It pains me to say this, but I seriously have to Google this kid’s name every time I come across it. That’s how meager an impression he’s made during these early months of Season 13. Le sigh.
14. Jordan Brisbane
Cute kid, but his stunning lack of breath control throughout Hollywood Week makes him a near certainty to be cut by the judges before he gets a chance to sing. Or at least that’s what we’re hoping.
13. Emmanuel Zidor
His showy trills and goofy challenge of a high-heeled walk-off with J.Lo were campily entertaining, but he’s done nothing so far to merit serious consideration as a successor to Candice Glover’s reign.
12. Briston Maroney
Personally, I found his nasal tone on Lorde’s “Royals” to be three steps beyond grating, but he’s built a groundswell of supporters who argue he’s distinctive, creative and a serious threat to win the whole enchilada.
11. Caleb Johnson
Eighty percent of viewers last week voted — based on his Hollywood Week footage — that he’d be going home rather than advancing to the live shows. Yeah, the judges’ asides about his looking “costume-y” didn’t help, but the season’s sole male rock representative faces an uphill climb.
10. Casey Thrasher
While his musical performances have been more solid than spectacular, he’s garnered a fanbase with a backstory built on trying to give his kids a better life — and his ‘Bama Boys homestate bromance.
9. Maurice Townsend
Limited screentime for this father of four, but he’s got a booming, soulful voice that ought to cross multiple genres with ease.
8. Ben Briley
Baseball-cap sporting fella is almost certain to get a spot on the live shows — since he won a much-hyped vote-off over Neco Starr for the 15th slot on the men’s side. Still, needs to polish up the raggedy edges of his glory notes if he wants to go all the way.
7. Spencer Lloyd
Got a slightly negative edit — refusing to rehearse with group-mates, failing to impress with an original song — in Hollywood Week. But his undeniable good looks and soulful tone will likely make a Top 13 finish a total inevitability. The question remains, though, is he more Ace Young or Phillip Phillips (from a competitive standpoint)?
6. George Lovett
Flying well under the radar, but if his soaring Hollywood Week cover of “I Won’t Give Up” was any indicator, he could quickly become Keith and J.Lo’s pet contestant. In other words, the kid’s got soul!
5. Alex Preston
Has to be careful of pulling strained faces while singing, but Alex’s mix of originals and stripped-down EDM covers make him the front-runner in the “Singer/Songwriter” category that’s fared incredibly well in recent Idol seasons. Not to be underestimated.
4. Dexter Roberts
The most consistent and authentic of the Season 13 country entrants, his “farmhand-to-superstar” arc is the kind of backstory that would make a major label exec salivate. Seriously, though, Dexter lights up instantaneously the minute he starts singing. It’s kinda magical.
3. Malcolm Allen
His personality is a wee bit intense — but there’s no denying his range-y, flexible instrument is all kinds of stunning. It doesn’t hurt that Malcolm is dapper as heck, either.
2. Sam Woolf
Adorable teenager has gotten more — and more positive — screen time than almost any other male contestant this year. His audition rendition of “Lego House” remains one of Season 13’s most clear-cut “this child could win” moments, and as Harry noted, teenage girls are gonna vote for him to a ridiculous degree.
1. C.J. Harris
Along with Casey and Dexter, he’s one third of the ‘Bama Boys’ contingency — but his warm, honeyed tone and twinkling smile make him the most likely to succeed among the formidable group. Ability to straddle rock, country and soul won’t hurt him a bit over the coming weeks, either.