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American Idol

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'American' Dream Team

We name the top contenders to watch this season

STEPHANIE EDWARDS
Holds a slight edge over Sabrina Sloan for better hair and that dramatic on-cue drop to her knees during ''How Come You Don't Call Me.'' But the aloof La Toya London vibe will only carry her so far — fourth place, to be exact.

BLAKE LEWIS
Stood out among a bunch of mediocre guys for his smooth and restrained rendition of Keane's ''Somewhere Only We Know.'' Also appreciated: his decision to sing the words instead of car-sputtering sounds, and his ability to rock a sweater-vest.

LAKISHA JONES
Dear Frenchie and Mandisa, This is very hard for me to say, but I've decided to move on. You see, it's not you; it's me. Well, actually it's LaKisha. I hope we can still be friends. Love, Henry

BRANDON ROGERS
In this backup singer's favor: indisputable hotness, a great first audition, and references upon request from Christina Aguilera and Anastacia. Against him: a penchant for singing Michael Jackson tunes not so well.

MELINDA DOOLITTLE
Oh, the humility — even her last name sounds meek! But Mindy's ''Since You've Been Gone'' made us think of Kelly Clarkson's ''Since U Been Gone,'' which made us think: Are we looking at the next American Idol?

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Originally posted Mar 02, 2007 Published in issue #924 Mar 09, 2007 Order article reprints