Danny Noriega
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‘American Idol’ boys

Danny Noriega
By Richard Rushfield, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

The audition tour, Hollywood week, the Green Mile, all the build-up and pre-game hype are over and at last we can get a look at our final 24 contenders. So step right up and get your tip sheet, handicapping the contenders and the soon-to-be also-rans of Season 7.

Please remember, all opinions made based on these first glimpses are subject to change, many, many times, before we reach the Kodak Theatre in May. (Fox)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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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