Idol Leaderboard: Season 10's Top 20 So Far!

Like schoolkids lined up at the edge of a public pool on a hot summer day, the Idoloonie Nation stands ready to dive into Week Three of American Idol‘s tenth season tonight. (Forgive the rambling metaphor, but I kinda thought we could use some sunny imagery to distract us from All. This. Damn. Snow.) Before we head to Austin, TX, with Steven, J.Lo, Randy, Ryan, and the Ghost of Ellen DeGeneres’ critiques (nickname: “You Were Great!”), however, I thought it prudent to count down the 20 most promising Golden Ticket-holders from the New Jersey, New Orleans, Milwaukee, and Nashville tryouts. So check out the initial installment of the Idol Leaderboard below, then head to the comments to debate and prognosticate (or in other words, to tell me why I’ve got it all wrong)! (And if you’re an Idol rumor junkie who’s got scoop on which contestants have already cracked the top 40, please keep don’t ruin it for your fellow readers by posting spoilers!) Oh, and for all my Idol-related goodies, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV. (And while you’re at it, you might as well get hip to @TVLineNews, too!)

20. Steve Beghun | Affable, slightly goofy CPA surprised the judges with a sweet voice that Steven Tyler described as “disturbingly great.” Does he have true star potential, though?

19. Alyson Jados | Rocker chick with a gravely tone and a black-and-red plaid bustier wasn’t the most polished vocalist in Milwaukee, but her adorable “Dream On” duet with Mr. Tyler made her easy to root for.

18. Jacee Badeaux | Baby-faced 15-year-old’s “(Sittin’ on) the Dock of the Bay” was pitch perfect and authentically bluesy, but would he have been a stronger contestant with a couple more years of life experience under his belt? (Probably.)

17. Paris Tassin | Gorgeous young mother of a special-needs child brought J.Lo to tears on “Temporary Home.” Handful of wonky noted canceled out by devastating emotional delivery.

16. Rob Bolin | Scruffy, low-key guy auditioned with his ex-girlfriend (reasonably talented Chelsee Oaks), but his goosebump-inducing “What’s Going On” left a far stronger impression than any gimmicky backstory.

15. Travis Orlando | Bespectacled 16-year-old took Idol cameras on a tour of his hardscrabble childhood in the Bronx, then married the modern with the soulful on “Eleanor Rigby” and “I’m Yours.” One of the more promising possibilities from the Season 10 Youth Invasion (TM).

14. Thia Megia | Precocious 15-year-old booked a ticket to Milwaukee the moment she heard Idol had lowered its age limit (!), but her robust, jazzy “Chasing Pavements” impressed a fair share of commenters.

13. Chris Medina (pictured, top left) | He’s more of a household name than any other season 10 hopeful, mainly because of the devastating package Idol ran about his fiancee’s tragic accident and subsequent brain injury. Yet while his take on The Script’s “Breakeven” was solid, it was definitely overshadowed by his backstory — tricky territory when your primary goal is winning a singing competition.

12. Robbie Rosen | Polite 16-year-old definitely needs a fashion upgrade from the sloppy shorts ensemble he wore to the New Jersey auditions, but his R&B-flavored “Yesterday” was controlled and lovely. And anyway, we’re long overdue for a great Idol makeover, no?

11. Devyn Rush | Singing Times Square waitress has season 8 finalist Matt Giraud’s stamp of approval (see video) and a fun backstory that focused more on her working-toward-a-dream enthusiasm than a maudlin tale of woe. Vocal style is a wee bit cabaret, but she can definitely sing.

10. Scott Dangerfield | J.Lo’s favorite contestant pleased her with a bluesy-good Amos Lee cover and an appealing geek-chic vibe. Anyone else get the slight hint of David Cook dark-horse?

9. Scotty McCreery | Clean cut teen with a super-deep voice and an all-American story (he’s from a small town! he plays baseball!) has potential to be Idol‘s first true country male front-runner — provided he’s got some vocal versatility in his arsenal.

8. Molly DeWolf Swensen | Harvard grad and White House intern will probably suffer with the speed-texting crowd for being brainy and ambitious (how dare she!) but her “(Sittin’ on) the Dock of the Bay” was gloriously smooth and controlled. Don’t hate her because she’s beautiful/funny/tall/talented/blonde/already successful at life/possibly a wee bit entitled!

7. Jordan Dorsey | It’s been too long since Idol has allowed viewers to vote for a talented black male contestant with sex-symbol potential, but Dorsey’s swingin’ “Over the Rainbow” proved he might be all that and a bag of Funyuns. (Which probably means he’ll flame out or get inexplicably cut in Hollywood Week.)

6. Lauren Alaina (pictured, bottom left) | Nigel Lythgoe’s “chosen one” closed the Nashville audition episode with a big voice and an appealing personality, but even previous adult contestants have had trouble living up to king-sized early hype, let alone perky 15-year-olds. Might need to be Kelly Clarkson-level good to seem like anything other than a letdown.

5. Adrienne Beasley (pictured, bottom right) | Striking beauty with a subdued but sweet personality has a winning backstory — she’s the adopted black daughter of soft-spoken white farmers — and a crisp, clear voice that would fit right in at country radio. Hard to find any fault at this stage of her Idol “journey.”

4. Paul McDonald | Handsome, bearded fella gave off shades of Maroon 5’s Adam Levine and made a strong positive impression with a smoky, cool cover of “Maggie May” that lasted all of 20 seconds. Yeah, he got the blink-and-you-missed-him audition edit, but then again, so did Lee DeWyze, Crystal Bowersox, and Kris Allen.

3. Brett Loewenstern | Red-headed teenager became a Week One breakout after his audition package explained the way he overcame schoolyard bullying, then showed him nailing “Bohemian Rhapsody” with equal parts power and restraint. A solid horse to back for anyone who loves an outsider-to-star trajectory.

2. Sarah Sellers | Caught Steven Tyler’s eye with her full lips and sexy-librarian look, but kept all the judges’ rapt attention with a textured, gorgeous riff on Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love.” Let’s be honest: It’s nice to have a 28-year-old contender in what’s been shaping up as a season of the teens.

1. Naima Adedapo | Milwaukee contestant was shown scrubbing toilets at SummerFest while fantasizing about performing at the venue’s main stage, and her potent, unfussy Donnie Hathaway cover showed it’s not just a pipe dream. As J.Lo said, Naima’s got the whole package, but even better, it’s the kind of package we aren’t really seeing on today’s Billboard charts. Honestly, any of the top 10 contestants from this list could occupy the No. 1 spot on our Leaderboard, but we’ve got a gut feeling that Naima has more tricks up her sleeve than we saw from her initial performance.

Okay, TVLine readers, it’s your turn. Post your own early favorite — or your personal Top 10, even! — in the comments!

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  1. Rolfe says:

    I love Molly DeWolf Swensen! Can’t wait to see how well she does. Some people thought she was too uppity, but I love her!

    • Sall says:

      People didnt like casue shes an over achiever but honestly its casue shes blake lively’s twin… even her mannerisms were very blake and her legs go for miles. with that said she was my favorite too.
      also michael ima figure out some scary but true appaling american idol statistic so i can be on idoloonies, youll see. 3 songs from the past 15 years?!?! holy moly!! shame on you american idol!

      • darclyte says:

        I just didn’t think she was that great. It has nothing to do with her real life accomplishments. I actually think that’s great, and proves that Idol isn’t about a bunch of “losers” trying to make it, but about “talented” people trying to get a shot. Compared to some of the other gals (The 4 in Slezak’s Top 6 for instance) she just didn’t measure up…at least not to me. She can prove me wrong, but I just didn’t think she was “all that.”

        • Genie says:

          I am guessing you don’t sing, because what she did was very difficult. She had amazing control and clarity in her lower register and effortlessly went from her (very)lower register into a soprano, it was sick. It was and is very impressive. I don’t know what your rating scale consists of but you may want to tweak it.

      • bytes says:

        i like the voice of Molly Vanderwoodsen! hehehe

    • Cy says:

      Me, too!! I really hope people don’t hate on her just because she’s an Ivy Leaguer–as Slezak pointed out, she has as little connection to the music industry as someone from a backwater town. Let her talent speak, I say!

    • Linda says:

      Molly DeWolf Swensen, is genuine inside & out. If you really knew her
      aside from hearing the word: Harvard; you would meet a girl that she is down to earth, fun & very grounded. Great family too; and Molly has an awesome voice. I have watched her sing in Vocal Point Seattle while she was in High School.

  2. ktbanks says:

    adrienne beasley for the win.

  3. Eli says:

    I’m wondering if I was watching the same audition as everyone else because Molly did not seem uppity or entitled to me. She seemed like a nice person. So what if she went to Harvard? I bet she worked her ass off to get there. Since when is being successful a crime? People need to leave her alone.

    • Cy says:

      I agree with you entirely, Eli, but there are a lot of petty people out there who instantly recoil at the mention of an Ivy League (especially a top one like Harvard or (hey!) Eli Yale~ ;-D I don’t think she was uppity at all, just an inexperienced but bright young woman trying to cover her nerves with assertiveness. Loved her voice–I hope the rest of America can see her charm as well.

  4. Amy says:

    Adrienne Beasley & Scott McCreery — Loved their country voices.
    Rob Bolin & his x-girlfriend — They sing amazing together.
    Devyn Rush & Robbie Rosen — My Top 2 out of my 6 favorites.

  5. regatg78 says:

    MPH, disagree… sarah sellers will never make it to the top 20, and jordan dorsey and scott mccreery should be WILL BE– much higher…

  6. Sam says:

    I reject the notion that Chris Medina is higher than Rob Bolin, Thia Megia, and Steve Beghun. I mean, come on, that’s a voice you could here at any coffee house in any part of the U.S. Nothing new, nothing revelatory. His backstory may have made me cry, but, if he gets into the Top 20, it’ll make me cry even harder.

    • djm says:

      Sorry, but he’s making it to the Top 20 – the producers so want his wheel chair bound fiance in the audience – and America will vote him through because they haven’t met a sob story they don’t wanna reward. The producers pimping and manipulating is my biggest pet peeve – because Americans aren’t smart enough to see through it and they take WAY too long to do the right thing.

    • James Yap says:

      yeah i agree on this. THIA MEGIA SHUD BE ON TOP 5!

  7. Randi says:

    I think Rob Bolin was the absolute best so far. His voice gave me super chills!

  8. Felipe Vignon says:

    Sarah and Molly are definitely the best! I was surprised that you put Sarah second, I wasn’t expecting to see her on that list at all!!

    But I don’t really think Molly will last long in the infamous Idol’s evil tweens hands. I mean, she’s successful AND talented! Let untalented hardwork-acting people like Lee Dewyze win!

  9. captainclaudio says:

    What about Jerome Bell?

  10. Cherry says:

    I agree with alot of your list, although while i do get why people like Naima, she didn’t make an impression on me. And Thia Magia…i had all sorts of trouble with her. Her voice was good, but so effected & her vocals so over-wrought she just hit a wrong nerve with me. My favorites so far are Adrienne, Sarah Sellers, both of whom gave me goosebumps. But my favoritest (pardon my grammar) is Paul McDonald. I’m a little biased since I’ve been following his band for awhile, but he absolutely rocks. Hope he goes far.

    • sherimoonzombie says:

      Agree on all counts Cherry! Especially regarding Thia. I am willing to hear something else from Naima though. I don’t think her pick of audition song did her any favors. Then I’ll make up my mind about her.

  11. Kelly says:

    Robbie Rosen was my favorite by far.
    I think he’s got much more coming. (:

  12. melinda fan says:

    I think Melinda Ademi will make the top 20.

  13. sherimoonzombie says:

    Oooh, time to bring back the voting buttons Slezak! Unfortunately, there’s no way Sarah Sellers and Naima the top two. Popular votes probably have the likes of Thia and Lauren Alainna at the top. My fave so far is Paul McDonald – can’t wait to hear more of him. Close behind are Scott McCreery and then Sarah Sellers.

  14. djm says:

    Is there a reason that Michael Ausiello’s name and face need to be all over each story on this website? Sorry, but it’s weird and freaky.

    Having said that, I love me some Naima Adedapo, Adrienne Beasley, Molly DeWolf Swensen, and Rob Bolin. But my most favorite so far is EASILY Sarah Sellers – totally love her and will until the end – unless of course she turns out to be some conservative, gay hating, gun loving tea bagger. That is about the only thing that could happen to make me not want her to be my American Idol (at least so far). Oh, and SLEZAK – leave Stormi alone. Not ALL beauty queens are stupid – just like not all gay guys are drag queens – know what I’m sayin??

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      Seriously? I wasn’t wild about Sarah Sellars but if she’s a conservative, gun loving tea bagger I may have to change my mind!

      (by the way, we are not hateful people and we have no problem with people that are gay. grow up!)

      • djm says:

        Hmmm, somehow I don’t believe you, but whatever. When gay people can get married and receive the same rights as straight people (I mean let’s face it – we pay the same taxes as you so we should receive the EXACT same benefits) – and the TEA PARTY is who gets it pushed through – then I’ll “grow up”.

        • darcy's evil twin says:

          Whatever. I’m here to enjoy American Idol, not save the world. But trust me, I don’t hate gay people.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      One more thing – Slezak was right on the money with Stormy, as was Jennifer Lopez. She never should have been sent through.

  15. Cy says:

    Nice Top 20, Slezak! I’m glad to see Sarah Sellars so high (I absolutely loved her!), but am a little sickened to see Lauren Alaina up there too. Nice voice, but her complicity in her fake sob story package instantly made me dislike her. I know a lot of people seem to like her anyway, but she’s shaping up to be the Danny Gokey of this season for me.

    On a side note, I really pray you’re wrong about America (and tweens) being so petty they’d vote against Molly the Harvardian. Wait–actually, I don’t think it’s so much the tweens who’d be the haters (I mean, they’re young and full of hope–why should they begrudge a beautiful, successful woman? She’d be a role model for them, wouldn’t she?), but the post-college-aged women and men (25+) who have entered the real world and likely have not done as well.

    To those folks, I say–so what if she went to Harvard? She’s still submitting herself to our judgment in hopes of fulfilling the same dream as everyone else on the show. Give her a fair chance and see what she’s like when Idol isn’t editing/filtering what we see of her as much, I say.

  16. CB says:

    Jordan Dorsey! Good looking, super-talented! He’s got it all!

  17. Eleanor says:

    Squee! I got goosebumps just reading your descriptions of Scotty, Adrienne, Brett, and Naima, so they must be my faves so far. Either that or I’m just late getting my weekly fix of Sleez and it feels so good :-)

  18. Mike says:

    I hate to be that guy but I think the “3 in the last 15” stat is wrong.

    In season 9 we had
    “Forever”, Chris Brown Top 10 Week Andrew Garcia (2008)
    “Ok It’s Alright With Me”, Eric Hutchinson Top 3 Week Casey James (2008)
    “Better Days”, Goo Goo Dolls Top 7 Week Tim Urban (2008)
    “Don’t”, Shania Twain Top 6 Week Casey James (2004)
    “Daughters”, John Mayer Top 3 Week Casey James (2003)
    “Hero”, Chad Kroeger Top 7 Week Mike Lynche (2002)
    “It Only Hurts When I’m Breathing”, Shania Twain Top 6 Week Mike Lynche (2002)
    “Beautiful Day”, U2 Top 2 Week Lee Dewyze (2000)
    “When You Believe”, Mariah Carey & Whitney Houston, Top 7 Siobhan Magnus (1998)
    “You’re Still the One”, Shania Twain, Top 6 Week Lee DeWyze (1997)
    “You’ve Got a Way”, Shania Twain, Top 6 Week Aaron Kelly (1997)
    “I Believe I Can Fly”, R. Kelly, Top Top 7 Week Aaron Kelly (1996)

    and that’s just from Top 12 on. If you consider “Live Shows” to be Semifinals as well, there are many more.

    • jado says:

      Good work on the research. I, too, was thinking, “No way!” Even in season 8 I remember Mat Giraud singing something from The Fray while playing on his keyborads near the swaybots, and Allison Iraheta singing “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt, and Kris doing a wonderful takes on “Falling Slowly”, “Heartless” and “Apologize” That’s 5 off the top off my head.

      Micheal S…..I think you’re amazing but I’m surprised that stat wasn’t challenged by you. I think TV Line should think about making a clarification/correction on that statement.

      Mind you, I have to agree that Idol does draw disproportionate from oldies. It may have to do with the inability to clear more recent songs, and/or current music may cost a lot more – so therfore be cost prohibitive.

      While I’m on the subject – That’s my theory why we don’t see many of the successful auditions….the production may have not been able to clear some of the songs. Just a thought.

    • Vetle says:

      It’s true. I might add:

      “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, Fergie Top 11 Week by Katie Stevens (2006)
      “Falling Slowly”, from Once Top 4 Week – duet between Crystal and Lee (2007)
      “Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing”, Aerosmith Top 11 Week by Aaron Kelly (1998?) – questionable, since it’s pretty overdone on Idol, though.
      “Ready For Love” India.Arie Top 10 Week by Mike Lynche (2001)
      “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?” Bryan Adams Top 4 Week duet between Mike Lynch and Casey James (1995)
      “Kiss from a Rose” Seal Top 4 Week by Lee (1994/but re-released 1995, pretty close though).

      A couple of songs from the early 90s.

      I think the themes weeks are to blame. They had like Beatles, Elvis and Sinatra during a pretty short span of time. The contestants weren’t given MAAANY oppertunities to pick more current stuff. The X Factor (UK in particular) contestants often do current stuff.

  19. Snsetblaze says:

    I think your list was pretty spot as I remember everyone on it pretty clearly although not everyone impressed me. I’d take Lauren Alaina and Paris Tassin off the list entirely – they were not that good. I’d put Jackie Wilson and Rob Bolin’s ex Chelsea on instead.

  20. darcy's evil twin says:

    Thank you, Snsetblaze. I loved, loved, LOVED Jackie Wilson! Slezak, go back and listen to Jackie Wilson!

    I wasn’t that wild about Lauren Alaina or Jacee Badeaux, but I’m old. I’m also not that wild about White House Intern.

    I also liked the girl whose parents came from Kosovo – she didn’t make the list.

    Pretty good list though, Slezak.

  21. Claire says:

    I loved Caleb Hawley even though his voice cracked and have since bought all three of his albums. I live here in NYC and have been to the places he’s played at, but it took Idol for me to discover him! go reality tv.

  22. Claire says:

    Also, Adrienne Beasley made me like country music! I totally bought the Lady Antebellum album.

  23. Ed says:

    I liked Jackie Wilson out of Nashville.

  24. Bill says:

    You’re on the money putting Sarah Sellers up top (and ahead of the wildly oversold Lauren Alaina), and you get props for promoting Molly Two-Names, but you’ve gotta give Steve Beghun, Rob Bolin, and Jacee Badeaux more lovin’. They’re the best males so far.

  25. Bill says:

    Also adore Adrienne Beasley and her touching and (for once) underplayed backstory.

  26. ai fan says:

    i’m still trying to figure out what the judges found so fantastic about jackie wilson… sure she could sing and probably deserved her gold ticket…but all the adulation imparted by the judges? i still don’t get it and didn’t hear it at all

  27. Suncatcher says:

    What a great line up of talent this year! I have to agree with you, Slezak – Naima is the best! She’d have to step on her tonsils to not make it to the top 10! A clear leader of this field.

    PS – If she does step on her tonsils, I think she has the super “package” to make it sans Idol now that the nation has seen her – like Adam Lambert.

  28. walker2491 says:

    How about Victoria Huggins she was funny and great.

  29. Genie says:

    I totally agree with your top pic, it got me kind’o misty. Love her!

  30. glstanga says:

    Loved John Wayne Schultz. He should be on someone’s list.

  31. Carlo Cunnigham says:

    Well, i totally agree with Naima’s Ranking, but Thia Megia on Rank 14 is really not agreeable! She could have made it to Top 2 at least, given her age and her experience for her young age. Adrienne for me is good too! I hope IDOL 10 would be a lot better… they should put my 3 bets on TOP 12… GO NAIMA, THIA AND ADRIENNE

  32. Jenn says:

    Where did the sunny side up egg vase go? Will it return in Idoloonies 3?

  33. Christi W says:

    I think we need to watch some of the one’s that only got a little clip in last nights show. Come on the sob stories don’t really get me, I want to see a STAR born, not a pitty party.

  34. Jun says:

    WHERE ON EARTH IS CASEY ABRAMS ON THIS LIST? That dude was frickin amazing!

  35. Cj says:

    I really liked the blonde piano player! What was his name????

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