''American Idol'' is producing a new crop of hopefuls and hopelesses. Which of the early contenders has the best chance of winning it all? Weigh in!
Paula Abdul, Gene Simmons, ...

Weigh in on the new season of ”American Idol”

We’re now into week two of American Idol, and the audition rounds have yielded a fair number of contenders, pretenders, and offenders — plus a few who simply got away.

So far, the most promising among the D.C. and St. Louis auditioners — at least among the ones the producers showed us — are soulful farmer’s daughter Carrie Underwood, break-dancing heartthrob Travis Tucker, and Aa’isha Jackson, a brash but talented 16-year-old who could just be the love child of Da Brat and Michael Jackson. (Well . . . probably not.) While only 16 singers from New Orleans made it to the semifinals, don’t be surprised if you hear more of the unique (and we mean that in a good way) vocal stylings of Lindsey Cardinale in the weeks to come.

Less impressive have been the producers’ attempts to go ”behind the scenes” with Idol hopefuls, leading to incredibly false moments like when ”rocker” Constantine Maroulis broke up with his band. Did anyone really think his friends didn’t know what was happening, given that the cameras were already in the room when Ryan Seacrest dropped by?

And it wouldn’t be the audition rounds if not for the truly woeful, either those who are fully aware of their lack of talent (movie projectionist Robert Solomon) or the painfully clueless (poor 16-year-old Jessica Pontius! What was Paula thinking when she told her she could do animated voice-over work as a rat?). Thankfully, in New Orleans, we were spared witnessing Idol rejects reduced to tears under the harsh glare of the cameras.

The ones we’ll remember, though, are the talented songbirds who got shot down by Simon, Randy, and an increasingly feisty Paula. I don’t care what anyone says, those curvaceous triplets rocked out on ”It’s Raining Men” — as if bony gals could do justice to that song anyway! And what about talented twins Rich and J.P. Molfetta? Sure, they’ve got potty mouths, but the boys have got chops, too!

So what do you think? Have you been enjoying Paula 2.0? Who’s a better guest judge: Mark McGrath or Gene Simmons? And should at least one of the Molfetta twins made the cut? Post your thoughts here. And check back Thursday morning to get EW.com’s take on the week in Idol — then tell us whether we should advance to the next round or head home in tears.

Episode Recaps

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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