As a whole, the girls are better than the guys this year.
And that’s not like last year when we were told the girls were better, even though it wasn’t true and the only reason a girl won is because the judges/producers put the worst of the guys through to the Top 40 and the worst of that group through to the Top 10.
I came up with a solid 26 girls names for the Top 15 and could have added several more, as opposed to the guys where I came up with a solid 10 names and then added some to get the Top 15 with runoff (Guys story is here: http://tinyurl.com/DRITop15Picks).
That doesn’t mean a girl is going to win; the talent on that side is deeper and a lot more interesting. The girls breakdown is going to be much different than it has been in the past; we’re not going to get overrun with country singers, balladeers or soulful singers; I think this is going to be the season of the GWG and based on some of the chicks we’ve seen, the BAGWG (shouldn’t be hard to figure out what the BA stands for).
So here goes – the Top 15 picks, based on what we’ve seen, even though I have as much confidence wearing these as I do singing a karaoke song other than Clarence Carter’s ‘Strokin':
1) Tessa Kate
BRIEFLY: She’s a country singer, which is bad for the country girls (more on them later). There’s something about the sound in her voice that is going to make her dangerous regardless of what week it is (except Pantera Week; that’s gonna be a rough one). And she’s got a guitar.
STRENGTHS: It’s clear she’s country and will head that way, but her voice doesn’t sound country. I can see her covering pop tunes from the 80s, or soft fun style of something Motown. And she’s hot.
WHY WE’RE WRONG: No fucking way we’re wrong here.
WHY WE’RE RIGHT: If I’m picking a winner based on one audition, she’s it. And if I think she can win, there’s no way she’s not Top 15 girl at the worst.
2) Remi Wolf
BRIEFLY: She came in looking like Adam’s sister from the show Girls. She’s not on the JBAS. She’s a voice, she has a different personality – and by different I mean not out of a J. Crew catalog – and based on her audition song, she knows what the fuck she’s doing.
STRENGTHS: Her voice. She’s not a power-ballad chick, but I can see her taking some rock song and turning it into an easy-listening track that will make people’s hearts melt.
WHY WE’RE WRONG: Someone recommends a power ballad and it bombs.
WHY WE’RE RIGHT: Her voice is so perfect for the show. I can see trouble during Group Night if she doesn’t match up with the right people, but the bigger challenge will be live shows. She’s going to have to pick the right song every time. She can worry about that after she impressed the judges.
3) Jocelyn Baker
STRENGTHS: Stunning good looks – a young Sheryl Crow. We didn’t learn a lot about her, but by looks – totally shallow, I know – she seems like a laid-back, have-fun-type and girls like that haven’t really been on the show.
WHY WE’RE WRONG: Turns out all she can sing is Mayer covers.
WHY WE’RE RIGHT: It’s a total feel pick. In the six seconds she was on the show she impressed that much. It’s harder to see faults that way, but she seems like the total package.
THE COUNTRY GIRLS
4) Shelby Comey
BRIEFLY: They’re only going to let in so many country girls and there isn’t much separating them. She’s the pick here because her dad is a cowboy. No, she’s the pick because she’s got the look and the voice.
STRENGTHS: There’s something appealing about the way she sounds. And that means a lot coming for people who hate country music (PS THIS GUY).
WHY WE’RE WRONG: We don’t know shit about country music or how it’s supposed to sound.
WHY WE’RE RIGHT: Putting her on the show fills the void of country singer and young gun. There’s no way a couple teens don’t make their way to the Top 15. Her dad is also a cowboy, which is good for the backstory.
5) Laurel Wright
BRIEFLY: Looks and sounds legit. She’s going to be in an absolute race to the finish with Savannah Young for the spot of “Country Girl Who Also Plays Guitar.”
STRENGTHS: She looks and sounds like Skylar Laine, who finished fifth on Season 11. Can’t see that being a bad thing.
WHY WE’RE WRONG: Savannah Young.
WHY WE’RE RIGHT: She did an original song which means she should be able to mix things up and won’t strictly do country songs every week. That gets annoying fast and when you don’t have a niche – like McCreery and his bass voice – you need to change styles. She can do that.
6) Madelyn Patterson
BRIEFLY: The show needs a super hot chick who can sing. And Patterson – who I am definitely not stalking on Twitter – is super hot and can sing. WINNER WINNER.
STRENGTHS: She’s almost Pia Toscano powerful, but she’s going to have to keep her voice in range. She’s going to nail ballad after ballad and at some point the judges are going to tell her to stop but she shouldn’t. Oh, and did I mention she’s hot?
WHY WE’RE WRONG: Because we’re totally in love with her.
WHY WE’RE RIGHT: She’s going to end up standing out because she’s not quirky, not the girl with the guitar and not a bad ass. She’s a potential pop princess. And she fills a void the producers need filled.
The Quirky Girl
7) Majesty Rose
BRIEFLY: This was a coin flip against Jade Lathan. It came up Rose because I saw a clip of her singing in Hollywood and IT WAS AWESOME. Love the potential.
STRENGTHS: Her voice is unique and she’s a BGWG and that’s the type of contestant that hasn’t come around often.
WHY WE’RE WRONG: Lathan takes the hipster black girl spot.
WHY WE’RE RIGHT: It sucks to bring up race, but you have to account for it. Her talent would get her in regardless of race, but being a black woman who isn’t going to pound out Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin songs is very appealing for the show. They want someone who doesn’t fit the norm and she’ll do it just fine.
8) Bria Anai Johnson
BRIEFLY: I didn’t want to pick her because of her “mom-ager.” I didn’t want to pick her because of her awful lipstick. But her voice at that age? It was too tough to ignore.
STRENGTHS: Her voice is bonkers. She’s young and that also plays well, especially if they compare her to some of the other super teens.
WHY WE’RE WRONG: Her mom gets a case of the crazies and nearly beats up Urban.
WHY WE’RE RIGHT: You can’t not have a couple extra power singers after Candice Glover won last year. She’s the young voice and is the type that could be Final 3 overall or doesn’t make it past Group Night.
9) Paula Hunt
BRIEFLY: She looks 40, sounds like a legend and, with an Army background, has the discipline necessary to succeed on the show. Her voice is built for auditions, where big voices really stand out.
STRENGTHS: Her voice is bonkers (theme here). She’s going to be the one crushing power ballads and having people doing standing ovations. At some point, she’ll dress sexy and the judges will scream about her “coming out of her shell” and she’s “in it to win it” (Sorry; force of habit).
WHY WE’RE WRONG: Intimidated by some competitors, she sings in a whisper.
WHY WE’RE RIGHT: Having a huge voice and being able to control is gets you noticed. It opens doors. It allows for moments and can gain you a huge fan base in a short amount of time. And she’s got that voice.
10) Aranesa Turner
BRIEFLY: She gets it. She shows up in tattered jeans and a white T, sings the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory song just as well as she could have sang something off R. Kelly’s Chocolate Factory (Can I get a toot toot? Maybe a beep beep?). The control in her voice is what really made her stand out.
STRENGTHS: Can’t tell if she’s more of a quirky girl or a power voice. When she auditioned you could hear the potential of something big, but she brought it down and it was an excellent choice. And when I see people making good choices, that means they know how to play the game,
WHY WE’RE WRONG: She keeps doing movie themes and ruins her hopes when she sings “America (Fuck Yeah).”
WHY WE’RE RIGHT: She’s got one of those voices you love to hear. She’s got more versatility than Paula Hunt or Anai, which will appeal to the judges and producers. That’s huge because they won’t view her as just a power voice. Once she gets into live shows, her voice will appeal to more people, provided she picks the right songs and keeps mixing things up.
The Other WGWG
11) Jessica Meuse
BRIEFLY: I automatically put girls from small-town American with dyed hair, nose rings and tats – assuming she has business tats – in the “Bad Ass” category. When they’re musically inclined, I become more afraid.
STRENGTHS: She knows what the fuck she’s doing on stage. Her audition just looked good. Her voice is awesome – as the judges said, it has a little Stevie Nicks to it. I can see her struggling in a group setting – and by the previews, she gets into it with someone – but on her own she might be the best WGWG.
WHY WE’RE WRONG: She punches someone in the face during Group Night. Or she gets bested by Jesse Roach. But probably because she punches someone in the face.
WHY WE’RE RIGHT: She said it – she’s a one-woman show and does everything herself. She has the drive so hopefully someone sits her down and let’s her know that winning this show isn’t about playing songs you want. It’s about playing songs the judges and America likes. If she can find the balance between artist and Idol, watch the fuck out.
12) Melanie Porras
BRIEFLY: She’s a daddy’s girl, she’s cute in both musical stylings and showed off her originality in her audition doing “Fever” and then “Wanted Dead or Alive.” Judges hated the first – because they’re idiots – and loved the second – because they decided they didn’t want to be idiots anymore.
STRENGTHS: She’s the kind of girl girls will like because she’s not so hot that they hate her and guys will like her because she’s cute and can sing. Her voice isn’t that original, but it’s good.
WHY WE’RE WRONG: Turns out without a guitar, she’s not that good.
WHY WE’RE RIGHT: Look at her audition songs. She did a jazzy version of “Fever” on her guitar that was cool; judges asked her to sing another and she did Jovi. She had a plan and executed it, which leads me to believe she has a plan for each round in Hollywood.
13) Keri Lynn Roche
BRIEFLY: Of all the contestants – guys or girls – who sang “Radioactive” she did it the best. There’s a certain twang in her voice, a little bit of an accent perhaps, that makes it sound different and cool. Plus she’s got tats. The non-business kind.
STRENGTHS: You can separate WGWGs by taking away the guitar. She sang without hers and absolutely nailed Etta James. She’ll have to survive Group Night – can’t see her playing well with others – but as a solo artist, she’ll stand out.
WHY WE’RE WRONG: We picked the wrong WGWG.
WHY WE’RE RIGHT: She’s not a prissy youngster. She has a certain edge to her that adds to the show. If you don’t think that matters, you haven’t been watching. Contestants like her make the show interesting. Much like race with other singers, her edge isn’t going to be the reason why she gets in, but it certainly doesn’t hurt her chances.
So at this point I realized I had two spots left. Going over my lists, I couldn’t see another country singer getting in. There were already three power singers and I wasn’t impressed by any other hot white girls. That left the WGWG category. And that made this tough because I had my darkhorse candidate in Taylor Stearns, my Twitter BFF Alyssa Siebken, and JBAS first-teamer Kenzie Hall.
Honestly, I think all three could get in. But that’s a chickenshit route to take with this. So here goes.
14) Kenzie Hall
BRIEFLY: She gets in based on the first thing she said, ahem, sang, to the judges. When you answer a question in song, it’s destiny coming out of your throat. And it was a signal too hard to ignore. She’s a heck of a good-looking kid (NO PERVO) and her voice is perfect for the show.
STRENGTHS: America is going to fall in love with her. Her voice is strong enough to survive sans guitar and she’s so nice I can’t see her not finding like-minded people and doing well for Group Night. I couldn’t not put her in.
WHY WE’RE WRONG: Turns out she’s too white and has too much guitar.
WHY WE’RE RIGHT: She’s too perfect not to be on the show. Her voice is so appealing and seems like it fits so many genres; I wouldn’t peg her as a country singer, but if she had to I could see her knocking that out of the park. There isn’t much I can’t see her doing on the show. She’ll need to get there first.
15) Alyssa Siebken
BRIEFLY: I’m not going to pretend this pick was made without bias. I loved her Waka Flocka Flame cover because it got her in the door. She’ll need another to get to through the first round of Hollywood Week and then will need to survive Group Night. Mostly, she’s going to need to find a way to survive Hollywood because the comments at audition made me feel like J-Lo isn’t a fan.
STRENGTHS: She might be the first girl who’s competed like a guy. In the past it’s been the guys doing funky cover songs; there is a certain art to them and she seems to understand it. She’s not a one-trick pony either. I check her YouTube page and she’s got a voice on her. That may end up winning her some credit from the judges.
WHY WE’RE WRONG: We’re totally blinded by our unapologetic bias and total desire for her to succeed, get to the finals, fly us to LA and party with us.
WHY WE’RE RIGHT: I love her chances because I really think they’re going to peg her as the “girl who covers rap songs” and she’ll end up singing something where J-Lo says “I was worried you were going to do the Waka thing, but you just DID THAT!” And if she gets into the Top 15 Girls, she’ll earn enough fun votes to do well.
MISSING THE CUT
1) Savannah Young
BRIEFLY: Tall, talented blond (JBAS) with a voice and can play the guitar.
WHY SHE’S CUT: Can’t see that many country singers getting in, but can also see her getting outperformed.
WHY WE’RE WRONG: As easy as they allow an extra country singer, I can also see her outperforming the other country girls.
2) Laura Ogburn
BRIEFLY: The bad-ass chick who loves America, beer and dip (I still don’t believe her when she says she doesn’t).
WHY SHE’S CUT: It’s a numbers game. Trying to put her in means someone good has to come out and I don’t see more than two country girls getting in.
WHY WE’RE WRONG: She ends up in as the bad ass spot after she threats the judges with a busted whiskey bottle.
3) Rachel Rolleri
BRIEFLY: Talented guitar-playing country youngster who sounded just good enough in the auditions that you wanted to hear more.
WHY SHE’S CUT: She’s a tick behind the two country girls picked and well behind the WGWGs.
WHY WE’RE WRONG: As said before, we don’t know shit about country.
4) Jade Lathan
BRIEFLY: She wore a floral headband to audition and wowed the judges with a jazzy Amy Winehouse tune.
WHY SHE’S CUT: She gets overshadowed by Majesty Rose and isn’t powerful enough to knock out Bria, Aranesa or Paula.
WHY WE’RE WRONG: She keeps doing the jazzy thing, has a terrific Group Night and then steals the last spot in the Top 15.
5) Tiquila Wilson
BRIEFLY: On first listen, loved her voice. It was hard not to. She has serious pipes, serious soul and leaving her out wasn’t easy.
WHY SHE’S CUT: She has one volume – loud – and turns into a mega diva in Hollywood.
WHY WE’RE WRONG: Did you hear her? This might be one of those picks where you’re trying to prove how smart you are.
6) Paris Primeau
BRIEFLY: Part of the “Showbiz Name” auditions; she was the pink-haired girl who did a heck of a job singing “Land of the Rising Sun” and sounded just like Haley Reinhardt.
WHY SHE’S CUT: Voice isn’t powerful enough to keep up with the big, booming voices and producers know Madelyn Patterson puts asses in the seats.
WHY WE’RE WRONG: She’ll get hit with the quirky label because of the pink streaks in her hair. She’ll use that label to her advantage and impress at every turn in Hollywood.
7) Madisen Walker
BRIEFLY: The JBAS MVP (no pervo) who did a decent Underwood impression and seemed as the perfect example of someone who you wanted to see more of.
WHY SHE’S CUT: She didn’t show much more than what she did in auditions.
WHY WE’RE WRONG: She gains confidence and turns into Underwood. She steals a country spot away from Shelby Comey, who wonders how I just turned on her that quick.
8) Jesse Roach
BRIEFLY: She has tats, a black guitar and a terrific, gruff voice that was impossible not to notice.
WHY SHE’S CUT: Jessica Meuse is better in Hollywood.
WHY WE’RE WRONG: Jessica Meuse punches someone in the face; Roach avoids punching somebody, survives Group Night and then drives the judges to tears in the final audition. Her story is too good for the producers to pass up and they make her seem like a female Johnny Cash.
9) Marrialle Sellers
BRIEFLY: She was shown in the cold open of one episode, then closed a totally different episode, earning the ire of the internet.
WHY SHE’S CUT: America hates her and the producers realize it.
WHY WE’RE WRONG: She’s actually really good. She could knock out one of the WGWG (I understand she’s not the first W) or become the “Quirky Black Girl.” It’s tough to judge her because of the double-showing, but she makes everyone forget that and becomes the darling of the show.
10) Samantha Calmes
BRIEFLY: She did some spoken word song in auditions, but dropped the guitar when asked and sang the theme from “The Jeffersons” and it was one of the coolest auditions of the season.
WHY SHE’S CUT: Nobody wants to be her partner for Group Night.
WHY WE’RE WRONG: She’s an original. She’s definitely one of those “artists” but she didn’t seem to be as keen to the game as Bowersox. If she survives Group Night, she can come up with something that differentiates her from the other WGWGs and boom, she’s in.
11) Taylor Stearns
BRIEFLY: She was on screen for less than 20 seconds and it was magical. Her voice has that sound that can stand out as long as it’s controlled. It can also get lost in the shuffle if it’s not pushed.
WHY SHE’S CUT: No one cares. Who is she again?
WHY WE’RE WRONG: They didn’t give her a lot of screen time in auditions because they want her popularity to come out during Hollywood. She’s clearly talented and has sound built for the show. She’s not going to intimidate people with her voice, but those are the contestants you have to be the most weary of.
This almost feels like an apology in case any of the people on the show (and there are a couple) read this – these picks are not my personal picks or who I would pick. It’s who I think the judges would pick based on what we saw in the first audition.
There are so many good girls and someone is getting left out. Not being picked doesn’t mean that contestant isn’t good; it just means there isn’t a fit.
Good news is, there’s a good chance I only get one or two of these rights. The girls competition is going to be the best part, because this group is 10 times better than last year’s – and that’s saying a ton.