MARK KENNEDY: So it seems we're down to cases with our friend Paul McDonald, the "American Idol" contestant whose mother, Susan, teaches at UTC. McDonald was in the bottom three last week; and his cohorts, Thia Megia and Naima Adedapo, were both jettisoned by "Idol" voters. That could spell trouble for one of our local-interest candidates.
Meanwhile, Lauren Alaina Suddeth, the 16-year-old contestant from Rossville, had a good week on the show. Her rendition of Sir Elton John's "Candle in the Wind" had an angelic, Sarah McLachlan quality to it that I thought was her best moment on 'Idol.'
LISA DENTON: Lauren won lots of accolades for that performance, and rightly so. I just wish she seemed happier. I think her nerves are working on her, and each week her tearful reaction is always the producers' dramatic go-to shot when they start announcing who's in the bottom three.
As for Paul, I think he was a little surprised to be in that trio last week. Maybe he needs one of those heart-to-heart talks from judge Jennifer Lopez. Her constructive criticism seems to have made a difference with Stefano Langone. How long that improvement lasts remains to be seen.
MARK: The oddsmakers at Bodog.com seem to think that McDonald and Langone are in deep peril of going home this week, with a slight edge to Langone to be the first to leave. Miss Suddeth, meanwhile, seems safely in the middle of the pack for now. She's been installed as a 9-to-2 shot to win the competition. (For you math-challenged folks, that means she has about a 22 percent chance of winning the whole shebang.) The oddsmakers like Pia Toscano at 2-to-1 to win. She's got great pipes, but she appears to be glued to the stage. If she ever sings a ballad and break dances at the same time, game over.
LISA: Ummm, I don't see that happening, although she could break out with some Jay-Z or Tupac tonight when the theme is "Songs From the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame." I believe this is the list chosen by museum curators, rock critics and historians as the "500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll" (at least the ones the "Idol" has the rights to).
It is literally everything from A (AC/DC) to Z (The Zombies). The surprise is that they're not all rock songs. So, yes, influential works by U2, Outkast and Heart make the list, but so do songs from Danny & The Juniors, Hank Williams and Big Mama Thornton. It's wide open. But I don't see Pia stretching any further than Aretha Franklin.