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''American Idol'': Our favorites so far

Here are our favorite ”American Idol” semifinalists — and the chances each has of winning the title

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Bo Bice, Nikko Smith, ...

”American Idol”: Our favorites so far

Ah, winter: snowstorms, chapped lips, and the loss of a social life thanks to nonstop airings of American Idol (Fox, Mondays and Tuesdays, 8 p.m.; Wednesdays, 9 p.m.). Last year’s lackluster competition — really, Diana DeGarmo in the final two? — prompted producers to change the rules, resulting in older wannabes and an intriguing boys-versus-girls showdown that’s making season 4 a must-see. As psychotic (or is it psychic?) Idol addicts, we at EW are already choosing our early faves.

Nadia Turner, American Idol

Nadia Turner

Why we love Nadia Turner

Spunky Nadia, 28, had better watch it — Idol fans are notoriously disloyal to early front-runners (remember what happened to Tamyra Gray and La Toya London?). Our suggestion: Play up the sex appeal and keep singing offbeat songs (like Ashley Cleveland’s ”Power of Love”) instead of drippy, overused ballads. ODDS 3?2

Mario Vazquez, American Idol

Mario Vazquez

”American Idol”: Why we love Mario Vazquez

His played-out tilted-hat look notwithstanding (dude, show us those curly locks!), this 27-year-old Bronx native has a patented up-from-the-hood success story, flashes a killer smile, calls himself a mama’s boy, and can actually belt a tune. Justin Guarini comparisons abound, and we see it…but c’mon, Mario is nowhere near as irritating. ODDS 2?1

Carrie Underwood, American Idol

Carrie Underwood

”American Idol”: Why we love Carrie Underwood

Anybody who can pull a Tiffany song (”Could’ve Been”) from her bag of tricks without sounding like a complete cheeseball obviously has some staying power. And at 21, the charmingly naive Carrie (who’s even from Oklahoma, for Pete’s sake) has a strong, twangy voice that brings to mind Kelly Clarkson. That’s always a good thing. ODDS 3?1

Anwar Robinson, American Idol

Anwar Robinson

”American Idol”: Why we love Anwar Robinson

Soft-spoken music teacher Anwar (who looks like a Gen-Y version of Bob Marley, no?) made us all mushy with his rendition of ”Moon River” — and he’s so full of positive energy that he makes Deepak Chopra look angry. Plus, this 25-year-old’s totally got the endorsement of PTA members nationwide. ODDS 9?2

Bo Bice, American Idol

Bo Bice

”American Idol”: Why we love Bo Bice

Sure, he could use a good VO5 Hot Oil treatment (and an encounter with a Gillette Mach 3), but that’s part of the 29-year-old rocker’s charm. Look-alike contestant Constantine Maroulis seemed to be the early fave, but Bo’s no-sweat swagger and powerful grumble have grown on us. Plus, it’s just so fun to say his name. ODDS 6?1

Mikalah Gordon, American Idol

Mikalah Gordon

”American Idol”: Why we love Mikalah Gordon

Because she’s so undeniably entertaining (in a what-is-she-on?! kind of way) that we just couldn’t bear an early exit. Because she looks like the love child Fran Drescher and Janice Dickinson can never have. Because the manic gleam in this 17-year-old’s eyes makes us wonder if she’s about to blow. Not because she can sing. ODDS We aren’t that cruel.

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