After five emotionally draining months, American Idol‘s sixth season is over. (WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH MY LIFE?) And yet, in some ways, the real competition starts now. Over the next few months, BMG’s Clive Davis and the folks at 19 Entertainment will be deciding which of the current crop of contestants they’ll be signing to record deals. (Last year, they signed winner Taylor Hicks, runner-up Katharine McPhee, Chris Daughtry, and Kellie Pickler, while foolishly passing on Elliott Yamin, who’s scoring some pretty impressive numbers with his self-titled indie release; it’s No. 20 on Billboard’s album chart this week.
Barring some unforeseen revelations about a secret, felony-filled past, this year’s top 2 — Jordin Sparks and Blake Lewis — ought to land under Clive’s wing, and I’d be shocked if popular third-place finisher (and Simon’s personal favorite) Melinda Doolittle doesn’t get a BMG deal herself. But after those three, the future looks fuzzier. Based on the startling lack of screentime during the Idol finale for popular contestants like LaKisha Jones (pictured), Chris Richardson, Phil Stacey, and Gina Glocksen, I’m going to go out on a limb and bet that Clive & Co. pass on the remaining nine finalists — although even as I write this, I’m overcome with a horrible, sinking fear that they’ll try to score a few quick bucks off the Sanjaya phenomenon, despite the fact that there’s nothing left of that lemon but a few strips of rind.
Still, I think it’d be a mistake to pass on LaKisha. True, her songchoices throughout the season proved that she’s got a fairly limitedmusical imagination, but if she’s put in the studio with the right teamof writers and producers, I still think she could be a winner on thecharts. There’s something authentic about Kiki — a warm, funny vibethat’s been evident in her post-Idol interviews but never seemed to come through (or got left on the editing-room floor) during her Idolrun. Is it so wrong that I have a vision of her debut CD kicking offwith a revamped version of Another Bad Creation’s "Iesha"?("LaKiiiiiisha, you are the girl that I never had. But I want to get toknow you better…")
Keeping in mind that sometimes, even Americacan let a chart-topper slip through their fingers (season 5′seighth-place finisher Bucky Covington is now signed to Disney’s LyricStreet label and is doing nicely on the country scene), I’d also diginto the semifinal vaults and pick up Sabrina Sloan. C’mon, she’sgorgeous, she’s talented, and (as she proved on an episode of Idolaty)she’s even willing to sing in a cubicle if that’s what the publicdemands. Okay, so clearly I’m biased, but if you were Clive Davis,which season 6 contestants (other than Jordin and Blake) would you signto a deal, and why?