Top Ten (Touring) American Idol Finalists (and odds on winning):
David A. (3 to 2) – Obviously the most popular singer, but in a twist from the Sanjaya-age, he actually has some singing talent. He’s extremely limited for music genres (Metal Week would be his Kryptonite), but he has a soothing melodic voice and enough teeny-bopper fans with cell phones to make it to the final three without a problem. 70/80’s equivalent – David Gates. Seriously, can’t you hear his voice singing the entire Bread catalog?
Brooke (3 to 1) – A lot of wholesome, white bread, Dharma-ish appeal here. Decent singing ability coupled with an effervescent smile and gosh-darn-golly-gee personality makes her the top female for popularity, if not actual singing ability. Folksy, friendly, and sweet get her to the final four. 70/80’s equivalent – Juice Newton. A lot have seen a similarity to Carly Simon, but I think that’s the mouth and hair more than anything. Her voice is closer to the country-stylings of Juice than the nasal rasp of Carly.
Carly (4 to 1) – Eventually, all the judges fawning over her will show up in the voting. Yes, she has a good, smooth voice. Yes, she’s a better technical singer than anyone else in the competition. No, she has no visual or stage appeal. No, those tattoos do not look attractive. No, she won’t win. No, Fantasia shouldn’t have won either, but the constant genuflecting from the judges eventually swayed the public to voting for a BAD pop singer. Carly is > Fantasia, but won’t carry the fan vote. 70/80’s equivalent – Karen Carpenter. Great range, especially the lower tones. Unless she drastically changes her look and style, might be relegated to easy listening stations.
David Cook (5 to 1) – The rest of the public is catching onto something I noticed during Beatles Week 1; this guy smirks too much at inappropriate times. He’s like a front-man for a bar-band that knows he’s gonna get laid by a groupie, and he’s already thinking about it. That smugness will cost him in a popularity contest, as will his blatant ripping-off of Daughtry’s oeuvre. 70/80’s equivalent – John Mellencougarcamp, right down to the fake scratch he puts in his voice. If Cougarcampenmell doesn’t strike you right, what about Bob Seger? Bryan Adams? Gee, I guess these guys are a dime a dozen…
Jason (8 to 1) – It’s probably just me, but I can’t stomach this guy. He’s like every 70’s cliché about the guitar-playing, hemp-wearing, dreadlocked hippie singing folk songs in a wimpy, airy head tone next to his lava lamp, with equally airy co-eds mooning doe-eyed and dreamy as the bong gets passed around the dorm room. If this guy came on the radio, you’d probably smash your car in your haste to change the station. 70/80’s equivalent – Stephen Bishop. On and on, on and on, on and onnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn!
[Side note: In Animal House, Stephen Bishop is also the guitar-playing, hemp-wearing hippie that tries to sing “I gave my love a cherry…” in the Delta House when Bluto smashes his guitar into the stairwell… which is what I’ll do if Jason makes it to the final four.]
Ramiele (10 to 1) – Never underestimate the power of the Filipino vote. It got Jasmine Trias about seven spots further than she deserved. Ramiele is a wholly forgettable, sweet, doe-eyed Anime character with a voice like wind chimes. You can hear it off in the distance and you might think it sounds kinda pretty, but you’d never pay ITunes $.99 to listen to four minutes of it. 70/80’s equivalent – Yvonne Elliman. OK, so this is a bit of a reach, but a cute, Hawaiian singer with a nice voice (made her name singing “I don’t know how to love him” in Jesus Christ Superstar) and one disco hit (“If I can’t have you”). Irene Cara is too good and powerful a singer for this comparison.
Michael (10 to 1) – Never underestimate the power of the soccer mom vote. This guy is a mediocre singer who is scraping by on sex appeal and an Aussie accent. 70/80’s equivalent – Rick Springfield. This one was the easiest. Rick Springfield could sing a little, pose a lot, talk with an Aussie accent, and show his dimples. And he made millions despite the fact that NO male ever bought any of his stuff.
Syesha (15 to 1) – Probably a better singer than Ramiele, but won’t get as far unless she unleashes her inner Tina Turner. She needs to perform and not just sing the notes in a mechanical, though technically proficient way. Not really a threat to win, but might end up with a decent career singing ballads that Mariah and Whitney threw away. 70/80’s equivalent – A poor man’s Roberta Flack. A very, very poor man… OK, if Roberta Flack had just run a triathlon and went straight from the finish line to the stage….
Cheesy-Key (15 to 1) – Has a George Huff meets Urkel kind of vibe going right now. He seems to be having fun, making his performances more entertaining, but he’s rapidly turning into the black Taylor Hicks with his manic seizures on stage. Seems sincere and genuinely happy just to be in the competition despite his snowball-on-a-brightly-lit-soundstage’s chance to win. 70/80’s equivalent – Remember how Syesha is a homeless man’s Roberta Flack. Well, meet the homeless woman’s Al Green.
Kristy Lee Cook (25 to 1) – My god, how has she lasted this far?! She has a wispy, ineffectual, flat voice that only swoops when she’s countrifying notes. She’s also a cutie-pie, by far the most attractive female left, which is drawing the teenaged male vote in my house. But, this is NOT a good singer or a good performer. 70/80’s equivalent – If the 1973 “I honestly love you” Olivia Newton-John lost her vibrato and her pitch pipe and her personality, you might have this vapid a singer. Or if 1975 Marie Osmond bleached her hair, took an entire medicine cabinet of antidepressants, and sang Tammy Wynette songs after inhaling helium….
I’m reasonably sure about the top five staying intact with Ramiele’s ethnic bloc possibly squeezing her in (a la Jasmine), but the bottom four are unmistakeable. The exact order might depend on the themes (country might keep Kristy in it, Motown might keep Cheesy and/or Syesha longer, Aboriginal songs might keep Michael around).