04/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Idol Season 9: Top 24 Named, Part 1

RATINGS UPDATE: American Idol is beating the Olympics, which just goes to show how powerful this hit series. There's literally never been a show this popular for this many years in the history of TV. Idol scored 23.6 million viewers, ahead of the roughly 20.3 million viewers for the Olympics, per the Hollywood Reporter. That's virtually on par with this point at last season, when of course the show wasn't facing off against the Winter Games.

SHOW COVERAGE: So we saw more snippets of lots of performances and Ellen's starting to have fun on American Idol Tuesday. For those who say she's not getting along with this or that judge or doesn't offer up much, they should remember that Hollywood Week gives us the least insight into the judges. Most of their deliberations are off camera so as not to spoil the surprise about which artists are definitely going through. We'll get a much better sense of how Ellen plays off Simon and the others once we hit the live shows. And she'll do very well, I'm sure.

Anyway, it remains frustrating how little of the performances we actually see. If Lost can launch an entire university online devoted to its backstory, why can't Idol post every single audition that snags a golden ticket and every single performance from Hollywood Week? it would certainly drive traffic. Are they afraid of having a website that's too popular? If there's any belief it would diminish the need to watch the show, they're crazy. That's like thinking someone buying Dylan bootlegs won't bother buying his official studio releases. That sort of fanatic fan is exactly the sort of person who will always watch the show.

But commenting on all of the performances we did see is moot since they started naming people into the Top 24. In fact, we saw seven go through and two sent home, which means Idol wants to keep it positive or we're gonna see a lot of tears Wednesday night. So here are the ones who got through and my thoughts on whether they deserved it. One note on song selection: for their final song, some people sang offbeat choices like Boston's "More Than A Feeling" and the Commodores classic "Brickhouse." So I ASSUME people had a fairly wide range of songs to choose from. So why do so many of them sing Michael Jackson's "Man In The Mirror" and that Jason Mraz song "I'm Yours?" For God's sake, if even one other person is singing a song, find something different so they only compare you to you and not four other people.

MICHAEL LYNCHE -- Yes. The personal trainer sailed through, seeming like a lock ever since his baby was born. His run through the Mraz song was merely ok but he's been solid and appealing.

DIDI BENAMI -- Yes. She seems to melt at every stage but I've seen so little of her actual singing I can't be sure what to think of her. Still, I was surprised she made it.

KATELYN EPPERLY -- Yes. As with Didi, I wrote down "no" as they montaged her journey because it didn't seem like a winning one to me. And divorcing parents? She really needs to lose this backstory; it may be personally upsetting but in this day and age it hardly represents a stumbling block in life in any shape or form.

SHELBY DRESSEL -- No. This is the girl who sings out of one side of her mouth and insists that anyone watching should not worry about perceived problems and just be themselves. Good for her. But the snippet of her singing "More Than A Feeling" was not good; she was off a bit, which is too much at this stage. I never expected her to make it this far, which means it was a real shocker when she was sent home and Simon said, "That was the wrong decision." Cold comfort but still something she should savor. (And hey, audition for The X Factor next year, Shelby.)

CASEY JAMES -- Yes. The dude who took his shirt off as proven a real talent to me and an obvious lock for the top 24, as clips of his performances reinforced. Even his "weak" performance of Colbie Caillat's "Bubbly" seemed good to me and a sign of versatility. I like him more every time I see him.

AARON KELLY -- Yes. This 16-year-old kid has a good voice and is very appealing. But he screwed up two out of three performances during Hollywood Week. The group song was a disaster and he forgot the lyrics on his final solo number. (Though he recovered and stumbled through in a way that somehow seemed endearing.) I would have sworn he would benefit from another year or two of growing up before coming back but they put him through on the strength of his voice and innate appeal. Understandable, but maybe not the best for him long-term.

LEE DEWYZE -- Yes. Very appealing personally but he was another one whose montage didn't show the trajectory of a star. Not quite sure why he got through, but of course the judges saw more of him than we did.

TODRICK HAL -- Yes. The dancer who never took a singing lesson made it through despite being the gazillionth person to sing that Jason Mraz song, though happily with a lot of style. His performing career as a dancer should hold him in good stead.

JESSICA FURNEY -- No. She was off-key and sharp at moments in the performances we caught a glimpse of but argued strenuously that she was ready. Maybe most improved from last season (though not improved enough) but her hunger almost convinced me.

In short, Michael Lynche and Casey James were obvious picks and look likely to sail into the Top 12. Neither of the women have impressed so far and the rest of the men are wild cards of one sort or another. From what we saw, I'll be shocked if Angela Martin, Thaddeus Johnson, Siobhan Magnus and Crystal Bowersox don't make it through.

What did you think of the judges' picks and rejections? Anyone else stand out for you or are any of my picks to go through tomorrow off base?

Thanks for reading. Visit Michael Giltz at his website and his daily blog. Download his podcast of celebrity interviews and his weekly music radio show at Popsurfing and enjoy the weekly pop culture podcast he co-hosts at Showbiz Sandbox. Both available for free on iTunes. Link to him on Netflix and gain access to thousands of ratings and reviews.