‘American Idol’ top 8 rankings: Jessica Sanchez, Elise Testone battle for #1

Still reigning supreme.

With Heejun Han now gone from the competition, “American Idol” has lost its sense of humor, and we’re probably going to feel that in the coming weeks if the contestants bust out on drippy ballad after another. (Can we have a No Ballad Week, please?)

While Heejun’s exit does not impact our rankings too much, we have started to notice a few contestants who are here for the long haul — and a few who are showing that they have more misses than hits at this point in the competition.

8. DeAndre Brackensick (last week: #8) – We are aware that DeAndre managed to avoid the bottom three this past week, but we’re not sure that will happen again this week. He has a major problem with consistency, and there is something else we worry about — when a guy gets a standing ovation for a performance that was out of tune seven ways to Sunday, we worry that he’s not going to learn anything from it.

7. Hollie Cavanagh (last week: #7) – Somewhere, the ghost of Pia Toscano needs to tap Hollie on the shoulder and tell her that if she keeps singing ballads, she is going to be sent packing soon despite having a stellar voice.

We saw a tiny taste of what Hollie can do during the group number this past week, so now she needs to find an uptempo hit and learn to sell the song more to the audience.

6. Skylar Laine (last week: #6) – We thought the country vote would follow Skylar deep into the competition, but she now have a reason to worry thanks to a rendition of “Gunpowder and Lead” that was actually thoroughly entertaining (despite the lack of a standing ovation here).

When she’s good, we find Skylar to be a better performer than Lauren Alaina, and maybe even the best female country singer on the show since Carrie Underwood. She just needs to find a way to connect better with the voters.

5. Colton Dixon (last week: #2) – After a heart-wrenching take on “Piano Man” last week, we’re starting to wonder if we ranked Colton a little bit too high for it. As great as he is at putting emotion into a song, he also is far from a consistent vocalists.

Let’s look for example at a performance of “Everything” — a song that we love, but a song that became a bit too screechy at times for the emotional climax to really be there.

4. Joshua Ledet (last week: #3) – We want to believe that vocals still matter more than some other factors, and with that we hope to see Joshua around for some time. Why? To be frank, he simply deserves it.

While we really didn’t get as much out of his teary ballad as some other folks did, the brief bit he performed during an otherwise-dreadful Michael Jackson group performance shows that Joshua may be better equipped to tackle different tempos than anyone in this competition.

3. Phillip Phillips (last week: #5) – What’s working for Phillip is that he’s a strong performer, he’s creative, and Stevie Nicks wants to send him back in time to join Fleetwood Mac.

As for what is going against him, his vocals are polarizing, and unless you’re into this brand of rock, you probably don’t like how he turns all of his songs into that genre. He also needs to tone down on the shouting and sing more actual notes. Just some “constructive criticism (and like with Randy Jackson, we’re not sure why it is in quotes).

2. Elise Testone (last week: #4) – It’s been a long journey for Elise. We originally ranked her near the bottom of our list at the top 25, mostly because we felt that she would get lost in a sea of blondes without much air time during the auditions or Hollywood Week. (She also looked to be in trouble after being in the bottom for a few weeks early on.)

With that being said, we do like it when we are proven wrong! Elise has become a revelation in recent weeks, and while we still prefer Adam Lambert’s version of “Whole Lotta Love,” we have to admit that she did a pretty spectacular job. Plus, we can love that we can count the amount of missed notes from her this season on only one hand, while we need the hands of every swaybot in the audience to count for some of the other singers still around.

1. Jessica Sanchez (last week: #1) – While we were not completely mesmerized by Jessica’s tempo choice during her version of “Sweet Dreams,” the fact that Beyonce’s camp liked it enough to place it on her official website just shows what sort of impact the teenager is making on this competition.

We really think at this point Jessica’s popularity is going to be tough to crack — the only thing that could cause her to falter is if she picks another song like she did with “Turn the Beat Around” — which forced her to enunciate a bit too much. She deserves to stay at the top, and seems to be the pick of many to finally break the curse of women failing to win this competition.

Who do you think at the moment is poised to go far on the show? As always, feel free to share your thoughts with a comment below and also take our poll!

Photo: Fox

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