11. Megan Corkrey: (Last week: No. 11) The Lady CawCaw lost her No. 1 fan, Simon Cowell, with her whimsical take on the Jackson 5’s ”Rockin’ Robin,” but is it possible the British judge simply hates songs about birds? On the plus side, those who dig Megan’s gravely squeak know they’ll need to speed-dial this week, and country music may be an okay fit with her quirky style.
10. Scott MacIntyre: (Last week: No. 9) It’s a problem that his good-natured semifinal high-five with Ryan has proven far more memorable than his low-wattage renditions of ”Mandolin Rain” and the obscure “Keep the Faith” during Michael Jackson week. Sad to say, but I’m getting sleepy just writing this paragraph.
9. Anoop Desai: (Last week: No. 2) ‘Noop Dawg is lucky America didn’t tell him to “beat it” after a totally unconvincing performance during Michael Jackson week. The good news is, he hit almost every note of a song that was bound to sound karaoke without total reinvention. But on the flip side, how come Anoop didn’t know enough to shake up the arrangement or pick a different track altogether?
8. Michael Sarver: (Last week: No. 12) Looked like the weakest link heading into Michael Jackson week, but his “You Are Not Alone” was on pitch and heartfelt, if not particularly electrifying. Says he’s not a country singer, but his Texas drawl is a better fit for Grand Ole Opry week than most of his competitors, and that may be enough to get him to the Idol Tour.
7. Lil Rounds: (Last week: No. 7) No doubt she’s got stage presence and a powerful set of pipes, but hasn’t exhibited much in the way of originality, and even hit a few wonky notes on her cover of “The Way You Make Me Feel.” Needs a breakout performance in the next two weeks, or she might have to rely on a “Judges’ Save” to crack the top 5.
6. Matt Giraud: (Last week: No. 8) Nailed “Who’s Lovin’ You” during Wild Card week (even if it was a little riff-rific), but his followup of “Human Nature” was more of a mixed bag. Sure, he got to show off his nice, bluesy tone (sorry to slip into Kara-speak there), but the falsetto runs at the end caused flashbacks to his semifinal “Viva La Vida.” Scare-ois!
5. Kris Allen: (Last week: No. 6) His enthusiastic guitar-strumming got drowned out by the band on “Remember the Time,” but he sang with enough soul and enthusiasm that it barely mattered. Despite getting ignored by producers in the early rounds, the season 8 heartthrob’s buzz is growing. Will the judges get behind him, too, or throw him under the bus?
4. Alexis Grace: (Last week: No. 1) Tried a little too hard toward the back end of “Dirty Diana,” and it’s a little too early in the season to be drawing fashion inspiration from Haley Scarnato. Still, she’s got one of the strongest and most distinctive voices in the competition — and one that should be able to adapt to a variety of genres. Simon didn’t compare her to Kelly Clarkson for nothin’.
3. Danny Gokey: (Last week: No. 3) The judges flipped for his “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing),” which seemed a bit odd coming from a panel that often treats Taylor Hicks like a punch line. Think about it: Both Danny and Taylor have gruff, soulful instruments, throw down seriously goofy dance moves, and have drawn comparisons to Michael McDonald. Whether those qualities are good, bad, or otherwise, well, that’s strictly up to you.
2. Allison Iraheta: (Last week: No. 4) The not-always-accurate DialIdol had the awkward teenager ranked among last week’s lowest vote-getters (blasphemy!), so perhaps her choice of MJ’s little-known album track “Give in to Me” was too big a strategic risk. That said, her vocal convinced us she’s a total rock star, and paired with her gritty, inventive “Alone,” she’s become the female contestant to watch.
1. Adam Lambert: (Last week: No. 5) With his high-octane, howling theatrics, Adam is polarizing, to be certain. But his take on “Black or White” sent the judges into fits of rapture, and he certainly stands out in a season where too many performances have been safe or vocally imperfect — or both. Must avoid a Maroulis-esque spiral, but going into the top 11, he’s got the power.
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