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”American Idol”: Power rankings
1) Kristy Lee Cook
Gorgeous Oregonian’s ”Amazing Grace” was the hands-down highlight of American Idol week 1, but will an Internet backlash about her one-time deal with Arista Nashville cost her come voting season?
2) Colton Swon
Stole his hairstyle from Kajagoogoo and his name from a daytime soap, but his impressive take on Little Big Town’s ”Boondocks” makes him a possible male counterpart to Carrie Underwood.
3) Junot Joyner
Blink and you missed his brief audition clip, but if your ears were open, chances are you haven’t forgotten his strong, unfussy take on ”I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues.”
4) Jessica Brown
Producers chose to highlight her one-time battle with meth addiction, but Dr. Phil moment aside, she infused ”I’ll Stand by You” with an emotional depth that’s rare this early in the American Idol game.
5) Jose Candelaria
His version of ”Unbreak My Heart” was smooth, sexy, and completely in Spanish, but he’ll need a major fashion upgrade if he wants to be American Idol‘s first bilingual powerhouse.
6) Drew Poppelreiter
Simon voted ”no,” Paula saw ”no wow factor” in his George Strait cover, and yet he’s going on to Hollywood — with loads of fan buzz. See what big pecs, tight jeans and a piece of hay between the teeth can do for a guy?
7) Chris Watson
Drew’s main rival for the ”week-one hunk” crown, he hit every note of Uncle Kracker’s ”Follow Me,” but his slightly nasal tone keeps him from being ranked higher. This season’s answer to Anwar Robinson?
8) Angela Martin
Anyone who ever had a heart was rooting for this 26-year-old mother of a young daughter with Rett Syndrome, but her ”Signed Sealed Delivered,” while tuneful, was plagued by gimmicky affectations.
9) Beth Stalker
Recorded a Christian album before she was old enough to enter kindergarten, and the 28-year-old scored her second chance at the dream with a sweet, if not overwhelming, cover of ”Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered.”
10) Kady Malloy
Simon dubbed her the best audition he’d seen this season after she belted out ”Unchained Melody,” but frankly, it’s her spot-on imitation of Britney Spears that’s sticking with us days after her audition.
NEXT PAGE: Nos. 11-20, and your chance to vote for your pick as the Week 1 front-runner
11) Pia ”Zpia” Easley
Arrived at her audition looking the part of a pop star, with sassy fauxhawk and scads of tattoos, but her Gladys Knight cover showed a troubling lack of vocal control; Hollywood meltdown inevitable?
12) Joey Catalano
Tough to root against a kid who lost 200 pounds in the months leading up to his audition, but we remember his inspirational backstory more than his not-bad rendition of Maroon 5’s ”Sunday Morning.”
13) Kyle Ensley
His campaign-spoof interview package looked like a setup for a train-wreck, but this primary-color-clad glee-club member impressed Paula and Simon with his take on Queen’s ”Somebody to Love.”
14) Alaina Whitaker
Comparing yourself to Carrie Underwood in front of the judges takes hubris, yet while she’s got a physical likeness to the Idol champ, her pitchy Faith Hill cover won’t make her a multi-platinum threat.
15) Jonathan Baines
Handsome kid got only seconds of screentime — and didn’t make a strong impression with ’em — but every Idol season needs a teen dream who can self-destruct in the semifinals. Maybe it’s him?
16) Brooke White
Call her Nanny McPlease! Doe-eyed child-care provider called infant twins her ”best friends” and said she’d never seen an R-rated movie, but so what? Her Corrine Bailey Rae number was a four-note snoozer!
17) Melanie Nyema
Onetime backup singer for Taylor Hicks barely made it past the judges, and with good reason: Her ”Unwritten” couldn’t match Ayla Brown’s season-five semifinal version, let alone Natasha Bedingfield’s original.
18) Kayla Hatfield
Spunky, funky Kyra Sedgwick lookalike who overcame a crippling car accident is this season’s most likable contestant. But what show are we watching when Simon gives Golden Tickets to undeniably middling vocalists?
19) Brandon Green
Does it really matter how much talent this dude has — and for the record, his ”Rich Girl” was barely middle-class — when he carries around a macabre plastic bag of old fingernail clippings?
20) Nina Shaw
She’s attractive, wickedly stylish (the disco dress was rockin’) and from Kelly Clarkson’s hometown. But her version of Whitney Houston’s overdone ”Run to You” was a hot mess. Judges, clean thy ears!
NEXT PAGE: Vote for your favorite singer
American Idol Poll
Flashback! See how we ranked the contenders after week 1 last year — and yes, Jordin, Blake, and (gulp!) Sanjaya were all on our American Idol Power List