Dalton Ross, Mark Harris, Nancy Miller, and Jessica Shaw
May 09, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

If you’re completely, ridiculously, scarily obsessed with American Idol (as we are), you might be spending sleepless nights trying to John Nash some secret connection between last year’s show and this year’s to determine who’s going to win. Perhaps you think Clay is this year’s Justin (camera lover destined for loserdom). Maybe you gazed deeply into Kimberly Caldwell’s navel and came up with comparisons to Ryan Starr. Are you thinking that large and in-charge Kimberley or talent heavyweight Ruben will suffer the same tragic demise as Tamyra? And, most importantly, who’s going to wear Kelly Clarkson’s crown? One week it’s a no-brainer, the next week it’s as unclear as a Paula soliloquy. Lately it seems like one unfortunate ensemble, one misguided dance step, and, oh, yeah, one totally off-key song can get you booted. (When EW went to press there were five contestants left, but by the time you read this, one of them will be a goner.)

Let us not worship false idols, though. Once and for all, let’s determine who deserves to be the sole singer standing at the May 21 finale. May the others live well and prosper on the cruise-ship circuit. — Jessica Shaw

Joshua Gracin

Perhaps Simon said it best. After Joshua Gracin’s swoonworthy performance of Edwin McCain’s ”I’ll Be,” the blunt Brit gushed: ”It just looks right, you standing there where it says ‘American Idol.”’ What’s more American than a devoted Marine, husband, and father? And what’s more idol than a broad-shouldered hunk with brown bedroom eyes and a Garth Brooks twang? The 22-year-old lance corporal’s detractors point to his less-than-stellar disco-night performance of Kool & the Gang’s ”Celebration.” But Garth and Shania have done just fine without covering polyester pop songs, thank you. And there is talent behind the uniform. His version of Aerosmith’s ”I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” was the best countrified Top 40 remake since Alabama took on ‘N Sync’s ”(God Must Have Spent) A Little More Time on You.” LOWDOWN When Josh crooned the first few lines in the group’s ”God Bless the U.S.A.” performance, he left no doubt that he’s proud to be an American. And we should be proud to have him as an Idol. ODDS 50:1 — Jennifer Armstrong


Don’t think for a second that just because Trenyce has been in the bottom three for three consecutive weeks that this girl is heading for a fall. Forget about Simon saying she doesn’t have a chance of winning. Lashundra (French translation: the Shundra) Cobbins did not blow off nursing school for nothing. And why shouldn’t she win? Trenyce has versatility Ruben and Clay can only dream of. She’s the only contestant with the range to do glamorous (”I Have Nothing”), skankalicious (”Love Sneakin’ Up on You”), and diva (”Come See About Me”). In fact, this competition wishes it were big enough for Trenyce. She doesn’t aspire to be just a singer with a few Grammys and multiplatinum records: ”I’m a Renaissance woman,” she proclaims on the Idol website, adding that if she weren’t in the competition she ”would probably do hair, write songs, draw, or act.” But the best reason Trenyce is going to the top? You sort of know she could beat the crap out of any of the other finalists — that means you, too, Josh the Marine. LOWDOWN As the girl sang six weeks ago, she’s every woman; it’s all in her. ODDS 25:1

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