EW's ''American Idol'' favorites. Our picks for the contestants who'll join the ranks of Kelly and Ruben

By Jessica Shaw
February 20, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST
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EW’s ”American Idol” faves — tell us if you agree

So we hear there’s some big Democratic election thing happening right now, but for us there’s a far more important contest going on: Who’s going to make it to the top 12 on this year’s ”American Idol”? Sadly, our early favorite — the pint-size Jasmine Arteaga — won’t be among the finalists. But after hours of obsessively watching and rewatching episodes, we’ve made our picks for who will join the ranks of Kelly and Ruben.

ELIZABETH LETENDRE Normally a peppy, pretty girl who goes on camera stretching her leg behind her head and saying things like ”I think I’m quite charming, so I want all of America to see that” would set off serious alarm bells. Luckily for her, she’s got the best pipes in the entire competition, so we’ll forgive her flamboyant flexibility and can-do attitude.

FANTASIA BARRINO We could give you a thousand reasons why this Aretha-on-helium-esque phenomenon could take the title, but let’s hear it straight from Frenchie’s…we mean Fantasia’s mouth: ”My lips are big, but my talent is bigger.”

MARQUE LYNCHE The most lovable of all 32 contestants might as well be straight out of Fame, with his performing-arts-school diploma, classical-dance training, and work experience as a backup dancer to Aretha Franklin. Though he swears he’s not going to bust out any moves during this competition, we see a celebratory pirouette in his future.

JON PETER LEWIS It can’t be easy when you’re known to the nation as ”the pen salesman.” Yes, this moptop from Idaho does look a tad bland, but Clay wasn’t exactly eye-catching at first either. And the way this guy can sell a song, you know he’ll be writing his own ticket in the music world.

BRIANA RAMIREZ-RIAL Well, she’s definitely not the cheerleadery Kimberly Caldwell type. But Bre has got something no one else in this competition has (and we don’t mean Jo Polniaczek’s wardrobe or Lea Delaria’s hair): the perfect combination of attitude (”I don’t dance — I’m a white girl”), unapproachability (the girl hates physical contact), and talent (her impromptu rendition of ”At Last” blew Simon away) that turns good singers into superstars. Plus, it’s about time the wifebeater-suspenders-and-jeans look made a comeback on a show besides ”The L Word.”

JOHN STEVENS Sure, the guy has yet to remember one single song lyric, but how can you not love this Chet Baker soundalike who looks like the love child Conan and Clay could never have? Okay, perhaps quite easily, since I seem to be the only hearing person, including Simon, Randy, and Paula, who thinks this crooner could go top 10. Go on with your lanky, pasty, redheaded self!

Ryan Seacrest hosts as Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan guide aspiring singers on their way to superstardom.
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