After skipping last season due to disinterest, I tuned in early to this season of The Idol to see if my thoughts on last season continued. Has it become a high-end karaoke machine that is churning out average talent in order to sell singles on ITunes? With the early shows being notoriously ugly as the producers have done their best to focus on the non-talented instead of those who DO have the ability to sing, I have been more & more likely to say yes. I didn’t watch any of last season but the season prior, an average talent won (Lee Dewyze recently released an album that has disappeared into obscurity already) and before that, the Freddie Mercury wannabe, Adam Lambert, screeched his way into the winners circle. So imagine my surprise when FINALLY the Idol producers figured out that they need to stop focusing on the non-talent and put the spotlight on the guys & gals who matter.
Early on there was a LOT of talent that came through the Idol screenings. It’s amazing to me how much talent we DO have in this country. Needless to say, there were the returning previous season early exits who made a splash and then there were plenty of fresh faces to focus on. As of last night, after watching the group get whittled down to the Top 24, I can honestly say that this really IS one of the better batches of voices that Idol has seen in a while. There are soulful singers, rockers, country singers, a few non-de script artists who are similar to popular artists but juuuuust different enough to hold my interest and a baritone voice that Idol has never seen before that is amazing (but will probably get voted off early on). It really IS an interesting group and the talent on the guys side is far greater than that on the women’s side. There are quite a few women who sound eerily similar to me and I can see them going quickly. But there is one who, I feel, could make a push to win even though her gender vastly underperformed in last night’s Top 12 competition and it will be interesting to see how America votes. The show needs to whittle it down to the Top 13 (America picks 10 [5 guys, 5 gals], the judges pick 1 each) and of the guys, 15-year old Eben from Cincinnati was the only one who I thought totally botched it (unfortunately the kid is as cute as they come and will probably be voted in by the teenage girl vote). So with much calculation and thought…here are MY picks to who will become the Top 13 on this 2012 edition of THE American Idol…
The girls are a lot easier to pick, but there IS some contention simply because I know what America will pick and I disagree. So MY Top 6 girls (the guys get the extra 6th person) are as follows and in order:
- Elise Testone
- Jessica Sanchez
- Hallie Day
- Hollie Cavanagh
- Shannon Magrane
- Jennifer Hirsh
Where I feel America will screw this up is they will vote in country firecracker (and Reba McEntire lookalike) Skylar Lane. Her performance last night WAS one of the better ones but Hollie Cavanagh is a better talent. Unfortunately, America likes country music and Hollie is completely under the radar. The show didn’t even feature her until last week and Skylar is just so damn cute and energetic that I imagine this swap will happen whether I agree with it or not. The wildcard here is Jennifer Hirsh. I like her a lot but she just isn’t standing out like I thought she would. We’ll see what America thinks on this one…
For the guys, it’s a LOT more complicated. There is more talent on this end and their performances the other night were all pretty damn good. But here are MY Top 6 picks and we’ll see how America votes…
- Phillip Phillips (loved his version of “In The Air Tonight”!!!)
- Reed Grimm
- Joshua Ledet
- Adam Brock
- Creighton Fraker
- Colton Dixon
- Jermaine Jones
The judges did the smart thing by inviting baritone singer, Jermaine Jones, back onto the show. The guy has AMAZING pipes. Unfortunately there are limitations when singing with such a deep voice and that is that most popular music isn’t sung in that range. So whatever he sings, most of the country who votes won’t know the songs and so…there ya go. Eben will get voted in, thereby knocking Jermaine out and forcing us to sit through another couple weeks of listening to Eben singing songs that are WAY too big (and old) for him (his rendition of Adele’s “Set Fire To The Rain” was painful).
Oh yeah…SHE’S got talent!
Now…The Top 3. This is tough but I’m going with my gut on this one…
- Creighton Fraker
- Elise Testone
- Jessica Sanchez (pictured above)
My wildcard for the Top 3
As for the Elise & Jessica? Well…as much as I hate to admit it…they are the surprise talent in this year’s group. Jessica has been pretty consistent throughout the season so far and has a great voice. She’s young but doesn’t act it and has the looks to be a superstar. But MY money is on Elise. She’s one of the oldest in the group, she has that “girl next door” quality about her, she’s not “stunningly good-looking” but definitely attractive (much like many of the female winners of the past) and has an amazing voice that shines with each performance. I look for her to be consistent week in & week out and as she starts to tackle more current radio-friendly material, her vocals will shine as someone who could go on to have quite a career in pop music.
So tonight is the voting process….let’s see how it goes and odds are very good that 5 of the contestants I picked will be gone before tomorrow…and that includes Elise (but I don’t think so).
P.S. As much as I like Steven Tyler on this show, I’m quickly growing tired of he & J-Lo’s boring critiques (“beautiful,” “amazing” and “outstanding” should be words that NO ONE says again on this show). Randy Jackson is a little full of himself BUT I love when he breaks into producer mode and gives TRUE criticism that music producer would give any artist who is recording in the studio with him. Unfortunately…this happens only so often and I CAN say this…Simon Cowell is missed if simply for honest opinion of the performances…even when they were rude & obnoxious.