American Idol: 5 Sub-Plots to Watch for in the Top 24
The real season beings tonight.  Everything we've seen over the last five weeks on American Idol has been pre-amble.  Tonight is the night where America gets to formally meet the American Idol Top 24 and see how they fare in the format in which they'll be competing in for the rest of the season.  As always, story lines have emerged over the past five weeks, and the biggest one is also a positive one: this looks to be the most talented Top 24 we've seen in a while, maybe ever.  This infusion of talent can be attributed to the handful of ringers American Idol has brought in for this seventh, but talent is talent no matter how you get it.  Today, we're going to take a look at five different sub-plots that we think are important to keep in mind as the real American Idol season gets underway.

The Sanjaya Vote + Talent = Top 5 Lock

I was at a bar on Saturday and, weirdly, the subject of American Idol came up.  Two of my female friends who are passive fans of Idol began gushing about how great this David Archuleta kid is.  Now, if women in their mid-twenties are high on sixteen-year old David Archuleta, one has to imagine that the adolescent females are going to go crazy for him. Sanjaya Malakar made it into the top 8 last year thanks to the votes of young females – if David Archuleta taps into these same voters (which I think he will), and you add the fact that Archuleta is actually talented, he way win this whole thing. 

An Unknown Will Emerge

We can talk all we want about who the favorites are right now, but the fact is that there is always a singer who comes out of nowhere, becomes a fan favorite, and advances deep into the competition.  No one could have anticipated Blake Lewis going as far as he did last season, for instance.  This year, there are a handful of singers in the Top 24 who we know next to nothing about.  These people are: Alexandria Lushington (we saw her audition, but that's it), Jason Castro (dreadlocks guy), Colton Berry, Garrett Haley, Jason Yeager and Luke Menard.  One of these singers will end up in the top 6, guaranteed. 

Adaptability is Key

Blake Lewis flourished last year because of his ability to adapt every week to whichever new genre was thrown his way.  One-note singers are going to be found out at some point – you can't sing the same way on a Burt Bacharach song as you do on a Bon Jovi song.  I think Kady Malloy is a sleeper in this competition because she showed in her audition that she can change her voice with ease.  I love Amanda Overmyer, but can she turn off her Joplin voice and sing a ballad?  Can soul singer Michael Johns rock out?  Can David Cook sing a pop song?  Can the girls sing rock?  This stuff is important, especially early in the competition, when one bad performance can equal elimination.

The Battle of the Attractive Blonde Girls

I have no doubt that Kristy Lee Cook, Brooke White and Kady Malloy will be battling it out for a place in the top 6.  Here are the facts: America likes good-looking people.  Last year, Haley Scarnato had no business advancing as far as she did.  The only reason she made it to the top 8 was because she began stripping away layers of her wardrobe – she was a beneficiary of the all-important cleavage vote.  I don't think any of these three girls will do that this year, but I do think that one will be eliminated early thanks to those “voting only for looks” votes canceling each other out.  Think of Jennifer Hudson's early elimination – she was voted off because she found herself in a competition with a couple other singers very similar to herself.  Same should be true for Brooke, Kristy Lee and Kady.

Is this the Year a Rock Singer Wins? 

Daughtry came the closest.  A rock singer has never won American Idol, but this year we have a few contenders.  Robbie Carrico, though he used to be a Boy Bander, now fancies himself a rock and roller.  I don't think he has a chance at winning, though.  David Cook is the other male rocker, and he's got a hell of a voice, but he seems to lack the personality.  Amanda Overmyer, the goth nurse, has the best chance.  Never have we seen a female on American Idol with such an incredible rock n' roll voice.  She would have been right at home fronting a band in the late sixties.  The question, as stated above, is this: is she a one-trick pony?  If Amanda can adapt and sing different styles of music credibly, she might just win this thing.

-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of FOX)