THE PIPE DREAMS
51: Tywan “Tank” Johnson, 29. Tank is living proof that self-awareness is a waste of time.
50: Kyrsti Jewel Chavez, 15. She’s only marginally better than one of those karaoke singers who bring their own CDs to the club and then can’t carry a tune in a five gallon bucket. I suspect that Kyrsti’s mother is a stage mom; the poor kid will probably be on The Voice next year, Here comes Honey Boo Boo the year after that, then her mother will inject her with crack cocaine so she can be on Celebrity Rehab.
49: Ameet Kanon, 18. A microwave milkshake looks just like a milkshake, but it tastes like the crap you scrape off the back window of your car. A microwave milkshake, in Idol terms, is a contestant who looks and sounds like a real singer, but when you listen closely you realize that she is mostly caterwauling.
48: Lee Jean, 15. He seems ambitious and earnest, but he would have to crap out several years of experience in a few weeks to have a chance. He sounds like he practices with an autotune microphone.
47: Ethan Kuntz, 15. He should audition for the Little Rascals.
46: Andrew Nazarbekian, 20. His phrasing style is a cross between William Shatner and Joan Rivers.
45: Brook Sample, 28. She’s more of an actress than a singer. I suppose she could play a singer on TV; she sings better than Sondra Locke.
44: Daniel Farmer, 24. The internet has never heard of him. Finding nothing is better than finding something terrible, I suppose, but I doubt he has the focus he’ll need to handle any kind of adversity. He barely held it together in his audition, too busy flirting and cutting up to concentrate, and when he did concentrate he seemed more like he was making fun of singers than singing.
43: Isaac Cole, 15. Garth Bieber needs to sing in tune.
42: Harrison Cohen, 17. I wonder if his personal ad audition scored him a girlfriend? He can’t sing in tune either, but I bet he has his choice of America’s women who want to vote for Donald Trump and marry Charlie Manson.
41: Tristan McIntosh, 15. She seems so mature and centered, like a future student body president or something, that I wonder why she bothers with music. She doesn’t have much of a voice and her peripheral skills – rhythm, command, etc. – aren’t all that great either.
40: Gianna Isabella, 15. Her mother, Brenda K. Starr, is a terrific singer. Gianna isn’t; not yet, anyway.
39: Michelle Marie, 15. She’s already a competition veteran (X-Factor) but she’s also barely a tweener, let alone a full-fledged teenager. Can she sing five or six consecutive songs without giggling uncontrollably?
38: Mary Williams, 23. There are videos out there where she sounds like a superstar, and there are videos out there where she sounds like a hog caller. She’ll live and die by her ability to control her voice when she goes for the high notes. She doesn’t sing out of tune, but her tone spreads and distorts until she sounds like Fran Dresher hailing a cab.
37: Terrian Bass, 18. I suppose anything short of getting raped and murdered qualifies as a success, given where she lives. If she makes it to the live shows will her family and friends in the audience have their faces pixilated? Bad boys bad boys – whatcha gonna do?
36: Reanna Molinaro, 24. She has a nice, strong country voice and she plays guitar ok but she doesn’t finish her phrasing, which makes her sound out of tune.
35: La’Porsha Renae, 22. I love the hair (she’s like a chia pet), but I don’t love her effective vocal range, which is roughly half an octave. She would have to be perfect to survive, and she is nursing a baby. When is she going to sleep?
THE LOTTERY TICKETS
34: Jordyne Simone, 15. She bears a remarkable resemblance to Chaka Kahn and she has a boatload of vocal tricks, but she still needs to refine everything.
33: Josiah Siska, 18. He wants to be Scotty McCreery, but he doesn’t have the snap in his voice that Scotty has. He sounds a lot like the bass singer from the Oak Ridge Boys to me.
32: Amber Lynn, 28. Tons of style, but no vocal power at all.
31: Sonica Vaid, 20. She’s probably too sing songy to contend in this crowd, but she is above the karaoke level. Her voice is pleasant, and she plays a pretty decent piano.
30: Jeneve Rose Mitchell, 15. Strip away the manic cello playing and her supernova personality and there ain’t much musical power underneath. She’ll last until the judges decide the novelty has worn off.
29: Shevonne Philodor, 24. It took her six tries to get past the audition stage, but she’s worked hard and gotten pretty dammed good.
28: Rhea Raj, 15. She will probably be in the music business for decades, but her voice is in a bad place at the moment. She was terrific before puberty and she will probably be terrific again in her twenties, but right now she doesn’t have a high range she can count on.
THE LUNATIC FRINGE
27: Kerry Courtney, 24. He is too strange to handicap, too sloppy to trust, but too interesting to dismiss.
26: Jenn Blosil, 23. She’s another strange one, a good but not great musician who is prone to mistakes and losing focus. I don’t imagine the Hollywood grinder will be kind to her, but she could be an interesting (and entertaining) sleeper if she can handle it. I have a sneaking hunch that a lot of her strangeness is play-acting, but it’s possible she’s just really high all the time.
25: Tommy Stringfellow, 17. He looks like Buddy Holly, and if Buddy Holly were alive and 17 he might sound like Tommy does. He’s a total wild card; he could win the whole thing, or he could go home the first week of Hollywood.
24: Kayla Mickelson, 18. She’s a jazzy little hipster, similar to Lily Scott from season nine but about a foot shorter. She might be even weirder than Kerry or Jenn; I thought she was going to start singing “Tiptoe through the Tulips” at her audition.
23: Kory Wheeler, 27. He rides the edge between quirky and creepy, and I have no idea which side he’ll land on.
THE NICHE SINGERS
22: Trent Harmon, 24. There are a lot of guys who sing like he does, and he isn’t the best of the group. His best hook might be his accent; he sings like he’s from Queens but he talks like he’s from Deliverance.
21: Chris Johnson, 28. The token bar band singer will last as long as he doesn’t make any big mistakes. I expect him to be one of the last cuts before they go live.
20: Shelbie Z, 23. She has no range and she is a one-trick pony, but she made it past the chairs on The Voice and her one trick is a popular one. She has a powerful voice in her tiny little bit of range, so if she picks the perfect songs she can last a while.
THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE
19: Kassy Levels, 19. She has as much experience and training as anyone the show has seen since maybe Adam Lambert and she has tremendous command of herself on stage, but I’m not sure if she has an Idol quality voice. There isn’t anything about her that makes me want to listen to her again, even though she is technically almost perfect.
18: John Arthur Greene, 27. He got a pimp spot so he might be fast-tracked, but he is a comparatively mediocre talent.
17: Malie Delgado, 20. Beauty queens don’t win Idol; they spend their childhoods learning how to present their outsides. Idol winners spend their childhoods learning how to present their insides.
16: John Wayne Schulz, 27. He will have to get through by singing perfect songs and relying on his sexy, momma-loving cowboy soldier persona; he is far from the best pure country singer in the competition. He has almost no vocal range, and his rhythm is iffy.
THE HIGH CEILING WILD CARDS
15: Cameron Richard, 15. He looks like he hit puberty in the parking lot on the way in, but he has a neat voice and quite a bit of polish for his age.
14: Joshua Wicker, 25. He has almost as much high range as he thinks he has. My guess is that he’ll either flame out in a beautiful, terrible spasm of a trainwreck, trying to sing Lourde’s “Royals” a step too high the first week of Hollywood – or he’ll still be around in April.
13: Lindita Halimi, 26. She sounds like Amy Winehouse and she looks like a care bear, but she always tries to do too much. My guess is that she screws up and gets dumped before the live shows.
12: Jordan Sasser, 27. He’s not exactly a hard core rocker, one of those “I sold my soul for rock and roll” guys. He’s one of those “my soul is on ice for Jesus Christ” guys. He has a fantastic voice, but the way he phrases is more Pat Boone than Pat Benatar.
11: Jessica Clark, 24. Her style is very eighties, with a little jazzy backbeat. She might sound more like Paula Abdul than anyone I’ve ever heard on the show.
10: Sara Sturm, 17. She has some polish and experience, but nothing compared to some of the YouTube stars. What she does have is one of the richest, sweetest voices in the competition. I’m not sure if it will help or hurt that she looks like she’s about eleven years old.
9: Melanie Tierce, 21. She has a wide range of possible outcomes, depending on how well her Greenwich Village folk style goes over with the judges. I would like to hear her sing Brandi Carlile’s “The Story,” to find out if she has any power behind her coffee house tone.
8: Jake Dillon, 22. His lack of musical knowledge bugs me – the judges almost dumped him because he played the wrong chords on his audition song – but his style is really pleasant and I think the public would love him if he made it to the voting.
7: James Dawson VIII, 27. He reminds me sooo much of Casey James when he plays the guitar, down to the way he shakes his head, though he isn’t as good as Casey. He is lightyears better than Casey as a singer, but he might struggle on the show because he doesn’t really have a lead singer’s personality.
6: Dalton Rapattoni, 19. If the internet is to be believed he is the frontrunner. I like him, but he will have a hard time getting past some of these alligators without better vocal technique. Will his fans stay behind him once they’ve heard him strain for the high notes a few more times?
5: Laurel Wright, 19. She sounds like Cheryl Crow, she looks like Allison Williams, and she won the Texaco Country Showdown when she was 16. That’s not a small thing; the Country Showdown is a national, all ages competition that’s been around for thirty years. Laurel might be this season’s Kree Harrison; she can win if everything breaks right for her.
4: Olivia Rox (Hill), 16. She has a howitzer of a voice, musicianship flowing off her like radio waves, and a pleasant, disarming personality. Her only weakness might be her falsetto. She is only 16, but she has been playing since before she learned how to talk.
3: Brandyn Burnette, 25. He’s almost too good, too pretty, and too nice to be true. I’m not sure his voice is super strong based on what I’ve heard, but he will get everything out of whatever voice he has and he has world class musical instincts. I think people will compare him to Bruno Mars, but he has more in common with Adele (musically, at least).
2: Elvie Shane (Payton), 27. Arlo Guthrie with twice the range, five times the power, and a hundred times the ‘what the hell is he going to do next?’ anticipation – plus he looks like a crazy Ronnie Van Zandt. The only worry I have about him is whether his personality will play in Peoria all the way through; he’s a little rough around the edges, more like someone I would want to play with than someone the judges might want to play with.
1: Ashley Lilinoe, 20. The more I see of her, the more I like; she sings like Haley Reinhart and plays guitar better than even Casey James. Her only weakness is that she is more jazzy than pop, and she can be a little too laid back. The judges might dump the finesse singers in favor of the big powerhouse voices, and Ashley is a little weird so they might be afraid of what she would do on a live show. She is really freaking good, though, and I have little doubt that she will be around for years, making cool music and eating watermelon with her cat. She probably needs Idol less than any of the other contestants.