Wow, I think I'm experiencing deja vu -- wasn't it just last week I was asking who of the Top 6 was going to be in danger this week? Due to the now-infamous "non-elimination," we've still got six contestants left! Now, however, everything has changed, as two contestants will get eliminated this week, with the huge amount of votes from last week's performances carried over and combined with votes from tomorrow night. Who's gonna go?
Last Monday I suggested that Phil Stacey and Chris Richardson were the contestants most in danger of facing elimination. Now, however, I've got to re-evaluate...since 70 million votes were cast last week (as opposed to the average of 35 million or so), last week's vote totals will factor heavily into not only which contestant finishes in 6th place, but also who finishes in 5th. Assuming voting totals level out this week at, say, 40 million, the contestants who finished lowest last week have a perhaps insurmountably unphill battle ahead of them.
As always, song choice and performance order could effect the outcome, but here's how I view the landscape with approximately 32 hours to go until showtime.
If there is one person who will have benefited from all of this past week's insanity, it is Jordin Sparks. First, she gave a stunning performance on "Inspirational Songs" night (performing in the last, "pimp" spot, no less) that will have certainly earned her a huge amount of the 70 million total votes cast. I'd be shocked if she wasn't the highest votegetter last week. Then, on top of that, she was used by the producers of the show as the potential "shocker," being made to stand up, by herself, with tears streaming down her face, as Ryan teased the "most shocking results" ever. Almost every commentary I have read of "Idol Gives Back" has expressed sympathy for what Jordin was put through, and if there is one thing that consistently holds true on American Idol, it is that sympathy = votes. Jordin is a sure bet to sail into the Top 4.
Chance of going home: less than 1%
Last week I thought there wasn't a chance Blake would be going home, especially after his Bottom 3 showing the previous week (the "boomerang effect" at work). His performance of "Imagine" wasn't extraordinary, but the critical drubbing her took from the judges should have earned him enough "I'm scared he's gonna go home" votes to put him in a good position for this week. In addition, he should be able to rock out to a Bon Jovi song. I think he'll be okay.
Chance of going home: 8%
For weeks it looked like the "shocking elimination" of the season was going to be LaKisha, but as the competition went on, it became more and more clear that if LaKisha is to be eliminated, it will not be so much of a shock after all. Despite unwaveringly strong performances, I am now starting to worry that it could be Ms. Mindy Doo who, in fact, will be the one who exits before her time. With nary a Bottom 3 showing (or a bum note sung, no less), she would seem to be safe, but that saftey could turn into voter complacency, resulting in a too-early ouster (remember it was the Top 5 when Ruben Studdard tumbled into the Bottom 2, and with two contestants going home this week, a Bottom 2 showing is as good as being eliminated). I still have hope that she's gonna make it to the Top 3, but in order for that to happen her fans are going to have to remember that their girl needs their votes this week. With 2 or 3 other contestants clearly in danger, let's hope Melinda doesn't slip through the crack while fans turn out to support those they think need them more.
Chance of going home: 12%
Going into last week, I thought Phil was heading for the door. Now, he could be heading for the Top 4. After two straight weeks of country-tinged performances, Phil stands to benefit the most from last week's non-elimination vote-carryover after his strong rendition of Garth Brooks "Changing." He also seems to have a bit of momentum going for him, which is invaluable at this stage in the game. I never would have thought it a few weeks ago, but unless Phil totally tanks this week, he could very well outlatst both LaKisha and Chris.
Chance of going home: 21%
A perfect storm of events spared Chris two weeks ago -- his Bottom 3 showing the previous week, the critical drubbing he took from the judges, and the brouhaha over the Virgina Tech comments. I had predicted the boomerang effect would leave him fighting for his life last week (in fact, I thought he would be the one eliminated), and, like LaKisha, he's going to have a huge battle ahead of him to fight against the weighted vote totals. He's going to have to hope Phil takes a nosedive -- otherwise I think we should get ready to say goodbye to the cutie.
Chance of going home: 28%
Two straight songs from former Idols? Really, LaKisha? She's pretty much sealed her own fate on that one, and she's got a huge uphill battle considering the weighted vote totals. Like I said above, at this point a LaKisha ouster seems less a surprise and more a likelihood. Even if she really pulls out all the stops and reminds voters why they fell in love with her in the first place, I think the vote totals are so stacked against her, it's going to be nearly impossible for her to save herself. I'm afraid Kiki's going home.
Chance of going home: 33%
So there it is -- going into the Top 6, I think LaKisha, Chris, and Phil need to be the most worried, and right now I think Kiki and Chris are most likely to get the boot. As I said, anything could change after Tuesday night, but these contestants, especially, better give their performances all that they've got -- it could be their last shot.