Handicapping American Idol II

Millions of people watched tonight as the top 12 contestants were named on American Idol. We’re down to 6 girls and 6 boys. Longtime Wizbang readers might remember I have a decent eye for talent when it comes to Idol.

Here is the low down on each contestant. In Alphabetical order:

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The Girls
Paris Bennett is a bit of a wildcard. From a long line of semi-famous musicians and singers, she has -even at 17- what so many thousands of contestants lacked; that ability to bring you into her world versus her protruding into your living room. An incredible performer and a cutie. If a 17 year old CAN win Idol, she’ll be the one to do it.

Mandisa apparently only has one name. Not sure why that is, but it goes with that whole commanding Diva thing. She’d never win a swimsuit competition but she has a voice and is a good entertainer. I suspect she’ll be around a few more weeks and have a good career in the biz. When asked about an Idol win, my magic 8-ball said: “Outlook not so good.”

Katharine Mcphee was actually my “Carrie Underwood pick” this year. From the moment I saw her I thought she was going to make it far. Being gorgeous and having a mom who is a voice coach never hurts. I don’t know if she has what it takes to make it all the way. She lists on her bio her “toughest obstacle in life” as being “overcoming personal insecurities” and it shows. Great performers (as opposed to good performers) have abundant self confidence. She has the look and the talent, but does she have it inside?

Kellie Pickler is this year’s blond country girl. The comparison to Underwood is obvious and she’s sure to get a few extra votes on Carrie’s coattails. Simon even said he prefers her to Underwood. The reason of course, is that Underwood could never pull off the sexy (ahem, trampy) look no matter how hard she tried. Pickler gives that raw edge credibility. She’s got a better than a 50% chance if she keeps it up.

Lisa Tucker is the youngest contestant at age 16. She turned in a stunning performance a few weeks ago and has been riding that a bit. I don’t think a 16 year old can win Idol but she has a bright future in the business. Every time I hear her sing I say, “She’s incredible, for a 16 year old.” At some point she has to be plain incredible.

Melissa Mcghee. Repeat after me… Florida has 20 electoral votes. Florida has 20 electoral votes. She’s a good singer, not a great singer. She is not a star. But being form a populous state has it’s advantages. It means you get to stay and basketball girl from Massachusetts goes home.

The Boys
Kevin Covais OK America, it’s not funny anymore. Now, Stop.

Bucky Covington is a very, very, very good singer in a contest to find a great singer. He could lead a good regional band and make a good living with his music. I just don’t see double platinum in his future. This next week is going to be a big challenge for him.

Chris Daughtry He’s a winner if the show gets cancelled tomorrow. He’s got a contract waiting for him no matter the voting. Having said that, I don’t know if he’ll win. His first album goes platinum 1 year from today. It’s not that he’s IN-credible but he is obviously credible.

Taylor Hicks If you look up wild-card in the dictionary, you see Taylor’s gray head in the mug shot. Next week is Stevie Wonder so unless he is a complete moron he’ll make it another round. Where he stops I have NO clue. I can’t exactly see him winning though. Because while I’m sure he has TONS of support (including in my household) I can’t help but think his negatives are high too. SOMEBODY will give him a record deal just to see what happens. I’d even give iTunes Music Store a few bucks to get it…. Even if he is not my favorite. The guy was clearly BORN with something. I don’t know if he is a Stevie Wonder or Ray Charles but clearly his brain interacts with music on a completely different level than everyone else. Just the length of this paragraphs tells you he is interesting and that plus a few stunning songs might make him the most unlikely American Idol yet. (Ok, I’m pushing that.)

Elliott Yamin I can’t figure him out. Great voice but seemed to be streaky in the performer department. And for the love of God would he do something about that hair?!?! His goofball haircut along with the lighting director’s insistence on using a blue hair light on him makes him look like a smurf.

Ace Young OK… I’m far from queer. And I’m not into that long haired look. But this guy is gorgeous. And he has a very, very good, if slightly untrained, voice to match. A falsetto virtuoso in Idol terms but I fear he is a one trick pony. Next week is Stevie Wonder. You 17 year girls in the audience can book it that he makes it thru that round. If he can control his (otherwise great) voice a bit and pick the right songs, he might be hard to stop.

And now my annual disclaimer:

While I picked my favs, any one of them can be sent home on the basis of one bad song. They must not only sing well but continue to improve.

Winning AI is similar to winning a campaign, you have to get votes… that means appealing to a base. There is NO WAY that Bo Bice and Constantine Maroulis will be the final 2. [Of course not, they were from last year’s post. But I was right last year and it still applies. -ed] They are both 29 year old, hard rock, white males… They will bump each other… thems is the breaks.

I remind people of that because when good people go home, it will probably have as much to do with genre and demographics as talent. (In other words, no whining)

Bennish: Intellectual Child Abuser
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