By EW Staff
March 14, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST

How Mikalah Gordon can win ”American Idol”

Eliminated March 25, 2005

AGE 17


WHAT’S IN TUNE Her Vegas audition of ”Lullaby of Birdland” proved she can flat-out sing, and her semifinal performance of ”God Bless the Child” was strong, too.

WHAT’S OFF-KEY This year’s love-her-or-hate-her contestant can’t afford missteps like her reined-in and wretched recent rendition of the overly ambitious ”Somewhere.”

CLOTHES CALLS Sure, she can pull off a tasteful sweater-slacks combo, to which we say, ”Feh!” Wild hair and bright colors are far more natural on this teen spirit.

WHAT IT’LL TAKE TO WIN She needs to simply be her campy self — even if some viewers despise her. After all, polarizing contestants like Clay and Fantasia have gone very, very far.

REQUEST LIST Deee-Lite’s ”Groove Is in the Heart,” Cyndi Lauper’s ”True Colors,” Nancy Sinatra’s ”These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ ”