"American Idol" is weeding out the competition as viewers and judges narrowed the first group of 12 semi-finalists to a lucky 3 who will go on to compete in the singing show!

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Alexis Grace, 21, Danny Gokey, 28, and Michael Sarver, 27, wowed judges and won over viewers with their performances Tuesday night. Grace, a single mother from Memphis, won her spot with a soulful rendition of Aretha Franklin's "Never Loved a Man," which prompted Simon to compare her to the first "Idol" champ, Kelly Clarkson.

Widower Danny Gokey, a church music director from Milwaukee, was dubbed the hero of Tuesday night after his heartfelt interpretation of Mariah Carey's classic, "Hero." Judge Kara DioGuardi exclaimed, "You are the hero, man. You give us all hope. You were great."

Sarver, an oil rig worker from Texas, received mixed reactions from judges after belting out Gavin Degraw's "I Don't Wanna Be." Simon admitted that his voice was good enough for the competition, but said, "I think if you get through, it's because people like you."

The 9 semi-finalists who were sent packing yesterday -- including other Bikini Girl Casey Carlson and Cowell-proclaimed "drama queen" Tatiana Del Toro -- have another shot at making it into the top 12 during the wild card round on March 5.

"American Idol" continues to sort the extraordinary from the ordinary next Tuesday on FOX.

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