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American Idol: Handicapping the girls

February 21, 2008 |  8:26 am

Amanda

Tuesday night, the boys debuted on the world stage with a night of performances that were largely unexceptional, with two huge exceptions and two medium-size ones.  Wednesday night, we met the girls with the question hanging over the stage: Did any of the ladies have the magic to go head-to-head with Archuleta and Johns?  Your tip sheet on the women of Season 7 follows.

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


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

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


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

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


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


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


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

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


CONTESTANT: 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

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


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

-- Richard Rushfield

(Photo courtesy Fox)

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