavy on the talent. She's huge on likeability, and a good voice, too. Here are the rest of the night's Hollywood-bound contestants, in my opinion:

2) Didi Benami, who sang in memory of her best friend, put a totally unique spin on "Hey, Jude," with a really throaty tone. I'm with Avril Lavigne, who says,  "you have absolutely huge potential."

3) Aaron Kelly, the sweet kid who sang "The Climb" with a ton of feeling. He had Randy saying, "You're 16, you're shy, that voice comes out of someone that shy, which is cooler to me, more endearing." He's going to do well with the key voting blocs.

4) Personal trainer Michael Lynche does a totally memorable "Unchained Melody," super-slowed down, emotive; "kind of like a singing teddy bear," Kara says. Uh, sure.

5) Crystal Bowersox and her dreads were only on-screen for like 10 seconds but she nails "Piece of My Heart," and there seems to be something about her I think I really like.

6) Lacey Brown was cut instead of Megan Joy in Hollywood last year. She seems super-sweet and has a good voice but will have to make better choices than "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

7) Jessica Furney sings Simon's "Footprints in the Sand." She's not bad, but have pretty much forgotten her already, though. It's going to be hard for her to stick out.

8) Amanda Shectman acts like a clown for Ryan but she does a good job on "Good Morning Heartache." Not sure how well she'll wear with more exposure.

PHOTOS: Click here to see contestants and celebrity judges from this year's "American Idol" audition rounds

FUN: Test your memory -- how many of the winners and top finalists do you remember from each season of "American Idol"?

MORE: Read all of our "American Idol" posts, and put in your two cents

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