Idol Leaderboard: Vote to Rank the Top 11!

Attention, Idoloonies: We’re a little more than 48 hours away from finalizing the Idol Summer Tour lineup! Before that happens, though, American Idol‘s Season 10 Top 11 will take the stage tonight to tackle the threadbare Motown theme. Check out my latest rankings, then head to our Leaderboard Poll to vote for your favorite, and hit the comments to justify your pick.

And for all my Idol news and views, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV.

11. Jacob Lusk (Last Week No. 11) | With little-to-no constructive criticism for back-to-back caterwauling catastrophes on “I Believe I Can Fly” and “Alone,” will Emperor Lusky Stank show up stark raving naked again this week?

10. Thia Megia (Last Week No. 10) | Pretty voice and great hair, but hasn’t shown the slightest hint of creativity or true artistic passion. Can she make the tour being the distant second-best high-school diva in the competition? (Lisa Tucker did.)

9. Naima Adedapo (Last Week No. 6) | One powerful “For All We Know”-style vocal away from reminding us she’s a real contender, but one tragique “What’s Love Got to Do With It” mess away from instant elimination.

8. Haley Reinhart (Last Week No. 9) | Tends to sing everything like a slurry come-on, but she’s usually in pitch, and her upbeat demeanor in the face of back-to-back bottom-three appearances (and unflattering producer edits) may be leading to a quiet buildup of fan support.

7. Paul McDonald (Last Week No. 8) | Time to pick up the guitar, quit the wacky hoo-hoo dancing, and remind us why we fell for his quietly stunning “Blackbird” back in Vegas.

6. Lauren Alaina (Last Week No. 7) | Definitely possesses the vocal chops to vie for the season 10 crown — “I’m the Only One” was solid, and even contained some interesting riffs on the melody — but needs to throw some gasoline on the inner fire, and immediately put the kibosh on her overly cutesy interview antics before early adopters hurl themselves from her bandwagon.

5. Casey Abrams (Last Week No. 1) | Has shown very little variety in three live performances, showcasing copious amounts of growl but little of the winning melodic sensibility he showed in Hollywood Week on “Georgia on My Mind.” Needs a reversal of that trend — stat!

4. James Durbin (Last Week No. 5) | One of the season’s more consistent vocalists, but his tepid Top 12 “I’ll Be There for You” was a bit of a comedown from rockin’ “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'” and heartfelt, strongly sung “Maybe I’m Amazed.” Must approach every performance like it’s his last.

3. Scotty McCreery (Last Week No. 3) | Has been as consistent in his live performances as Steven Tyler has been overly kind in his judging. Can’t fault his commitment to his country roots, but a little variety in tone and tempo will eventually be necessary if he wants a confetti shower at the Kodak in May.

2. Pia Toscano (Last Week No. 2) | Kinda, sorta mixed up her Big Diva Ballad repertoire by adding a disco-y backbeat to “Where Do Broken Hearts Go.” Still, while season 10’s female front-runner has left few doubts about her vocal prowess, she’ll need to emphasize creativity and currentness to maintain what looks like an inevitable march toward the top 5.

1. Stefano Langone (Last Week No. 4) | Needed a wild card to crack the finals, but his cover of Smokie Norful’s “I Need You Now” still stands as the best of season 10, and his “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” dominated the competition for Top 12 week. Slight edge going into Motown in what remains a closely matched field.

Okay, TVLine readers, it’s your turn. Vote for your favorite in our Idol Leaderboard poll, then post your personal ranking for the Top 11 — and tell me where I got it right, and where I got it wrong — in the comments. Ready, set, prognosticate!

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  1. Sophie K says:

    I still believe Paul can bring it, but he’s burning through my good will pretty quickly at this point. If he doesn’t show something amazing this week, I might need to find a new favorite

  2. evs says:

    the contestants aren’t very polarizing. Good list Slezak. Agreed on Naima and the commercial competitors. Hope she makes a better choice this week. It might just be the week for her.

    I’d still like Paul to place well. Youngins bad song choice skills lead me to count the days to X factor. Simon as a teacher is a pool of constructive energy, even if he does rip the contestant a new one

  3. Sharon says:

    I would really like to see Pia do something other than power-diva ballads. They’re all stuck in neutral right now. Somebody please do something different! OH, how I miss David Cook.

    • I miss David Cook also. He above any other Idol winner, including the mega stars Carrie and Kelly, was able to take a song and completely make it his own. No one was as brave as him. He proved that it’s possible, so there’s always a chance someone can do it, but with the judges giving little to no constructive criticism and the producers wanting to make a cookie cutter American Idol, it’s going to be real tough. Which is unfortunate because I do think there is some talent this year. Pia, Stefano, Lauren, and to lesser extents Casey and James.

    • Eolra says:

      Can you really blame them for doing nothing different? Every week the judges tell them it was the greatest performance of all time, so why bother changing it up if it’s always “perfect”. The judges really need to step it up or this is going to be a really really really boring season.

  4. Steve says:

    Wa I the only one who noticed Stefano’s completely inappropriate reading of If You Don’t Know Me By Now? That song requires a vocal that is steeped in loss and torment, not the confident swagger he displayed. Had he been doing some Stones, perfectly acceptable. Baby please don’t go kind of songs, not in the right room.

  5. SpyKi says:

    I love that some people are finally starting to warm up to Haley. Still not many but I hope it’s enough to keep her in longer, she’s so much better than people give her credit for and I’d be so annoyed if she goes home before some of the train wrecks on there.

    • The problem, is that the judges aren’t giving out a lot of bad criticism so when Randy says that Haley isn’t doing that great, and J.Lo doesn’t give anything really positive, then Haley stands out. If the judges were more honest and told Jacob, Naima, Thia and Paul to name a few, that they really aren’t doing a great job right now, then Haley wouldn’t stand out as much. She has a voice, and hasn’t been nearly as pitchy(Jacob and Naima) and boring(Paul, Thia). The judges need to pick up there game, J.Lo is doing a decent job, but Steven has got to really zero in on the criticism and be more critical, nobody is perfect and telling these kids that they are doing a great job when they really aren’t is not helping them in the long run.

      • i really think that all of them are great but mostly i love stefano, jacob,and casy! its sad that they put jacob in the bottom he doesnt deserve it but……idk.if they let jacob go or casy or stefano im not waching it any more~!!!!!!

    • Lunakit says:

      Funny that, but I am definitely warming to her as well. If she can drop the faux slink during her performances and be the real girl we glimpse each time she is in the B3, I think we will relate to her more and more. So, I guess I’m saying that being in the B3 could actually work in her favour if she is able to take the note and keep it real.

  6. samanthajackson says:

    Pia, Lauren, Stefano and few others are good to be listened to the radio, but Casey and Paul are the only ones I’d buy a cd of. (sorry for my bad english,I’m from Italy)

  7. Melissa says:

    Scotty is the most radio ready artist on idol this season. Maybe he is not the most versatile but he knows what he’s good at and he’s not going to try to cover Chris Brown when clearly he should be doing Randy Travis. No one asks Tim McGraw or Alan Jackson to be more pop or change what their doing. So maybe Scotty is going to be putting out the same sound but isn’t that what you want the your favorite artists doing? You don’t want to hear Ke$ha trying to be Celine Dion that would be ridiculous,or Michael Buble trying to be Rob Thomas. We like these artists for who they are because they cater to their audiences and know their sound…Scotty.

  8. Scott says:

    At this point, I don’t have a personal favorite and I don’t think there is a favorite either. I agree that Stefano has been solid enough the last few weeks to put him at (or near) the top. I cannot argue too much you placed Jacob at the bottom (I’d put him up a couple of notches). He has a good voice, but he wouldn’t know a nuance if it jumped up and bit him…and the judges failing to criticize him for it, and in fact, saying pretty much the opposite, is appalling.

  9. Lindsey says:

    Casey and Stefano pretty much switching places in the last two weeks’ rankings shows how fickle viewers are and how easily the tide can turn! I was sure that Casey was a shoo-in for the finals, but now I’m not so sure… I wish that Stefano was a one-week wonder and that tonight it would be Paul who would shine instead… He is so original and fun to listen to! And hopefully James will continue his rise up by the leaderboard by blowing us away tonight! I’m so over Pia and her boring ballads… She can obviously sing, but her songs have yet to be current or interesting… Rooting for Paul and James!!

    • adina says:

      I don’t necessarily think it’s the viewers to blame for being fickle. Before the live performances begin, the contestants are not given equal “face time” so it’s only natural that we choose favorites based on who the producers, and editors, show us on camera. Some contestants – like Casey, Scotty & Lauren – are presented to us as being sure-fire-winners before the singing competition portion of the show even begins, so it’s natural for most viewers to like them more than contestants who get little to no air-time beforehand. How *could* we have liked someone like Pia before she sang “I’ll Stand By You” because she got about as much airtime as Kendra during the audition rounds, and we all know how that turned out. I’m starting to catch on to you AI producers and won’t be fooled by your editing favoritism! This year I tuned all the audition crap out and started watching from top 24 week on. It was clear to me from the wild-card round that Stefano and Pia were the clear winners in terms of vocals, and I’m glad to hear that you agree Slezak!

  10. Broadway Baby says:

    So far, I wouldn’t date any of these people. And I’m pretty easy. But James has turned into the contestant I’m most interested in seeing from week to week and I would hate to see Naima go before some of the more boring contenders ala Thia and Haley.

  11. dj says:

    I am getting really bored with Casey asking J-Lo “What am I?” And waiting for her to say “sexy.” He needs to get his mind on the business atb hand.

  12. lambertfan8 says:

    Crossing my fingers that Casey or Jacob go before Paul. Paul has such personality on stage and I like his quieter Rod Stewart type of voice. Jacob overdoes his songs and Casey is just plain hokey. So crossing my fingers Paul makes top 10 so I can see him at show. If he’s not, I won’t be going to the show.

  13. Cara says:

    I still love Casey best. I agree he wasn’t good last week, but I’ve liked all his other performances, and a couple have left me with goosebumps. Pia I just don’t get — yes, she can hit the notes, but I don’t like the sound of her voice. I think we’d have a great season if Naima would start singing reggae and jazz, if Haley would sing jazzy bluesy stuff (I really want to hear her scat), and if Stefano wouldn’t push it so hard. (And if Jacob would either tone it down or go away.)

  14. jw says:

    Stefano got the best edit in last week’s Ford commercial. He was the romantic lead. Did you hear the tween girls swooning in the audience when he hugged….was it Lauren? How have other Wild Card selections done in the past? Clay Aiken was a Wild Card. Others?

  15. Teena says:

    The question is would you go to see a concert featuring 10 of these people? I skipped the concert last year because I wasn’t going to cringe through 9 other people to hear 3 Crystal Boxersox songs.

  16. Tahoe Mike says:

    I am done with Thia, and Paul. I still don’t really have a favorite yet. I hope that Motown week works for Jacob or I’ll be done with him too.

    Pia, and Stefano bore me, so far. If either of them does another ballad, I’m done with them too.

    When those people are gone, it’ll get tougher for me for me to pick among people I mostly like. I am hoping that Haley and Namia have a good week.

    BTW, I am nominating Haley for the Lilly Scott Award for artists who don’t fit in Randy’s little boxes.

  17. agrimesy says:

    I think Scotty is going to win although I am not a fan. Switch Scotty and Stefano, then I agree with the accuracy of Slezak’s list with one potential acception. Only because it’s Motown week, I think Jacob will redeam himself and sing something appropriately in control . . . maybe even with tenderness. If he does, Jacob’s fanbase will rally hard and keep him in the top ten whether he deserves it or not. If that happens, either Haley or Naima will pay the price and go home tourless. Of all the contestants remaining, I would rather see Thia go home than ANY other hopeful. She has gone from boring to irksome, in my opinion.

  18. Faz says:

    They are mostly boring. Pia is so boring that I have a hard time listening to a 90 second song from her. Perhaps she doesn’t have to be, but she is. But then who isn’t this year?

  19. jbsfan101 says:

    I think you’re giving Stefano waaaaaay too much credit. There’s a huge popularity gap between him and the rest of the guys, and his criminal record coming out hasn’t helped him. I see a Top 7 finish at best, though he might pull a Matt Giraud and get booted out one week after getting the judge’s save. I think Pia, Scotty, James, and Lauren have a vicegrip on the Top 4 at this point. Any one of them could take the title.

  20. tuppy says:

    It’s funny: I’m been watching AI religiously since season 5 (okay, I’ll be honest, it has basically BECOME my religion) and I’ve always had an absolute favorite who I couldn’t wait to see each week and who I was absolutely devastated to see lose or leave. (They were Katharine McPhee, Melinda Doolittle, David Archuleta, Allison Iraheta, and Siobhan Magnus — no winners in that bunch, but people I CARED about, unhealthily; people whose performances are still on my iPod, and which I still revisit on YouTube).

    This season has a very strong talent pool — miles ahead of last season — and yet there is not one person I feel really connected to. I bought albums by all of the aforementioned people (still waiting for Siobhan’s), but as of now there’s no contestant who I’m aching to see on iTunes. In fact I’ve only downloaded two iTunes recordings so far! (Usually I’d be up to five or six from the first two finalist weeks.) Is it just me? Am I growing up, and out of Idol? (No!) Or is there something about this season? Are the performances too producerially-prepackaged (as Slezak suggested on Idoloonies)? I’m still hoping to fall in love, but it hasn’t happened yet.

    • Ellen from Sacramento says:

      I agree .. the pool is better, but I haven’t downloaded anything yet … nothing I can’t live without hearing again …

      I think whining Lauren (worin) is the most annoying … can’t wait for her to go home.

      I think the lipstick incident saved Haley. Nothing like a little sympathy, but I don’t like her sleezy slant on everything.

    • Ryan says:

      I totally agree, as technically talented as this group is, haven’t connected with anyone this season, or downloaded even one song … instead, have been going back to my fave from Season 7 (Archuleta) & listening to his awesome CD “The Other Side of Down” … you’ve got to FEEL something from the songs, imo, for it to really be music.

  21. CzarekM says:

    Thia is by far my favorite. Not everything in the world in revolving around this adolescent pop-nonsense, Mr. Slezak. I thought you are more sophisticated in art than being just another acne infected annoying child.
    In the adult temporary genre, which is the only genre I tolerate, Thia is the only singer who really matters in the competition.
    Beautiful, simply striking voice, great personality and charismatic presence. I hope she will never try pop. She is simply too good for the competition.
    I hope that the entertainment business will focus more on the adult audience. This is the audience that has been too long ignored, and in the age of internet and fast access to music this audience has most potential for growth. The immense Jackie Evancho’s popularity is an example that we, middle and older age people, have something to say too.

    • Eolra says:

      I fail to see how singing a cover of “Colors of the Wind”, which is from an animated Disney film for children, puts Thia any more squarely in an “adult-contemporary” category than anyone else. If Thia is your favorite, so be it. If you think she has the best voice for adult-contemporary music, that is totally a fair opinion. I do, however, disagree that she is the ONLY person on the show that has the *capabilities* of singing adult-contemporary music, or has any appeal for “older” people and people who are not “acne infected annoying children”. There are lots of older people who are able and willing to “tolerate” many more music genres than just adult contemporary.

      • Keira Desbiens says:

        Wasn’t Color of the Wind a number one song in
        the 90s for Vanessa Williams including topping the AC chart.
        Its not exactly a “children’s song”, I’m pretty sure most who bought it were not children…

        Other big adult contemporary hits from “children’s movies”

        – Somewhere Out There from An American Tail, #2 on hot100 (1986)
        – Beauty and the Beast, top 10 on hot100 (1991)
        – A Whole New World from Alladin, #1 on hot100 (1992)
        – You’ll be in my heart from Tarzan topped AC chart for 19 weeks!
        – Circle of Life, #18 hot100, from the “Lion King”
        – Reflection from Mulan, a top 10 hot100 hit

        Adult contemporary hits can and have come from animated movies.

    • Ablo says:

      Well, to me it’s not just that she’s boring, it’s that her phrasing is odd and she is usually a little flat. I don’t think anyone would listen to her outside of a show like AI.

  22. Georgia says:

    I’m at the point in the competition when I need to start hearing an artist and a performance that I’ll want on my iPod. I hoped that it would be Casey.

  23. forrest says:

    So this is like week 3 of the themes and isn’t getting a little repetitive? Casey, Pia, Stephano 3 weeks straight of the same exact style of performance? If they add variety are they putting themselves out of their comfort / power zone? Growling, Ballad, Ballad. from these 3 and I’m beginning to yawn. Anyone else getting this impression so far this season?

  24. Cindy says:

    Where did Pia get her dress on March 23

  25. M Lee says:

    There can only be one winner. It should be someone with star presence, someone who can sing, dance, make love to the camera, make the crowd go wild, and has a ton of raw talent……Durbin is that person, and was from night one.

  26. Mara says:

    I enjoyed the Simon clips. It made me feel more content for some reason haha
    This season is terrible… It makes me even miss Kris and Gokey days–and I used to think they were so boring! This year there isn’t any drama, or good stage presence, or original song twists… sad.

  27. greg says:

    the judges constant praise of jacob is getting ridiculous, i dont find anything enduring about his performances, they are a mess. i cannot believe they cannot find one negative thing to say about him. im glad to see he is ranked 11 here.

  28. Randy says:

    I loved James’ performance again. He is my front-runner. Liked stefano as a dark horse, but he was not good this week. Pia is amazing every week , but needs to be a bit less plastic. Not loving Jacob’s “over-acted” songs each week. Lauren is precious too. My bottom 3 this week- Casey (sick of his growling, not singing), Stefano, Naima. Would send Casey home.

  29. Andy says:

    Haley Reinhart had my vote the entire time. I think she should have been the overall winner.