Nancy Miller
May 09, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Here are Clay Aiken’s odds for winning ”Idol”

Every generation needs a redheaded pop star. In the ’70s, it was Danny Partridge. In the ’80s, Rick Astley. The ’90s? Ginger Spice. Now we’ve got 24-year-old Clay Aiken. Beneath the Peppermint Patty complexion and aw-shucks exterior are the powerhouse pipes that rivaled Steve Perry’s with a rendition of ”Open Arms” and put to shame the cartoon mouse who crooned the ballad ”Somewhere Out There.” Sure, the ”AI” beauty squad pulled a miraculous geek-to-chic makeover on the North Carolina native (the Seacrest-style choppy haircut, the copious layers of bronzer), but there was no need to change his personality: Clay is the ultimate crush for fifth-grade girls. The guy is exactly the kind of compassionate (he’s a special-needs counselor, for crying out loud), ambiguously sexual sweetheart that someone like, say, Lisa Simpson might sigh over while reading her latest copy of Non-Threatening Boys magazine. Sure, Ru’s a shoo-in with the over-18 set, but who’s doing the text messaging around here? The same ones who buy Olsen twins albums.
LOWDOWN To paraphrase a ginger-haired predecessor: Clay, I’m never gonna give (never gonna give!), give you up.
ODDS 4:1

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