Hello, and welcome to the final American Idol Power List of the season 8 semifinals. That’s right! This time next week, the nation (and Idol’s judges) will have chosen this year’s top 12, which means I won’t be able to arbitrarily rank my personal favorites in the top 5 based on 11 seconds of screen time. I know, I know, I’m the worst. But it’s not like you can’t totally negate my whims in the Idol Power poll. Which I know you’re just itching to do. So read on down the roll — sorry, Jesse Langseth, you didn’t make the cut since I don’t think the judges like you enough to give you any Wild Card love — then do your pop-cultural duty and vote for your own favorite below!
20. Von Smith: (New this week) WAIT! CAN YOU HEAR THAT? IT’S SHOUTY MCSHOUTERSON CRYING OUT FOR A PLACE IN THE SEASON 8 FINALS!
19. Matt Giraud: (Last week: No. 1) Vibrato-rific rendition of “Viva La Vida” was absolutely grizzly, but the judges beat the “song choice” drum pretty loudly — making me think a Wild Card performance slot is all but inevitable for this Hollywood Week fave.
18. Nathaniel Marshall: (Last week: No. 19) Season 8’s resident drama queen proved he’s got actual chops by winning a sing-off against Jackie Midkiff. And while copious crying footage won’t help his chances, the lack of a male standout in Group 3 won’t hurt, either.
17. Arianna Afsar: (Last week: No. 17) Sudden emergence of Allison Iraheta in the “only 16!” slot could hurt this gal’s chances, especially considering her “adopt a grandfriend” campaign was more memorable than her “Put Your Records On” audition.
16. Megan Corkrey: (Last week: No. 11) Speaking of “Put Your Records On,” Megan’s Group 2 cover wasn’t entirely on pitch, but at least her raspy tone and, um, peculiar dance moves made it memorable. Plus, if she gets a Wild Card, Kara will get to trot out her favorite new phrase: “Package artist.”
15. Mishavonna Henson: (New this week, pictured, center) Came out of nowhere with asurprisingly tender and near pitch-perfect take on “Drops of Jupiter,”which naturally incited the wrath of Simon, wholabeled her too old, and Randy, who berated her for choosing a song by “a band” nota solo artist. WHA?
14. Scott MacIntyre: (Last week: No. 14) Loved the way he worked his cane during the “Group 3” dance-off, but the most recognizable guy in the final week of the semifinals was a little wobbly during his prior renditions of Daughtry’s “Home” and Billy Joel’s “And So It Goes.” Is the dude good enough?
13. Kristen McNamara: (Last week: No. 13) Simon implied she wasn’t attractive, but her rendition of “I Will Always Love You” was lovely, and let’s be honest: If this woman isn’t considered good-looking, then most of us shouldn’t be leaving the house without a strategically placed grocery bag.
12. Michael Sarver: (Last week: No. 12) Laid-back ”roughneck” scored a trip to the top 12 perhaps more on the strength of his winning personality and blue-collar backstory than his vocal performance of “I Don’t Want to Be.” Does anyone really think he’s a contender for the season 8 crown?
11. Anoop Desai: (Last week: No. 16) Stayed strong in the Idol Power poll last week, and continues to generate plenty of message-board buzz, but thanks to his sleepy Group 1 take on “Angel of Mine,” the dashing troubadour remains at the mercy of the Wild Card. Is Randy our only hope? (Gulp.)
10. Lil Rounds: (Last week: No. 10) Contestant most likely to score the Group 3 pimp slot on Tuesday, considering she’s received more screen time than any other woman in season 8. Still, her vocals to date make us think it’s too early to drink the Kool-Aid.
9. Alex Wagner-Trugman: (Last week: No. 9) Danced his 11 rivals into the ground during the Group 3 “boogie package” last week, which has us thinking he’s the season’s geek to watch. Let’s just hope he veers toward the suave ”Baby Come to Me” audition rather than his sappier top 36 sing-off.
8. Ricky Braddy: (Last week: No. 8) Handsome soul singer didn’t survive the Group 1 viewer vote despite his terrific “A Song for You.” But while Paula’s fandom means he’ll probably get a Wild Card performance slot, are his top 12 chances hurt by the presence of fellow puppy-eyed soulster Kris Allen?
7. Ju’Not Joyner: (Last week: No. 5, pictured, right) Unassuming Dad rocked “Hey There, Delilah” in Hollywood Week — the best performance to date among Group 3’s male contestants. Some might say his story lacks drama, but if this is still a singing competition (and it is, right?), then this dude is a contender.
6. Kris Allen: (New this week, pictured, left) Got maybe 30 seconds of screen time (once, as part of “White Chocolate”) during Idol‘s opening weeks, but overcame the perceived deficit and cracked the top 12 on the strength of his soulful “Man in the Mirror” and, perhaps, his obvious eye appeal.
5. Allison Iraheta: (New this week) Along with Kris, this slightly awkward teenager proved you don’t need a lot of producer help — just one great performance — to earn a top 12 spot. And the fact that she did it with “Alone” — a song synonymous with Carrie Underwood’s Idol run — makes it that much more impressive.
4. Adam Lambert: (Last week: No. 6) Whether you found his “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” shrill and overbaked, or energetic and powerful, or all of the above, it made an impression. Of course, so did those guy-on-guy makeout photos that leaked to the Internet this week. Is a homophobic backlash inevitable? Or can America handle the truth? Time, and voting patterns, will tell.
3. Felicia Barton: (Last week: No. 3) Last-minute reprieve from elimination after Joanna Pacitti’s DQ makes her this season’s appealing underdog, and lack of a Group 3 standout leaves her a window to make a huge impression. The contestant of choice for viewers who abhor semi-pros in the competition.
2. Danny Gokey: (Last week: No. 4) Somehow got a shout-out from Simon during Kris Allen’s critique this week (!), cementing his spot as the current judges’ pet. Still, the disproportionate hype — plus his relatives’ decision to display a photo of his deceased wife for the cameras (!) — has resulted in a growing Internet backlash. Can only benefit from two-week hiatus heading into top 12.
1. Alexis Grace: (Last week: No. 2) Doesn’t have the
buzz producers’ backing of the Rounds-Lambert-Gokey trio, but Idol loves a slow build (see Cook, David; Sparks, Jordin), and the pink-haired young mother’s results-show “I Never Loved a Man…” was stronger than her performance-night rendition. Perhaps Simon’s comparison to Kelly Clarkson was apt?