8 tonight, Fox (WCCB, Channel 18)
"American Idol" is about to get real.
The phone lines are open, and all the mushy backstories in the world won't save contestants from a bum note or the wrath of Simon Cowell.
The Top 12 gals showed their stuff Tuesday, the guys show their stuff tonight and the bottom four contestants will be shown the door on Thursday. Here are early predictions on who to watch and who to watch out for in the Top 24.
Locks for the Top 12
Andrew Garcia: His acoustic guitar rendition of Paula Abdul's "Straight Up" was the performance of the season thus far, even beating out, yes, "Pants on the Ground." An early favorite to win it all.
Katie Stevens: Cute as a button, and her Alzheimer's-afflicted grandmother backstory is one of the season's few sob stories we're buying into.
Crystal Bowersox: A rocker chick with real soul, we're hoping she has legs beyond becoming this year's Amanda Overmyer.
Lilly Scott: "Idol" has been kind to silver-haired singers in the past - remember Taylor Hicks? - and Scott has the goods to go far.
Michael Lynche: "Idol" loves a Big Man - see Michael Sarver or Ruben Studdard - and Lynche is this season's Velvet Teddy Bear.
Lee Dewyze: The rugged, lived-in quality of his appearance and voice gives the Jason Mraz-like Dewyze a leg up on his fresh-scrubbed competitors.
Didi Benami: Mixes a "real" quality with an emotional vulnerability.
They may surprise you
Tim Urban: Possesses a boy-next-door, Kris Allen-type likeability that could carry him in the competition.
Lacey Brown: We're hoping the funky fresh flair she displays with her violet-red hair carries over to her performances.
Ashley Rodriguez: Angling to be this year's Jordin Sparks, and not just because she nailed her "Battlefield" during Hollywood Week.
They've made an impression - and not a good one
Todrick Hall: Already has displayed diva-like behavior, and bragged about his $200 jeans during his audition. Next!
Casey James: He looks like Sawyer from "Lost" and has Kara DioGuardi all hot and bothered. Us, not so much.
Haeley Vaughn: This sunny country-singer-in-training proves that yes, you can smile too much.
Aaron Kelly: So meager and nonthreatening, he makes David Archuleta look like Adam Lambert.
Tyler Grady: With his 1970s vibe and teen idol good looks, he could head up a "Partridge Family" remake, but he doesn't feel like "Idol" material.
Don't know yet
Give 'em a chance to sing
Katelyn Epperly: She's got the look, all right - to be a cast member on the new "90210." Still not sure about her talent.
Janell Wheeler: She's reportedly romantically linked to 2007 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow. Is there more to her?
Alex Lambert: Hasn't had much screen time, but something about that last name makes us not want to dismiss him too soon.
Don't bother learning their names
Paige Miles, Joe Munoz, John Park, Siobhan Magnus, Michelle Delamor and Jermaine Sellers.