AUBURN – Dan Cunliffe wanted to be part of American Idol, but he knew his singing was so bad that judge Simon Cowell would surely unceremoniously kick him off America’s No. 1 TV show.

Heck, he wouldn’t even make it beyond the auditions.

But Cunliffe found another way to be part of the nation’s craze over American Idol: He placed in the top 10 in a video contest for the show.

“I am very pleased. I have never heard of anyone from Maine making it to ‘American Idol,’ so I am the closest Maine has come, I think,” Cunliffe said Thursday from Republic Jewelry in Auburn, where he works.

The show, wrapping up its fourth season this month, sponsored a national contest for a 10-second video promotion for the show’s Web site:

Cunliffe, 39, learned his video made the top 10 when his wife saw it online Tuesday while he was getting ready for work.

“She said, ‘Hey, you’re one of the top 10.’ I said, ‘What are you talking about?”

Idol fans are now voting for their favorite top 10 video via the show’s Web site. People can vote every day for their favorite amateur video, bringing fans back to the site over and over again. The voting closes May 9.

The winning video features Cunliffe, an amateur video producer, being zapped by electricity when he touches his home computer. The jolt magically transports him to inside the computer and onto the American Idol Web site.

A singing Cunliffe ticks off the site’s features – videos, interviews, behind the scenes – while dancing to an upbeat melody provided by a friend. He wears a blue T-shirt and brown shorts with sandals.

And while Cunliffe admits he has a bad singing voice, his friends are happy to tell him he also looks like a dork on the video.

“‘Man, you dance like a white man,'” Cunliffe said in quoting one of his friends.

Cunliffe explains – apologizes – that he had to do the singing without the music, because another friend couldn’t get the music to him until just hours before he had to overnight express his entry to the show.

American Idol is a favorite of the entire Cunliffe family – Dan and Angie and their four kids, who live in Minot. They make it a special time of the week and enjoy watching talented young Americans get their big shot at fame.

But for Cunliffe, his fame is even more short-lived.

“A friend said I got my 15 minutes of fame, but I said it was more like 10 seconds,” Cunliffe said with a laugh.

The American Idol video is the second that Cunliffe has submitted and placed in national contests. Last year, his video promoting AOL’s new movie phone was among the top five in the country.

The No. 1 video selected by Idol fans will be shown on the final episode of the show later this month. A $5,000 cash award will go to the winner.

To vote, go to: