Fun, funny personality — and a self-destructing Knockout Rounds opponent — made him a surprise Top 20 entrant, but will need to show massive improvement to survive the voting rounds.
19. Grey (Team Adam)
She’s got power and near-perfect pitch, but hasn’t infused her covers with much originality. Plus, choosing two Kelly Clarkson covers in three outings has just proven she’s not Kelly Clarkson.
18. Amber Nicole (Team Cee Lo)
Victim of the dreaded “Blind Auditions Montage” roared into contention with a memorable Battle Rounds win on Beyoncé’s “Listen.” Followup on “Mama Knows Best,” however, was a tad forgettable — even if it resulted in a Cee Lo “Steal.”
17. Olivia Henken (Team Xtina)
Blonde country belter was near flawless on the Band Perry’s “Done” in the Battles, but the judges seemed lukewarm about her Linda Ronstadt cover in the Knockouts. Slightly under-the-radar trajectory makes her an underdog against more heralded Team Xtina cohorts.
16. James Wolpert (Team Adam)
His “Love Interruption” was a Blind Auditions standout, but it’s been a case of diminishing returns ever since — culminating with a clumsy “More Than a Feeling” in the Knockouts. Did this dude peak too soon?
15. Kat Robichaud (Team Cee Lo)
Her voice has the power of a Mack truck convoy, but Knockouts choice of “You Oughtta Know” was oddly pedestrian. Needs to watch the “murderous rage” facial expressions, too.
14. Austin Jenckes (Team Blake)
All three of his performances — “Simple Man,” “To Love Somebody,” and “I’ll Be” — have been rock solid, but he won’t be able to play it safe if he wants to outfinish flashier Team Blake players like Shelbie Z, Cole Vosbury and Ray Bourdreaux.
13. Tamara Chauniece (Team Cee Lo)
Showed with her reggae-tinged “No One” in the Knockouts that she’s willing to zag when folks expect a zig. Could Cee Lo’s breakout underdog — if she doesn’t get mired in the boring R&B ballad quagmire.
12. Josh Logan (Team Xtina)
He’s gotten quite a bit of screen time thus far, and he’s got a booming rock-soul voice. Biggest obstacle is that his mimicry of the artists he’s covering — everyone from Adam Levine to Stevie Wonder — feels more like karaoke than homage.
11. Stephanie Anne Johnson (Team Xtina)
She lost — and got Stolen — in the Battles and the Knockouts, but don’t count her out just yet. The guitar-strumming cruise-ship singer has shown serious versatility and — with her “Don’t Know Why” cover — a willingness to take liberties with the arrangements and melodies of well-known hits.
10. Jonny Gray (Team Cee Lo)
His “All These Things That I’ve Done” was one of the highlights of the Blind Auditions. His Battles and Knockouts efforts were good, too, but he needs to be meticulous about song choice to avoid getting lost in a glut of rock-edged Season 5 dudes.
9. Shelbie Z (Team Blake)
Following The Countrification of Season 4, it’s hard to imagine a Season 5 Top 10 without at least one twangy vocalist, and thus far, Shelbie’s hip-swaying Knockout performance of “Last Name” makes her the standout in her genre. Needs to prove herself on material she hasn’t covered on the pageant/competition circuit, but there’s no denying her chops.
8. Prestol Pohl (Team Adam)
“Electric Feel,” his Blind Audition choice, was one of the hippest song choices of Season 5, and his “I Wish It Would Rain” in the Battles was a soulful treat, too. Knockout Rounds Bob Marley cover wasn’t quite as spot-on vocally, but he’s definitely got momentum in a deceptively deep Team Adam roster.
7. Ray Boudreaux (Team Blake)
Blues brother has sailed through the season with an air of cool and a tone of gravel. His Knockout Rounds “Hard to Handle” was a tad predictable, but his adorable toddler daughter could be Season 5’s No. 1 source of speed-dialing fandemonium.
6. Jacquie Lee (Team Xtina)
Pint-sized teen has shown impeccable taste choosing retro-cool jams like “Back to Black” and “Stompa” — and impressive control in nailing both of ’em. Just needs to be careful not to try too hard, like she did on “House of the Rising Sun” in a not-as-epic-as-advertised Battle against Briana Cuoco.
5. Cole Vosbury (Team Blake)
Loss to Jonny Gray in the Knockouts notwithstanding, this aggressively bearded fella has proven to be an iTunes force thanks to his offbeat choices of Passenger’s “Let Her Go” and the Jeffersons theme thus far. Blake’s final steal of Season 5 may prove to be his smartest.
4. Will Champlin (Team Adam)
Discarded, then stolen back, by Adam, but to paraphrase Kelly Clarkson, what doesn’t eliminate you from the competition makes you stronger. Bespectacled hipster’s Blind Audition may have been a tad shaky, but his Bruno Mars cover in the Knockouts was electrifying. Continued improvement should make him downright terrifying to his rivals.
3. Tessanne Chin (Team Adam)
Note for note, there may not be a more robust, on-pitch voice in the competition: Her renditions of “Try” and “Stronger” proved she’s got the power and passion to match some of the best voices in the pop-rock game right now. Tessanne’s challenge at this point — much like predecessors Amanda Brown and Judith Hill — is to avoid being dismissed as too technically awesome to have a personality. Careful (and cool) song selection is a must.
2. Matthew Schuler (Team Xtina)
Already referred to (vocally) as the Mike Tyson of Season 5, Matthew has displayed stadium-sized vocal power while tackling everyone from Fall Out Boy to Florence + the Machine. Will need to show a little vulnerability and restraint over the course of the season, but currently he looks like a mortal lock for the Top 12.
1. Caroline Pennell (Team Cee Lo)
Ethereal-voiced New Jersey teen impressed with “Anything Can Happen” in the Blinds, then solidified her front-runner status with a crazy-gorgeous-cool Justin Bieber cover in the Battles and a near-perfect “The Way I Am” in Knockouts. Cee Lo’s confusion over the difference between pushing boundaries and just being ridiculous is always a worry, but with Caroline’s talent, “anything can happen…”