In three short weeks American Idol has whittled 24 finalists down to a meagre 12. It means we’ve transitioned from the ‘big numbers’ stages (30 million applied, only 24 remain!) to the Top 12, the serious contenders. These are the singers that we’re hoping will set the charts ablaze in the next year or so.
As promised in my elimination post, here’s our run-down of the [[American Idol (2010 Series)|American Idol 2010]] Top 12. They’re listed in alphabetical order by surname, but in our opinion, they’re not created equal! Here’s the verdict on the Top 12:
- [[Didi Benami]] – Didi’s cute as a button – blonde hair, smiling eyes, nice figure, and a strong, crystal-clear voice. We’re still trying to work out if Didi’s got winner potential or if she’s just filler. Certainly, she’s a strong performer, very marketable and has the right look. Needs to watch it on the song choices, as fickle judges can ruin a career in one night with a negative comment!
- [[Crystal Bowersox]] – The dreadlocked mother of one has a real feel for retro rock and singer/songwriter material. She’s got a strong, soulful voice and a real stage presence that can only be gained through years of experience. A favourite with Mr Cowell, is it time for a more rough-hewn singer to make it in 2010?
- [[Lacey Brown]] – Lovely Lacey – she’s so perky and cute. But she’s not quite sure ‘who she is’ as an artist, hence she’s made some mis-steps since the live shows. Bad song choices and the usual stuff. We like her, but she needs to raise her game significantly to compete – with both the stronger male and female contestants. She’s got a few weeks to really raise her game.
- [[Lee DeWyze]] – Lee’s quite an unassuming guy, with a spectacular country/rock singing voice. He looks like an average Joe, but sings like a rock star. His greatest threat comes from Tim Urban, who’s coming from a similar place, but has the looks factor in his favour. We still like Lee, though, because he’s got the superior voice.
- [[Andrew Garcia]] – Andrew’s ‘I can take a pop song and turn it into a funky acoustic number’ schtick has been grating on our nerves since the first live show. Great voice, but he’s stuck on the stupid gimmick which earned rave reviews at auditions, but has been a millstone around his neck ever since. If he doesn’t turn things around, an early exit awaits.
- [[Casey James]] – One of my great hopes for the competition. Casey’s a more mature performer, with a rich country singing voice and some frighteningly good guitar skills. We like that he’s already a marketable artist and seems to know his strengths. The innuendo between Kara and Casey played out weeks ago, and we note he’s not playing it up – he wants to be heard as an artist.
- [[Aaron Kelly]] – There’s a powerful voice in this kid, our only reservation is that he needs a couple of years to grow. He’s streets ahead of fellow young’un Katie Stevens – sticking to a diet of country tunes that he’s sung very well so far. A humble, nice young guy, Aaron may go far in the competition, but alas may be pipped by stronger artists like Big Mike or Casey James. He’s still got bags of talent and a great future ahead of him though.
- [[Michael Lynche]] – One of our favourites for the competition this year, Big Mike’s got a larger-than-life personality, has his own artistic vision and top-notch singing and performance chops to boot. There’ve been grumbles about his similarity to former Idol winner Ruben Studdard, but they’re poles apart stylistically speaking. That shouldn’t be an issue. Whether they can spin him as a relevant contemporary artist is the more immediate concern.
- [[Siobhan Magnus]] – If you’re looking for an underdog to root for, Siobhan may be your girl. Quirky, interesting look and a great set of pipes (we mean the vocal kind), Siobhan’s drawn great comments from the judges and caught us off-guard with some unexpectedly good performances. But with her main selling point being ‘slightly weird’, can she command enough votes to win? Hmmm…
- [[Paige Miles]] – I think deep down, we all love Paige. She’s a beautiful, dark skinned honey, has a gorgeous smile and a widely acknowledged ‘great singing voice’ (even Simon’s said that). But among the iffy song choices, there’s a greater threat – the indifference of the general public. She needs to nail a song, any song and get some phenomenal comments from the judges in order to score some relevance points. If not, she’ll be an early elimination.
- [[Katie Stevens]] – She’s a likeable girl, and we enjoy her singing, but American Idol wouldn’t be ruined if she was voted off. She’s at a serious disadvantage with the number of mature acts who have confidence and experience on their side – her vulnerability is her lack of an ‘image’ that the voters can latch on to.
- [[Tim Urban]] – Tim got drafted in at the last minute to replace an already-forgotten contestant. In his first week, he almost committed career suicide, but recovered in the last two weeks enough to be considered a serious contender by the previously disparaging judges. His good looks – like a younger Tom Welling – and singing style will carry him a long way in this year’s Idol.
As favourites go, we’re liking Didi Benami and Crystal Bowersox among the girls, with perhaps Siobhan Magnus on the outside fringe. It’s harder to be excited about Paige Miles, Katie Stevens and Lacey Brown because they don’t give off the same quality of performance.
On the male side, Big Mike, Big Mike, Big Mike! Love that dude. Casey James is another firm favourite with me – he’s got the full package: looks, voice, musicianship. Beyond those two, Tim Urban and Lee DeWyze will have to duke it out – but that’ll be an interesting match, because both have the potential for growth and to impress us even more. At the bottom end of the male performers, Andrew Garcia and Aaron Kelly. Both good vocalists, but not quite matching the others for quality.
Over to you lot – who do you rate on this year’s American Idol, and what are your predictions for the next few contestants to get eliminated?