On Thursday night, "American Idol" revealed its Top 12 finalists for the ninth season of the hit show. MTV News "Idol" expert Jim Cantiello whipped up a handy cheat sheet for each finalist, breaking down each candidate's journey thus far. He also got the "Idol" hopefuls to weigh in when he caught up with them at Thursday night's Top 12 Party in Hollywood.
Michael "Big Mike" Lynche is like a cross between season three's goofball Matt Rogers and the Velvet Teddy Bear, Ruben Studdard. On steroids. Not literally, since Big Mike is a personal trainer, not a juice-taker. As far as we know.
Best Performance: Big Mike's a rare example of an "Idol" contestant who shines brighter without an instrument. A confident take on James Brown's "It's a Man's, Man's, Man's World" was entertaining, but his go-for-broke version of Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work," which moved Kara DioGuardi to tears, was a game changer.
Weakest Performance: Week one's Jason Mraz impression didn't win him any fans. He sang "I'm Yours" but he wasn't ours. Not by a mile.
Tragic Backstory: Big Mike's wife went into labor with their first child during Hollywood Week. Extended phone call montages and conversations about her birth canal followed. We're not sure who will need more therapy: his daughter, whose birth her dad missed because he was auditioning for a televised karaoke competition, or his wife, whose birth was documented in eye-opening detail by "Idol" cameras.
Why He Will Win: Big Mike has a fun nickname, a newborn baby and a charming personality. Ellen DeGeneres deemed him the one to beat this week. If he continues to pick smart songs, he could muscle his way into the finale.
Why He Will Lose: He's likable, but in a TV host kind of way, not an "I wanna run out and buy that guy's album" kind of way.
What He Should Sing: Mike's personal goal should be to make every single judge cry at least once this season. We know Simon's mourning the loss of his dad. If Lynche turned John Lennon's "Mother" into a soul tour de force, Cowell would lose it.
On Being Called "The One To Beat" By Ellen: "I think it's way too early for anybody to be 'the one to beat,' " Lynche said. "It's a long season. I plan on being around for a long time, so you can't take any of that stuff to heart, negative or positive."
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