American Idol: Top 4 Power Rankings
These power rankings get easier as the American Idol season goes along.  If you asked most viewers to rank the top four remaining contestants in terms of who has the best chance to win, I think a majority would look the same as my list.  Since I base these rankings on who I think will win (and not who I think is best), I end up having to go against my gut at the top of the list.  Remember, this is not an objective singing contest, no matter how badly we want it to be.  The best singer doesn't always win. 

One of the biggest speculative questions among the online Idol community this week has been whether three girls can make it into the final three.  Although I think it's unlikely, it is certainly a possibility.  I don't believe the final three is preordained at this point.  Tonight's performances are significant and will ultimately be the deciding factor in who goes home tomorrow.  That might sound obvious, but there have been a lot of times where I didn't believe that specific week's performances were a big enough factor in the vote. 

Before we get to the list, one question I've been pondering (which I may expand on later in the week) is “Who does American Idol and FOX want to win?”  The winner receives a serious investment from the network and it doesn't always pay off the way one of the runners-up would have.

The most marketable is probably Blake Lewis, isn't it?  He can perform, he'll have the all-important teenage girl support and he's got a unique style.  I don't mean this as a slight to the ladies at all.  The brutal truth is that being a good singer isn't always as important as it should be. 

Who do you think the powers-that-be want to win American Idol?

All right, here are the rankings.

#1 – Jordin Sparks

For the record, I don't think Jordin is a better singer than Melinda.  I'm just trying to reflect the buzz and the potential and who I think will, in the end, receive the most votes.  Jordin is bubbly, a sometimes breathtaking singer, and she has youth.  Her personality feels incredibly genuine (which is a trait some have accused Melinda of lacking).  Jordin can't afford to have any more missteps like last week's awful rendition of “Livin' on a Prayer”.  She isn't going to stay in front of Melinda with anything but greatness.  Jordin needs to continue with the upward momentum that she has rode all season.

#2 – Melinda Doolittle

There is no question in my mind that Melinda Doolittle is the best singer on American Idol this season.  She is as close to consistently perfect as I've ever seen a contestant.  However, I think this consistency has hurt her in the eyes of viewers.  Without any sort of upwards trajectory, her greatness has begun to seem normal.  I have a sneaking submission that Melinda has been saving her best, though, and that she'll unleash her singing fury upon American over these last few episodes.  Personally, I think Melinda should win and, really, it wouldn't be a surprise if she did.

#3 – Blake Lewis

Is Blake too extreme to win this thing?  The judges (well, Simon) keep saying that some people are going to hate his beat-boxing.  This may well be true, but I've never heard anyone say they didn't like it.  Nonetheless, his singing isn't close to the same level of quality that Jordin and Melinda are at.  Lakisha certainly has a better voice, but Blake has harnessed his more adeptly over the course of the season.  The reason I think Blake could conceivably sneak in to the top 2 is that the guy/girl vote could be split and that he will be fearless in his performances coming up.  Blake knows what's on the line, so I foresee him swinging for the fences each time out there.  I'm looking forward to some crazy arrangments and overall unique performances.

#4 - Lakisha Jones 

To me, Lakisha is the overwhelming favorite to be sent home tomorrow.  It just makes sense.  I think we've all come to agree that Lakisha is good, but she's not as good as Jordin and Melinda.  Since this is the case, and she compares unfavorably to those two girls who are relatively similar singers, then she will be pitted against Blake.  I don't think she can win a showdown with Blake, especially this week.  I expect Blake to knock the disco theme out of the park and I think Lakisha is going to struggle a little bit.  However, Lakisha fans, don't get too down: I haven't been right on a prediction all year.

-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer

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