During our first “American Idol” ranking last week, we made some rather bold predictions when it came to the top 25 — and we were at least partially right. Jermaine Jones ended up being the mystery wild-card contestant, Heejun Han’s humor would be the talking point more than his music, and Phillip Phillips would likely be the one to beat. Six of our top seven (minus Baylie Brown, who imploded so fast that Steven Tyler even had to criticize her) are still in this competition … but that doesn’t mean that our most of our placement of these aspiring superstars is anywhere close to the same as it was last week.
Going into the top 13 performance show, here are where the hopefuls now stand. Once again, we are using the same criteria — performance quality, fan support, air time, and even the past voting patterns of “Idol” fans.
The top 13
13. Jermaine Jones (last week, #15) – We understand that the “gentle giant” didn’t need a wild card vote to stick around on the show, but he was also boosted by some intangibles. He not only went last during the top 13 guys’ show Tuesday, but he was the product of a last-second twist.
As a person we love Jermaine, but we’re still not sold on his versatility along with his ability to keep his low voice in check in the weeks ahead. We’ll have a better idea how popular he is now that the twist is over.
12. Erika Van Pelt (last week, #7) – Here is a contestant where we have a major dilemma. Is she more talented than some of the people ahead of her? Definitely, but as a mainstream rocker with a lower register we’re not sure just where her votes are going to come from.
We see Erika as someone who could pull a Haley Reinhart and make a long run, but she is going to need all of the chips to fall in the right direction. If you remember, Haley barely survived the bottom three on a number of occasions … and we’re not sure Erika will be as fortunate.
11. DeAndre Brackensick (last week, #12) – The judges absolutely love DeAndre, but we’re at the moment more unsure about him than we were before the top 25 after hearing a pair of performances.
He has a voice that no one else in this competition can even touch when it comes to his falsetto, but this does not give him a license to go out of tune and make runs all over the place. DeAndre has the same problem as Jacob Lusk has last year in lack of vocal control, and he has not had the same amount of screen time.
10. Elise Testone (last week, #22) – Although we were wrong about Elise last week, we do still have some of our same reservations regarding whether or not she will become the Pia Toscano of this group.
Vocally, Elise is just about as good as any of the women ranked above her, but the issue here is that her personality does not pop off the screen. If you look at the women ranked higher, all of them have more in the way of a defined persona on the show, and this could hurt her moving forward.
9. Jeremy Rosado (last week, #12) – A great singer who is probably going to exit this competition early, Jeremy’s biggest issue is just that we don’t know where he fits in the modern music world.
We know Jennifer Lopez loves him, and we also expect his brilliant / teary-eyed performance during Thursday’s results show will probably keep him safe for a week. After that, we wonder if he’s going to be too nice for his own good.
8. Colton Dixon (last week, #6) – “Idol” loves rockers, but Colton actually gave one of the weakest performances of the men during Tuesday’s performance show. His Paramore song was a poor showcase for his voice, and he made it worse by dancing around on a piano and substituting vocals for various gimmicks a la what James Durbin did on a few occasions.
We know that Colton is better than what he showed, and we also think he will have a fan base that is loyal enough to let him sort through some of his issues. If he doesn’t improve within two or three weeks, though, expect him to head out the door.
7. Heejun Han (last week, #5) – Heejun’s performance wasn’t really any better than Colton, as he seemed shaky during his take on “Angels.” He also still has the same issues with phrasing that he did during Hollywood Week.
However, we still believe that our resident comic has more leeway than anyone in this competition. He’s someone that is easy to root for, and he does have a nice voice. Even if he bombs for the next two weeks, we’ll be stunned if he is not a part of the summer tour.
6. Shannon Magrane (last week, #2) – Why the drop from last week? We’re basing it on the online reaction to “Go Light Your World” as being a bit sappy and over-the-top.
Nonetheless, we think that most “Idol” fans are underestimating Shannon for a number of reasons. Not only is she mainstream, but she is from the south (a key “Idol” voting block) and her choice of a contemporary Christian song could get her votes from a very dedicated audience. Say what you will about the sappiness of her song choice, but it was vocally solid.
5. Hollie Cavanagh (last week, #20) – We made two major mistakes last week when it came to Hollie. We were worried that no one would remember her, and we also thought that she was too similar to some of the other contestants.
Luckily, the woman with season 11’s most-mysterious accent delivered with a cover of Christina Aguilera’s “Reflection” that was second to none during the show — and so long as Lauren Alaina continues to campaign for votes to go in her direction, she could be around awhile.
4. Joshua Ledet (last week, #3) – We actually think that when it comes to vocal talent, Joshua has more than any other guy — we said it last week, and we’ll say it more than Randy Jackson says “in it to win it” during a season.
The only problem Joshua has at the moment is that there are some other singers who could cross over into his R&B / gospel genre, and if the vote gets split he could be sent home in an early shocker.
3. Skylar Laine (last week, #10) – After coming out on stage like a ball of fire, we have to think that Skylar is going to become a fast favorite on this season. Never underestimate the country vote, especially now that she is the only real country singer in the competition.
The only thing that could hold Skylar back? We need to hear some more of her ballads to see how she handles a slow song, and we still remember her flubbing the lyrics of a song during Hollywood Week.
2. Jessica Sanchez (last week, #19) – We’ve been critical of the show putting someone with major reality-show experience like Jessica (via “America’s Got Talent”) through in the past, but maybe it’s time now that we give her a little bit more credit.
Not only was Jessica’s “Love You I Do” one of the best overall performances on the night Wednesday, but she seems to already have a hefty base behind her. We’re still not sure that she has the likability factor of a Skylar Laine or Shannon Magrane, but at this point it’s too early to really wage this battle unless (in the case of Phillip) it’s a sure thing.
1. Phillip Phillips (last week, #1) – We really don’t have any reason to change our mind on this one. Phillip’s “In the Air Tonight” was one of the few performances that was actually better than the judges gave him credit for during the show, and he even got the “I would sign him today” line from Jimmy Iovine.
The only thing that’s really going to keep Phillip out of the top five this season is if he goes out and gives a series of one clunker after the next — and while a victory’s still not guaranteed for him, he has less work to do than anyone else to secure the confetti drop in May. He’s talented, has a fun personality, and he is the guitar-playing Southern boy that “Idol” voters eat up.
Who do you think is the favorite to win the show at the moment? Be sure to take the poll below and leave your thoughts in the comment box!