American Idol 2 – Can the New Contestants Live Up to the Old?

Is the sequel ever as good as the original? American Idol fans will be able to make that determination soon as we vote for a new group of potential superstars. There are already comparisons being made from this year’s group to the first, but can the series – and the contestants – live up to the first group we came to know and love?

Is the sequel ever as good as the original? TV viewers and music lovers will soon find out as the field of 32 remaining American Idol hopefuls begin the next phase of eliminations.

Who will be the next Kelly Clarkson? Could it be pretty and talented Kimberly Caldwell? Or will she be upstaged by gritty New York hairdresser Julia DeMato? How about a replacement for crooning heartthrob Justin Guarini? Could J.D. Adams be ready to step into those dancin’ shoes? That said, where does that leave bad-boy Corey Clark or steppin’-out-of-the-mold Frenchie Davis?

Caldwell, DeMatto, Adams, Clark, and Davis each have already had their 15 minutes of fame as they were featured in various segments of American Idol 2 that have aired over the past two weeks. The important question at this point is whether the American audience will allow any of this season’s contestants to step into the footprints left behind by the original Top 10.

Admittedly, Clarkson and Guarini will be hard to top. Their talent and personalities have endeared them to us so deeply that we’re already hearing chants of “He’s no Justin!” from Guarini’s staunch fan base. And we have yet to see any resemblance to Clarkson’s “Aw, shucks” girl-next-door persona. While the first season’s hopefuls were breaking new ground and setting standards, this season’s contestants know the ropes and mean business. Tensions ran high during the most recent cuts. DeMato was snubbed by her group (which included Caldwell) as they were preparing for a small group audition. And baby-faced Marcus Curtis took his share of flak from party-boy Alden Wynn when Curtis apologized to Simon (why does everyone feel they need to apologize to this guy?) for the behavior of those who chose to go clubbing instead of rehearsing, especially when Curtis emphatically noted that he was not among that group. Neither Curtis nor Wynn made the final cut.

How will the other match-ups align? It’s easy to compare red-headed Vanessa Oliveraz to rocker Nikki McKibbon. Their physical and stylistic similarities are obvious. There are also comparisons being made between Rickey “Hercules” Smith and Finalist #10, EJay Day. It’s going to be tougher, though, to find a Tamyra, Christina, or a Jim. Fox hasn’t given us enough glimpses of the full complement of 32 finalists to make any guesses based on sound and personality. If you want to play the lookalike game, though, here are the match-ups: Tamyra Gray could be covered by Lashundra Cobbins, and Christina Christian’s mirror image could very well be Sylvia Chibiliti. R.J. Helton was often referred to as the male version of America’s sweetheart. Who better to play that role this season than hunky Marine Joshua Gracin?

A.J. Gill was introduced during the American Idol concert tour as the next Latin sensation . . . this time around Bettis Richardson has the dark good looks to accompany that title. Remember tuning in last season to see what Ryan Starr was wearing . . . or not wearing? Hadas Shalev and Rebecca Bond may be the ones who vie for that distinction this time around. And then there’s Jim. Jim held a special place in our hearts as we felt his love and affection for his hearing impaired parents. This season, my heart goes out to Clay Aiken . . . Clay is dedicated to working with an autistic young man.

Can American Idol: The Sequel live up to the emotional frenzy that surrounded the first season? Better yet, do we want it to? We’ll soon find out.