Idol Leaderboard: Which Contestants Are Still Hot After Round One of Hollywood Week?

Hollywood Round continues on American Idol this week, which means there’ll be plenty of tears, infighting, and forgotten lyrics — hopefully mixed in with at least a couple of star-making performances. And as if the season 10 hopefuls don’t already have enough to stress about, I thought we ought to ratchet up the pressure by counting down the top 20 singers based on talent and buzz from the previous eight episodes. Falling off the TVLine.com Idol Leaderboard from last week are

Sarah Sellers and Travis Orlando (bumped off during last Thursday’s telecast), Thia Megia (sounded pretty rough in her Hell Week a capella), Devyn Rush (has gone MIA from our screens since her audition), and Scott Dangerfield (rumored to have dropped out of the competition to finish his college degree).

Which five singers have joined the fray? Check out my countdown below, then head to the comments to share your own rankings. (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.

20. Hollie Cavanagh (new this week) | British teen was a nervous, sobbing mess at her audition, but surprised with a clear, confident Miley Cyrus cover on Day One of Hollywood.

19. Chris Medina (last week No. 14)| 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. Still, he’ll have to do better than his pedestrian Hollywood Week rendition of Jason Mraz’s “You and I” if he expects to convert early fans into speed-dialers.

18. Clint Jun Gamboa (new this week) | Karaoke host with peculiar spectacles proved to be an adroit, appealing vocalist when he covered “Billionaire” at the San Francisco auditions.

17. John Wayne Schulz (last week No. 20) | Cowboy, take us away! Yes indeed, this dyed-in-the-homegrown-wool Texan melted viewers’ hearts with his rugged/pretty looks, his ten gallon hat and his open love for his mama. Of course, his earnest rendition of Brooks & Dunn’s “Believe” wasn’t half bad, either.

16. Paris Tassin (last week No. 19) | Gorgeous young mother of a special-needs child brought J.Lo to tears on her audition to “Temporary Home,” then followed up with a solid Celine Dion cover in Hollywood (except for one noticeably sharp note, that is).

15. Sarah Ames (new this week) | Idol producers didn’t even bother to identify this powerhouse diva when she slayed Carrie Underwood’s “Last Name” in San Francisco, but we tracked her down on the show’s official site. Here’s hoping the initial snub is merely the first step on her road to appealing underdog.

14. Rob Bolin (last week No. 18) | Scruffy, low-key guy auditioned with his ex-girlfriend (Chelsee Oaks), but his goosebump-inducing “What’s Going On” left a far stronger impression than any gimmicky backstory. Hollywood Week cover of “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” confirmed both his vocal prowess and his excellent taste in tunes.

13. Scotty McCreery (last week No. 13) | 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 — but decision to cover Josh Turner’s “Your Man” at both audition and Hell Week a capella rounds makes us wonder if he’s literally a one-hit wonder.

12. Julie Zorrilla (new this week) | Gorgeous gal didn’t miss a note — musically or fashion-wise — at the San Francisco audition, causing J.Lo to wonder aloud if she’d just been in the presence of the season 10 winner. Will need to dial back the pointing and hair-flipping to get there, however.

11. Janelle Arthur (last week No. 10)| Comely country gal — as in she’s from a country town in Tennessee and she fancies country ditties — displayed enviable vocal control on the one-two punch of “Syrup and Honey” and “No One Needs to Know.”

10. Paul McDonald (last week No. 5) | 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. Total lack of screen time since his audition, however, reduces his chances of following in the footsteps of Lee DeWyze.

9. Molly DeWolf Swensen (last week No. 8 )| 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.

8. Lauren Alaina (last week No. 9) | 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 teenagers. Her “Unchained Melody” in Hollywood was solid, though not quite the stuff of Idol legend.

7. Robbie Rosen (last week No. 12)| Polite 16-year-old dressed a little better in Hollywood than he did for the New Jersey auditions, but in both cities, he showed a lovely, buttery tone while tackling stylistially different “Yesterday” and “Moody’s Mood for Love.”

6. Jordan Dorsey (last week No. 7)| 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.

5. Adrienne Beasley (last week No. 6) | 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,” but absence of screentime during initial Hollywood episode has us moderately worried.

4. Stefano Langone (new this week) | J.Lo said he had “movie-star looks,” and his cover of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” was soulful and sexy. Backstory about a terrifying car accident was enough to get folks to remember him, without being overblown enough to overshadow his skills.

3. Casey Abrams (last week No. 4) | Aggressively scruffy-lookin’ fella went to town on the melodica while waiting in line in Austin, but his “I Don’t Need No Doctor” displayed smokin’-hot vocals, as did his “Lullaby of Birdland” in Hollywood. The guy has soul and energy — but is he primetime-ready? Time — and the Idol stylists — will tell.

2. Naima Adedapo (last week No. 1) | Milwaukee contestant was shown scrubbing toilets at SummerFest while fantasizing about performing at the venue’s main stage, and her potent, unfussy Donny 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.

1. Brett Loewenstern (last week No. 3)| 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. Hollywood rendition of “Let It Be” had both emotional depth and vocal nuance. Clay Aiken-esque potential — if he can deliver the goods when he gets to the high-pressure live shows.

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

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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33 Comments
  1. Eolra says:

    Hmmmmm…I have to say that Brett’s appeal fell for me a little this week – this time my cold cold heart of stone found his nerves annoying instead of endearing, and him mentioning the bullies again seemed pretty desperate to me. I like my nerds, but I guess I like them to be confident in their nerd-dom. I surprisingly liked Stefano – much more clean cut than I usually enjoy, and his song-choice and vocal style are not normal likes for me either, but I found him very appealing. Just as surprising, totally not digging Mr. Counter-culture Casey – his Hollywood audition just seemed like screaming to me. Very disappointed in the repeat song of Scotty McCreery, but I LOVE his throw-back country voice – though I dislike country music in general – (except classic country; probably why I like his old-school sound). I worry about his taste level in general though – the last thing I want to hear from him is an entire season of Josh Turner- blech. If he busts out some Conway Twitty (I’m thinking Hello Darlin’), or Jim Reeves (think “He’ll Have to Go”) my crusty old heart will be putty in his 17 year old hands.

    • betsy says:

      Brett Lowenstein’s voice sounds like Alex Lambert, the AI contestant last year who left early but was so popular with the audience that he went on to be on “If I Can Dream”.

  2. Cherry says:

    Have you learned nothing from Kris Allen? Lack of screentime does not necessarily equal defeat. I still hold a raging fire of hope for Paul Mcdonald. That one’s the whole package, with minimal work to be done. :)

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      Yes, and don’t forget David Cook – I don’t think we saw him at all until after group week.

      • Alexandra says:

        We saw David’s audition and his solo performance of (Everything I Do) I Do It For You in Hollywood. He was show a lot, actually. That being said, I still hold the same hope for Paul. Fingers crossed!

    • sherimoonzombie says:

      I’m still holding out hope for Paul – the tiny bit of air time is soo discouraging. After checking him out online and iTunes, I’m loving his voice. Which typically means they won’t last long….

  3. Skitty says:

    Do we know if Adrienne Beasley is still in it? Have not seen nor heard from her, so I’m hoping she is. Also still liking John Wayne Schulz although have not heard from him either. Lauren Alaina is already on my last nerve.

  4. Titina says:

    I am really pulling for Casey Abrams. Loved his audition and also his Hollywood jazzy tune.
    I think he has tons of potential. Hopefully he will continue to evolve as the weeks go by.
    Plus he is a big ol sweetheart. Did you guys catch when he was all sad hugging all the booted contestants in Hollywood. LOVE him.

    Oh Michael and I am sure that slowly but surely he will get a makeover just like David Cook and Elliott Yamin had before him. At least I hope so.

  5. RubyBaby says:

    On the one hand, I hate ranking people so early in the game given there are 160-plus (!) candidates still potentially in the running, even if the producers would have us believe otherwise. But, on the other hand, why in the name of everything dear in the world do you have Naima at number two?? What did she ever do to you Michael, to drop one place?!. I know Brett made an impression but poor girl didn’t get an ounce of decent screentime last week, and that wasn’t her fault!!! Nice to see MIA Adrienne still in the mix too. I hope to hear her again, to see if she really has the goods.

    And did you notice that Molly DeWolf Swensen was only called Molly DeWolf by Ryan Seacrest (and on the Idol website too)? Anticipating a hyphenated last-name backlash before it even happens??!

    Hoping for better from group week, and that by grouping people means we might actually get to see some NEW faces…including that girl called Symphony (or something like that). That name has to be worth a laugh or two (ironic use to be decided).

  6. darcy's evil twin says:

    I still like Jackie Wilson but she is going to have to redeem herself after singing the same song as she sang in her audition during Hollywood Week.

    I loved Robbie Rosen’s “Moody’s Mood for Love”. I am also liking Rob Bolin more and more – if nothing else I feel sorry for him for having to share a room with Nick, who is gone, thank goodness.

    Casey Abrams sang “Lullaby of Birdland”. Didn’t Lilly Scott sing that as well?

    Slezak – Julie Zorilla? With “Summertime”? Add that song to your list of songs that should be retired! ZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  7. darcy's evil twin says:

    And how in the world did Brett Lowenstern end up in first place? I do NOT get that.

  8. jeff says:

    WTF. Were’s this weeks idoloonies? I need my fix.

  9. Jessica says:

    The red head kid will crumble under the pressure. I don’t see him going far at all. At least I really hope not. I like Scotty McCreevy but didn’t like the repeat either. Honestly I’m really hoping they have better singers they’re not showing right now. The drama tonight should be interesting -only reason why I think they let NJ pyscho chick go through.

    • CMJ says:

      Joisey chick was only saved for drama…she’s going to sabotage someone’s chances tonight. Bikini-bimbo, just a few sizes larger.

    • Allison says:

      I have to agree with this. He could potentially be an Elliot Yemin story, imo – diamond in the rough who grows with more poise and confidence as the weeks go on, but from Hwood week he seemed really nervous and inexperienced. Plus he’s young which just enhances those weaknesses imo. I feel like he’ll coast by for awhile just because he has crazy hair though. But new pop star? I’m definitely not seeing it.

  10. Amy says:

    NO Devyn Rush!!! She was one of my favorites, I like Sara Sellers voice, but I Loved Devyn’s. Can she come to Idoloonies too if she really did get the boot?
    Out of your top 5 I don’t like
    1. Brett Loewenstern – I get that bullying is awful, but I don’t like hearing him sing.
    2. Naima Adedapo – She has gotten so much hype, with just a ‘good’ audition, imo.
    I do agree with your 3-Casey, 4-Stefano, 5-Adrienne.
    Looking forward to tonight’s show and of course your recap following.

  11. Marta says:

    I have high hopes for both Robbie Rosen and Stefano. While I don’t normally root for teenagers, I think both of them might be ready and have the goods to back it up. Robbie’s Moody’s Mood for Love really stood out for me, not to mention I’ve been thoroughly impressed with his YouTube offerings.
    If a teenage dude can get on the “right track” a la Archuelta rather than not-quite-connect a la Aaron Kelly, I think one of them could go far.

  12. Sharkey says:

    Casey Abrams is faboo!

  13. CMJ says:

    I can only place faces with about 1/3 of these names. I can with number 1 but for some reason, he annoys the snot out of me. I wish they’d shown more successes than backstory reruns.

  14. Emma says:

    1) Casey Abrams. Super cool voice, quirkily handsome and presented and nice and likable. My personal favorite!
    2) Molly DeWolfe. Interesting, trained voice and smart looks. She might look too plain, however, for the voters who are after Carrie Underwood prettiness.
    3) Brett. Great delivery and down-to-earth sob story. He was my front runner, but unfortunately his *spoken* delivery makes him appear dumb. Also, the voting public will be turned off by his high speaking voice.

    Should be dropped from the list: Stefano Langone. I never remember who he is! The guy is like soap, his personality, if he has any, slips right off.

    • Amy says:

      You probably don’t remember Stefano because he was in the last audition city so had very little screen time. Great voice.
      Much better than Lauren who has probably had the MOST screen time!

  15. Joe says:

    Shocked no one has mentioned James Durbin yet.

    Has pipes like Adam Lambert and the backstory to go with it (Tourette’s, Asbergers).

  16. Rainy34 says:

    What happen to Adrienne Beasley

  17. Cy says:

    Scott Dangerfield dropped out?! Noooooo!! He was the only *really* good-looking guy (in my opinion) that we got to see through the entire audition process… (not to mention, he had a great set of pipes) ;__; What a shame if the rumors are true. :( And this after my other big favorite, Sarah Sellars, got cut last week. Please don’t let this end up another season of boring contestants like season 9…

  18. melissa says:

    Arghhh I’m so disappointed about Scott Dangerfield. He was my favorite…

  19. dctoronto says:

    Brett??? Really didn’t like his voice and hated his hair. His trash-talking interview during Hollywood week really put me off him. I got the impression that he is emotionally fragile. I can’t see him standing up to the pressure of group round and any criticisms that may come his way.

  20. K says:

    Really? You really think Naima and (especially!) Brett are the ones to beat so far this season?

    I feel bad for Brett. Idol is pushing his story that he was teased throughout high school, but I feel they are setting him up to be the Kevin Covais/Sanjaya/Danny Noriega.

  21. James says:

    It will be interesting to see who gets cut this week…Mr Chris Medina…your time is coming up!

  22. asherlev1 says:

    Scott was my favorite. I think I’ll cry if he isn’t there. After the disaster that was Season 9, I need someone who I like *because* I like them and not because they’re the best by default.

  23. GingerSnap says:

    What a difference a week makes! About half the names on the list are gone, or soon to be.

  24. Carl Miguel says:

    What happened with Thia Megia in your list? She got it in the bag! She’s supposed to be at least TOP 5…

  25. christi says:

    There is one girl who can really sing but she’s not gotten much show time, Brittany Mazur..I hope they let her shine soon. She was in the 4+1 group in the orange shirt. The girl can sing!

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