Patrick Ecclestein/FOX
February 18, 2010 12:00 AM

After beginning the process Tuesday, we now have a top 24 on American Idol. Yay! After two weeks of nothing but musical snippets and sobbing outbursts, your head must start to hurt — it feels like Simon Cowell‘s hair transformed into pain.

Tyler Grady made it, presumably on rock-star charisma. The thin, tousle-haired rocker was, after Casey James, the male singer most singled-out by the camera, but we’ve barely heard him sing. My impression is that he can yowl, and yelp and kick up a leg — appropriate enough for a rocker. Now we’ll learn how his voice handles the weekly challenges — maybe on Barry Manilow night?

Angela Martin was the singer with the most at stake, and her loss was a wallop. This was her third try, and her personal life in recent years has been a string of troubles: Her father died, her daughter has had terrible medical problems (and, last we heard, her mother had gone missing). She was weeping before she even reached the judges. Kara sat down with her, in her chair, to tell her it was a no but that she was a great singer. Then why?

It was great to see Lilly Scott in the top 24. Her cover of “Lullaby of Birdland” was the single best performance shown in the clips. But will she be at a disadvantage without the lung power of a Jordin Sparks? Let’s face it: If you want to win Idol, you generally need to be loud enough to make yourself heard in a wind tunnel. America likes that.

Lacey Brown, who failed to make the top 24 last season, succeeded this time on the strength of her version of “It’s a Wonderful World.” Other promising voices sticking around: Ashley Rodriguez, Alex Lambert and Katie Stevens. Oh: and Crystal Bowersox — or, as Randy Jackson called her, “Mama Bowersox.” An excellent voice, it seems, and a seemingly unflappable, folksy stage presence. But, like Lilly, she may be too distinctive for Idol. The production crew is probably itching to shellac her.

Haeley Vaughn clinched the last of the girls’ spots, beating Tori Kelly. Good: she’s got a special presence, even if one of her outfits suggested a cowgirl on a Hawaiian vacation.

Thaddeus Johnson competed with — and lost to — Andrew Garcia to be the 12th male singer. The judges didn’t really give Thaddeus a reason, which probably only added to his sorrows as the camera crews scuttled after him recording his tears. He finally escaped into a stall in the men’s room with his mom.

But Andrew, who cleverly covered Paula Abdul, was the better singer. –Tom Gliatto

Tell us: What do you think of Idol‘s top 24? Who are you rooting for? Were you surprised with any of the eliminations?Patrick Ecclestein/FOX

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