Top 40 – the male side of the draw

If last year’s pool of good black male singers was deep, this year’s pool is the Mariana’s frigging Trench. Over half of the remaining contestants can claim at least a little bit of African blood, and every one of them is a legitimately strong contestant. I ranked the top 20 below as best I could figure, but honestly I could have done just as well with a dart board. Keyser could win, and Lazaro could be the first guy cut next week.

20: Johnny Keyser– His reappearance this year, to me, is one of the more inexplicable things I’ve seen on the show. It makes me wonder if his family sued Idol for airing his incident last year, getting their kid a pass to the finals as a settlement. Remember, they showed him as one of the candidates to make the final 13 guys last year; he was the only one of the four candidates who had been cut in Vegas. Something strange is going on with him.

19: Josh Holiday Pat Boone lives. I understand why they kept him over Adam Sanders, Sanders is an out of tune diva bitch in a fat boy’s body who probably smells as bad as he looks, but why was he even in that position? His tone is boring, he has no range, and his personality is grating. If he makes it to the live shows, that’s like a free bingo square for the remaining guys. His only shot is that he’s one of just a few white guys, and that he is technically a country singer.

18: Bryant Tadeo– He’s a Bruno Mars wannabe from Hilo, Hawaii. Much like every girl on Earth who tried to sing Adele last year, he mostly makes me glad that the original is still around.

17: Joshua J’DA Davila– He (she?) seems to have come out of nowhere (no video under his name on Youtube), which is a little scary. He might be on a post office wall somewhere. I have no idea what he sounds like; my guess is something Boy George-ey, but I don’t really know. He survived all the cuts, so he must be pretty good.

16: Elijah Liu– Very El Debarge sounding, he brings ethnic diversity to Idol virtually by himself. I couldn’t find out a lot about him, but what I found painted him as a devout, likeable, inspirational kid who would be as comfortable in the peace corps as he is on stage.

15: David Oliver Willis– He’s my sleeper pick among the guys, I suppose. He could go deep, even win it all, but then again he could easily be gone right away. His videos are sometimes fantastic, sometimes pretty rough, and Idol hasn’t shown him sing a note as far as I know. If he pulls off his performances, picks good songs, he could go deep. He uses a fairly weak falsetto a lot, for some reason. If I was his coach, I’d tell him to ditch it other than for short bursts. His natural, chest voice is fantastic. He’s also a good all around musician who plays piano and guitar (at least), and his youtube recordings are generally well produced.

14: Jimmy Smith– The only good country singer amongst the fellas.

13: Mathenee Treco– He was a contender last year, but he seemed to lose his voice late in Hollywood week, and was cut after a weak performance in Vegas. I liked him quite a bit before that.

12: Burnell Taylor Charismatic stage persona, but still learning how to harness his formidable voice. Moment potential, but also train wreck potential.

11: Gurpreet “Peter” Singh Sarin– Turbanator has an unforgettable look, but a pretty forgettable voice. He always looks kind of baked to me, like Spiccoli moved to Morocco or something.

10: Devin Velez– Never met a trill he didn’t like; seems to have command over most of them.

9: Charlie AskewNo, I still think he’s a creepy little sociopath. Will America think that? Will they care? It’s funny…. It just occurred to me that, if he messed with her, my kid would probably just beat the crap out of him. When did she get big enough to beat the crap out of anyone? I’m so old…

8: Chris Watson Now 25, this is his second time in Hollywood (season 7). Watson is the guy with the colorful scarves and the frizzy reddish hair who keeps showing up on stage, but they don’t show singing. His audition was aired, one of the short snippet ones. He’s a Bruno Mars sort, though far from a clone like Tadeo is. He plays the guitar.

7: Vincent Powell– He has operatic tenor range, which is something I am always a sucker for. Unfortunately for him, that kind of range seems to be going out of style. He was just about the only true tenor chest voice they didn’t cut.

6: Paul Jolley– I would rank him first among this group by pure voice, but his style is maybe dated – and Idol took great pains to show us that he lacks composure. Usually, that means that they are going to cut him. If he makes the final 20, though, I wouldn’t rule out a title run. His voice is that good.

5: Cortez Shaw– He just missed the live shows last year despite having almost no power behind a fairly sweet tone. He has the power this year, and some showy range to go with it. He’s been in the woodshed.

4: Kevin Harris– Very Stevie Wonderish; he looks like Stevie, and his tone is similar to Stevie’s tone. He doesn’t have Stevie’s phrasing style, though. His style is more like a Billy Ocean type; less trilly, more straightforward and gritty. More mature than most of these guys, he has a dynamite band back home that he fronts with more than a little style and panache.

3: Nick Boddington– I like the cabbie hat look, it works for him. His voice is top ten worthy, but his appearance has to be carefully monitored, to keep him from looking like a tax auditor.

2: Curtis “C.J.” Finch, Jr.– Dude can sing like few others, but he seems older than the other contestants, and maybe a little cranky. Being an ugly sucker won’t help, either. Dude can sing, though. He’s what Josh Ledet will be in a few years, though maybe his range ain’t quite as good. He definitely has the Johnny Mathis vibe.

1: Lazaro Arbos If a Care Bear stutters in the woods, will anyone give a sh….. Seriously, he’s good, all these guys are good once you get past Josh Holiday, but he’s far from the best singer left in the competition. He ranks at the top because my female friends seem to love him. Guess who does most of the voting?

As of this moment, my favorites from this group are Harris, Willis, and Boddington in no particular order. Jolley most impresses me with his voice, Finch with his overall singing (as long as I don’t have to look at him), and Watson is the one who most looks like a superstar with his Jimmy Hendrix vibe. Below the article is a place where you can make your own predictions, post comments, or whatever. Don’t be shy.