updated 04/25/2006 AT 8:00 AM ET
•originally published 04/25/2006 AT 8:20 AM ET
Ruben Studdard, who took the crown on the second season of American Idol, has his favorite picked out among the current crop of contestants: Taylor Hicks. He says he’s also flattered to be the object of affection of recent castoff Mandisa.
Telling MTV News that he’s been too busy to watch the show this season, Studdard nonetheless says his vote would go to Hicks – who, like Studdard, hails from Birmingham, Ala.
“Bo Bice was from Birmingham,” says the singer, 27. “Diana DeGarmo was actually born in Birmingham. So we’ve been doing pretty well.”
When it comes to Mandisa’s crush (because of her shape, she was sometimes called the female version of Ruben), she told PEOPLE: “I love Ruben I think there’s a little double standard when it comes to plus-size males compared to females. So often in media we see so many different images for how we should look, and you don’t get that with males. Tell Ruben to call me. He needs to give his sister a call!”
Responds Studdard: “I’m flattered. Thanks, Mandisa.”
Studdard has a new album due out in August, The Return of the Velvet Teddy Bear (Gladys Knight gave him that nickname on Idol). Featured on it will be Ne-Yo, Scott Storch, R&B girl group Mocha and rapper Gutter, says MTV.