Here's my breakdown of the top 10 so far this season:
Deandre Brackensick- Deandre ranks near the bottom for me this season. He's one of those that "it'd be easier for me to tell you who I don't like". Here's what really bugs me about him: he doesn't seem like he's in the moment when he's performing. The weird look he has in his eyes is almost like "look at me everyone! I'm on American Idol!". It's like he's looking into the camera and in the audience and feeling the people looking back at him... and not feeling the music. I guess what he's lacking is genuineness. Tonight's performance of "Only the Good Die Young" wasn't anything to write home about. I think he's done better. There's a definite chance he could be in the bottom three tomorrow. Oh... and did I mention how much it bugs me that he reminds me of Milli Vanilli? :-)
Erika Van Pelt- I actually really like Erika and I have from the start. She's lacking the "star image" but honestly that is what is real about her. It's funny that tonight she mentioned that Pink is one of her favorite artists... because she's reminded me of Pink and I think that's why I like her so much. Pink is the same way in terms of not having the stereotypical "star image" that the likes of Britney or Christina did back when they all started on the scene... but as you can see Pink has done pretty darn well for herself. And just like Pink, Erika has the vocal chops to set herself apart. I just hope that America can jump on the EVP train and actually vote for her. She's been in the bottom every time which saddens me. And I have to say: I. LOVE. THE. HAIR! The makeover does give her a bit of an edge... and I think it truly is helping her carve out an image. I just hope its enough to carry her through tomorrow's elimination. "New York State of Mind" was a great choice for her, but I do agree with what the judges keep saying: that they can't wait for her to tryly unleash ALL of her chops and talent. I hope she sticks around long enough for us to get to that moment. I think she's trying to play it smart because she wants to hold a little back so every week it looks like she's improving... but it could be a tactic that comes back to bite her. I'm honestly worried for her because I don't think America has caught on to her like I have. We'll see!
Joshua Ledet- Alright... I'm prepared to get some flack for this one... but I don't like Joshua. I think he's doing too much. He's doing the most. And it's just not my style. I certainly wouldn't buy his record. If I can be 100% honest (and I can because this is my blog) one of the things that frustrates me most is that obviously this guy "plays for my team"... and it kills me that he's probably grown up in the church and probably doesn't feel comfortable enough in his own skin to come out. And now... he's on this nationwide TV show where his personal life is going to be thrust into the spotlight and at some point he's going to crumble. It pains me for him. I prefer to root for contestants who are truly 100% themselves and put their everything out there for America week to week (see: Phillip Phillips)... and I feel like Joshua is going to give us what he thinks America wants/what he thinks his church wants/what he thinks his family wants. Until there is that feeling of genuineness, I have a hard time being a fan of Joshua. He has the chops, yes... and I give credit where credit is due. The boy can sing. He will probably go far. But I'm not going to vote for him.
Skylar Laine- Watch out for this girl! I think she's a "sleeper" and we could see her in the finale show. She's got the cute charm of Carrie Underwood, with a a lot of the down-home countryness of Kellie Pickler.... and as you can see by how well the two of them have done in the country music industry, there is definitely a niche for her. I also like that she has that Tanya Tucker/Gretchen Wilson/early Reba grit to her. There hasn't been a performance of her's that I haven't liked so far.... and the week that I went to the show (Top 13) and she sang "Where Do Broken Hearts Go", it was FANTASTIC in person. She's gonna be around for a while! Tonight's performance of "Shameless" was again, right in her lane and doing what she does best.
Elise Testone- Elise has fluctuated with me a LOT since the beginning of the season. At first I thought she had a super cool vibe and a different, interesting voice, but as time has gone on her personality has started to take her down several notches for me. Here's what bugs me: After her Top 13 performance of "I'm Your Baby Tonight", and the judges feedback, she got all pissy! Even the following night on the results show during the group performance, Elise had this stank-face on the whole time. When she ended up in the bottom three she was rolling her eyes and being super bitchy and I'm sorry, but that does not make me want to vote for her one bit. I need an Idol that seems appreciative of the experience and is happy to be in this spot where hundreds of thousands of other people would LOVE to be. Elise did really well tonight, and she's gonna make it through, probably at the expense of my favorite, Erika. It pains me that one performance that the judges love can be her "comeback" and will get her an influx of votes, when someone like Erika has been consistently good every time. Grrrrr.....
Phillip Phillips- What can I say? Phillip is the kind of contestant that I DON'T want to like, simply because he fits the cute, white, guitar-playing guy stereotype that has produced several underwhelming Idol winners (David Cook, Kris Allen, and Lee DeWyze... the latter who has gone absolutely nowhere). Obviously he's the type that the teen girls and cougars love... and those are the populations who tend to power-dial and power-text. With all of that said... I actually REALLY like Phillip. I would buy his album and go to his show. He's unique. He's real. He's MAD talented. He's the type of guy you root for and that this competition is made for. I have loved all of his performances so far this season and tonights "Movin' Out" is no exception. Phillip's strength is his excellent song choices. He's picked songs that either hit his unique voice, or that he can spin to fit it. I think we'll be seeing him in the finale!
Hollie Cavanaugh- I've liked Hollie for a while too. I actually remember her from when she tried out previous seasons and I'm so glad she's gotten her chance to actually be on the show in Season 11. She's sweet and she has a powerhouse voice. You definitely can't deny that! I think she's done really well so far, but she could benefit from doing something a bit less ballady. Or else she's gonna get Pia'ed and be out of the competition earlier than she deserves. Her performance of "Honesty" was good tonight... but almost too safe. I don't think she's in jeopardy of going home this week, but she's gotta show some more personality and range if she wants to make it further than top 7 or 8. She can't be relying on her dad and brothers to be her only unique factor.
Heejun Han- The same people who probably hate for not liking Joshua are probably going to hate me for LOVING Heejun.... but I can't deny it. I really like him. He makes me smile and laugh... and he surprises me with his talent every time he sings. I appreciate the comedy and entertaiment value that he brings to the show. What I like is that it seems natural to him and is just who Heejun is as a person. It's not forced like some of the other laughable contestants from season's past (Sanjaya, Norman Gentle, etc.). I loved a few weeks ago when he gave autographed photos to Jimmy and Mary J Blige... and I loved tonight when he told Tommy Hilfiger that Michael Bolton was his male fasion icon. Hilarious! :-) Tonight's performance was SO Heejun. I loved the slow intro, the taking-off-the-jacket, the colorful shirt.... and most of all I loved that he switched it up to the uptempo song! He's been doing ballads pretty well but it seems so contradictory to his true personality. I definitely don't want to see him go anytime soon.
Jessica Sanchez- OK folks. I was there, in the audience, the night of "I Will Always Love You". When Ryan teased that Jessica would be doing Whitney's biggest hit of all time, I immediately said "oh god no... not I Will Always Love You". I thought the song was too iconic for anyone to tackle and I was super worried for her. BUT... as we all saw, I was VERY wrong. Jessica knocked that performance out of the park and she's been on a roll ever since. Last week, I actually liked her performance of "Turn the Beat Around" even though the judges didn't. I thought it was good for her to broaden her horizons. Tonight's performance of "Everybody Has a Dream" is one of those that will be played back again and again when referring to her as a contestant. It was great. My only drawback with Jessica is that I don't know if she's quite a "star". I'd like to see more of her personality. We know she likes fashion and likes to shop and has a cute family.... but I think that was another reason Pia got eliminated early last year is because we don't know too much about her (or maybe there wasn't much to know? Maybe she's just a pretty normal boring person). That is the one area that scares me for Jessica's future on the show.
Colton Dixon- So we all know Colton has played this American Idol game before... and he's got the whole back story with his sister. That is helping to keep him around. I think his style is keeping him around too. There are a lot of teenage girls that like the punky-bad-boy-but-nice-enough-to-bring-home-to-mom type (calling all Twi-hards!). I agree that Colton is good and that he deserves to be in the competition. Him choosing "Piano Man" was all sorts of predictable... but in the end can you blame him? The performance was great! I just think that at some point he's going to turn into a caricature of himself and no longer be believable. His schtick can only go on so long. He's affected and trying too hard a lot of the time. But still, I recognize his talent and think he'll be around for a good long while.
So after all of that... here is my ranking of the contestants... not just on last night's performances but on how much I like them over the entirety of the season thus far:
1. Phillip Phillips
2. Erika Van Pelt
3. Heejun Han
4. Jessica Sanchez
5. Skylar Laine
6. Hollie Cavanaugh
7. Colton Dixon
8. Joshua Ledet
9. Elise Testone
10. Deandre Brackensick
What is your ranking?