The American Idol competition kicks into high gear on Tuesday night. We have our Top 12, but in the coming weeks, it will be narrowed down to one. The votes so far this season have been anything but predictable. More than one stand-out performer was booted off, and at least a few surprise picks made it into the finals. While everyone has an equal shot at this point, we’ve seen them all perform at least once. Some predictions may be in order.
Poor Matt. He is way out of his league here. Not a snowball’s chance in hell. Sorry. Current odds: 50:1
Jon Peter was entertaining enough in the wild card show that he became America’s choice for the finals. Unless he shapes up into more than a novelty act quickly, the fun will end very soon. Current odds: 30:1
Like Matt, Camile is out of her league. But I don’t think she’s quite as doomed as he is. As the judges pointed out, she does seem to have the potential to blossom into a star. But can she do it before she’s trampled by the rest of the pack? Current odds: 20:1
While Jasmine certainly managed to hold her own in the semi-finals, she’s in a whole other league now. She definitely has the image down, from the trademark flower in her hair to the shy smile. The judges and the audience respond to her, but her voice doesn’t quite stack up when compared with the other contestants. Still, she could surprise us if her song choice is apt. Current odds: 18:1
The judges like Leah, though its hard to see why. She is bland and ordinary in every sense of the word. While she is a decent singer, the way she blends into the crowd could hurt her immeasurably among an incredibly varied and flashy group. If she can find her “thing” within the first episode or so, she could gain some fans. Just keep in mind, America did not vote for her to be here. Paula Abdul did. Current odds: 18:1
John is something of an enigma among this group. It seems he can sing, and he has a style all his own. While he certainly stands out among these twelve, its tough to decide if America is willing to carry him very far along in the competition. His first-place showing in the semi-final group shows that he has a fan base, but he’s not a powerhouse among these singers. Unless he pulls a Clay Aiken transformation early on, his time could be short. Current odds: 15:1
My personal favorite in the competition so far. She genuinely seems like she’s having fun, not just when she’s on stage singing, but during the interviews, the banter with Seacrest, and even standing before the firing squad, Amy really just seems happy to be there. Her “look” and attitude recall Vanessa Olivarez from Season 2, who was the first of the 12 finalists to be voted off. However, it’s not entirely unfair to compare her to Nicky McKibbin, who was outpaced by only Justin Guarini (and where is he now?) and Kelly Clarkson in period 1. I’d be thrilled if Amy gets that far, but I just don’t see it happening. Current odds: 12:1
George wowed America with his smile and unflappable positive attitude. While he doesn’t exactly look like the American Idol, neither did Clay or Reuben. He’s shown that he can really get the crowd going, which can mean a big payoff when its time for the votes to come in. When the viewing audience can tell that the live audience is grooving along with the performer, they respond in a big way. The toughest barrier for George will likely be song choice–he’s shown he can do one thing very well, but he’s going to have to diversify in the coming weeks if he wants to stay around. Current odds: 12:1
Jennifer has shown that she can pull of a decent performance in at least two distinct genres. While it was shocking to see her passed over in the semi-finals, there was no real doubt she’d come back strong in the wild card show. Among last year’s group, she could have easily been among the top three. If she continues to diversify, she could make it as high as number four, but it will be hard to surpass the front-runners. Current odds: 9:1
Yes, Diana can sing, but it looks like the rest of the finalists can, too. This competition will definitely come down to the whole package: style, presentation, and attitude will matter just as much as talent in the end. I don’t think Diana will resonate with most AI voters in the way some of the other contestants seem to be doing already. The competition is heating up. While Diana will be around for awhile, don’t expect her to make the top two. Current odds: 13:2
Not only does Fantasia look and sound the part of the next American Idol, she’s got an incredibly positive attitude and outlook on the competition. In her interview on the official site, she claims Simon is her favorite judge because “he is real.” When asked which professional singer she sounds most like, she replies: “No one. I try to be Fantasia.” As Paula said after Fantasia’s rousing rendition of “Something To Talk About,” this competition needs Fantasia. If she doesn’t stumble, she could go all the way. Current odds: 3:1
After a stand-out performance in Group 3 that brought the first standing ovation of the finals that included the judges, LaToya is the one to beat. The only potential problem I see at this point is her stoicism. The audience likes to see contestants get excited when they win and cry when they lose (hence, the many lingering shots of Leah LaBelle when she didn’t make the cut on her first try). When we get to the finals, LaToya can’t continue to be as stoic as we’ve seen her so far. Current odds: 2:1
Season 3 is shaping up to be every bit as entertaining as the first two installments. Expect the media blitz to kick into high gear very soon. We’re going to be seeing these 12 faces everywhere before too long, and the frenzy will only continue to build as the field is narrowed week by week. The two-hour special kicks off the real start of this contest Tuesday night.
Note: The odds above represent my views alone as to the chances for any given contestant to win the competition and are not intended as a solicitation to wager on the outcome of the show.
Portions of this article were previously posted at scottpepper.blogspot.com.