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Just Off-Camera

"They respect you if you write. The dumber the world gets, the more the words matter." -Dan Jenkins


Friday, March 10, 2006

Ranking The Not-So-Dirty Dozen (Except Bucky, Who Is Dirty)

I said I'd get to making my picks for American Idol nearly a month ago, when the field was down to 24 contestants, but for several reasons (mostly my own laziness), I'm only getting to it now that the final 12 have been announced.

Here they are, in the order in which I think they'll finish (although not the order in which I think they deserve to finish). In parentheses are the money lines from Pinnacle Sports as of this morning.

1. Katharine McPhee (+590)
I picked her to win after I saw her original audition - even before the entire Hollywood field was chosen - and I'm sticking to that pick. She's good enough to do it, the judges love her, and the producers give her plenty of face time. I think the fact that she seems to doubt herself from time to time is a good thing, in that she'll continue to improve her song choices, her singing, and her appearance as the show progresses.

2. Chris Daughtry (+331)
As soon as I saw him bring the house to its feet in Hollywood with his rendition of "The First Cut Is The Deepest," I knew this guy would be in the mix until the end. The judges are right on in their assessment that he could be on the radio right now. His song choices are smart - he stays in his rock niche - so it'll be interesting to see where he goes when the producers drop theme nights on him. The oddsmakers have him as the favorite to win, but I think the show's audience doesn't lean quite enough toward his modern rock style to vote him all the way through.

3. Mandisa (+568)
Her talent is up there with anyone else's in the competition, but I'm going to get a little Simon Cowell here and say that she's going to lose votes because she's kind of hefty. If she picks the right song, like this week's "I'm Every Woman," she can turn in the best performance on any given night, and when the theme nights get to soul, or Motown, or '70s, she'll cruise easily.

4. Kellie Pickler (+981)
I'm kind of stunned that the oddsmakers have her eighth - she's improving every week and the producers and judges love her. Simon seems particularly taken with her, and (to me, at least) he seems like the judge with whom the voting public most often agrees. At first she seemed in over her head, but she's picking up confidence, and she can turn in a solid rock or country performance. And to be honest, I kind of dig the "aw, shucks, what is this calamari?" thing.

5. Elliott Yamin (+885)
He's got a really good voice, but I'd knock him down a few pegs because he's kind of goofy looking and, despite his back story (diabetic, deaf in one ear, mom in hospital, etc.), he doesn't really have that much charisma.

6. Paris Bennett (+1254)
I'm with the oddsmakers on this one - I don't think she's that great. However, she's got a bubbly personality, and I think she's exactly the kind of person who will draw a loyal voting audience, which is why I'm putting her higher than the oddsmakers and I think she should be. Also, someone has to do something about her most embarrassing moment, which she lists as, "When I was younger in Minnesota and I slipped and fell on the ice outside."

7. Ace Young (+590)
There's nothing that great about this guy except for the fact that he fell out of the boy band molding machine, and so he's probably going to pick up a lot of Seventeen readers' votes. I think it's nuts that the oddsmakers have him ranked third, tied with my pick to win it. His singing just seems really ordinary to me.

8. Taylor Hicks (+756)
This is one wacky-ass dude. I can't figure out what I think of him. On the one hand, he's a pretty good singer, and he's always positive. On the other hand, he looks like he's over 40, he dances like he's having uncontrollable muscle spasms, and I can't possibly imagine a big enough chunk of the audience voting for him over a lot of the other contestants. I will give him props for the harmonica-playing when he faced the judges' decision on the round of 24, though.

9. Lisa Tucker (+972)
Seacrest and the judges love harping on the fact that she's the youngest one in the competition, and that she's so polished for a 16-year-old. I get the feeling that they keep saying that because if she was four years older, she'd be pretty nondescript - a good singer, and not much more to it. I think she'll lose votes to Paris, because Paris is only a year older and more likeable.

10. Bucky Covington (+5000)
All you need to know about this redneck is that his hero in life is Kid Rock, because he had a "rough road to the top." I was kind of surprised he made it through the first public vote, but I guess he rallies NASCAR nation to the phone lines. In a few weeks, he'll be back at the Gas N' Sip, singing along to Skynyrd on a scratchy FM station.

11. Kevin Covais (+4000)
You know, if this guy looked like Ace, or even like me, I think he could be in the top six. Unfortunately, he really does resemble Chicken Little, as Seacrest was eager to point out. Clay Aiken at least made an effort to look less like a nerd; this guy is beyond hope. It's a shame, because he is apparently a big fan of sports and rap, though you'd never know it to look at him. He can also sing a bit. I hope he at least enjoys playing along with Seacrest's needling that he's a "sex symbol" or a "gangsta."

12. Melissa McGhee (+6000)
Even she was surprised that she made it to the top 12; you could see it in her reaction. Unless she pulls out the performance of her life next week, she's going home. She's kind of gotten the shaft in the sense that the producers haven't paid her much attention at all, but on the other hand, she doesn't seem all that deserving of attention compared to her opponents.

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