Season 7 of 'American Idol' has felt more like a coronation than a competition, with golden child David Archuleta prepped to sing a syrupy final anthem to the adoring masses. But a foregone conclusion is no fun at all; there must be a way to bring Archie down. So, 'Idol' contestants, here are 10 things to do in order to beat the (seemingly) unbeatable.
1. Consult Reuben – David has an ardent fan base similar to that of the beloved Clay Aiken (teenyboppers, grandmas). And yet, in a hotly contested showdown, Clay lost to Ruben. Exactly what did the Velvet Teddy Bear use to pull out the win? Prayer? Mental voodoo? Even if Reuben doesn't have a specific answer, maybe his winning aura will rub off on you.
2. Don’t Fight the Judges – Talking back doesn't make you sassy, it just makes you sound like a whiny baby. When Simon blasts your song choice or vocals, simply nod and smile sweetly. The more you speak, the better the chance you'll put your foot in your mouth. In fact, play the wounded puppy dog as Simon rips into you ... maybe you'll get the pity vote.
3. Re watch Constantine, Then Do the Opposite – David Cook looks to have the best chance to overtake Archie, yet he's in danger of going bust. Why? His swaggering self-confidence comes across as smug and arrogant. Be careful: Humility always trumps personality. Think of Kelly, Carrie, and Fantasia -- and how grateful they were even to be on the show.
4. Michael Johns Should’ve Taken Off His Shirt - No voting bloc holds more power than teenyboppers -- and David A. has them under his thumb. Winning will require siphoning off some of those nimble-fingered dialing machines. Michael, a hunky dreamboat (with an accent!), wasted a good chance; David C. could still play the bad boy with a heart of gold. Time to break out your best Justin Timberlake impression.
5. Carly Smithson Should Keep Her Shirt On – Carly, your vocal talents are as good as Archie's. But it's time to soften up -- and start by covering up those tattoos. 'Idol' voters like their female winners to be tough, yet graceful. And they love makeovers. Curl your hair, wear a glamorous gown ... and then see Steps 8 and 10.
6. Bring a Lovable Relative to Cheer You On – Be it a cute kid (Fantasia), a devoted mom (Elliott Yamin) or a whole loving family (Chris Daughtry), an aspiring 'Idol' needs plenty of backup -- endearing relatives who can gush about you, so you don't have to. Just don't bring anyone scary (Carly's facially tattooed hubby) or too hot (Shyamali Malakar), or they'll distract attention away from you.
7. Overcome Obstacles – Just as Kelly rose above financial hardship, Fantasia survived sexual abuse and Elliott sang despite being 90% deaf in his right ear, Archuleta overcame ... vocal paralysis. Everyone loves an underdog, right? So, comb through your past for a moment when you conquered adversity. Even standing up to a bully in third grade will do.
8. Sing A Classic Ballad – We thought Elliott had the Season 5 finale in the bag ... until Katharine McPhee knocked our socks off with a gorgeous rendition of 'Over the Rainbow.' While rock and country have been on the rise, nothing makes an 'Idol' star like a soaring ballad. Remember Fantasia's 'Summertime'? Of course you do. We rest our case.
9. Get A Catchy Fan Group Name – The most popular contestants' fans have come up with great names: Claymates, the Soul Patrol and the Blaker Girls. Now, David's got the Arch Angels. The Castronauts (Jason) and the Aussie Posse (Michael) are worthy monikers, but Brooke, Carly and David C. need to do some serious name-storming -- and fast.
10. Shed A Fake Tear Or Two - We knew Jordin Sparks was going to win as soon as that single tear ran down her cheek as she belted out 'This Is My Now.' The emotion need not be genuine; it just has to seem like it. Voters want to believe this experience is meaningful for you. So buy some Visine and think about your dog dying. But don't blubber too often. When it comes to tears, a little goes a long way.