*American Idol Handicapping Sheet*
Top 31, going live this week!!
Here are the final thirty one contestants, with my handicapping notes. I separated them by male and female, and ranked them in reverse order. Print it off for reference, as you watch the show this week – then tell me what a moron I am when my favorites all sound like braying sheep and Briston brings back hope to the entire country with his rendition of “Delta Lady.”
16. Briston Maroney – He looks and sounds like a Mouseketeer trying to channel Leon Russell. Incidentally, I’ve ranked two different Idol winners last going into the live shows: Scotty because he was a one trick pony – and Phil-Phil because he wasn’t really a singer. Briston is both….. or…… Neither? How do you not never be nothing you won’t not be? Ladies and gentlemen, your next American Idol!! No flash photography, please, Briston forgot his sun-screen.
15. Jordan Brisbane – He should have to use a Fisher Price Microphone. Call me in ten years, when he’s ready.
14. Emmanuel Zidor – I read somewhere that Idol has a gay contestant this year, and apparently it’s someone other than this guy. Ok…. This guy is a diva with no range, a boring tone and a clichéd style, and someone else just usurped his largest demographic advantage. Good luck with that.
13. CJ Harris – He doesn’t have much of a voice, but he lays it all out there like he’s singing for his kid’s life. Since it’s a singing competition and not a lifetime movie, he’s probably up against it.
12. George Lovett – I believe that (1) he is the most talented male left on the show, and (2) it won’t be enough, because what makes him special takes a few listens to appreciate. He’s a steak at a bologna convention. His natural tone is like Johnny Mathis, really bright and breezy; the affected tone he’s been using on the show, some sort of Luther Vandross imitation, isn’t nearly as interesting.
11. Malcolm Allen – Rain Man has enough tone, command and presence that I’d like his chances if he had any range. No-range ballad singing won’t cut it.
10. Neco Starr – He made it to Hollywood in season nine as Deneco Pittman, and just missed the live shows in season eleven. If he can avoid a train-wreck he has a chance to advance, but he is a high-wire act without a net. Keeping that voice in tune is like signing your name in the snow with a fire hose.
9. Maurice Townsend – He has a strong voice and good range, plus he is really likeable; I’d like to hear him sing something upbeat before I pass any further judgment, but I like him.
8. Casey Thrasher – He’s a decent country singer, with an interesting tone and a commercial style, but he looks like a serial killer. With Ben and Dexter (no pun intended) up against him, votes won’t be easy to come by.
7. Ethan Harris – He really does look like an Osmond, doesn’t he? He could be this year’s Angie Miller.
6. Caleb Johnson – He’s been in the Idol system almost as long as I’ve been watching the show. Caleb is what he is – an unrepentant, unapologetic screamer. He’ll be fun, and with all these balladeers we need someone fun.
5. Spencer Lloyd – He’s a perfect replica of a star: he does everything a star does – but if you pay close attention you will notice he doesn’t do anything particularly well. He’s pretty, though, so he might last awhile.
4. Ben Briley – He’s from one of those Tennessee somethingburgs, and he sings like he’s from one of those Tennessee somethingburgs. Don’t be surprised if he pulls out a funky version of “I am a Man of Constant Sorrow” on a live show.
3. Dexter Roberts – Mothers are going to love him. He’s a countrier version of Briley, maybe a little better singer – but similar enough that they might be fighting for the same votes.
2. Alex Preston – He looks like a hybrid clone, culled from Elvis, Lance Bass, and that guy from “A Flock of Seagulls.” Vocally he models himself after Adam Levine, but he has some stylistic range; he’s not just an impersonator. His cousin is Jo Dee Messina.
1. Sam Woolf – He looks like another Osmond, but he sounds like Rob Thomas.
15. Kristen O’Connor – Frosty the Snowman would have a better chance of winning a fire eating contest.
14. Malaya Tina Watson – I like her talent, but if this were baseball she would be farmed out to the rookie league. We can check back in a couple of years, when the braces are off and her intonation is less of an adventure.
13. Austin Wolfe – She has lots of voice and a cool tone, but she ain’t fully cooked either. A perfect performance might keep her in the show, but I think a train-wreck is more likely than perfection.
12. Kenzie Hall – If she can reproduce her first round performance she can advance, but the odds of that have to be astronomical. She is much more likely to crumble under the strain of her nervous energy.
11. Emily Piriz – Smokey, buttery toned Amanda Peete lookalike will need to pick the perfect song – and sing it perfectly – to advance.
SO YOU’RE SAYIN’ THERE’S A CHANCE…
10. Jessica Meuse – Pink haired girl’s vocal style is pleasant, and she owns the voice Stevie Nicks wishes she owned – but I don’t think she’s going to last. Performers can’t make excuses. Once you give yourself an excuse to lose, you will lose. Ask the Chicago Cubs.
9. Jillian Jensen – The former X-factor contestant (season 2) is besties with Brielle Von Hugel, so she’s been dialed in to the talent show machine for a couple of years. I really don’t know what to make of her. Everything about her seems like a little bit too much. She seems a little too emotional, too sure of herself, too in your face – a little too Brielle Von Hugel. She’s talented though, and if she’s terrific on the stage she will be ok. Overly emotional contestants don’t have a good track record on Idol.
8. Marrialle Sellars – She must be blind as a bat, based on how much her contacts magnify her pupils…. I think she’s one and done, but if she gives one of her ‘good’ performances she can advance. Unlike most singers, she is at her best when she softens things up. When she goes full-out, everything gets away from her.
7. Rochelle “Majesty Rose” York – If Webster got a sex change and started channeling Jewel… her voice stands out, but her stage presence doesn’t, so she needs to pick the right song to advance. She is one of the ten best singers on the show.
6. Jena Asciutto – Melissa Manchester, Carly Simon, Carole King, Alicia Keys, Vonda Shephard….. Jena (pronounced geena) fits right in with the type. Despite her age (17), she has the versatility, touch and command of an old pro. Harry called her ‘the Sleeper.’
5. Andrina Brogden – Like Amber last year, Andrina models herself after Whitney Houston. Amber has a brighter tone and more raw talent, but Andrina seems more polished.
4. Emkay Nobilette – Cliché backstory, interesting voice. Not to be that guy, but why do so many lesbian women look like Pee Wee Herman? Oh, and seriously… whose bright idea was it to give that pedophile parody a kids show? What’s next? Charlie Manson as the new Family Guy?
3. Bria Anai Johnson – Wow. Bria Anai is my pick as the best singer on the show this year. It’s as if Candice and Amber morphed into one little purple sparkly lipped sister, who combines the best of both into one, monstrously talented package. She’s only fifteen, though, and even as polished as she seems, we can’t forget that she’s fifteen years old. A lot of things can (and will) go wrong for any Idol hopeful; Bria will be dealing with most of them for the first time.
2. Briana Oakley – Her Achilles heel is her high range. Her final Hollywood Week performance was a lotta screechy and a little out of tune, and she has to avoid that when the show goes live. Other than that, though, she is a standout. I would be shocked if she didn’t make the Tour.
1. Brandy Neelly – She was one of my favorites from last season, but she blew the pooch on group night (forgot the words) and had to wait a year. Brandy is your basic Carrie Underwood clone, but she isn’t just an imitator. She has a howitzer of a voice, probably the strongest voice in the competition. I worry a little that she gets too over the top with her emoting, but that’s about it for her weaknesses. As long as she doesn’t forget the words, she should contend.
I have no earthly idea who will win this year, not that I ever do. The only real stand-out talent probably still wears geranimals, so it would be premature to crown her. Until we see Harry in (live) action, there is no way of knowing what his effect on the competition will be, either. We’ll know a lot more after this week’s massive bloodbath round of competition.