"American Idol" is coming to a close, but here are the 12 questions that we'd still like answered.
12) Has Melissa McGhee learned the words to “Lately” lately?
One would hope. After becoming the last female singer picked to be in the final 12, she stepped up to the plate by forgetting the lyrics the first week, pretty much ensuring herself a plane ticket home. Thanks for playing. If nothing else, all of her smart-aleck friends will be requesting the song or singing for her on karaoke nights until the end of time.
11) Has Kevin Covais used up his 15 minutes of fame?
Probably. “Chicken Little” had a good run on the show, scored a bit on “Access Hollywood,” and found People Magazine appearing at his return-home celebration. He seems like a nice guy. But as the old saying goes, nice guys finish last (or in this case, 11th). So if he wants to ask the head cheerleader to senior prom, he should get a move on before the last vestiges of “Idol” celebrity fade away.
10) Wasn’t Lisa Tucker the best 16-year-old in the show’s history?
The best actress, maybe. The singer with the best potential for a career in show business, probably. But clearly not the best teen singer, since she made such an early exit from the competition. And if she is, maybe it’s time to raise the age limit.
9) How’s that Church of Mandisa going?
Yeah, not so well. A week after she sang a gospel favorite that caused Paula Abdul to gush “40 million people have now joined the Church of Mandisa,” approximately 39.9 million of them changed their religious affiliation and booted her off the show. Don't take any stock tips from Paula any time soon.
8) Will Bucky Covington go back to painting cars in Rockingham, N.C.?
That’s a pretty safe bet. Covington lasted a lot longer than predicted with his country-rock style, but could never match either Chris Daughtry or Taylor Hicks in terms of fan support. Of course, given his flowing locks, which Simon Cowell likened to Jessica Simpson at one point, he could always become a hairdresser instead.
7) When did Ace Young fold?
When he changed his hairstyle. If a contestant's appeal is that he can look into the camera with a sultry expression that causes Paula to swoon, greasing everything back into a ponytail probably isn’t the smartest style idea. Oh, right, and he also had problems with any song that didn’t include a falsetto.
6) Have we seen the last of Kellie Pickler?
Probably not. Regardless of her rapid descent from favorite to flameout, Pickler’s still cute, bubbly and blonde. Rest assured that someone will see if her smiling face will be able to sell an ordinary album. Pickler's problem was that she didn’t improve as the competition wore on, which she’ll have to do if she hopes to succeed in the industry. Of course, she could always play the role of Chrissy Snow in the next “Three’s Company” remake. We have it on good authority that Chrissy couldn't pronounce "salmon" either.
5) Was Paris Bennett’s decision not to quit singing the right call?
Most definitely. Bennett's mother said that the teen had all but decided to retire from her nonexistent singing career before auditioning for “Idol,” which would have been a shame. She was arguably the most talented singer in the competition, and she’s one also-ran who still has the chance to become a star. But it’s tough to win this competition as a 17-year-old, especially one with a speaking voice that makes her sound half that age.
4) Should Chris Daughtry take the ?
Maybe. This is a huge decision for Daughtry, a rare “Idol” loser with a bright musical future. He’ll have no shortage of offers to join existing bands or form his own, but the window of opportunity is very short. Joining an established group with a track record would be a safe choice that would at least give him a chance at a career in the business. His big issue will be to hire the right advisors to help him decide whether Fuel is that band or not.
3) What was the secret to Elliott Yamin’s success?
Clean living and a close relationship with his mother. No, really, Yamin’s secret was that he was the king of song selection, showcased his voice to the best of his ability each week, and at least attempted to put on a good show onstage (though some of his moves were akin to Teen Club dances in terms of their stiffness). That kept him in the contest much longer than he ever could have expected. The tortured hours dealing with the Brittenum brothers in Hollywood clearly paid off.
2) Will Katharine McPhee’s nerves let her down?
She and Taylor Hicks were separated by 200,000 votes apart last week, although in "American Idol" terms, that's not as large a number as it sounds. But McPhee has looked as if she’s feeling the pressure of these late stages, and has offered uneven performances over the past three weeks. She’ll need to be at her absolute best to emerge as the winner.
1) What is the deal with Taylor Hicks?
He’s 29, or maybe 49. He looks old when he stands and croons, and acts like a 12-year-old when he runs around onstage. He’s a little bit Elvis, a whole lot of Michael McDonald, and maybe a little bit more of a lounge-singer act than the executives who will produce the winner’s album would like him to be. But whatever else he is, he’s been the fan favorite from his first audition, and he has a great chance to become the fifth “American Idol.”
Craig Berman is a writer in Washington, D.C.