On Thursday American Idol selected their live finalists for another year with the slight addition of an extra player. So instead of a top twelve, we’ve got a top thirteen, ten of which the voting public wanted to see go through and three that the judges decided that they wanted to see compete in the weeks to come. That left us with this line up: Hollie Cavanagh, Colton Dixon, Heejun Han, Jermaine Jones, Skylar Laine, Joshua Ledet, Shannon Magraine, Phillip Phillips, Jessica Sanchez, Elise Testone, Jeremy Rosado, DeAndre Brackensick and Erika Van Pelt.

First of all let’s talk about who didn’t go through. Jen Hirsh, Reed Grimm and Creighton Fraker all seemed to a golden touch prior to the live contest. They sailed through the group stages, impressing the judges with their harmonies and group dynamic. Grimm showed a flare for the eccentric in the sole performances when he took to the drums and when it came time to select the top 24 I don’t think there was really any doubt in anyone’s minds that these three would be going through. So where did it all go wrong? I feel like Reed Grimm perhaps sat behind the drums one time too many. We know he can play the drums and the piano and he can do the jazz scatting but I’d have liked to see him simply sing. Just do something simple and show off his vocals. Creighton Fraker perhaps should have went in the other direction and done something a bit more extravagant. True Colours was a feel good song but his singing felt more like a prolonged whine. On the other hand, Jen Hirsh wasn’t bad. She sang Adele which is tough for anyone, but to sing the same song as another contestant, who actually sang it differently and better, probably put her at a massive disadvantage. She came back for the wild card selection but I felt that the nerves might have gotten her better of her at that point.

American Idol 2012

Let's find someone better than Scotty McCreery!

Jeremy Rosado

Having said all that, I’d still have taken Jen Hirsh or Reed Grimm through over this Rosado. I’d have taken Creighton Fraker too but he wasn’t even in the wild card call backs. I don’t have a problem with the guy himself because he’s an extremely nice guy but against the other singers in the competition I don’t really think that he’s strong enough or distinctive enough to stand out when the competition gears up. But it feels like J-Lo backs the guys that she identifies with culturally, like she did with Stefano Langone last year. That’s not to say neither of them aren’t decent. I just feel that there were better singers who deserved their spots more.

Erika Van Pelt

I can at least understand why Erika Van Pelt got through. She’s got a look that different from most of the other contestants and she’s got a very strong voice. The Whitney Houston tribute round will probably give her a good chance to show off a bit more. I liked her rendition of ‘What About Love’ more than her Wild Card contribution. It’s not perfect but there definitely seems like room for her to develop in the competition.

DeAndre Brackensick

Otherwise known as Prince 2.0. I like his image because his huge hair makes him distinctive right out of the cage and his voice is very smooth. I’d be concerned whether he has a market in the current music industry since the music he’s singing isn’t exactly the kind of stuff you’d hear on mainstream radio, but I think his ability to sink and swim in the current market will become clearer as we move into the themed weeks.

Philip Philips

I bet he hates his parents for giving him that name. I think he’s got a very distinct voice and that growl puts an immediate stamp on every song he sings. However, I think he has a similar problem to that of Reed Grimm. He uses the guitar a little too much and he even seems a little weak when he’s not using it. I think the judges will start to complain if he keeps using it in the coming weeks and the voters will notice if his talent drops without it.

Hollie Cavanagh

For such a little woman she’s got a very powerful voice. It’s no easy feat to stand on the American Idol stage and sing a Christina Aguilera song as though it were nothing. I can understand Steven Taylor’s comments though. It was very controlled and she showed she can sing. Now let’s see if she can perform and have some fun on the stage.

Jessica Sanchez

I thought her song on the live show ‘Love You I Do’ faltered in places but when she was in her stride she really did hit some really spectacular notes and considering that she’s only 16, it’s even more impressive that she was able to sing so well on that stage. She showed a little bit more flare for performance than some of the other girls too, like the aforementioned Hollie Cavanagh. If she keeps developing and keeps getting better throughout the series I think could definitely go extremely far in the competition.

Heejun Han

I really like this guy. Maybe it is just the little comedy asides that he has but in a way he feels like a bit of a performer and its very endearing, so I can’t see the comedy getting him kicked out. As far as the singing goes, I think he sang Robbie Williams’ ‘Angels’ with a lot more restraint and control than some of the other guys can manage. If there’s any reason it wasn’t the best song for him, it’s only because Robbie Williams isn’t as well known in the States as he is in the U.K.

Joshua Ledet

This guy’s has a very powerful voice that sounds like it constantly deserves a full choir backup. There are similarities to Season 10’s Jacob Lusk but he’s got more of the subtleties and the intricacies perfected, which gives him a more polished finish. He’s  a new and improved version of Jacob Lusk, but I think he’ll come into his own as he progresses in the competition.

Skylar Laine

The judges, especially Randy Jackson, have suggested that we haven’t seen her country rocker attitude before in this contest but honestly, she reminds me for Lauren Alaina for my liking. I didn’t think that Lauren Alaina deserved runner up last year but if America liked her than they’ll probably like Skylar Laine and she’ll go far in the competition. I don’t think she’ll win but I think she’ll still be around when people are trying to guess the final four.

Shannon Magrane

 You really don’t expect the daughter of a pro pitcher to be so deep and soulful. Shades of last years’ Haley Reinhart were there but I think Reinhart was better. It bears remembering that Shannon is still 16 though so she could keep developing. I don’t know if she’s good enough to win at this stage because I think there are some girls in the competition who are better singers. That said, if she keeps developing and some of the others make some pivotal mistakes she could certainly be a dark horse in this race.

Elise Testone

If the public didn’t put her through I’d imagine she’d have been Steven Taylor’s wild card choice. They’re very similar in many respects. They both wear a lot of hats, or flowers or feathers in their hair. She sang Adele, which can be troublesome, but she did it so well that I don’t think anyone minded and her use of the piano was a nice change of pace. It’s worth noting that she didn’t stay behind the piano but moved to the stage for the finish. A bit like Jessica Sanchez, she seems to have a flare for performance and I think she was having fun which makes her more entertaining to watch as a whole. She’s probably one of the front runners in the competition.

Colton Dixon

The guy who didn’t want to compete. It’ll be rather disgraceful if he wins the competition after having decided to sit out in the first place but then dragged in by the judges. If I was his sister I’d be annoyed with him for accepting the judge’s offer and intruding on my chance to shine without him and I’d be furious at the judges for encouraging him to do so. He’s got the flare for performance, out doing Testone by standing on the piano for the finish but I think he lacked the control to perform Paramore’s ‘Decode’ as well as it needs to be performed. It droned on a bit in places and he screeched a bit too much at times. Possibly one of the more contemporary and relevant singers in the competition but I don’t think his voice is strong enough to carry him through the competition.

Jermaine Jones

Very glad that this guy got voted back in. He’s got such an awesome, deep voice that he really is a pleasure to listen to. He’s one of the few singers in the competition that I do genuinely feel that I could listen to over and over again. Needs to detach himself from his mother though.

American Idol Top 13 Finalists

Ok, everyone smile like you have a chance of winning.

Well, that’s the top thirteen. At this point it’s impossible to say who will win it because there so much time for the singers to develop and expand or indeed, crash and burn before the end. I do think the girls have the stronger side this year. I think Hollie Cavanagh, Elise Testone and Jessica Sanchez could all be in the running to win if they play their cards right, whereas I can only really imagine Jermaine Jones or Joshua Ledet pulling it out for the guys. Dark horses on both sides include Shannon Magrane and Heejun Han. But there are twelve weeks between now and the end, and there are bound to be some shock eliminations along the way (Hello, Pia), so anything really could happen.


And now for the rebuttal:

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