Just a few days ago, we had 100,000 screaming auditioners hoping to claim the American Idol Season 11 crown, and now suddnely we’re down to the Top 8. Whether that happened via collective alien abduction or if it’s merely proof that time does indeed fly when you’re having fun, I’m not certain.
What I do know is that we need to rank the remaining vocalists before ’80s Music Night kicks off in just a few hours. So check out my pre-performance rankings, then vote for your favorite vocalist in our scientifically infallible poll!
8. Deandre Brackensick (Previously No. 9) | “Sometimes I Cry” got a standing ovation from the judges, but his all-falsetto-all-the-time style is polarizing, and as Jimmy Iovine pointed out, he lacks the experience and emotional maturity to go much farther against Season 11’s big guns. A Top 5 finish is probably the best he can hope for.
7. Hollie Cavanagh (Previously No. 5) | Has talent and likability in her arsenal, but her song choices have been consistently off-the-mark, and her tour of Big Diva Balladville has often underscored her limitations instead of her strengths. Needs a Major Moment in the next two weeks, but with the dubious mentoring she’s been getting, that seems unlikely.
6. Skylar Laine (Previously No. 2) | Boundless energy and fire make her one of the most entertaining contestants in the competition, and being the sole Season 11 singer courting the country vote doesn’t hurt, either. Still, she needs to remind viewers her chops are on par with her competitors — and underscore her terrific storytelling skills — if she wants to survive till hometown visits.
5. Colton Dixon (Previously No. 6) | He’s had a couple small hiccups in the pitch department, and was the only male contestant not to get a standing O from the judges on Top 9 night. Still, he had the cojones to defy conventional wisdom by choosing a little-known White Lion song for Songs From the Year You Were Born, and by flying his worship flag proudly with his Lifehouse cover. Biggest drawback may be his love of songs that are somewhat hook-free.
4. Joshua Ledet (Previously No. 3) | Astonishing Top 11 night cover of “When a Man Loves a Woman” — the performance to beat in what’s been a stellar Idol season — was followed up by a misfire on Billy Joel night, then a return to form with a deeply personal “Without You.” An Idol cannot win the crown on soulful ballads alone, though, and a reminder of his funky Top 13 “I Wish” would be a refreshing change of pace.
3. Elise Testone (Previously No. 7) | Early Bottom 3 appearances and results-night snafus made her an underdog, but performance-wise, she’s gone from strength (“One and Only”) to strength (“Vienna”) to strength (“Whole Lotta Love”). Idol fans love a good comeback story, and if the judges don’t suddenly turn against her, she’s got a legit Top 3 chance.
2. Jessica Sanchez (Previously No. 4) | May have had the first “Idol Moment” of the season delivering a pitch-perfect “I Will Always Love You” on Top 13 night, but the judges now seem to hold her to a superhigh standard when it comes to doling out praise. Her Billy Joel cover was fabulous, though, and her dark and mooody take on Beyoncé’s “Sweet Dreams” proved she’s willing to take much-needed risks, too. Is a Jessica-Elise all-female finale really such a stretch?
1. Phillip Phillips (Previously No. 1) | Hangs on to the top slot based more on consistency than a single breakout performance. “Still Rainin’,” though, did a pretty nifty job of showing the kind of record the growling guitarsmith might make post-Idol. Would like to see him rework a dance/R&B ditty the way he did with his scorching audition-round “Thriller,” and dial back on the shoutiness, if he wants to win it all.
Who are your Season 11 favorites? Vote in the poll below, then explain your picks in the comments!Follow @MichaelSlezakTV