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> The Ultimate 'American Idol' Power Ranking, L.A. Times
post Jun 1st 2010, 1:36 AM
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The ultimate 'American Idol' power ranking: 120 contestants on, Kelly Clarkson still reigns supreme
May 31, 2010 | 11:49 am

It's often been said that "American Idol" is really just a popularity contest. Sure, singing and showmanship is important, as is a contestant's back-story and TV persona, but when it comes to advancing in the competition, many an inferior vocalist have managed to make it well past their expiration date. And then comes life after "Idol," where alumni often have similar options -- put out an album, audition for stage roles, take the reality show route -- some achieving more success than others. So how do they all stack up?

We tackled that very question by recruiting a group of hardcore "Idol" followers (16 in total) to rank every Top 12 member (plus Anoop Desai, of last year's Top 13), select Top 24 contenders and a handful of noteworthy auditioners from No. 1 all the way down to No. 120.

The judging panel consisted of several journalists (a couple from the L.A. Times, others, such as People's Cynthia Wang and In Touch Weekly's Steve Gidlow, from national magazines); "Idol" bloggers Rickey Yaneza of and Lyndsey Parker of Yahoo's Reality Rocks; a handful of die-hard fans; and one former contestant, who prefers to remain anonymous.

The methodology went a little something like this: All were encouraged to be subjective and vote based on their own personal opinion, but to also take into account contestants position in the competition and post-"Idol" popularity. For the most part, points were awarded for album sales and radio hits, along with reality TV stints (from "Fantasia For Real" to "Celebrity Rehab"), award nominations and wins, and overall media presence after their show exit, whereas arrests and scandals often resulted in a downgrade.

As for the results? The top five may not be all that surprising, but there turned out to be plenty of peculiar positions such as newcomer Siobhan Magnus entering the list at No. 31, Season 4's Constantine Maroulis claiming a comfy spot in the Top 10, last year's fourth-place finisher Allison Iraheta coming it at 18, Season 2 footnote Frenchie Davis holding strong at No. 38 and jokester Nick Mitchell debuting in the Top 50. As for the opposite end of this less-than-scientific experiment? Top 24 cast-offs Joanna Pacitti and Chris Golightly land in the last slots, proving there's apparently nothing worse in "Idol"-land than getting disqualified before the competition even starts.

Read on for the Top 20 -- and another 100(!) Idols after the jump -- then let us know: What do you think of our power and popularity list and where would you rank your favorites?

4. David Cook
The show's first bonafide rocker to win is the male equivalent of everything you want in an Idol, and the one to blame for the judges' constant calls to "switch things up." During Season 7, David Cook proved that Idols don't have to come wrapped in a predictable pop bow, that they can handle themselves on guitar and can reinterpret classic songs so that they appeal to multiple age groups. Sure, he was a cougar favorite, what with his good looks and charm, but Cook's ultimate victory had more to do with knowing himself and his musical identity than out-singing runner-up David Archuleta.

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post Jun 1st 2010, 1:36 AM

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post Jun 1st 2010, 5:09 AM
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post Jun 1st 2010, 11:17 AM
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