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. 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 two the last two weeks, leading to speculation he might not survive Wednesday's show. • Betting website Bodog.com says Lynche is the longest shot to win, with odds at 15-to-1 against compared to 10-to-1 for Casey James and even money for both Lee Dewyze and Crystal Bowersox. • But I'm not so sure. Here's my take on who is likely to survive — and not.
Advantages: A stirring personal story, rock-solid vocal chops and an immediate ease on stage. Still, I contend Lynche is best singer in the field.
Disadvantages: Popped as a personality so soon, viewers may be tired of him, as some fans perceive his jokey manner on stage as arrogance.
My odds: He and Crystal Bowersox should be the top two, but Lynche gets a worried 3-to-1 against from me right now.
Advantages: Blessed with powerhouse vocals, a strong artistic vision and wide-ranging instrumental talent, Mamasox was the immediate critics' favorite.
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.
My odds: 2-to-1 against. Because Idol loves surprises.
Advantages: Idol voters love nothing more than a laid-back guy who comes on strong at the end (think David Cook and Kris Allen). Paint store clerk-turned-pop star Dewyze has nailed that role.
Disadvantages: Despite strong vocal performances, he's still a bit of a cipher as a personality, though Idol seems to like milquetoast himbos.
My odds: Even money to win, on the strength of Idol's tween voting base.
Advantages: Plays a mean 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.