Steve Granitz/

Chatting with the new ''American Idol'' finalists -- learn which past Idols inspire them, what each wants to sing, and how they think they could be helped by a makeover

March 13, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

”I think if we ever get the perfect Top 12, it won’t be American Idol, will it?” —Simon Cowell

Perfect or not, caught up with all the Idol finalists at the Top 12 party Thursday night at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood. We learned the songs they still want to sing, the parts they’d most like to make over, and their past Idol inspirations. But which musical heavyweight does Simon most wish would be Idol-ized? ”Well, we’ll just make it really difficult for the bad singers,” he grins. ”We’ll do Pavarotti night, and they’ll have to deal with that.”

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: There are a lot of theme nights coming up. Any you’re looking forward to? Any you’re not looking forward to?

CHRIS SLIGH: I’m looking forward to Bon Jovi week, if I can make it that far. Diana Ross is going to be tough, because she had this weird range, about seven or eight notes, and that’s about it. So it’s really hard to, like, rock out to Diana Ross, you know what I’m sayin’?

STEPHANIE EDWARDS: Diana Ross. I love ”Baby Love, ”Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” and ”You Are So Beautiful.”

MELINDA DOOLITTLE: Tony Bennett. I love classics and standards. I’m also looking forward to Diana Ross. I’d take almost any song that the Supremes have done, as long as I can do the movements — probably ”Stop in the Name of Love.”

PHIL STACEY: I’m looking forward to the Tony Bennett night. I remember hearing him sing ”I Left My Heart in San Francisco” when I was a kid and thinking, ”Man, I want to be Tony Bennett.”

BLAKE LEWIS: Tony Bennett. I have a [music] improv background, so if I can work with that man, that’ll be just, man, awesome.

CHRIS RICHARDSON: I would love to make it to the inspirational week. For me, Diana Ross week is strenuous because Diana Ross is a woman and the Supremes were all women, and it’s hard to make a woman’s song a man’s song, but you can do it.

JORDIN SPARKS: Being so young, J.Lo, Gwen Stefani, they’re current, but everybody else [coming on] my parents knew growing up — they’re idols to them. I can’t wait; I’m excited! I can’t wait to meet them!

LAKISHA JONES: It’s going to be a challenge for me, because I’m used to just listening to only the music that I like. I’m like [after hearing there will be a British Invasion week], I’ve never listened to British music in my life. I was like, black girl singing British, oh my God, hold on — how am I gonna pull that off? How am I gonna feel that? I’ve just got to grab it and get a good song.

Any song you haven’t sung yet, or haven’t gotten cleared yet, that you really want to perform?

HALEY SCARNATO: ” Songbird” by Eva Cassidy.

BRANDON ROGERS: ”Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley.

MELINDA DOOLITTLE: Donnie Lane’s ”It’s Not Over,” Vivian Green’s ”Keep On Going,” and a James Brown song called ”Bewildered.”

BLAKE LEWIS: ”Hide and Seek” by Imogen Heap, I kind of want to do that, with strings or maybe a capella.

SANJAYA MALAKAR: ”Are You Going To Be My Girl” [by Jet] — I really wanted to sing that song because it would be really fun to just rock out, but I doubt it’ll ever get cleared.

LAKISHA JONES: ”I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston. Yes, definitely. Man, I want to do that one a cappella.

JORDIN SPARKS: ”Harder to Breathe” by Maroon 5.

GINA GLOCKSEN: ”Who Knew” by Pink, but she doesn’t clear her songs.

CHRIS SLIGH: I actually tried to do one of my own songs, and they felt like the show wasn’t ready for it yet. When we get down to, I think, the final three, you get to sing your own choice. I’d love to be able to do my own song at that point. Hopefully America will love me enough to be ready for it. I also wanted to do ”Hysteria” by Muse and ”City of Blinding Lights” by U2, but neither one of those got cleared.

PHIL STACEY: Whatever song it is that wins the competition for the winner [of American Idol].

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