The top 12 American Idol finalists include an actress, a Star Search champion, an Australian, a male stripper and someone who already recorded a debut album.

The popular Fox singing contest cut four contestants from the competition Thursday night, leaving a dozen finalists to vie for the show's record contract grand prize.

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Next week, for the first time in the show's seven-year history, contestants will be allowed to sing Lennon-McCartney Beatles songs. (Idol producers recently secured rights for participants to perform the hard-to-get songs belonging to Sony/ATV Music Publishing, a company formed by Sony and Michael Jackson.)

More than 36 million votes were cast by viewers to pick the top 12, according to host Ryan Seacrest.

Among the finalists: Syesha Mercado, a 21-year-old actress who's appeared in a commercial for Ford; David Archuleta, a 17-year-old crooner who won CBS' Star Search in 2003 at age 12; and Michael Johns, a 29-year-old rocker who moved from Australia to the U.S. in 1998.

Kady Malloy, Luke Menard, Asia'h Epperson and Danny Noriega were eliminated from the program Thursday night, leaving the following 12 finalists:

- David Archuleta, 17, Murray, Utah

- Jason Castro, 20, Rockwall, Texas

- David Cook, 25, Blue Springs, Mo.

- Kristy Lee Cook, 24, Selma, Ore.

- Chikezie Eze, 22, Inglewood, Calif.

- David Hernandez, 24, Glendale, Ariz.

- Michael Johns, 29, Los Angeles

- Ramiele Malubay, 20, Miramar, Fla.

- Syesha Mercado, 21, Sarasota, Fla.

- Amanda Overmyer, 23, Mulberry, Ind.

- Carly Smithson, 24, San Diego

- Brooke White, 24, Mesa, Ariz.

American Idol can be seen on Tuesday's, Wednesday's and Thursday's at 8 PM ET on Fox.