Michael Johns
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‘American Idol’s’ top 24

Michael Johns
CONTESTANT: Michael Johns

THE SHPIEL: Duende from Down Under

CORE VOTING BLOCK(S): Female viewers, all ages.

STRENGTHS: Enormous star power

WEAKNESSES: Frankly grown up and sensual appeal (see Ann Powers’ Idolbanter) may terrify the youth vote.

IDOL PREDECESSOR: Unprecedented

COCKINESS QUOTIENT (1 – 10): 9

STAR POWER(1 – 10): 10

LIKELY FINISH: 3rd (Fox)
Alaina Whitaker
CONTESTANT: Alaina Whitaker

THE SHPIEL: Won the hearts of America with her “shoot” comeback

CORE VOTING BLOCK(S): White Southern parents

STRENGTHS: Unaffected aw, shucks charm

WEAKNESSES: Hard to distinguish herself in the giant shadow of Carrie Underwood

IDOL PREDECESSOR: Kellie Pickler

COCKINESS QUOTIENT (1 – 10): 7

STAR POWER(1 – 10): 8

LIKELY FINISH: 4th

ELIMINATED: Feb. 28 (Fox)
Carly Smithson
CONTESTANT: Carly Smithson

THE SHPIEL: The comeback queen; groomed for greatness but evident insecurity raises doubts whether she can rise to the challenge

CORE VOTING BLOCK(S): Irish-American; the middle-aged

STRENGTHS: Powerful vocal talents, intense personality, good back story that owns up to showbiz past; childhood touring with “Les Miz” will endear her to show tunes fans.

WEAKNESSES: May be too intense and dark to connect with audience.

IDOL PREDECESSOR: Katharine McPhee

COCKINESS QUOTIENT (1 – 10): 3

STAR POWER(1 – 10): 8

LIKELY FINISH: 9th (Fox)
Ramiele Malubay
Ramiele Malubay

THE SHPIEL: Little girl with the big voice. Has potential to go far.

CORE VOTING BLOCK(S): 15- to 25-year-old nightclub regulars

STRENGTHS: Pixie-like cuteness

WEAKNESSES: The cuteness shtick may get tired. Too inexpressive a personality.

IDOL PREDECESSOR: Jasmine Trias

COCKINESS QUOTIENT (1 – 10): 8

STAR POWER(1 – 10): 8

LIKELY FINISH: 11th (Fox)
Syesha Mercado
CONTESTANT: Syesha Mercado

THE SHPIEL: “I’ve been trying to stay away from the sick ones.” The one female candidate with true star presence.

CORE VOTING BLOCK(S): Adult contemporary

STRENGTHS: Magnetic presence

WEAKNESSES: Celine/Whitney style may be too familiar to Idol competition.

IDOL PREDECESSOR: Tamyra Gray

COCKINESS QUOTIENT (1 – 10): 7

STAR POWER(1 – 10): 10

LIKELY FINISH: 1st (Fox)
kady Malloy
CONTESTANT: Kady Malloy

THE SHPIEL: “I’m like obsessed with music, really.” Early favorite in auditions but may fail to develop

CORE VOTING BLOCK(S): 12- to 29-year-old white males; Texas

STRENGTHS: Strong fiery Texan personality; youthful spunk

WEAKNESSES: Britney sound-alike shtick already growing tired; off-the-charts Cockiness Quotient and party-girl persona may hold her back from going the extra mile to win

IDOL PREDECESSOR: Kimberly Caldwell

COCKINESS QUOTIENT (1 – 10): 10

STAR POWER(1 – 10): 8

LIKELY FINISH: 15th (Fox)
Colton
CONTESTANT: Colton Berry

THE SHPIEL: Hyperactive, funny face making, boy band candidate.

CORE VOTING BLOCK(S): 9 year old girls

STRENGTHS: Youth appeal

WEAKNESSES: Takes a distant backseat to Archuleta competing for the same demo.

IDOL PREDECESSOR: Corey Clark

COCKINESS QUOTIENT (1 – 10): 9

STAR POWER(1 – 10): 4

LIKELY FINISH: 18th

ELIMINATED: Feb. 21 (Fox)
Robbie Carrico
CONTESTANT: Robbie Carrico

THE SHPIEL: Toured with Britney Spears “and when we got back I wanted to do rock so bad.”

CORE VOTING BLOCK(S): Southern rockers.

STRENGTHS: The only male “rocker” of this year’s men.

WEAKNESSES: Might find it hard to step out of the long shadow of Bice; rockers traditionally can go far, but not all the way.

IDOL PREDECESSOR: Bo Bice

COCKINESS QUOTIENT (1 – 10): 5

STAR POWER(1 – 10): 7

LIKELY FINISH: 6th

ELIMINATED: Feb. 28 (Fox)
Brooke White
CONTESTANT: Brooke White

THE SHPIEL: “The good girl”; Interesting but ultimately may be too light a style to compete

CORE VOTING BLOCK(S): Coffee House Open Mike Night Nation

STRENGTHS: Wholesomeness; Carly Simonesque style unique to Idol; hunky husband.

WEAKNESSES: Wholesome routine may turn corner into freakishness; singer-songwriter routine may be too low-key.

IDOL PREDECESSOR: Vanessa Olivarez

COCKINESS QUOTIENT (1 – 10): 6

STAR POWER(1 – 10): 5

LIKELY FINISH: 17th (Fox)
David Cook
CONTESTANT: David Cook

THE SHPIEL: Alterna-rocker brings mildly ironic twist.

CORE VOTING BLOCK(S): 28 – 45 year old white “eclectic music” listeners.

STRENGTHS: Unique persona in the pack; alternative without being scary.

WEAKNESSES: The John Mayer path likely a bit too intense and limiting to go the distance.

IDOL PREDECESSOR: Constantin Maroulis

COCKINESS QUOTIENT (1 – 10): 5

STAR POWER(1 – 10): 6

LIKELY FINISH: 10th (Fox)
Luke Menard
CONTESTANT: Luke Menard

THE SHPIEL: Dramatically handsome, carpet cleaning, working class hero

CORE VOTING BLOCK(S): Women 23 - 37

STRENGTHS: Orlando Bloom-like looks; hard working family man.

WEAKNESSES: Forgettable performance skills.

IDOL PREDECESSOR: Chris Richardson

COCKINESS QUOTIENT (1 – 10): 3

STAR POWER(1 – 10): 7

LIKELY FINISH: 20th (Fox)
Kristy Lee Cook
CONTESTANT: Kristy Lee Cook

THE SHPIEL: “If I win this, I want to make enough money to buy back my horse.” Favorite of audition tour, may fade in the Idoldome’s harsh glare

CORE VOTING BLOCK(S): Country boys

STRENGTHS: All-American girl

WEAKNESSES: Forgettable in diverse crowd

IDOL PREDECESSOR: Melissa McGhee

COCKINESS QUOTIENT (1 – 10): 5

STAR POWER(1 – 10): 5

LIKELY FINISH: 23rd (Fox)
Jason
CONTESTANT: Jason Castro

THE SHPIEL: The dreadlocks say all.

CORE VOTING BLOCK(S): 13 – 25 year old burners; Texans.

STRENGTHS: Ethereal hippy appeal likely to stand out among the crowd

WEAKNESSES: Hippies are ultimately a niche audience and rarely crossover to general voting population.

IDOL PREDECESSOR: Blake Lewis

COCKINESS QUOTIENT (1 – 10): 2

STAR POWER(1 – 10): 7

LIKELY FINISH: 8th (Fox)
Amanda
CONTESTANT: Amanda Overmyer

THE SHPIEL: “If a semi won’t take her down, nothing will.” Hard-singing rocker girl is an original among contestants, should get close to top tier, but is she too far out of the mainstream to be a true contender?

CORE VOTING BLOCK(S): Hard livin’ rock and rollers

STRENGTHS: Will not be forgotten on election days

WEAKNESSES: Persona likely to scare the 6- to 12-year-old demo

IDOL PREDECESSOR: Chris Daughtry

COCKINESS QUOTIENT (1 – 10): 9

STAR POWER(1 – 10): 6

LIKELY FINISH: 5th (Fox)
Joanne Borgella
CONTESTANT: Joanne Borgella

THE SHPIEL: Plus-size model and proud

CORE VOTING BLOCK(S): The size-challenged

STRENGTHS: Only contestant this year for the plus-size demographic

WEAKNESSES: After last year’s champion, Idol may need a year off before selecting another plus-size model; despite plus size, model background renders her too poised and still on camera.

IDOL PREDECESSOR: Jordin Sparks

COCKINESS QUOTIENT (1 – 10): 7

STAR POWER(1 – 10): 4

LIKELY FINISH: 19th

ELIMINATED: Feb. 21 (Fox)
Jason
CONTESTANT: Jason Yeager

THE SHPIEL: “Singing server”, Clean Cut country boy, good father.

CORE VOTING BLOCK(S): Middle-aged conservative parents

STRENGTHS: One of only three Southern guys

WEAKNESSES: The John Tesh factor

IDOL PREDECESSOR: Jared Cotter

COCKINESS QUOTIENT (1 – 10): 4

STAR POWER(1 – 10): 2

LIKELY FINISH: 24th

ELIMINATED: Feb. 28 (Fox)
Chikezie Eze
CONTESTANT: Chikezie

THE SPIEL: The hardest working Idol contestant, fought his way back after rejection last year.

CORE VOTING BLOCK(S): Middle-aged to elderly R&B fans.

STRENGTHS: Likable winning personality.

WEAKNESSES: Showed flash of temper and cockiness after Simon’s pan; uncontemporary style.

IDOL PREDECESSOR: Ruben Studdard

COCKINESS QUOTIENT (1 – 10): 9

STAR POWER (1 – 10): 6

LIKELY FINISH: 14th (Fox)
Asia’H Epperson
CONTESTANT: Asia’h Epperson

THE SHPIEL: Overcame death of father to rise to audition challenge. Vibrant stage personality but needs to find distinctive style.

CORE VOTING BLOCK(S): Middle-age Whitney Houston fans

STRENGTHS: Heroic story, surprisingly strong vocals

WEAKNESSES: Seems familiar, not distinctive. Lacks a clear base.

IDOL PREDECESSOR: Jennifer Hudson

COCKINESS QUOTIENT (1 – 10): 5

STAR POWER(1 – 10): 7

LIKELY FINISH: 13th (Fox)
Alexandrea Lushington
CONTESTANT: Alexandrea Lushington

THE SHPIEL: Sassy teenager has potential to grow into sleeper candidate

CORE VOTING BLOCK(S): Southerners; 11- to 17-year-old female wiseacres

STRENGTHS: The only candidate from the Deep South, home to three of the six Idol winners

WEAKNESSES: Lack of distinct style may limit growth

IDOL PREDECESSOR: Diana DeGarmo

COCKINESS QUOTIENT (1 – 10): 7

STAR POWER(1 – 10): 7

LIKELY FINISH: 7th

ELIMINATED: Feb. 28 (Fox)
Amy
CONTESTANT: Amy Davis

THE SHPIEL: “Trade show” and swimwear model may not be unique enough singer to go the distance

CORE VOTING BLOCK(S): Fraternity brothers

STRENGTHS: Appearance; proud dad with her picture on T-shirt.

WEAKNESSES: Overt sexiness has never been a winning formula on Idol.

IDOL PREDECESSOR: Hayley Scarnato

COCKINESS QUOTIENT (1 – 10): 3

STAR POWER(1 – 10): 5

LIKELY FINISH: 21st

ELIMINATED: Feb. 21 (Fox)
Danny Noriega
CONTESTANT: Danny Noriega

THE SHPIEL: “I want to bring swaggering attitude on stage.”

CORE VOTING BLOCK(S): Theater geeks; potential vote for the worst candidate.

STRENGTHS: Aggressive attitude guarantees he will be noticed.

WEAKNESSES: Might be more noticed for theatrics than singing.

IDOL PREDECESSOR: Sanjaya Malakar

COCKINESS QUOTIENT (1 – 10): 9

STAR POWER(1 – 10): 6

LIKELY FINISH: 12th (Fox)
David Archuleta
CONTESTANT: David Archuleta

THE SHPIEL: The wunderkind; the Chosen One.

CORE VOTING BLOCK(S): Every 9 year old girl in America, a million times, plus their grandmothers.

STRENGTHS: Preternatural talents; strong appeal to Idol’s most powerful demographic block.

WEAKNESSES: 17 but seems 12 persona may turn-off everyone outside that block.

IDOL PREDECESSOR: Clay Aiken

COCKINESS QUOTIENT (1 – 10): 4

STAR POWER(1 – 10): 9

LIKELY FINISH: 2 (FOX)
David Hernandez
CONTESTANT: David Hernandez

THE SPIEL: Earnest, serious. “I’ve been through a lot. I was raised by a single mom … broken family.”

CORE VOTING BLOCK(S): Twentysomething young marrieds; office parkers.

STRENGTHS: Deadly vibrato powers

WEAKNESSES: Earnest to the point of forgettable.

IDOL PREDECESSOR: Nick Pedro

COCKINESS QUOTIENT (1 – 10): 5

STAR POWER (1 – 10): 3

LIKELY FINISH: 22nd (FOX)
Garrett Haley
CONTESTANT: Garrett Haley

THE SHPIEL: “Me and my family were in San Diego on vacation and I was like, mom, I should try out for American Idol.”

CORE VOTING BLOCK(S): Teenage hippies. Some teen girl appeal

STRENGTHS: Laid-back elfin charm

WEAKNESSES: Lack of apparent drive makes it very difficult to see how he overcomes the incredible hurdles ahead

IDOL PREDECESSOR: Justin Guarini

COCKINESS QUOTIENT (1 – 10): 6

STAR POWER(1 – 10): 6

LIKELY FINISH: 16th

ELIMINATED: Feb. 21 (FOX)
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