The competition truly begins Wednesday night on “American Idol,” as the Top 10 go head-to-head for the first time. We’ve already seen what both the remaining male and female singers are capable of — let’s just say the competition this year may be a tad one-sided — and now, it’s up to the viewers to decide who will come out on top.
So, after what seemed like endless auditions and sudden-death shenanigans (not to mention more Nicki Minaj hair touches than we can possibly count), it’s finally time to get down to business. Who will win it all? We certainly have our favorites: Here’s our breakdown of “Idol’s” Top 10, from the soon-to-be-footnotes to the superstars in waiting. Let’s hope America reads this.
10. Paul Jolley: You want proof of just how shallow the boys’ side of the pool is this year, look no further than Jolley, the bland balladeer who earned a spot in the top 10 mainly because he wasn’t Charlie (though it would have been pretty funny to see him rock a dangly earring). Shoot, even this dude’s “Idol” Q&A is boring. True, his version of Xtina’s “Just a Fool” was nice enough, and he certainly seems like a nice guy, but a superstar he most certainly isn’t.
9. Lazaro Arbos: Putting him this low on the list almost seems wrong, as Arbos’s backstory is all kinds of inspiring … in fact, it probably has a lot to do with him making it this far. That’s not to suggest he’s not talented — his performances of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “Feeling Good” have definitely been highlights — but one has to wonder how high his ceiling really is. He seems more like a throwback crooner than a contemporary star, which may serve him well on the show, but doesn’t exactly bode well for his solo career.
8. Curtis Finch Jr: No doubt, the dude can sing, and his acrobatic, Gospel-soaked run-throughs of songs like “I Believe I Can Fly” and “God Is Able” are among the strongest of the season. But, one has to look no further than previous, prodigiously talented also-rans like Jacob Lusk and Joshua Ledet for proof of how singers like him usually fare on “Idol.” Here’s a hint: It’s not good.
7. Amber Holcomb: She’s starting to emerge from her shell, thanks mainly to last week’s ultra-confident take on Whitney Houston’s “I Believe in You and Me,” and, at just 18 years old, there’s no telling how high she can go. The only thing standing in her way seems to be the sheer depth of female talent this season …can she rise above the field? We’ll just have to wait and see, which is why we’re putting her at #7 on this list. At this point, she’s merely a wild-card, and could either flame-out in the coming weeks, or put together a string of strong performances and make a run at the crown.
6. Janelle Arthur: She barely squeaked into the Top 20, but backed up the judges’ decision with a twangy take on Elvis Presley’s “If I Can Dream.” Like Holcomb, she may struggle to separate herself from her fellow females, and though she’s country to the core, she may not even be the best country singer in the competition (we like Kree Harrison a bit more). Still, if she stays in her lane, she could go deep in the competition. But can she win? Barring a shocker, we don’t think so.
5. Devin Velez: He’s got the bilingual thing down pat, and his smooth versions of “Somos Novios” and Beyoncé ’s “Listen” were standouts (also, his mom is pretty rad). He definitely benefits from the relatively weak field of male singers, which could mean that he’ll be in this thing for weeks to come. Of course, like most of the males, he seems a bit bland, and really needs a breakout moment before we’d consider him a legitimate frontrunner. Unique? Sure. Contemporary? Definitely. But a star? The jury’s still out on that one.
4. Candice Glover: She wowed the judges with her powerful take on John Legend’s “Ordinary People,” and she’s unquestionably one of the best singers in the competition, but Glover may be in danger of being outshined by some of her competitors (Holcomb is definitely nipping at her heels), simply because she doesn’t seem like a star. Could that change? If she keeps delivering big-time performances, she might be the dark-horse favorite. But if she doesn’t believe in herself, she could just as easily be shown the door too early.
3. Burnell Taylor: With his “it’s a boy’s year … again“ comment, he showed he’s got the confidence to win this whole thing, and the fact that he dropped all that weight shows his dedication. The thing is, he’s also equally talented — check his version of J.Hud’s “I’m Here” for proof — and, when combined with his style and swagger, he might be the one to beat. He’s also unlike any competitor “Idol” has had in recent years, a throwback performer who also seems cool and current, recalling (to us, anyway) a singer like Frank Ocean.
2. Kree Harrison: She commands the stage with an easy confidence, and last week’s take on Faith Hill’s “Stronger” shows what she’s capable of vocally. But what might take her all the way to the top is how relatable she is, a regular girl (with prodigious pipes) that brings to mind Kelly Clarkson. And yes, we realize that’s high praise, but we think Harrison deserves it … and we suspect she’s only scratched the surface on “Idol.” She seems like she can sing anything, and if she takes turns her talents to, say, a rock song, watch out.
1. Angie Miller: She went to the head of the pack when she performer her original song “You Set Me Free” during Hollywood week, and she hasn’t relinquished the lead since. Her versions of Jessie J’s “Nobody’s Perfect” and Colton Dixon’s “Never Gone” have been equally strong, and, as the judges have continually pointed out, she truly seems like the total package. Is it possible she’s peaked too early? That’s always a danger on “Idol,” though if she somehow manages to deliver a performance that tops her original song, Miller’s probably got this one in the bag.
Get your “Idol” fix on MTV News’ “American Idol” page, where you’ll find all the latest “Idol” news, interviews and opinions.