OK, Chapel Hill homeboy, here's the deal: Now that you've been deked into thinking you missed a shot at the Top 12 (which turned out to be a Top 13, with you in it), and then stood, Wednesday night, in the spotlight of possible elimination as that field was narrowed to 11, it's time to get serious.
As Simon Cowell keeps reminding you and the gazillion people watching American Idol twice a week, you've got a lot going for you: Good voice, good looks, a sweet nature and a "likeability" factor that moves the tweens to madly dial and text to bring you back each week. What you haven't shown us fans back home, and the rest of the viewing public, is brilliant song choice and a killer performance that leaves the other contestants saying things like, "Damn, he's the one to beat."
To paraphrase the Michael Jackson tune that totally outweighed you during Tuesday night's peformance, it's time for you to show how funky and strong your fight is. And to borrow some advice the Idol judges gave early frontrunner Alexis Grace at her first audition: Dirty up. Show a little of your wild side. Stop wearing pink, they told the sweet Southern blonde, so she dyed a streak of her hair pink instead. We aren't recommending that for you, but you should get the idea: Enough with the polo shirts and the preppy college boy act. Let's see Anoop the Star. After all, if you make it to the Top 3, the American Idol drama and money-making machine will descend on the western corner of the Triangle for a home visit and parade.
And, hey, that might be fun.