By Michael Slezak
March 30, 2009 at 12:00 PM EDT

9. Scott MacIntyre: (Last week: No. 10) Scores more laughs per minute than any other contestant this season — those jokes about his pink pants last week killed, and we loved his “We can move it closer” quip when Paula insisted that his piano was separating him from the audience on Grand Ole Opry Night — but vocally, dude just doesn’t have the chops. Honestly, how many of you can remember what he’s sung the last three weeks without the help of a Google search?

8. Megan (Joy) (Corkrey): (Last week: No. 8) Kind of shocked Stevie Wonder didn’t loudly condemn her hate crime against “For Once in My Life” when he had the mic during last week’s results show. And unlike her wonky cover of “Walkin’ After Midnight,” Megan couldn’t hide behind the specter of “influenza B.” Needs to find a way to translate her perfectly fine rehearsal footage to the big Idol stage, or else, like a McDonald’s special deal, she’ll be with the show “for a limited time only.”

7. Lil Rounds: (Last week: No. 7) The judges keep telling us she’s one of this season’s strongest singers, but her utterly flat take on “(Your Love Is Like a) Heat Wave” and those imperfect verses on “Independence Day” seem to indicate otherwise. What’s more, her shocked, not entirely gracious response to constructive criticism could make her fans a little less enthusiastic about speed-dialing. Can’t survive on early hype alone for too much longer.

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6. Matt Giraud: (Last week: No. 5) His Motown Night cover of “Let’s Get It On” was perhaps his strongest live performance this season. Unfortunately, the fact that he was forced to go first, combined with the fact that he was up against fellow blue-eyed soulsters like Danny Gokey, Kris Allen, and Michael Sarver, led to a surprising appearance in the bottom 3. On the plus side, his flirt with elimination gives a jolt to his speed-dialing fans. On the flip side, it may cause some to consider him one of the weak antelopes straggling behind the herd.

5. Anoop Desai: (Last week: No. 6) The early favorite who plummetedto the bottom after a woeful “Beat It” on Michael Jackson night hasstaged a two-week rally on the strength of an awesome “Always on MyMind” and a pretty good “Ooo Baby Baby.” Still, we’d suggest a styleupgrade — perhaps a buzz cut and a perfectly cut suit — to jolt theviewing audience to the fact that he’s a true contender, not just amidpack player.

4. Danny Gokey: (Last week: No. 3) The endless stream of praisefrom the judges’ panel ended with his somewhat clumsy rendition of “GetReady,” which could mean they’re turning on the early front-runner, ormight just represent an attempt on their part to appear “fair andbalanced.” Whatever the case, the polarizing personality hasn’t missedmany notes in the competition — save for those so-so verses in “JesusTake the Wheel.” Now it’s his task to start proving he’s got theoriginality and freshness to succeed in a post-Idol world.

3. Kris Allen:
(Last week: No. 2) Doesn’t ever get much credit from the judges, but he hasn’t hit a bum note since reaching the top 12. What’s more, his one-two punch of an understated “To Make You Feel My Love” and a thoroughly charming “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” has him one breakout performance away from raising the flat-ironed hair on the back of Adam’s neck. Still, will Simon’s dig about his alleged lack of swagger hurt him with voters?

2. Allison Iraheta: (Last week: No. 4) Found herself blasphemously close to elimination during a Top 11 week in which she performed “Blame It on Your Heart” with power and pluckiness. But undeterred, she roared back with an emotionally gripping “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” that drove the judges — well, the judges who weren’t busy playing with crayons — to the brink of ecstasy. Big question is: Are the producers on her side now, or was that Motown Week pimp spot the only bone she’ll get thrown?

1. Adam Lambert: (Last week: No. 1) Oh, come on now, you didn’t think he was gonna drop from the No. 1 position after that riveting, emotionally devastating cover of “Tracks of My Tears,” did you?


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