American Idol contestant David Archuleta courtesy Fox
On Wednesday night's American Idol, the judges narrowed down the remaining 50 contestants to 12 guys and 12 girls, many of whom we're sure to get to know pretty well in the weeks to come. But for now, here are the basics on this year's batch of Idol hopefuls. - Nina Hämmerling Smith

The Top 12 Guys


David Archuleta, 17, born in Miami and grew up in Murray, Utah: It's sweet that he worried that other people were tone-deaf and that's why they told him he could sing; plus, those dimples could set a thousand girls crying (à la Sanjaya).

Colton Berry, 18, currently living in Staunton, Virginia: The polished performer who was competing with cute, nerdy Kyle Ensley for the final spot. I'll try to get over the fact that he took the tie-wearing would-be politician's place (I know, I know, not really).

Robbie Carrico, 26, currently living in Melbourne, Florida: The onetime boy-bander has scruffed up his act to good effect. I was a little surprised he made it through, but I'm curious to see what he can do.

Jason Castro, 20, born in Dallas and currently living in Rockwall, Texas: Dunno yet what he sounds like, but gotta love those dreads!

David Cook, 25, grew up in Blue Springs, Missouri, and currently living in Tulsa, Oklahoma: He of the blue tongue and the rocker attitude had perhaps the night's best line: "I don't have to get a job now."

Chikezie Eze, 22, currently living in Inglewood, California: He really impressed in the "best of the rest" episode; plus he's got a disarming smile and some endearing dance moves.

Garrett Haley, 17, grew up in Alamosa, Colorado, and currently living in Elida, Ohio: Again, no idea what he sounds like. But I'm digging the '70s hair!

David Hernandez, 24, born and raised in Glendale, Arizona: I really liked this guy after his Hollywood audition, in which he sang "Love the One You're With." Simon's unconvinced, but we shall see.

Michael Johns, 29, from Perth, Australia, and currently living in Los Angeles: If anything, the weirdly geeky dance he did at the end actually made me like this season's standout sex symbol even more, because it showed a less perfect side of him.

Luke Menard, 29, born and raised in Crawfordsville, Indiana: Who?

Danny Noriega, 18, currently living in Azusa, California: Makeover time apparently came early for Danny, who has a whole Brit-rock thing going on with his hair now. The main thing about him, though, is that his voice is big and powerful - and very surprising, coming from him.

Jason Yeager, from Grand Prairie, Texas, and currently living in Branson, Missouri: Again, someone we don't know from earlier auditions. It's nice to have a little mystery, though, no?

The Top 12 Gals


Joanne Borgella, 25, from New York and currently living in Hoboken, New Jersey: We didn't see much of the gorgeous plus-size model in Hollywood, but I'm glad she's still in the mix.

Kristy Lee Cook, 24, born in Seattle and currently living in Selma, Oregon: The horse trainer made it, after a close call in Hollywood. If she keeps up those body-bending dance moves, she's guaranteed to have at least the male fans on her side.

Amy Davis, 25, from Lowell, Indiana, and currently living in Cedar Lake, Indiana: I barely recall her from her original audition (she sang "Blue Bayou"). Let's see if she does something more memorable next week.

Asia'h Epperson, 19, born and raised in Joplin, Missouri: I'm not surprised she made it, given her performance in Hollywood, though I stand by my comment in the show blog that her breathing is going to be a problem. (Even if it sounds cool, you can't sing breathless all the time. Among other things, it's just not healthy.)

Alexandréa Lushington, 17, currently living in Douglasville, Georgia: Imagine how proud her 93-year-old great-grandmother (whom we met in her original audition) must be!

Kady Malloy, 18, born and raised in Houston, Texas: The vocal impressionist should have fun tackling the different artists and genres later in the season (if she makes it that far).

Ramiele Malubay, 20, currently living in Miramar, Florida: The female Danny Noriega: She's tiny, has a giant voice, and she, too, got a jump-start on her makeover.

Syesha Mercado, 21, grew up in Sarasota, Florida, and currently living in Miami: Paula Abdul was so weird with her last night; she had Syesha do this whole thing about spelling out her name to get the secret "yes" message... oy. Anyway, her "Chain of Fools" during Hollywood week absolutely blew me away, so she definitely deserves to show what she can do.

Amanda Overmyer, 23, raised and currently living in Mulberry, Indiana: She had maybe the most understated reaction to making it through, but I'm glad we'll be seeing more of the rock-n'-roll nurse.

Carly Smithson, 24, from Dublin, Ireland, and currently living in San Diego: I'm starting to worry that Carly is going to turn into this year's Katharine McPhee for me, aka someone with genuine talent who ends up grating on my nerves (and getting tons of votes week after week).

Alaina Whitaker, 16, born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma: This is the girl who said in her original audition that Carrie Underwood looked like her (and that's about all I remember about her).

Brooke White, 24, grew up in Mesa, Arizona, and currently living in Van Nuys, California: Funny, they didn't show the Carly Simon-ish frontrunner messing up the piano part in "Beautiful" during Hollywood week. If she can keep it together, she should go far.

What's your take? Who were you thrilled to see make the cut, and who do you think was unjustly jettisoned?