7. Lil Rounds: (Last week: No. 7) Finally got negative feedback from Simon & Co. after a Tina Turner impersonation that wouldn’t pass muster at a small-town drag bar. After five weeks on the big Idol stage, the woman who the judges claim is one of the season’s strongest singers (seriously?) has been unflinchingly flat (“I Surrender”), unpleasantly manic (“Heat Wave”), or just plain forgettable (Michael Jackson week). With her desperation beginning to show, she has virtually no chance to take home the season 8 crown.
6. Anoop Desai: (Last week: No. 6) As bad as he was on “Caught Up” and “Beat It,” he’s delivered the vocal goods on “Always on My Mind” and last week’s inventive, original “True Colors.” Problem is, the inconsistent trajectory has left ‘Noop Dawg with an unstable fanbase, resulting in bottom-three encounters for two weeks running. Needs some kind of dramatic statement — a successful uptempo number, a radical style upgrade, a breakout interview moment even — to make America take a second look/listen, and convince them a vote for Anoop is not a wasted one.
5. Danny Gokey: (Last week: No. 4) Not exceedingly popular among EW.com readers (he only got 8 percent of votes in last week’s Idol Power poll) but apparently somebody’s voting for the guy, as he hasn’t made a single bottom-three appearance, despite an overbaked “What Hurts the Most” and a “Stand By Me” that was a melted cheddar slice away from dripping with cheese. Needs to prove he’s capable of subtlety and originality if he wants to make those early predictions of a Gokey-Lambert finale a reality.
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4. Matt Giraud: (Last week: No. 5) Like Anoop, he’s suffered from an uneven run over the course of his seven live Idol performances, but last week’s delectable “Part Time Lover” was the kind of game-changing moment that proved the hat-clad soulster might have some relevance in a post-Idol world. That said, anything resembling “Viva La Vida” or “You Found Me” in the next two weeks, and Matt could easily see his “Idol journey” come to a premature end.
3. Kris Allen: (Last week: No. 2) Even Carrie Underwood and David Cook had off weeks during their Idol runs, so we’re willing to forgive Kris’s lame, oddly arranged “All She Wants to Do Is Dance” during “Songs From the Year You Were Born” Week. And apparently, America felt the same way, as the season 8 heartthrob avoided the bottom three. Still, the guy who wowed us with “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “To Make You Feel My Love” needs to get back on track pronto; he’s presumably gunning for the same voting bloc as Danny and Matt, and he really can’t afford defections from his bandwagon at this crucial point in the competition.
2. Allison Iraheta: (Last week: No. 3) She’s been in the bottom three for two of the last four weeks, but her gut-wrenching “I Can’t Make You Love Me” may have been a turning point in convincing Idol viewers she’s the real deal. Then again, the Infuriating Mr. Cowell raised the specter of the charmingly kooky teen having a “personality” issue — which might be code for Simon saying he can’t believe she’s threatening his pre-ordained Adam-Lil-Danny final three. How far can she get without Simon love? We may find out between now and the end of April.
1. Adam Lambert: (Last week: No. 1) After a merely mortal “Play That Funky Music,” the long-standing front-runner returned to his otherworldly heights with a haunting, moving “Mad World.” With six weeks remaining, it would almost take a case of massive self-implosion (or self-sabotage) to stop his march to the finale. Here’s hoping he doesn’t test that theory with a selection off the “Alvin and the Chipmunks” soundtrack on Tuesday!
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