Michael Sarver, Alexis Grace and Danny Gokey

Three wannabes took a huge step toward American Idolatry this week when the Fox competition named the first of this season's Top 12 finalists. Here's a glimpse of each contender, as revealed in a conference call with reporters the day after getting their nods.

ALEXIS GRACE of Memphis, Tenn., on: 

Singing in the first 12 versus the last 12
"[Those who sing two weeks from now] could have an advantage, but they could also feel a lot of pressure. It could go both ways." 

Singers stymied by perhaps-questionable arrangements
"American Idol [has] the best people working to help you. Yeah, you have input, but ... you'd be silly not to take advice from them."

Being apart from her biggest fan, her daughter Ryan
"Any mom would be nervous ... but it's only for a little time. I won't get to see her as much as I would like to, but this is all to better our lives." 

Big sings coming in a small package
"I think I might weigh 99 lbs. Maybe 98? And I would say I'm 5 feet tall. Maybe 4-foot-11 3/4!"

Why she tackled the Queen of Soul with Aretha Franklin's "Never Loved a Man"
"I knew I could sing in that range and I feel connected to her music, so I went with it!" 

The truth about Tatiana
"That girl, she is determined, and she is going to be something some day. She is hilarious."


MICHAEL SARVER of Jasper, Texas, on:

The addition of judge Kara DioGuardi
"It benefits us as contestants. She brings an incredible mind for music to the table ... and she really knows how to interpret what she's saying when she's commenting." 

Being apart from his two children
"We'll take it one step at a time as far as when they'll be able to come out [to Hollywood]. But you know I'll love it when they do!" 

Simon's plea, asking viewers to give Michael a second chance
"I didn't take that lightly at all. I have no doubt it had an impact [on my making it this far], and I appreciate it."

Who was this round's top vote-getting male —  him or Danny?
"I don't know. According to some Fox news outlets, I was, but I don't think anybody cares at this point."

Getting help from Him
"I love God and He's a big part of my life, and it has everything to do with my step forward. It is part of the reason why I believe I can do this." 

Why he's wild about Season 8's Wild Card round
"[That] element is very special, because it means that [the results show] is not the end. It gives you that extra hope. Clay Aiken was a wild card, and good things come out of wild things."


DANNY GOKEY from Milwaukee, Wis., on:

His status as the early fan favorite
"It's an honor to see that people who I have never met want to see me succeed." 

Choosing "I Heard It through the Grapevine" for his audition
"It was a fun song, but the No. 1 thing is it showed my ability."

The dis that disappointed him most
"I was mad [that Jamar Rogers didn't make the Top 36]. But he got such recognition [during Hollywood Week], I know it's not the end of the road for him."

Making a "spectacle" of himself
"I have a couple more pairs [of glasses] that I want to wear, but they have not been approved, because they I have logos on them. I'm hoping that somehow it can be worked out."

Season 8's new 12-at-a-time process
"It really is [brutal]. It's never been harder to get in the Top 12, but yet also it's never been easier. You don't have to go from 36 or 24 all the way down to 12. You skip all that." 

Who from his group deserves a Wild Card pick on March 5
Danny echoed Alexis and Michael — almost verbatim — by saying, "I think they all do. I really do."

For more on Danny, click here.