American Idol: Separating the Pretenders from the Contenders and Predicting the Season 10 Winner

Season 11 of American Idol is already drastically different from previous seasons, and not just because of changes to the judging panel.  In a smart strategic move, Idol didn’t belabor the process of getting down to the Top 12 (or Top 13 as the case may be).  Instead, they gave each of the 24 contestants the opportunity to perform one song to impress the American public to secure their place in the Top 13.

Although the performances seem to have gotten fairly good reviews, the truth of the matter is that most of the contestants fell far short of their potential.  Perhaps nerves got the best of them on the big stage, but it was a little surprising given that they were not restricted to the type of songs that they were allowed to sing.  You would think that each one would have picked a song to allow them to shine, but most didn’t.

While there were no terrible performances from any of the 24 contestants, only a few really delivered memorable vocal performances.

Based on their performances this week, and their performances leading up to this week, I have ranked each contestant and their chances to become the next American Idol.

FAVORITES:

PIA TOSCANO – Pia Toscano is the total package.  Her vocal performance was significantly more impressive than almost every other contestant.  She has a good personality, and a great look.  If she can continue to perform at a high level, American Idol may very well have the most marketable winner in the show’s history.

THIA MEGIA – At the age of 15, Thia Megia wouldn’t have even been allowed to audition in any of the previous seasons.  Idol producers should commend themselves for lowering the age minimum, as the move has already paid off.  Unless she stumbles, Megia will likely stick around for a long time.

CASEY ABRAMS – Unlike the other favorites, Casey Abrams is not what you expect an American Idol to look like.  He is a bit odd, and definitely marches to the beat of his own drummer, but his voice is unique and his musicianship is better than any other contestant in the show’s history.  It remains to be seen whether the voting audience will embrace Abrams’ unique style.

CONTENDERS:

JAMES DURBIN – It’s easy to root for James Durbin because he has an incredible voice to go along with an inspiring personal story.  Overcoming Tourette’s and Asperberger Syndromes to perform on stage is nothing short of amazing.  However, unless he gets votes for his story, his chances of becoming the next American Idol may be slim.  He’s not quite as good as Adam Lambert, and Lambert was only a runner-up.

JACOB LUSK – There has never been a funnier celebration than Jacob Lusk’s upon finding out that he was in the Top 24.  His performance to get him there was brilliant, maybe one of the best ever on American Idol.  With an incredible range and likeable personality, Lusk has the chance to go very far in the competition.  However, vocal gymnastics won’t always do the trick if the song choices aren’t good.

LAUREN ALAINA – The 16-yr old singer was one of the early favorites amongst the judges, and easily made it through into the Top 13.  However, if Lauren Alaina is going to win the competition, she is going to have to deliver vocal performances that show off her abilities.  This week’s country sound did not do her justice, and her performance fell far short of both Pia Toscano and Thia Megia.

DARKHORSES:

ASHTON JONES – The only explanation for Ashton Jones not getting voted in by the American public is that they are not connecting with her personally.  Perhaps they see her confidence as arrogance.  Although her performance this week wasn’t one of her best, it was certainly good enough to be amongst the top girls.  Unless she can find a way to connect with the audience, Jones will have a hard time rising to the top, despite her talent.

STEFANO LANGONE – It’s not his fault, but Stefano Langone is too similar to other people to stand out in a crowd of good singers.  His wildcard performance was much better than his performance earlier in the week, but it was also very similar to that of Jovany Barreto, who didn’t make it through to the Top 13.  He is better than Kris Allen, so there is always hope, but in this group, Langone is going to have a hard time getting noticed.

NAIMA ADEDAPO – If American Idol was being filmed inside of a smoky jazz club, Naima Adedapo would likely be the favorite to win it all.  However, she may just be too much of an “old soul” to capture the hearts of the American Idol audience.  Her voice is as good as most, but her image and song choices make her a long shot to become the next American Idol.

PRETENDERS:

KAREN RODRIGUEZ – There was nothing spectacular about Karen Rodriguez’s performance, so it was surprising to see her get more votes than Ashton and Naima.  Her interjection of Spanish verses just seemed awkward, but it impressed Jennifer Lopez enough to help sway Idol voters.  Unless she can capture a large Hispanic vote by singing in Spanish on a regular basis, Rodriguez’s stay on American Idol will likely be relatively short.

HALEY REINHART – As stated previously, all 24 contestants this season have singing ability.  Haley Reinhart’s singing was a little bit above average, but her clear discomfort on stage is going to make it difficult for her to surpass those that are just as talented and much more polished.

PAUL McDONALD – Seeing Paul McDonald getting the audience vote was very surprising.  His Rod Stewart interpretation was decent, but his stage presence borders on bizarre.  At times, he looked like a marionette being controlled by wires in the rafters, and he somehow managed to make real singing look like lip-synching from a low-budget karate film.

SCOTTY McCREERY – Middle America must have been jamming the phone lines to push Scotty McCreery ahead of singers like Stefano Langone, Jovany Barreto and Robbie Rosen (who was the most surprising omission from the Top 13).  The deep-voiced, country crooner is a one-trick-pony whose act is going to grow old quickly for those that aren’t diehard country music fans.  He also looked lost on the big stage, sitting so awkwardly in his chair, that you couldn’t help but wonder if he was going to fall over as he sang.

PREDICTION: Things change from week-to-week every season on American Idol, and this year may not be any different.  However, based on all of the performances to date, I predict that Pia Toscano will defeat Thia Megia in the finale and become the next American Idol.

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Posted on March 4, 2011, in American Idol and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I like your prediction but I’ll put my bet on Thia

  2. i definitely agree with your pretender’s list minus paul.

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