American Idol, Simon Cowell, Kara DioGuardi, Randy Jackson, Ellen Degeneres, Ryan Seacrest

Michael Becker / Fox

If dreams could be summed up into words, they'd either spell out the lyrics to "I'm Yours" or "Man in the Mirror."

No less than eight hopefuls took a final stab at American Idol's top 24 by singing either the Jason Mraz hit or the Michael Jackson classic, resulting in—as usual—a variety of hits and misses.

Colbie Caillat's "Bubbly," Katy Perry's "Hot N Cold" and Sarah McLachlan's "Angel" were also popular choices.

Did 16-year-old Haeley Vaughn doing the acoustic-guitar thing work out for her? How about Michael Lynche's funkified take on Mraz? Whose version of MJ's tune did the judges prefer?

"Do not throw the band under the bu-us," Kara DioGuardi said under her breath as "Mirror" singer Jermaine Sellers decided that it would be a good idea to point out the band's mistake to make up for his lackluster closing notes.

The tension built as 71 teens and twentysomethings were herded into three rooms to await their fate, this year accompanied by their very own inner monologues, as fashioned by some crafty editors.

In the almost-end, it was room 2 that got the shaft (farewell Mary Powers, Charity Vance, Brian Walker, Christian Spear, Lloyd Thomas and Hope Johnson), leaving the 46 aspiring stars in rooms 1 and 3 with a brief feeling of accomplishment.

Which was immediately followed, of course, by another round of fingernail biting and deep breathing as the judges whittled the group down to 24.

Not only was it Ellen DeGeneres's first time seeing the alternately dashed, dazed, terrified and triumphant looks of those who had either made it further or gotten the proverbial slap in the face, but this season is the first time Idol has parsed out the final selection process into two nights.

A crafty business, this TV programming.

Speaking of crafty, the final round of selections was as full of tomfoolery as ever, with Ellen acting the part to a tee just by being herself.

Joining the bewildered Katelyn Epperson are:

• Michael Lynche, 26: The proud new papa's wife gave birth to their first child while he was rehearsing for the group round.

• Didi Benami: She impressed from minute one by singing the Kara DioGuardi-penned "Terrified" and then touched hearts with a story about her recently departed best friend

• Casey James, 28: He nearly lost the use of his hands in a motorcycle accident but came roaring back to lose his shirt in his first audition.

• Aaron Kelly, 16: We so called that one.

• Lee Dewyze, 23: Simon Cowell questioned his confidence, but came around just in time to help see him through.

• Todrick Hall, 24: The Color Purple veteran and friend of Fantasia didn't even get the runaround, he was told "yes" so fast.

The remaining 17 will be revealed Wednesday. Have the judges made any major mistakes so far? Who will you be pulling for tomorrow?

Hey, you don't even have to win Idol to end up in our latest Fashion Week: Runway Rundown gallery, like Constantine Maroulis did.

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