Rooting for the Underdog on 'American Idol'

There's really no arguing about who among the girls was the best on "American Idol" Wednesday night. Even the judges managed to agree that Stephanie, Sabrina and LaKisha rocked it.

If I hadn't been sold on the way Stephanie kicked off the night — and I was — she would have won me over when she jumped onto her knees with more alacrity than someone not wearing knee pads should ever even consider having.

Sabrina managed to be just as good without seeming to injure any body parts in the process.

And what can I say about LaKisha, besides the fact that she seemed to blow away Jennifer Hudson — arguably the most talented "Idol" hopeful not to have won?

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Still, I'm simply not ready to stop hoping that the girls I like will stick around. First on my list: Antonella. I know that her best friend made catty comments about God sending the bad people home, and she seemed to forget her words during Hollywood Week. Also, her rendition of "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" underwhelmed us all.

But there's something so appealingly unpolished about her. It's like she's just an extraordinarily pretty kid who thought this competition might be fun.

If Antonella's not going to make it on "Idol," however, can someone please sign her up for an acting career? Maybe it's her name — Antonella Barba just seems to roll off the tongue — but I can absolutely picture the girl turning up on "The Sopranos" as Meadow's new dangerous friend.

Back on "Idol," meanwhile, I'm also rooting for fellow underdog Alaina, who looks like a potential member of the Aniston family, and Gina, ditto for the Presleys.

But they both give off this sense of having studied every episode that ever aired in the hopes of being exactly what the judges want.

And if we're going to be critiquing song choices — which is, of course, most of what went on this episode — Gina got a lot of praise for her selection.

But am I the only one who has seen "Bridget Jones' Diary" too many times and has a nearly impossible time hearing "All by Myself" without picturing Renee Zellweger lip-syncing while shoving chocolate in her mouth?

While I'm wishing for unlikely events to occur, I'm just going to add a silent prayer that Randy tones down his excessive use of the word "pitchy" and that Paula gives up on trying to explain and expand upon something another judge is saying.

As for Ryan and Simon, I only hope that their contentiousness will flourish — a possibility that I have to admit seems far more likely than my underdog choices staying in the game.

Anna David is a freelance writer. Her first novel, "Party Girl," is coming out in June 2007 from HarperCollins.

"American Idol" airs on FOX, which is owned by the parent company of

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