Image Credit: Michael Becker/FoxAlicia Keys bursts onto the American Idol scene tonight to help the remaining season 9 contestants navigate a bizarre list of 77 “inspirational songs.” (Check out my dream set list for tonight’s show here.) Before Aaron Kelly can go all “This Is My Now” on our behinds, though, I’m going to rank him and his six rivals in terms of their momentum over the last eight weeks of live performances. Won’t you do the same by voting for your favorite in our Power List poll? (Related: ‘American Idol’ results night recap: Two Blue; for more Idol coverage, follow me on Twitter @EWMichaelSlezak.)
7. Aaron Kelly (Last week No. 8 ): I’m going to put as much energy and effort into Aaron’s writeup as he’s put into his last three performances. Aaaand…done!
6. Michael ‘Big Mike’ Lynche (Last week No. 7): “In the Ghetto” was vocally spotless, and gave him enough momentum to survive another week — despite his pouting and preening after Simon & Co. chose to use the season 9 Judges’ Save to rescue him from elimination the week prior. Still, it’s hard to get past the overarching air of entitlement he brings to the Idol stage, and his hammy point-and-wink shenanigans would be a better fit for Berkshires Lounge Act Idol, no?
5. Casey James (Last week No. 3): Squandered the momentum he gained with his passionate, stripped-down “Jealous Guy” by delivering a tedious, low-wattage “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” during Elvis week. There’s no denying he’s consistently solid, but you can’t win Idol by sitting midpack and waiting for weaker singers to get picked off. Running out of time to step up and be brilliant.
4.Tim Urban (Last week No. 5): Known more for being emotionally tone-deaf than vocally brilliant, but with a guitar in his hand and headlights in his eyes, this little fawn has been slowly but steadily gaining momentum in the competition. You have to admit: “All My Loving” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love” were massive steps forward compared to “Sweet Love” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” And that perception of “growth” and “improvement” can be very powerful with Idol voters. If he continues to choose pretty songs that don’t test his limited range, he could easily pull a Nikki McKibbin or a Jasmine Trias.
3. Siobhan Magnus (Last week No. 4): Her uneven but interesting “Suspicious Minds” was a definite improvement on her screechy “Through the Fire” and so-so “Superstition,” but we’re still pining for the days when The Glassblower brought us electrifying drama (“Paint It Black”) while maintaining vocal excellence (“House of the Rising Sun”). Ranked at No. 3 based on past glories more so than on recent performances, but there’s no denying that at her very best, she’s perhaps the biggest threat to a Crystal-Lee finale.
2. Lee DeWyze (Last week No. 2): His “A Little Less Conversation” and “Treat Her Like a Lady” both rank among the season’s 10 best performances, so despite a slightly one-note vibe, he’s looking like a solid bet to make it to the finale. Could seal a trip to the Nokia by giving a more vulnerable vocal — and shaking up the jeans-and-gray-jacket uniform — for Idol Gives Back Week. Here’s hoping dude watches Idolatry — and takes notes while doing it!
1. Crystal Bowersox (Last week No. 1): Actually improved on Elvis’ original “Saved,” and combined with powerhouse turns on “Me and Bobby McGee,” “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” and “Come Together,” she’s the clear leader of the season 9 pack. Still, would be nice to see her add some current music to her repertoire, no?