Hollywood Week: The Final 24 is in and it’s amazing American Idol didn’t screw things up one bit

Good job not screwing up the Top 24, Idol.

Good job not screwing up the Top 24, Idol.

Congrats to American Idol for not screwing up the final Top 24.

The 24 didn’t come without some criticism but that was expected; you’re not going to get this far in the competition without people griping about one performer or another. The internet was pissed about Jessica Cabral, and with good measure – her bluesy sound we heard was different than the two female soloists who did make it through. But was she better than Sonika Vaid or Stephany Negrete, or were they one in the same? You can add her at the expense of someone else because putting three soloists in is like ordering three pepperoni pizzas for a part instead of one cheese, one pepperoni and one with peppers and onions for the stupid people who don’t eat meat (although peppers and onions is GD delicious).

So who got screwed out of a spot? There’s Cabral and you could make an argument for Laurel Wright, Jordyn Simone and maybe Kayla Mickelsen on the girls side; for the guys, Andrew Nazarbekian was the lone “surprise,” because his voice was the best male voice the show’s had since Lambert. Would have been nice to see Zach Person get in, but being a blues guy doesn’t make him marketable to the demo Idol is chasing.

The bigger mistake was the imbalance of guys and girls. It makes sense because the girls had more qualified candidates, but still – go 12 and 12. But when Idol came out with a press release explaining how they’re going from 24 to 10 (no Top 12 this year) it makes a little sense. It’s not gonna be an even split at that point. Idol plans on picking the best eight, then having a sing-off for the final two spots.

I’m breaking down the Top 24 in gambling terms. One of the Favorites is probably going to win Season 15 of American Idol. The Darkhorses are the sneaky picks that won’t get the credit but one might end up Top 3 and sneak away with the thing. The Value Bets are contestants the majority of people won’t pay attention to, but with their talent/originality/marketability could end up surprising everyone; and the Long Shots, who have little to no chance of winning the damn thing but I’m sure Idol will find a way to get one or two of them into the Top 8, infuriating everyone.

So here we go:

THE FAVORITES

1) Adam Lasher

This spot is MacKenzie Bourg’s, but when you say a guy is going to win American Idol the day after he’s eliminated the previous year you gotta stick with your prediction. His inclusion in the Top 24 shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone despite the fact he stopped making appearances on the show. Perhaps Idol is trying to avoid having him enter live shows with a rabid fan base, giving us another late-20s WGWG winner or maybe they were too busy pushing other contestants so they could set up some drama with them come the semifinal eliminations. The one thing you need to know about Lasher is, since he ditched his hippie haircut, is he’s the complete package. He doesn’t have the best voice, isn’t the best musician and isn’t the best looking, but he’s pretty strong in each of those categories and moms will go apeshit for him.

2) MacKenzie Bourg

Anyone who was surprised he made it hasn’t been paying attention. American Idol (which I accidentally type as Ameridol, which might be a great reference I’ll save when the producers muck with the process) really wants him to do well. They gave him more screen time than any other guy (no facts to back that up) but it isn’t without just cause. Bourg’s experienced, having done well on that crap excuse for a show The Voice, and he’s not as young as everyone thinks. Being 22 is a world of difference than being 17 and it’s not grimy and old like 28 seems on this show.

3) Emily Brooke

There was a brief moment I thought Emily Brooke might be catching a swift kick, but then I realized that when I watch Idol sober I get incredibly paranoid and start tossing out conspiracy theories like candy on Halloween. She’s sort of in the Lasher category of not the best at one thing, but very good at them all and she’s a poor girl’s Taylor Swift. If you think caps lock king SCOTT BORCHETTA isn’t praying to get her on his label you’ve never run a record label before, or something like that.

4) Jenn Blosil

Was there really anyone who thinks she didn’t deserve a spot? I hate when the Ameridol kicks in and they start making it seem like someone who is a lock might get cut. There was no way Idol was passing up on a girl with an original sound who may or may not be able to figure out how to make toast. The best part about Blosil right now is her ridiculous wardrobe. She’s legit dressing up like moms from 80s and early 90s sitcoms. The last solo I’m pretty sure she was rocking the overalls from the “Who’s The Boss – Angela” collection so I’m hoping once the live shows hit she’ll just rattle through ABC’s TGIF lineup with Family Matters Harriet Winslow, Full House Aunt Becky, Step By Step Carol Lambert and Boy Meets World Amy Matthews.

5) Thomas Stringfellow

Tommy’s sob story about his girlfriend breaking up with him was the ultimate win-win-win. It’s great for him because when you’re in high school and think you’re in love with the perfect person, 90 percent of the time it ends quickly when you go to college and realize that being in a relationship before the age of 25 is a horrible idea. It’s more awesome for him because it happened right before he’s about to become famous, leading him to get all sorts of boy-band ass. Finally, it’s even more awesome because it made whatever teenage girls that still watch the show swoon and while there aren’t enough of them to give him a huge advantage, there are enough to keep him alive all season long.

6) Dalton Rapattoni

It was obvious Dalton was going to make the Top 24 and has the goods to go on a decent run, but he’s one or two weird performers from having America hate him. All I had to hear was one or two notes of N’SYNC to know that he can pick songs, rearrange them and get the type of performance that can win the show, but he doesn’t have the voice to carry him during the weeks when things go wrong.

THE DARKHORSES

7) Amelia Eisenhauer

Another no-brainer to make the Top 24, her success going forward is going to come down to song selection and doing her best to not sound like a 16-year old kid. When she gets loud it comes off as a little theatrical, but we’ve seen few of those moments during her auditions. Her issue is going to be the same that most teen girls have; she has to sing young songs to stay popular, but because most of the voters are over 30, she has to do older songs to keep them happy and willing to vote for her. With a little country swag in her, she might be able to drum up enough votes that she sneaks her way in, comes up with some big performances and whoops, she just won idol.

8) Shelbie Z

She’s the best pure performer on the show and it’s not close. Nobody sings better, nobody commands the stage better but I don’t know if Idol’s going to market her right. I can see her getting to live shows, the Ameridol kicking in, and being the first to perform three straight weeks before it hits Idol in the face that she’s good. She took on Alone and had the second-best performance of that song in the history of the show; she took on Ann Wilson again in the last solo round and rocked the shit out of it. Will Idol let a former Voice contestant win? They might not have a choice.

9) CJ Johnson

He’s the leading candidate to pull a Fradiani. If you read any Idol blogger’s opinion on CJ, it reads similar – great song selection, incredibly energetic and professional but not the best voice. That’s what Nick Fradiani was. Fradiani was such a pro he was good enough to survive the opening weeks, grew a bit of a following, then crushed out songs that appealed the majority audience and won the damn thing. If CJ comes out playing Fleetwood Mac, 70s/80s music and Yacht Rock, that’s good enough to win. Biggest issue is Fradiani was a 10 on the hunkability meter while CJ’s a strong 7, weak 8. He’s a good looking dude, but not so good looking that married women openly admit to wanting to leave their families for him.

10) Jenna Renae

Haven’t seen her in a while but being that mysterious person usually pays off because it’s easier to get annoyed with overplayed contestants than it is to maintain a following. One great performance and everyone’s buying a ticket on the Jenna Renae train. She’s probably the most musically-inclined of the girls and her ability to play and rearrange is how you get ahead. Jenna is a draw for the female audience because she’s an adult and because there’s really no good reason to hate her. It’s a well-known fact all women hate other women so to get their vote on Idol you have to be the least hateable. Boom, Jenna.

11) Olivia Rox

As long as Emily Brooke is still on the show I don’t think Olivia has a prayer, but I wouldn’t be afraid to put a few sheckles on her especially if she goes the pop/country route. She’s getting compared to Jax, which is BS because the only thing they have in common is blonde hair with a streak dyed pink (I know, they’re both girls, both play music, blah, blah, blah. You get the point). Musically I don’t think Olivia has that punk edge Jax did and my worry with her is the Jax comparisons might hurt her more than help. It’s really like how all white wide receivers get compared to Wes Welker. Olivia isn’t a favorite, but if she won’t it’d be the least surprising thing in the world.

VALUE BETS

12) Kory Wheeler

He’s going to get a lot of love from Idol bloggers because he’s a hipster and, from what I’ve gathered, entertainment reporters love hipsters more than they love cruffins. Or cronuts. Or whatever other hybrid breakfast thing that’s cool now. Kory, who happens to be my daughter’s godfather, could easily knock Adam Lasher out of this competition, slide his way past the boy banders and make his way through the girls and find himself deeper in the show than anyone expected. How far he goes is going to come down to how risky he plays things and if you’re this deep in the power rankings, the move is to try something insanely risky and hope it works. He’s good enough to pull it off.

13) La’Porsha Renae

If La’Porsha gets to the live shows she’s worth a bet because she might be the only black person on the show. Yeah, check. I’ll wait. If you watch Lyndsey Parker and Brandon Rogers’ “The Day After” on Yahoo – and you should because it’s fun – they talked about La’Porsha being the only R&B singer on the show, which is kinda like when you say a basketball team is “athletic.” It’s a code word for she’s really the only black person there and the best part of last week’s Day After was Brandon – who’s an ‘R&B singer’ – and the look on his face as he fought the debate of “do I say there’s no black people and way to many white people or not?” in his brain. Yes, there’s Lee Jean and Gianna Isabella (and maybe Avalon? I’m terrible), but they’re in a different demographic being a combined 19 years old. If La’Porsha goes live, she’s getting votes every week and honestly, that might be enough to carry her to Top 4. If that happens, she better stock up on dope headbands for her kid because she’s gonna need that national TV swag for the viewers at home.

14) Trent Harmon

Is Trent that good? I can’t tell. I’ve never been so perplexed by a dude on this show and it’s making me crazy. His original audition was awesome but I don’t want to judge him based on what he did because he was sick and saying he didn’t sound great really wouldn’t be fair. His dancing is clearly an issue but it’s also endearing to millions of white folk who can’t dance either. There’s a decent shot he gets to a live show and is a completely different performer than we’ve seen so far. There’s also a decent shot he tried to make out with every single girl who made the Top 24 in hopes of giving them mono to increase his odds of getting to the Top 10.

15) Sonika Vaid

Right about here starts the “did they really deserve a Top 24 spot” and from what we saw, Sonika was the best female soloist of the bunch. I’m not taking her out of the show without removing the girls below her on the list, so I’d say her spot was more than deserved. Now can she win is another question entirely because soloists who aren’t R&B singers don’t win Idol unless the sing country or their names rhyme with Smelly Barkson. Is there a chance she’s the first since the first? She doesn’t have great odds, but having her win isn’t entirely out of the realm of possibility.

16) Avalon Young

I don’t get Avalon and it may be because I’m an old, but from what I’ve heard she’s got the talent. Unfortunately, she’s as marketable as Trump in Mexico. Thursday I compared her to MK Nobilette in style – a comparison which a couple bloggers stole – but the big question that’s going to hang over her head is if “tomboy” is a code word. You don’t want that hanging over your head because it’s not going to help your cause. It didn’t help Lambert. MK came out in everyone’s face and people loved her. You can’t be androgynous and not expect people to ask questions and those questions need answered. I think the skater look is a bad call if she wants to do well on the show because it looks incredibly sloppy. I don’t want her to start wearing super tight gear, but I don’t want her in stuff that would fit my dadbod either. I think the judges/producers love her and really think if she can figure out a way to become more marketable, she’s a tough out in the show.

THE LONG SHOTS

17) James XIII

Here’s a guy I’ll root for just to see if Idol lets him promote #StankFace and if we can get that trending every Wednesday night. This far down the list you have to break things down and his success is going to come down to him being awesome and guys who are clearly ahead of him crapping the bed. For a dude who just went to the original audition for a friend, not a bad way to go out. I don’t really have a problem with him making the Top 24 because, well, this is wear the guys’ pool got thinner than a coke line.

18) Manny Torres

If he’s got one thing going for him it’s that J-Lo is going to push like hell for him to be one of the eight judges’ choices because if there’s one thing J-Lo has always done, it’s push for the Latino/Latina on the show. I’m serious. Her track record is unblemished. If Jenn Blosil was smart, she’d say she’s 1/16 Puerto Rican and J-Lo would make for damn sure people didn’t vote her off. Manny’s stuck because his style is too similar to guys ahead of him and they’re better. He does get to leave the show saying he was the last person to get a golden ticket on American Idol and was J-Lo’s favorite, so that’s a pretty solid W for the guy. He deserved his spot and there’s not really a guy I would have replaced him with based on performance.

19) Jeneve Mitchell

This rank could be way too low or way too high. I don’t know. This is one of the few times where I think there were better contestants that didn’t get to this point but Jeneve was the better choice. If you look at the girls’ exile list, there’s major redundancy and you’re not going to put in a fourth soloist or another R&B girl when there are already better ones on the list. I like Jeneve in the Top 24 because she’s so different than what we’ve heard; she’s not the pop-country princess that Emily is. She’s got a badass, old-school, Johnny Cash country thing going (minus the heroin) and her success is really going to come down to how the voters feel about her. I’m pro Jeneve. I want to see what she can do, especially if she’s dressed like a semi-normal teenager. I just don’t know if America will give her the chance because there is a lot of hate, which is weird considering she comes off so sweet Idol won’t let her go near Lasher for fear of making his blood-sugar go up.

20) Tristan McIntosh

Did she deserve it? I think anyone considered “deserves” a spot, but if Jordyn Simone was here I wouldn’t have been angry either. Tristan’s story is going to win her a lot of points and some of her solo stuff during Hollywood Week was bananas. When she flattened her hair back, I wasn’t sure who the hell she was. I just don’t know if she’s got enough to get ahead of the other girls, although with her being an R&B singer it gives her some votes she might not have received otherwise.

21) Lee Jean

This should be Zach Person only from the perspective of Zach has live music experience Lee doesn’t and plays a more bluesy style that really plays well on the show. That’s not saying Lee doesn’t deserve it; he’s young, clearly talented and incredibly marketable – being an R&B singer helps as well – but he lacks that power you need to win the show, or at least he hasn’t shown it yet. He’s a more poised Daniel Seavey and Seavey did not go over well with Americans over the age of 25 last year. I’m glad he’s getting the chance and now my only hope is for a New Jack Swing revival where Lee Jean leads some new group that sings songs better than Bobby, Ronnie, Rickie or Mike could.

22) Gianna Isabella

She was good and I understand the inclusion, but again – would Jordyn Simone be better here? Or Jessica Cabral? Or even Terrian? If Gianna comes out as turns into the next Jordin Sparks the judges are going to look really smart. The record of teenage soloists on American Idol isn’t good and that’s why I’m hesitant to put her too high on the list. There’s a lot of talented girls ahead of her that play a style that does, historically, better on the show than Gianna’s, so her future is going to come down to how much Idol really wants her on the show.

23) Jordan Sasser

I hated Jordan in the first audition and since then, I’m his biggest fan. He’s fighting an uphill battle because you know who does incredibly poorly on Idol? White soloists. Terrible past performance record. Unless he’s gonna bust out a guitar or do a funky cover, he’s got a better chance of me actually cutting his man bun off than winning the show. I’m hoping for one good performance, a tough cut from the judges and then a reality show when him, Lasher, CJ Johnson, Kory Wheeler and I go on tour as a Bro Band.

24) Stephany Negrete

If being the second-best female soloist and having America mad she made it over Jessica Cabral wasn’t tough enough, there’s all the fact people are still fired up her and the rest of her vampire Group Night team acted like a-holes. She’s got a good voice and all, but the field is loaded and, like I’ve said, there’s been one non R&B female soloist that’s won Idol and I don’t think we’re getting another this year. Did she deserve the spot? Yes. Could it have gone to another? Yes. Does any of that matter as she preps for the semifinals? Nope.

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