Handicapping American Idol III

Note: This is 3rd season I’ve done this. See also Season 4 and Season 5 for my previous takes.

American Idol season six has, so far, been the most lackluster in several seasons. Call it happenstance, poor judging or perhaps this is the year VoteForTheWorst.com finally hit its stride; whatever it is, this season has been boring. Last night the contestants where reduced to 12 and of those, about 8 have no chance.

So if you can stay awake, here’s this year’s handicapping in apathetically random order:

Blake Lewis AKA the Beatboxer. One of the few contestants worth watching, he’s an interesting guy and he’ll make more than a few bucks off this but he’s not going to be this year’s Idol. And am I the only one who thinks he and the Heat Miser were separated at birth?

Phil Stacey He’s bald, he’s a decent singer and he missed the birth of his kid to make the auditions. But that’s about all anyone knows or cares about. He’ll stick around a few weeks because some of the final 12 are horrific but he’s not going all the way.

Chris Sligh Ladies and Gentleman, you’re witnessing greatness geekness in action. Chris is -by far- the most interesting of the contestants. He’s potentially the best male vocalist, which admittedly is a dubious distinction this season. But what makes him so interesting is that he’s playing American Idol like Richard Hatch (the fat naked fag) played survivor; he’s playing the game to win. He has studied Taylor Hicks path to success last year and is hoping he can make lighting strike twice in the same place. His teletubbies/Il Divo snipe at Simon was planned months ago but used too early. Realizing he could potentially lose votes, he fell all over himself the next week apologizing. He’s trying to play Idol like a game of chess. It’s fascinating to watch (to me anyway) and I actually like his voice, having said that, I think he’ll go no further than the top 3. – But I could be wrong.

Chris Richardson Is there room for two Justin Timberlakes in the world? He’s a decent singer who’ll stick around for a few weeks, he’ll probably have a decent career launched from Idol. I’m having trouble seeing him past the final four.

Jordin Sparks Go ahead and remember her name; she’ll be big as the years progress. She’s 17 which is young to win the whole thing, but her future is extremely bright. Sometime during season 7, Ryan Seacrest will give us numbers on how well her debut album is selling.

Stephanie Edwards Here we have a contender. With the (stunning) loss of Sabrina Sloan last night, she’s got a more open field. My “problem” with her is that she’s a bit of a niche singer. She’s very good at it, but that type of music doesn’t have the broadest appeal. Another singer who doesn’t need to win to make a living in this biz.

Brandon Rogers The male backup singer might not be ready for the spotlight just yet. He’s not going double platinum next year but his career is sure to get a boost from the exposure.

Haley Scarnato Who? Simon said he didn’t know her name and neither did I. Wonderful, wholesome, girl you wished lived next door looks, but doesn’t have the “YO” factor. If she could hit one out the park next week, she’d stick around but I just don’t know if she has it in her.

Gina Glocksen The judges said they wanted edgy and edgy they got it… but as Simon said, she might have lost much of America with that performance. Another singer who has a career from Idol. She’s got talent, not Grammy talent, but talent. She’s not going all the way.

Lakisha Jones If Lakisha had a “made for TV” body she’d be a serious contender. As it sits she’s going to be in the hunt for the final four but will be hard pressed to make it to the top. (Although the voting has been wonky so who knows) Clearly one of the best vocals.

Melinda Doolittle OK call me a bit biased but this girl is the only one worth talking about. Her range is incredible, her enunciation is phenomenal and control is amazing. She is -by a long shot- the best vocalist. Assuming we don’t get another shocker vote, (damn you VFTW) she is this years odds on favorite.

I’ve said for about 4 weeks now that winning this year was going to be tough if you’re not a black female. So far that seems right on.

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. Sabrina Sloan went home this week but probably would not have if Stephanie Edwards where not in the race. Having two of “the same” singers meant they split the vote.

Having said the above, the voting this year as been horrific. As I’ve hinted above, I think votefortheworst is actually big enough to have some impact in the early rounds where many people don’t vote.

So in the past, I’ve said “No whining” but this year people might have a real reason to… if we can stay awake long enough to get attached to anyone.

Lorie adds: I hope Paul doesn’t mind me sticking my nose in here, but I am an avid Idol watcher and have been since season 1. I agree with absolutely everything Paul said. The point about splitting the vote is one I made last night when explaining to my kids how some of the good singers (Sabrina in this case) could end up getting sent home and I am surprised that the judges have not made a reference to it when commenting on some of the more “surprising” votes. I also strongly agree that this year is lackluster. Good singers, but few with originality. With the exception of the rocker chick, the beatboxer, and Chris Sligh it seems to me the contestants all fit the pop/R&B mold. I miss having a country artist in the mix, but that is just me showing my bias. One last comment — Simon is going to have to stop “100 percent” promising contestants they will be back the following week because this year I don’t think you can say that about anyone.

Circuit Court Strikes Down D.C. Handgun Ban
Throw the book at them