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Handicapping American Idol: How will St. Pete's Michael Lynche fare on this crucial week?

Michael-lynche-ratpack It’s a question you can’t help asking if you’ve been following the bizarre twists of this year’s American Idol competition from the beginning:

Where did the love go for Big Mike?

St. Petersburg-raised Michael Lynche emerged as a viewer favorite on Fox TV’s blockbuster singing competition early on – in part, thanks to heartwarming footage of the 305-pound former linebacker nailing the audition of his life in Hollywood while wife Christa was having their first child in New York.

But in recent weeks, the Gibbs High School graduate has struggled. Ejected from the show and saved by the judges on April 7, he has landed in the competition’s bottom contestants the last two weeks, leading to speculation he might not survive Wednesday’s show

(If he does, the city has an expansive homecoming planned Friday, including a stop by Gibbs and a free afternoon concert at The Pier. The American Idol Tour, featuring the show's Top 10 singers, has announced an Aug. 4 date at the St. Pete Times Forum; tickets go on sale Saturday)

Betting website Bodog.com cited Lynche as the longest shot to win Idol this season, pegged at 15 to 1 against compared to 10 to 1 for Casey James and even money for both Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox.

But what do they know? As the aspiring Idols take on movie songs under the eye of mentor Jamie Foxx tonight, here’s my take on who is likely to survive – and not.

Lynche Michael Lynche
Advantages:
He’s got a stirring personal story, rock solid vocal chops and an immediate ease onstage that made less comfortable contestants look jittery as Amy Winehouse at an A.A. meeting. Technically, I still contend Lynche is best singer in the field and one of the best showmen onstage.
Disadvantages: Popped as a personality so soon, viewers may be tired of him, as some fans perceive his jokey manner onstage as arrogance. The biggest problem with emerging as an early Idol favorite is that its fickle voting audience expects to be surprised in every performance – which is tough to do over 12 weeks.

My odds: Though I think he and Bowersox should be the Top Two, Lynche gets a worried 3 to 1 against from me right now.

Amd_idol_bowersox Crystal Bowersox

Advantages: Blessed with powerhouse vocals, a strong artistic vision and wide-ranging instrumental talent, Mamasox was the immediate critics’ favorite -- with a stirring story of single motherhood and struggles with diabetes to flavor her personal story.
Disadvantages: She hasn’t reached previous heights in her last two weeks of performances, and seems to be wearying of the Idol merry-go-round. And the surest road to ejectionville is to look so unbeatable your fan base doesn’t feel the need to vote.

My odds: 2 to 1 against. Because Idol loves surprises.

Lee-Dewyze Lee DeWyze

Advantages: Idol voters love nothing more than a laid-back guy who comes on strong at the end (think David Cook and Kris Allen), and paint salesman-turned-pop star DeWyze has nailed that role.
Disadvantages: Despite strong vocal performances, he’ll still a bit of a cipher as a personality, though Idol seems to like milquetoast himbos (think, again, about Mr. Allen).

My odds: Even money to win, on the strength of Idol’s legions of tween fans.

Casey-james-american-idol-300x225 Casey James

Advantages: Plays a means guitar and looks like the love child of Rascal Flatts and Keith Urban. When he’s in the zone, there’s nobody hotter at looking cool.
Disadvantages: Sometimes performs like he’s still in a southern rock cover band. He’s also the least versatile competitor, so far unable to nail a strong performance without hiding behind his guitar.
My odds: 5 to 1 against. He may be open for bar gigs next week.  

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 3:07pm]

    

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