Ranking the Top 10 on American Idol

I was a little surprised when a couple of Idol contestants complained about having too many songs to choose from last week on American Idol.

Idol asked contestants to sing songs from the year of their birth, a theme the show seems to dust off every season.  But it’s also a theme that offers contestants tons of flexibility in terms of the songs they perform.

This week?  Forget flexibility. Everyone’s limited to singing the songs of Billy Joel.

Have I mentioned lately that I hate single artist themes?

Especially when they force the Idols to sing songs that were popular before they were born?

But enough complaining.  On with this week’s rankings of the remaining contestants.

Last week’s rankings are in parenthesis.  The link with the name will take you to a page with performances for that contestant since voting rounds began.

1. Phillip Phillips (1):  If he could perform that well after undergoing surgery to remove kidney stones, imagine how good he can be when he’s healthy.  Especially since Billy Joel should fall into his wheelhouse.  Especially since he should be able to find a Billy Joel song he can put a Phillip Phillips’ twist on.  This could be his week to deliver what Randy calls “a moment.”

2. Joshua Ledet (2):  Nope.  The best performance Jennifer has ever seen on Idol doesn’t earn him the top spot in the rankings.  That’s because I’ll still not convinced he has a following to match the most popular guys on the show.  Heck, I’m not even sure he has the following to match Heejun Han.  But a couple more performances like last week could do the trick.

3. Colton Dixon (3):   Let him tweet about religion.  Let him sing songs no one knows.  As long as he performs as well as he did last week, he’s going to be among the final three or four contestants in Season 11.  Let’s not forget that nine songs into last week’s show, his rendition of White Lion’s “Broken Heart” was the highlight of the night.

4. Jessica Sanchez (4):  I’m still stunned over the advice Steven Tyler gave Jessica last week.  Which was essentially, just stick to ballads.  Ignore the aging rocker, Jessica.  Which is exactly what Steven would have done if someone had told him to stick to power ballads just because “Dream On” was such a big hit for Aerosmith.  Rock on, gal.

5. Hollie Cavanagh (6):  Hmm, Hollie and Billy Joel?  Doesn’t sound like a match made in heaven, does it?  His ballads are more subdued, not exactly suited for the big, booming vocals Hollie likes to surprise us with.  Personally, I hope she takes a risk and tries to surprise us in another fashion this week.  Besides, she’s built enough support with a string of strong performances that she’ll survive even if a risk doesn’t completely work.

6. Deandre Brackensick (7):  Last week’s rendition of “Endless Love” was Deandre’s best vocal yet.  But he still has to prove that he can go note-for-note with the show’s best singers and that he hasn’t come this far just because he’s capable of making a tween heart flutter.  A Billy Joel tune in falsetto?  Should be interesting.

7. Skylar Laine (5):   She could have picked a kick-butt country tune last week.  Instead, she sang Bonnie Raitt and did just OK. A missed opportunity in my mind.  Especially since Lauren and Scotty proved last year that you can win singing country music on Idol.  Now she’s stuck trying to fit her country twang around Billy Joel while two other teen gals have been stealing the spotlight.

8. Elise Testone (10):   The judges were shocked when Elise landed in the bottom three last week.  Well, judges, be prepared to be shocked again.  As I’ve said before, it has more to do with Elise’s age (28) and Idol’s voting demographics than anything she can or can’t do on stage.

9. Erika Van Pelt (11):  Ditto for Erika.  The good news:  If Elise and Erika finished 9th and 10th, as I suspect they might, they’ll be the most talented 9th- and 10th-place duo Idol has ever sent out on tour.  Just check out the finish for previous seasons of Idol to see if you agree.

10. Heejun Han (7):   He lands here not because he’s going home this week — because he won’t — but because two so-so performances followed by last week’s clunker has me convinced he’s not nearly as vocally talented as we were led to believe back when he was cracking jokes about the crazy cowboy. He’ll probably perform a Billy Joel ballad this week, and it will probably be boring and forgettable. At best.

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