The judges went young in selecting their Top 24 for the Farewell 15th Season of American Idol, to the extent that nine of them can’t order a beer. And while I don’t disagree with all their decisions, one of the big talking points has been how America’s vote has been rendered moot until the rounding out of the Top 10. We’re left with a mix of contenders and pretenders, but there is definitely potential for a superstar or three in the group, including a top two who have significantly distanced themselves from the rest of the pack. Here are our rankings of the Top 14.
#14 Jeneve Rose Mitchell
I understand that the judges like her off-the-grid quirkiness and her sheer musical ability, but she simply doesn’t fit the bill.
#13 Lee Jean
Sure, he’s a heartthrob in waiting who might end up with a career, but he’s too young and simply not ready. The duet with Daughtry exposed how overmatched he was, so much so that Daughtry had to dumb it down to his level.
#12 Thomas Stringfellow
Contrary to the judges, I was not moved by his rendition of “Creep,” which was probably the least gut-wrenching in Idol history. And what is this look? The metrosexual cowboy?
#11 Gianna Isabella
She has the chops and the pedigree (though I think we can all agree we’re ready to stop hearing about her mom), but at this point, she is soooooo out of place on stage. This picture perfectly sums up how lost she looks, and how she probably needs to grow into her body a bit before she can be a star.
#10 Manny Torres
The judges loved his duet with Jordin Sparks, but I felt like he couldn’t keep up and struggled to show off his emotional side. He’s a fun-loving guy, and he suffers vocally when he tries to do anything else.
#9 Tristan McIntosh
She has the most potential of anyone in the bottom tier, but she is still figuring out her style and who she is as an artist. She’s shown off more range and power as of late, but her duet with Kellie Pickler exposed that she’s not quite ready for the big time yet.
#8 Jenn Blosil
She’s the most unique contestant in the competition, a trait that has certainly helped her stick out in the judges’ minds. She’s also shown flashes of brilliance and increased consistency, but she’s probably too weird to win unless she settles into a groove.
#7 La’Porsha Renae
She’s got a big powerhouse voice in the Aretha/Tina vein, but she’s yet to leave that wheelhouse in any capacity. Her “Proud Mary” was great, but it was such an obvious choice that she still hasn’t shown anything original. Then her duet with Fantasia was a scream-filled run battle.
#6 MacKenzie Bourg
He’s known for putting original spins on songs, but his woeful Top 24 round prevents him from being higher in the rankings. He missed the point on “Say Something,” choosing to make it about himself instead of someone who is giving up on the love of his life. Sing along: “Say something, I’m awesome, look at me.”
#5 Sonika Vaid
Her vocal prowess is matched by few in this competition, but she is inexperienced on stage and lacks any real star power. Her duet with Caleb Johnson showed she can elevate her game, but it remains to be seen if she can rise to the occasion on her own.
#4 Avalon Young
I don’t know about her style or refusal to have one. I don’t know if she has the range. I don’t know why she is the only one other than Kanye still supporting Cosby (those sweaters!). But I do know that she knows who she is and is comfortable in her own skin, and I know she can pull off things others cannot (like Bieber and said Huxtable sweaters). Her “Love Yourself” was funky and fun, and that duet with Ruben Studdard was a moment.
#3 Trent Harmon
You wouldn’t necessarily expect it by looking at him or from his backstory, but this man has earned this spot in the rankings with solid performance after solid performance. He battled mono through Hell Week to the point where he had to sing by himself in the group round, and after a quality solo in the Top 24, he nailed his duet with Jordin Sparks.
#2 Olivia Rox
She unquestionably has the biggest pipes in the competition, so much so that she had to tone it down to keep David Cook in their duet. She can rock out, but she also has a true artistic side that allows her to forge an effortless emotional connection on songs that require it. Her facial expressions and stage presence need some work, but from a talent perspective, she’s at the head of the class.
#1 Dalton Rapattoni
He’s tackled Andrew Lloyd Webber, Olivia Newton John, ‘NSYNC, Billy Idol and Stevie Wonder, and not only has he slayed them all in completely original fashion, he’s actually getting better. He’s comfortable, creative and humble, and his look is evolving into something completely marketable. Olivia’s development poses an imminent threat, but for now, he’s the one to beat.