Attention, Idoloonies! There are only 24 days till the American Idol Season 11 finale, but still plenty of opportunities to pull ahead (or fall to pieces) in your office Idol pool. Indeed, there’s not much separating first from last place as the Top 5 vocalists head into British Music Week, but that won’t stop me from trying to rank ’em.
So check out my weekly countdown of who’s got momentum heading into the live show, and who’s already shopping for a steel-collared shirt to wear on Thursday Night Guillotining with Ryan Seacrest. Then, take our poll and vote for your own favorite!
5. Hollie Cavanagh (Last Week No. 6) | Previous Bottom 3 staples like Syesha Mercado and Haley Reinhart managed to eventually crack the Top 3, so don’t count out this big-voiced, Texas-by-way-of-Liverpool diva just yet. Her last two weeks have been her strongest to date, and inscrutable criticism from the judges and Jimmy only serves to rally her fan base. That said, still needs to up her game in terms of song selection and stage presence.
4. Jessica Sanchez (Last Week No. 4) | Biggest voice in the Season 11 lineup needed the Judges’ Save to survive a seventh-place shock boot, but that scare put her core fans on speed-dialing alert for the rest of the season. In nine weeks of live performances, she’s barely missed a note, but the judges continue to ask for more energy and excitement, while Jimmy has noted her penchant for choosing songs that are too old for her tender age (i.e. “Try a Little Tenderness,” “Bohemian Rhapsody”). Success or failure may hinge on whether she can showcase her radio-readiness via hip, soulful numbers like “Fallin'” and “Sweet Dreams” to an audience hungry for another mainstream Idol breakout.
3. Joshua Ledet (Last Week No. 3) | Brilliantly stripped down “Ready for Love” in Top 6 week — a nice reminder that he doesn’t need a Gospel chorus or frenetic funk to connect with the audience — and he’s been perhaps the most consistent contestant this entire season. (Even his detractors can only criticize his outré vocal style, not his grasp of pitch or emotional connectedness.) Biggest hindrance now might be that the judges’ kneejerk standing ovations for every one of his performance could turn off an audience sensitive to overpimping.
2. Skylar Laine (Last Week No. 1) | Country has become a key component of the Idol landscape, and but this party-startin’ Mississippi firecracker has a monster-truck voice to match her personality and saucy persona. “The Show Must Go On” was absolutely stunning, but couldn’t keep her out of the Bottom 3 amid very tight competition — possibly the result of her second performance, a low-key Jason Aldean hit that may not have spoken to the larger Idol audience. Still, her ability to bend songs to fit her country style should/may be enough to carry her to hometown visits.
1. Phillip Phillips (Last Week No. 2) | Avoided the Bottom 3 despite a good-not-great “Fat Bottomed Girls” and a truncated Dave Matthews Band cover that polarized the judges and the audience, too. May be benefitting from a backlash to the “white guys with guitars” backlash — it seems a little uncouth to judge a contestant based on his gender and skin color, even if it’s in relation to the last four Idol winners — but mark my words: Phillip will not make the finale if he’s not careful with pitch and if he fails to show creativity in his song choices/arrangements over the next three weeks. Really, it’s up to him!
Okay, now it’s your turn. Who is your Season 11 favorite? Vote in the poll below, then explain your picks in the comments!