Temple soph makes Top 24 of ‘American Idol’

Posted: February 18, 2010

The leaked list got almost all the names right, including a Temple University sophomore and another young man from Pennsylvania.

Last night, Tyler Grady of Nazareth, who's a psych major at Temple, joined Aaron Kelly of Sonestown, Sullivan County, among the Top 24 contestants - a dozen of each gender - on Fox's American Idol.

Right after blonde Janelle Wheeler gushed over her good news ("If I was Bikini Girl, I would kiss you right now," she told confused host Ryan Seacrest), shaggy-haired Grady - who first auditioned with both his wrists fractured from a fall from a tree - sat before the judges.

"All of my idols are from the '60s and '70s," the 19-year-old said, citing the likes of Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant and the Door's Jim Morrison.

A clip showed him singing "I'm Going Home," and afterward explaining to the judges, no, please don't take those lyrics literally.

After rambling a bit about the many "moods" of "Planet Tyler," judge Kara DioGuardi, seemingly enchanted, said, "I think we want to see those moods again and you're gonna go through."

He acted coy coming out of the room, then celebrated. "I am in the Top 24, Season 9, American Idol, and it feels great!" he said.

Grady was an honor student last semester, but officially isn't enrolled this semester - for good reason.

Kelly's selection was revealed the night before - even though he apparently he bobbled lyrics on two songs. His 16 years of innocence have prompted chroniclers to describe him as "babyfaced," "shy" and even "virginal," but he sang with enough confidence and style to survive the cut.

Philadelphia's Claire Fuller, another Temple student, was also invited to Hollywood, but got little if any face time. Google fails to turn up a single live blog or article with a mention. The DeSimone sisters, Bernadette and Amanda, from Cherry Hill did get on camera in Tinseltown - but were eliminated early.

"I didn't cry," Bernadette said last week. "I usually don't cry. But that's just me as a person."

The experience was great, leading to the making of close new friends and even nibbles for possible reality shows, like one that might feature them with their mom in her salon, she said.

"It's not the end, even if you're kicked off the show," she said.

As for behind-the-scenes drama, the sisters saw very little of that. "I didn't see anybody drinking. I didn't see anybody using drugs," she said. ". . . No hookups from what I know."

"Nothing really that crazy was going on."

Only four other states have guys going on: Texas has Alex Lambert, Casey James, Todrick Hall and Tim Urban. Illinois has John Park, Jermaine Sellers and Lee Dewyze. California has Andrew Garcia and Joe Munoz. New York has Michael "Big Mike" Lynch.

The final dozen young women are Florida's Wheeler and Michelle Delamor; California's Didi Benami; Iowa's Katelyn Epperly; Ohio's Crystal Bowersox; Texas' Lacey Brown and Paige Miles; Massachusetts' Ashley Rodriguez and Siobhan Magnus; Connecticut's Katie Stevens; and Colorado's Lilly Scott and Haeley Vaughn.

They'll perform on Tuesday night, the young men Wednesday.

Last month, a list on the Joe's Place blog (www.joesplaceblog.com) mentioned every one of those names, except for Urban.

Apparently, Chris Golightly did make the Top 24 - he was seen in a group portrait - but then was disqualified in favor of Urban because of uncertaintly if Golightly was under a professional contract.

Joe's Place reports talking with Golightly, who said he was released from the contact - but couldn't find the official notice until after Idol rescinded his invite.

Lawyers are getting involved, according to Joe's Place.

So don't expect Chris to go lightly.

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.

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