Seven in Heaven: American Idol Names Semifinalists

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Following a two-hour episode of American Idol that dragged on for longer than most installments of The Bachelor, the judges finally selected seven of the season's final 24 contestants.

The rest will be chosen tonight and then all these semifinalists will perform live from Hollywood, starting next week. Can you feel the excitement? The singers that received good news last night were:

Michael Lynche: Ryan loves to refer to him as "Big Mike." We saw snippets of his "I'm Yours" auditions and the nice, laid back guy just became a father for the first time.

Didi Benami: Probably our favorite so far. This 23-year old is full of emotion, as she auditioned for the show in the wake of her best friend's death. Sang "Angel" during one of the Hollywood rounds.

Casey James: Took his shirt of during his original try out, but is better remembered for almost losing the use of his hands in a motorcycle accident. He's 28 years old and a country artist.

The Judging Panel

Aaron Kelly: Just 16 years old, was adopted by his aunt and uncle. He won the "American Idol Experience" at DisneyWorld a few years ago.

Lee Dewyze: Released an album in 2009, not given a lot of time so far on the show. At 23, Simon Cowell questions his confidence.

Todrick Hall: Appeared in The Color Purple on Broadway. The 24-year old has performed on cruise ships and in theme parks.

Katelyn Epperly: Sings lead vocals in a folk rock band. The 19-year old hails from Iowa.

Which of these contestants do you think has the most potential to be named the next American Idol? Our money would be on Benami or Hall.

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American Idol Quotes

Brooke White's tears come from the authentic, good soul that she is. Her heart was breaking because she was overwhelmed with the experience she had with the show and the gift that it brought.

Paula Abdul [after Brooke White was eliminated on season seven]

I read some of this online this morning and just for the record, the rumors — they’re not true. She’s part of our family and we love her.

Ryan Seacrest [on rumor of Paula Abdul being drunk on the show]