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American Idylls

The sequel has only just started, but EW is already hooked. Herewith, odes to our AI2 favorites.

FRENCHIE DAVIS AND KIMBERLEY LOCKE Simon and Garfunkel. Hall and Oates. Frenchie and Kimberley. Now that we've seen them rule the stage together, it's difficult to think of them apart. And why should we have to? Their attitudelicious performance of ''Band of Gold'' was more soulful, sexy, and goose bump-inducing than three years of Divas Live combined. From the second these two bodacious beauties strutted their stuff on stage, all those navel-baring lightweights should have headed home. Clearly, other contestants were feeling talent anorexia because none of them would get on stage with our plus-size performers. ''Frenchie has a big voice. I have a big voice.... They just didn't want to sing the song with us,'' Kimberley shrugged. Can you blame them? Not one could touch Frenchie's color-coordinated hair or her Kissinger-esque diplomacy skills (she managed to broker peace among feuding contestants). It's no overstatement when she says, ''No, I don't have hair flowing down my back, and no, I'm not a size 2, but I. Am. Faaabulous.''

CANDICE COLEMAN It was easy to get sucked in by the drama queens (paging Julia DeMato!), but if you looked beyond the self-created chaos, you'd have spotted a low-key gem: Candice Coleman. Close your eyes, and the 22-year-old Ohioan sounds like Etta James, but once you flip your lids open you'll marvel at Candice's glory. She's got Kelly Clarkson's limpid, girl-next-door eyes, Ryan Starr's innate sex appeal, Nikki's attitude (and single-mom status). ''I want to be the next American Idol because I pretty much suck at everything else,'' the self-proclaimed ''worst waitress in the world'' told the judges. Um, do fries come with all that endearing, self-deprecating talent?

J.D. ADAMS As America faces the challenges of the 21st century, we must heed the wisdom of our founding fathers. And while we're at it, we must vote for their hottie offspring. J.D.'s great-x-10 ancestors John Adams and John Quincy Adams probably wouldn't be into his day job of driving a shuttle bus at the Burbank Airport (and might get on his case for forgetting lyrics). But they'd support his quest to represent our country as the American Idol. It's easy to focus on his Adonis looks or aw-shucks smile, but we're not completely shallow: The guy has pipes. ''A man must be his own trumpeter,'' John Adams said. ''[He must] set about the works to spread his name, make the mob stare and gape, and perpetuate his fame.'' We salute you, J.D.

RUBEN STUDDARD He doesn't wink at the camera. His head doesn't sport a single ringlet. But Ruben Studdard has one thing AI's 2002 wunderkind Justin Guarini doesn't have: unvarnished talent. Unlike last year's runner-up, this 24-year-old Alabaman has the vocal cords to take him far beyond a Macy's Thanksgiving Day float. And although he has yet to make Paula weep, he did succeed at a more difficult task: He got a compliment from Simon. ''You've got that kind of Luther thing going on.'' That's Luther Vandross, kiddies -- and trust us, it's a good thing.

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