"American Idol" has its top 12 finalists in what's been a pretty mediocore season so far. No Adam Lambert or Jordin Sparks or even Sanjaya Malakar to make you tune in every week just to see what they'll do.

Oh, well. The beauty of "American Idol" is you never know who's suddenly going to bloom in the spotlight. Maybe someone will bust out with an unbelievable "You Can't Always Get What You Want" or " Paint It Black" next week as they sing the Rolling Stones.

Here's how I rank the finalists, based on how they've done so far. Remember, at this point last season, everyone knew Adam Lambert would be there at the end -- but nobody picked Kris Allen to beat him.


1) Michael Lynche had the benefit of major exposure early as his wife had their first baby. He's shined in the limelight, showing off a great voice and a personality even bigger than he is.

2) Crystal Bowersox is trying to be the first indie musician to win "Idol" -- she's not my favorite contestant, but she can definitely sing.

Dark horses
3) Siobhan Magnus is always described as "quirky." I'd add that she seems really sharp and comfortable up there being herself. Like Simon, she's my top dark horse, definitely has a bit of Audrey Hepburn in her. Might be the most interesting of all the finalists.

4) Andrew Garcia probably had the best moment of the pre-semis with "Straight Up." He's mad talented and willing to take risks, but just needs to find his groove and could be another Adam Lambert . . .

Just maybe . . .
5) Lee Dewyze has a great tone to his voice and, aside from his confidence issues, is another dark horse candidate in my book. Seems like someone the audience can really relate to.

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6) Lacey Brown also has high likeability and a nice, twangy voice, and an easy manner about her (and green nail polish).

The rest
7) Paige Miles was great before the semifinals. Hopefully she rediscovers that confidence. She's got oodles of talent.

8) Aaron Kelly is young, young, young. He's got nowhere to go but up, could wind up sticking around longer than his voice carries him on the basis of the teeny-boppers.

9) Katie Stevens was one of my favorites based on how she takes care of her grandmother. She may be too young to stick around, but I hope she finds herself fast.

10) Didi Benami has a great look but I'm back and forth on the voice. Guess I'm waiting for her to show us who the real Didi is.

11) Casey James to me is like Ace Young. He's a nice guy, but seems like he's just getting by with the looks so far, and not much more.

12) Tim Urban was the 25th contestant into the semifinals, and may well have been the 12th person into the finals. He's a survivor, but next week could be it for him unless he shows us something surprising.

PHOTOS: "American Idol" semifinalists singing, and being cut | Auditions

REWIND: See the winners and top finalists from each season of "American Idol"

MORE: Read all of our other "American Idol" posts

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TALK: Who do you think has a shot to win "American Idol" this season? Click on "Add a comment" at the bottom of this post, or e-mail me and I'll post it for you.

Fox Photo of top 8 men and top 8 women