Ranking the final 12 (or 11) on American Idol

A week after being forced to sing Whitney Houston or Stevie Wonder, our remaining 12 Idols get a nice broad theme for Week 2.

Yep, it’s the tried and true theme –  “Songs from the Year of Their Birth.”

By this point, it’s a little tired too.

But it will allow the contestants to tackle a song in their wheelhouse, which Idol should strive to do every week.

On Thursday’s results show, we get a return visit from Daughtry.   Chris and the guys will perform their new single, “Outta My Head.”

No word on a mentor or what they might have to hawk this week on Idol.

On to the rankings … The number in parenthesis is where the contestant ranked a week ago.

UPDATE:  This was first posted before it appeared Jermaine Jones would be disqualified from Idol.  He was ranked number 11 in the original post. He’s now been bumped to the final spot.

1. Phillip Phillips (1):  I don’t know if it was vocally perfect, but wasn’t Phillip’s version of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” lots of fun, especially for a show-closer on the opening night of the finals?  That performance pretty much sums up why I still think he’ll become the Season 11 American Idol.

2. Joshua Ledet (2):  So, he finished in the bottom three guys, behind Heejun Han and Deandre Brackensick.  Was that a sign of a lack of support or because he performed first on a two-hour show?  There was nothing wrong with his version of “I Wish,” but I suspect we’ll see more of Joshua’s vocal flash Wednesday.

3. Colton Dixon (3):  I thought his version of “Lately” was one of last Wednesday’s most misguided and it mattered not one bit.   The guy’s got a solid fan base that’s going to carry him deep  in the competition.  And I’ll be shocked it he doesn’t do much better in week two given a wider selection of songs to perform.

4. Jessica Sanchez (7):  I don’t know if her version of “I Will Always Love You” was the best ever on Idol as Jimmy Iovine suggested (has he seen Fantasia’s “Summertime?”), but it certainly was the best from week one and served notice that those solid performances in Vegas and the semifinals were far from a fluke.

5. Skylar Laine (9): Let’s just say Whitney Houston and Skylar Laine don’t go together as well as guns and ammo.  But Skylar skirted disaster last week, delivering instead.  If she can do that outside her comfort zone, imagine how good she could be if she’s allowed to settle into it.

6. Hollie Cavanagh (10):  Every time I watch one of this teen’s Idol interview videos I wind up smiling because she’s so upbeat and perky.  Every time she stands center stage, I wind up going “wow” because you don’t expect that big voice to come out of that little body.

7. Heejun Han (4):   One full performance told me what I already suspected:  Heejun is going to struggle matching the best guys or girls on the show note-for-note.  And I’m not sure he’s a seasoned enough singer to surprise us the way I suspect Colton and Phillip and Joshua will by changing up popular tunes.  Keep the jokes coming, Heejun.  They’re your forte.

8. Deandre Brackensick (8):  Stevie Wonder was a better fit for Deandre than it was for some of the guys, and he delivered what I thought was his best performance since the Vegas round ended.  If he improves, I suspect he’ll finish higher than this.  I’m telling you, that hair alone is worth a lot of votes.

9. Shannon Magrane (5):   The huge sigh you heard Thursday night was from Shannon, relieved her clunker of a Whitney Houston performance didn’t land her in the bottom spot among the gals.  She had been consistently solid to that point, so I don’t expect a repeat now that Idol has served up a broader theme.

10. Elise Testone (9):   She skirted elimination, but can’t skirt the fact that she’s 28.  And I really think the older female contestants are going to struggle mustering the rabid voting support some of their younger colleagues receive.  That said, expect Elise to bounce back vocally and, if she performs late in the show and shines, that could help immensely.

11. Erika Van Pelt (13):   Does anyone remember how good Erika was last Wednesday night?  I didn’t think so.  Before Skylar took the stage in the number eight hole, I had graded Erika’s version of “I Believe in You and Me” as the best vocal of the night. Forget in it to win it.  Like Elise, she needs to perform late in the show and slay whatever she’s singing to stay in the game.  And it has more to do with demographics than talent.

12. Jermaine Jones (11):   He’s almost surely out of the competition, and it doesn’t matter that much, because he wasn’t a threat to win or last very long. He trailed all the other contestants in Facebook and Twitter support by a sizable margin and finished among the bottom three guys in week one.



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