Tuesday, February 24, 2009

American Idol power rankings

Michael has finally broken Entertainment Weekly's Top 12 in its weekly ranking of contestants. Read the full list, with explanations here.

20. Jeanine Vailes: (Last week: Unranked) Idol producers haven’t shown the California beauty (pictured, center) singing a single note during the first six weeks of the season. So whether or not she’s a Ricky Braddy-esque revelation, she earns a spot on this countdown — if only for fairness’ sake.

19. Nathaniel Marshall: (Last week: 19) Season 8’s resident drama queen proved he’s got actual chops by winning a sing-off against Jackie Midkiff. And while copious crying footage won’t help his chances, the lack of a male standout in Group 3 won’t hurt, either.

18. Matt Breitzke: (Last week: Unranked) Likeable welder dude has displayed decent (if not entirely memorable) chops (especially on his “Ain’t No Sunshine” audition). But since Michael Sarver already won Simon’s “In This Economy” endorsement, he’ll need a flawless vocal to advance.

17. Arianna Afsar: (Last week: Unranked) As David Archuleta proved last season, voters like adorable teenage contestants. That said, her “adopt a grandfriend” campaign was more memorable than her “Put Your Records On” audition — and her Group 3 draw pits her against the season’s most hyped female contestant.

16. Anoop Desai: (Last week: No. 1) Everybody loves (saying) “ANOOOOOOP!” His drowsy semifinal “Angel of Mine,” however, left him at the mercy of the Wild Card, and he’ll need a killer song choice (and performance) to avoid being this season’s Asia’h Epperson — the early front-runner who doesn’t crack the finals.

15. Jesse Langseth: (Last week: No. 15) Won her sing-off against Frankie Jordan but nonetheless got dissed big-time by Simon. We disagree — her big, smoky voice is one of the best thus far on the women’s side — but can she really get past Lambert, Giraud, Corkrey, and Murray from Group 2?

14. Scott MacIntyre: (Last week: No. 16) He’s probably the most recognizable guy in Group 3, and his success in spite of his visual impairment is one of the season’s most memorable backstories. Still, his performances to date — Daughtry’s “Home” and Billy Joel’s “And So It Goes” — betrayed a bit of vocal wobbliness.

13. Kristen McNamara: (Last week: No. 13) Simon implied she wasn’t attractive, but her rendition of “I Will Always Love You” was lovely, and let’s be honest: If this woman isn’t considered good-looking, then most of us shouldn’t be leaving the house without a strategically placed grocery bag.

12. Michael Sarver: (Last week: No. 18) Laid-back ”roughneck” scored a trip to the top 12 perhaps more on the strength of his winning personality and blue-collar backstory than his vocal performance of “I Don’t Want to Be.” Does anyone really think he’s a contender for the whole ball of wax?

11. Megan Corkrey: (Last week: No. 11) Tattooed beauty delivered a fine, jazzy “Can’t Help Loving That Man of Mine” at her Salt Lake City audition, but has been ignored by producers ever since. That said, Group 2 women are a bit of a mystery right now — she’s as likely as any of ‘em to crack the top 12.

10. Lil Rounds: (Last week: No. 12) Has received more screen time and hype than any other woman in season 8, but keeping it really real (Randy style!), her Whitney Houston cover was so shouty, it could have drown out Gordon Ramsay. Will she live up to the hype? Will viewers drink the Kool-Aid? Awaiting Group 3 performances for answers.

9. Alex Wagner-Trugman: (Last week: No. 10) Idol loves sending geeks to the top 12 (see Stevens, John; Aiken, Clay), and Alex has the big voice and endearing eyebrows to follow in their footsteps. But we preferred his ”Baby Come to Me” audition to his sappier top 36 sing-off.

8. Ricky Braddy: (Last week: Unranked) What’s that? The handsome soul singer (pictured, right) didn’t survive the Group 1 viewer vote despite his terrific “A Song for You”? That’s okay; we’re confident Paula will do the right thing and give a Wild Card performance slot to the one male contestant who scored no singing screentime before the top 36.

7. Jasmine Murray: (Last week: No. 7) She’s button-cute, possesses a booming voice, and (as Randy will surely remind us) is only SIXTEEN. If she can stay poised once the high-pressure live performances begin — and scrubs off the troweled-on makeup — she might prove more Jordin Sparks than Lisa Tucker.

6. Adam Lambert (pictured, left): (Last week: No. 8) His renditions of “Some Kind of Wonderful” and “Believe” bordered on strident — despite the judges’ overenthusiastic feedback. Still, it’s hard to imagine he won’t be among Group 2’s top three, considering he does have actual talent — and more importantly, the endorsement of the Idol Machine.

5. Ju’Not Joyner: (Last week: No. 6) Unassuming Dad rocked “Hey There, Delilah” in Hollywood Week — the best male performance to date among Group 3’s male contestants. Some might say his story lacks drama, but isn’t that a plus in a season where Tatiana and Norman have been hogging the early buzz?

4. Danny Gokey: (Last week: No. 4) Sent Kara, Paula, and Randy into squealing fits of adulation after a decent semifinal cover of “Hero,” but the disproportionate hype — plus his relatives’ decision to display a photo of his deceased wife for the cameras (!) — has resulted in a growing Internet backlash. Lucky for Danny, he’s got two weeks of hibernation till his next performance.

3. Felicia Barton: (Last week: No. 5) Won a last-minute spot in the top 36 after Joanna Pacitti was DQ’d. Could be a case of “dead contestant walking” given her lack of airtime, but her YouTube clips look solid, and it doesn’t hurt that she’s become the contestant of choice for viewers who abhor semi-pros in the competition.

2. Alexis Grace: (Last week: No. 9) Okay, so there’s a chance she might merely be a really good choice to front an Aretha Franklin cover band. But the pink-haired young mother’s quiet confidence is appealing, and her results-show “I Never Loved a Man…” was stronger than her performance-night rendition. Perhaps Simon’s comparison to Kelly Clarkson was apt?

1. Matt Giraud: (Last week: No. 2) Scored enough early screen time to win fans (especially that soulful “Georgia on My Mind” during Hollywood Week) but not enough to get labeled a producer pet. Could be the next Justin Timberlake or the next Chris Richardson, but the dueling pianist leads the pack — at least for this week.

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