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'Idol': Advice for the top 12

Ramiele, snap out of karaoke mode! Michael, take bigger risks! And Amanda, for heaven’s sake, smile! Michael Slezak offers song and styling suggestions for each of the finalists as they hit the big stage

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David Archuleta, American Idol, ...
Frank Micelotta/Getty Images

AGE: 17

WHAT’S IN TUNE Sexually non-threatening teenage boys have always fared well on American Idol, but unlike John Stevens, Kevin Covais, and Sanjaya Malakar, ”Little David” has mad vocal skills to go along with his tween-friendly stylings: His semifinal performance of ”Imagine” bordered on transcendent.

WHAT’S OFF-KEY Front-runners automatically get targets slapped on their backs, and while there’s nothing wrong with the occasional ”big issues” ballad, David needs to make sure his song selections don’t make him look 17 going on 70. Plus, it’s time to invest in some ChapStick; the mid-performance lip-licking is starting to creep us out.

REQUEST LIST Madonna’s ”Take a Bow,” ‘N Sync’s ”Bye Bye Bye,” Coldplay’s ”The Scientist”