13: Ashthon Jones– She is really up against it. She didn’t gain enough votes in the semis to be safe, and her weaknesses were exposed on the Thursday show. I don’t think that her attitude will help her, either. It’s not a compliment to be called a diva unless you have a diva’s voice, and Ashthon’s voice is fairly puny for the songs that she keeps trying to sing. If she doesn’t sing significantly better next week, she is going to be on the bubble at best. She plays the part, and she tries like hell, but I’m not sure that she’s even good karaoke right now. The Idol “vote for the worst” might keep her in the game for a week or two, but she is long odds to make the tour.
12: Naima Adedapo– I like her, but she needed the judges to keep her in the competition. She is unique enough that she might be able to build a voting block, but she had better blow some people away this week. She is too jazzy for mainstream tastes, and there are other, more popular contestants that will siphon off the limited jazz fan votes. She has a good voice, but not good enough to overcome the obstacles strewn in front of her.
11: Stefano Langone– I like Stefano a good bit more than where I am ranking him, but he didn’t get enough votes in the semis to avoid the wild card round. His game is all about the rubbery runs, so if he makes even tiny mistakes they will be exposed. He will either shoot up the rankings or be sent home in the next couple of weeks. He would be helped some if Karen gets dumped early.
10: Thia Megia– She certainly could make the tour, and even work her way into the top 7-8, but she is going to eventually have to sing something up-tempo. Once she gets exposed for her inexperience, she will be on borrowed time. She will get the benefit of the doubt from the largest portion of the voting pool (who are her exact peers), unless she crashes and burns on the stage.
9: Haley Reinhart- While she has constantly impressed everyone with her cool growling and pulling out every trick in the book, she has the weakest voice left in the game other than maybe Ashthon. She is always going to be at risk for a crash and burn performance. That said, she’s the kind of contestant that might get a bandwagon going for her if she keeps singing well.
8: Paul McDonald– Paul is so different from the others that he should have plenty of fans to take him to the tour. Once the contestants get whittled down some, though, it’s going to be hard for him to maintain his standing. Right now he only needs 5-6% of the votes, and he’s probably getting 8-10%. What’s going to happen when he needs to get over 10%? He’s not the type of contestant that will build a larger fan base. My guess is that he cruises for the first three weeks, then gets a spot on the hard chairs soon after that, and is gone the next week; finishing somewhere between seventh and ninth.
7: Scotty McReery– His Idol arc is probably going to be similar to another Scotty Mac, Scott MacIntyre. Scotty Mac cruised into the top 10, then his limitations started to work against him and he finished eighth. Scotty is getting the most votes of anyone right now, so he’s safe for awhile. We’ll see what everyone thinks when he has to do some R & B, or a show tune.
6: Karen Rodriguez– Karen might be the sneaky contestant this year; the one who keeps surviving every week by the skin of her teeth, spending time in the bottom three but going fairly deep. Her voting bloc will have some staying power. She needs to show more dynamic range, and maybe blow up an up-tempo song, to move out of the bottom rung of contenders.
5: James Durbin– JD will be safe for a couple of months, as long as he doesn’t piss everyone off or go too crazy with his screaming. It really helped him that no other rocker types made the finals. He’ll struggle later on, when he needs to get votes from several of the voting blocs that are already lined up against him.
4: Pia Toscono- Watch out for this one. She has a calm demeaner and a steady Eddie approach that might help her avoid the “I’m sick of her” backlash that Lauren will fight against. It’s possible that she will develop into the anti-Lauren candidate, and get a serious bandwagon rolling. Oh, and she’s really good. Does that count? She is a darkhorse, but she can win.
3: Jacob Lusk– I have him third, but if I was betting my own money Jacob’s the guy I would put it on. He has the best voice, and most of his histrionics are more cute and charming than tedious and irritating. I put the over/under on “moments” for Jacob at three and a half.
2: Lauren Alaina– It’s been mostly a coronation party for Nigel’s girl so far, but it would be extremely presumptuous to assume that this will continue all the way to the Nokia in May. Lauren is 16 years old, and while she has an old soul and maturity well beyond her years…… She is still 16 freaking years old. She has a very strong voice, but it’s not the barn burner that some others have. Her performances won’t be effortless, and she is going to need to up her game as the weeks go on and the competition gets stiffer, and meaner. The pimping will inevitably backfire on the Idol producers, it always does. Can she overcome the backlash? Can she cure the breathing issues that nobody seems to want to talk about? Can she handle the pressure, and avoid a meltdown? Again, she is only 16 years old. Did she peak too early? I have so many questions, and no answers.
I have serious reservations about putting Lauren second in the rankings, but at this point it would be strange to have her any lower. She isn’t going to have a cakewalk to the finale, though. I called her the Allie early on, and I still think that she IS an Allie. How will she handle turning into a Gokey? That’s going to be her public perception unless she has a “moment” every week.
1: Casey Abrams– It would be silly to pick anyone else as the group standout right now. It’s an open question whether he can build on that, or if his insanely over the top and manic performances will eventually get old. Casey is a terrific musician and a clever and enthusiastic entertainer. He has a well developed sense of the dramatic as well as the absurd. We are going to enjoy the hell out of him for several weeks. It’s too early to crown him.