James Dawson VIII

james viiiThis season’s Casey James, J8 is a good picker with a strong, pleasing voice, but he is also a relatively inexperienced front man.

I can’t put him too awfully high in the power rankings because of his inexperience up front, but Idol traditionally hasn’t been all that rough on side men like J8. Crystal Bowersox was basically a harmony singer when she auditioned for Idol. Casey was a lead player, not a lead singer. David Cook was so confident in his skills that he didn’t even intend to audition.

J8 live about a year ago:

J8 might not be as good as Cookie or MamaSox, but he’s got an interesting voice and a cool, T. Graham Brown sort of style. I think he’ll be well liked.

James VIII’s showdown round performance:

Semifinal performance: “Love Lockdown” – Kanye West

J8 gave ’em an album cut on singles night, and nobody was happy. He’ll be white knuckling it tomorrow night.

James VIII with Caleb Johnson “Gimme Shelter” – Rolling Stones

I loved the idea of those two together, but the problem: Caleb is a big, high range powerhouse screamer. J8 has a good, interesting vocaleb and j8ice, but he isn’t a high range guy or a screamer. Caleb dominated the song, reducing J8 to the role of sidekick, and frankly J8 seemed like he felt comfortable in that role. He’s really good, but he’s not a lead singer by nature. No true Idol-ish type of singer would have so gladly given up the stage, and the spotlight, like that.