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 specific "Idol" 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.
It took no time for Didi Benami to establish her "American Idol" identity: the resident weepy mess. From her initial audition in Denver to almost every single interview on the "Idol" stage, the sensitive singer/songwriter has shed a tear. Tears of joy, tears of mourning, tears of stress. But Didi saves the real emotion for her passionate performances, connecting to lyrics unlike any other singer this season.
Best Performance: Didi helped put money in Kara DioGuardi's pocket when she covered the judge's song during Hollywood Week brilliantly. Tuesday night, however, Didi busted out the big guns — Fleetwood Mac's "Rhiannon" — and the timing couldn't have been more perfect. In the last chance before top 12, Didi picked the right week to remind viewers what she's capable of. Perhaps she held back on her guitar-playing skills during the first two semifinal performances on purpose?
Weakest Performance: Didi's Ingrid Michaelson cover was more fragile than a Fabergé egg. Was it the first-week jitters, or just that the song was too small for an "Idol" live-show debut? Regardless, "The Way I Am" was a shrill, off-key 90 seconds.
Tragic Backstory: Didi decided to audition for "Idol" shortly after her close friend died at a young age.
Why She Will Win: Benami may have struggled at the beginning, but "Rhiannon" demonstrated an exciting "Idol" characteristic: She thrives under pressure. We hope for bigger and better sneak attacks in the coming weeks as the numbers continue to whittle down.
Why She Will Lose: This year is chock-full of female singer/songwriters, which sets the stage for a potential disastrous vote-splitting scenario. (Remember that horrific Fantasia/ LaToya London/ Jennifer Hudson bottom three from the Season of the Divas?) Next time she packs up her guitar, she might as well pack the rest of her belongings too. Also, Didi's teary post-performance interviews may start to freak people out. You cry once? You get sympathy. You cry every week? You get concerned viewers calling a mental hospital on your behalf.
What She Should Sing: Didi's a gorgeous girl. Why not take a page out of the Lacey Brown handbook of TV seduction and add some sultry moves to her singer/songwriter repertoire? Suzanne Vega's "Caramel" could leave guys (and some girls) salivating. She better hope "Idol" has a "female folk singer" theme week!
Reaction to Making the Top 12: "I've dreamed about this for a long time, being where I am. Really what I want to do is move people with music, and that's what I feel like God put me here to do, so I'm just here! Here I am!"
What do you think of Didi's chances on "Idol"? Were you happy to see her make it to the top 12? Let us know!
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