'American Idol' Power List: We're down to 20! Who's your favorite?

After a rocky start to the semifinals last week, American Idol‘s top 20 contestants will be back tonight and tomorrow to prove they’re more Kelly Clarkson than Kelli Glover. Before they sing another note, however, it’s time for me to rank their place in the season 9 stratosphere — and for you to weigh in with your own vote in our handy Power List Poll. So, without further ado, let’s get to it…shall we? (Oh, and after you do your Idol civic duty, be sure to get up-to-the minute links to my coverage by following me on that Twitter thingie @EWMichaelSlezak!)

20. Tim Urban (New this week) Left the nation’s collective jaw on the floor after he tried and failed to reach the high notes of One Republic’s “Apologize” last week; that, combined with his wobbly David Cook cover in the Hollywood rounds, cemented the widely held impression that he’s the weakest remaining singer in the top 20. Nice head of hair, though, and recent shirtless-photo buzz could score points with more prurient segment of Idol fans.

19. Jermaine Sellers (Last week No. 15 ): Thuddingly awful Top 24 Week cover of Oleta Adams’ “Get Here” proved Jermaine has no understanding of/interest in the value of vocal restraint. Meanwhile, his apparent bewilderment as to the identity of Idol music director Michael Orland (whom he’d publicly clashed with during Hollywood Week) won’t win him any Mr. Congeniality points, either. Alas, his intriguing audition rendition of Joan Osborne’s “One of Us” seems a distant memory now.

18. Haeley Vaughn (Returns this week): One of season 9’s most polarizing contestants forcefully tackled the Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand” for her semifinal debut, and while her rendition creaked and whined like a rusty door hinge in a dilapidated mansion, it was at the very least…interesting? Plus, her black bubble skirt, green top, and feathered headpiece was the fashion highlight of results night. Hey, it’s somethin’!

17. Lacey Brown (Last week No. 8 ): Cracked season 8’s top 50 contestants, and it was easy to understand why after hearing her excellent, restrained “Over the Rainbow” during the “Road to Hollywood” episode. Sadly, though, her scorched-Earth Top 24 cover of “Landslide” left no note unpunished, turning Lacey from dark horse to dark cloud. Needs to get her nerves — and her vocals — in check to avoid a hasty exit.

16. Alex Lambert (New this week): Cracked the top 20 using a combination of sympathy votes, mullet love, and appreciation for the intriguing natural tone of his voice. That said, he spat out his Week 1 “Wonderful World” with the sophistication and care of a toddler coughing an unwanted vegetable into his mother’s outstretched palm. In other words, he’ll have to figure out how to utilize his natural gifts this week — or pay the ultimate price in the competition.

15. John Park (Last week No. 4): Made Shania Twain melt with lust during the audition rounds, but made the Idol audience recoil with terror once he hit the live stage, thanks to a strangely phrased, pitch-challenged “God Bless the Child.” Which one is the real John Park? Let’s hope it’s the former, not the latter; the season 9 bench could use some added depth, no?

14. Todrick Hall (Last week No. 18 ): You’ve got to give him credit for trying something different with a funked-up twist on Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone.” And then you can promptly take said credit away for completely obliterating the melody and delivering a seriously unsteady vocal. And then you have to subtract a few more points for those preening, cheesy dance moves. Um, so how exactly does dude manage to move up from 18 to 14 this week? #Season9Trepidation!

13. Paige Miles (Last week No. 14): Total lack of early screen-time put Paige in the “whoa! who’s she?” role, and it didn’t help that she was forced to go first among the 24 semifinalists, either. Strangely enough, I thought she struggled to stay in tune throughout Free’s “All Right Now,” but the judges had nothing but praise for her. Needs a breakout performance to solidify any kind of voting base.

12. Michael ‘Big Mike’ Lynche (Last week No. 13): True confessions time: Which of the following is clearer in your memory — the Hollywood Week discussion of Big Mike’s wife’s cervix or his semifinal performance of Maroon 5’s “This Love”? That it’s even a question doesn’t bode especially well for the burly personal trainer — nor do his guitar-playing pantomime shenanigans — but he’s scored tons of airtime, and likable everydoods often go a long way in this competition.

11. Katie Stevens (Last week No. 11): Attempted to climb Mount Glambert by covering “Feeling Good” during Top 24 week, but hit a couple rough patches pitch-wise, and her “jazzy” “choreography” was thoroughly unconvincing. One of the more consistent performers during Hollywood Week, but needs to convince us she’s more than a child playing dress-up if she’s going to crack the Power List top 10.

10. Michelle Delamor (Last week No. 19; pictured, left): Was also largely overlooked during Idol‘s first six weeks, but her Top 24 performance of “Fallin’,” while completely derivative, was strongly sung and mostly in tune — enough to help her crack the upper echelon of season 9’s semifinalists. Still, unless she can shake off the “corporate-singing gig” affectations, she’ll never be a serious contender for the whole enchilada.

9. Aaron Kelly (Last week No. 17): Was visibly (and vocally) shaky as he begin his cover of Rascal Flatts’ “Here Comes Goodbye” last week, but as Randy Jackson might say, the teenage contestant worked it out and did his thing — capping the performance with a potent and passionate glory note. If he can continue to remember his lyrics (a problem during Hollywood Week), he’s a strong top 12 contender.

8. Katelyn Epperly (Returns this week; pictured, center): Surprised this naysayer with an appealingly raspy cover of the Beatles’ “Oh Darlin'” that made her one of the few current semifinalists to show forward momentum last week. Still, Kara was right that Katelyn ought to ditch the Bobo the Dominatrix makeover. Yikes and yowza indeed.

7. Lilly Scott (Last week No. 6): Retains a high chart position thanks to that beautifully nuanced Hollywood Week take on “Lullaby of Birdland” (complete with peacock-earring feathers), but her Top 24 cover of the Beatles’ “Fixing a Hole” was better in theory than in practice. Yeah, the song choice was appealingly quirky — we’d just have preferred it if Lilly had hit more than half the notes of the opening verse.

6. Lee Dewyze (Last week No. 10): Simon was perhaps being a bit too effusive when he called Lee’s “Chasing Cars” the best vocal of Wednesday night (not with that many bum notes, dude!). But the good parts of the performance were very very good, and the fetching contestant proved he knows how to change up a well-worn melody without completely destroying it. We’re intrigued to see what he does this week, which is better than the dread we’re experiencing with regard to most of his competitors.

5. Siobhan Magnus (Last week No. 12): Simon was right that Siobhan’s Top 24 performance was dark, but heck, girlfriend was singing “Wicked Game,” not “Walking on Sunshine”! Upper register is positively gorgeous, and any forward momentum in the confidence department ought to ensure her a spot on the 2010 Idol summer tour. Oh yeah, I went there already!

4. Didi Benami (Last week No. 3): Judges were a little lukewarm on her folksy cover of Ingrid Michaelson’s “The Way I Am,” and while, yeah, it was a little low-key for a first live impression, it was also delivered with the subtlety and emotional connectedness that were hallmarks of Didi’s Hollywood Week takes on Katharine McPhee”s “Terrified” and Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel.” (Bonus points for Didi’s admission she needs to dial back on the weeping. Way to be aware of your audience!)

3. Casey James (Last week No. 7; pictured, right): One of the few contestants last week who didn’t experience pitch problems — all the more impressive considering he did so while trying not to get distracted by Randy and Kara’s infantile sway-bot antics. Indeed, the guy who was once best known for taking off his shirt during auditions is now looking like one of the season’s few legit contenders. Needs to show a little more originality — and beware of excess vibrato — but his goofy expression during Thursday’s group performance was downright endearing.

2. Crystal Bowersox (Last week No. 2): Rocked both harmonica and guitar last week on a lovely, shaded rendering of Alanis Morissette’s “Hand in My Pocket.” Can’t refute Simon’s criticism that the tattooed mom will need to amp up the originality in her arrangements if she wants to be the next Kris Allen, but there’s also no denying her identifiable voice, quiet confidence, and laid-back cool have made her the early leader on the ladies’ side. Bow-er…(uh-huh, I can’t help myself)…sox!

1. Andrew Garcia (Last week No. 1): Absolutely killed with a rhythmically adventurous take on Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up,” and while his Top 24 Week choice of Fall Out Boy’s “Sugar, We’re Going Down” was infinitely less cool, it was, at the very least, unique and well sung. Needs to ramp up the drama and prove he’s more than a YouTube cover cat, but until a competitor has a true “Idol Moment,” the No. 1 slot is his to lose.


Image Credit: Michael Becker/Fox (3)

Comments (86 total) Add your comment
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  • Jack’s Medulla Oblongata

    Bower-Sox! Bower-Sox!

    • Nshi

      Tim Ur-ban! Tim Ur-ban!

      • elizmc

        really?? I mean he’s cute, but his voice is not good enough.

      • psychoanalyzer

        he’s cute?!

    • Army Archerd

      I’d give her a little man-gurt.

    • Risk

      Crystal Bowersox is the only reason why even tune in to this show.

  • Lisa

    Who is my favorite? Or, who do I hate the least?

    Besides Crystal, I couldn’t give two craps about any of these contestants. BORING.

    • Anonymous

      Well then I am sure you are happy that the producers rearranged the entire schedule to accommodate her

      • Lisa

        Her’s is the only voice that I like but I don’t care what they do to accomodate anyone.

    • yadda

      Crystal’s “AI isn’t my venue and the only reason I’m here is to make money” attitude is crap.

      • Michael

        Yadda…yadda…yadda. Lest we forget, Kelly Clarkson did her darndest to separate herself from the Idol machine until she realized her mistake. You can crucify Crystal for what might be merely unfortunate editing but don’t think for a second that these performers want anything more than exposure. Diana DeGarmo doesn’t list her AI experience in Playbill but you can bet your ass that she’s gotten many jobs because of the exposure that she’s gained from the show. Criticize one, criticize them all or shut the eff up.

  • Michael

    So Michael…you’ve taken every opportunity available to rip into Kara for every little thing that she’s done wrong. Shouldn’t you now at least acknowledge the fact that her analysis of the boys was, in almost every case, very constructive and intelligent? She looked like Einstein next to Humpty-Dumpty and Ellen. She annoyed me last year, but I have to give her props after this week’s evals.

    • Terri

      No. She’s phony and an attention-grabber.

  • Matthew

    Pleasantly surprised that so many are rooting for Siobhan. She’s my fave by far!

    • mishka

      Siobhan and Casey “Brad Pitt” James are my favorites. With Lee and Katelyn the hooker, they really stood out last week IMO.
      Todrick would become a serious contender if he drops all those silly gestures. He’s a great singer and has a great personnality. And those Gary Dourdan eyes hum…
      Tim Urban is the exact replica of Zac Efron: he’s cute, he has bangs and he can’t sing! Go to Disney, Tim!
      Will Bowersox be able to “compromise” and go “mainstream”? I don’t think so.

      • Mary

        I don’t understand why people think he is cute. Not – and he can’t sing.

      • Matthew

        Yeah, Casey is by far my favorite of the guys too!

      • IdolFan

        Casey is alright, but comparing him to Brad Pitt? LoL.

  • Joslyn

    I’ve been voting for John Park in all the previous Power Ranking Polls, but gotta go with Siobhan Magnus now. High hopes for her performance this week!

    • flower

      I was going for Didi, but now I love Siobhan. That upper register of her voice was so beautiful. I wish I could download her version.

      • Mark in FL

        Do you mean the full version of Wicked Game? I do as well. $1.29 is too much for a 1:30 short version of the song.

      • john t.

        ha! i’m with you flower. all season long i’ve been rooting for didi, but siobhan won me over. don’t get me wrong though…i wouldn’t mind seeing didi win this :)

  • Bababoeey

    Love Bowersox, but she has to start embracing the idol power-machine, and stop looking so hesitant to be there

  • Kirsten

    Oh, Slezak. I love you, I really do. But, Crystal Bowersox was way better than Andrew Garcia last week. His stripped down/acoustic vibe is getting really boring already, which is unfortunate. He should take a note from Kris Allen and know when the guitar isn’t needed.

    • Leila

      Slezak is not saying he prefers Andrew to Crystal, this is just the power list for who has more chances of advancing to the next round.

  • TexFan

    AI has not had a great start since Hollywood week. Last weeks shows screamed “train wreck” for three solid nights. Thank goodness that they brought on past Idols to help fill the talent void! I must say, though, that having Kris and Allison on the first live show makes me think that once again, the idol machine will try to pimp Adam Lambert above the person WE chose last year. If he gets a night to himself,and they do the pimping thing, I’ll scream at the TV so loud, you will hear me in Hollywood!

    • ^^

      I’m so tired of them dissing Kris. If they didn’t want our input, why have the show?

  • Nshi

    Vote for the Worst people! Make it interesting!

    Go Urban!

  • Mike

    I’m glad Siobhan is in the Top 3 vote-getters in this pool! Hopefully it carries over to the general public.

  • danielle

    You know, Didi might have mentioned that she needs to stop crying, but she was still a sobbing wreck during the results show.

  • Leila

    Siobhan has my vote.

  • Katie

    I guess I haven’t been as impressed by Siobhan’s performances. Big fan of Lee, Casey, Andrew and Didi. Besides the few that are GREAT, I am beginning to wonder how some of these people made it this far. Also, I think it’s not fair to people like Paige who were not highlighted like the rest of the bunch earlier in the show. She is pretty good but to pick the same song (All Right Now) as David Cook did so early on in the competition, it was hard not to compare.

  • wooster182

    You really think Garcia is at the top after that boring, lackluster performance last week? If he doesn’t fix it by Wednesday, he’s straight up and out next week. I don’t think people are going to keep that much interest in him. If I were ranking him this week, I’d at least have him 4th. Bowersox is definitely by FAR the frontrunner now. And give the lady a break! It was the 1st week! She’s supposed to change arrangements and get hounded by the judges like the others in the 1st week? No…give her time.

    • Amidala

      I agree about Andrew. I don’t get all the hype over him. His voice was really weak last week.

  • JesDC

    Jermaine Sellers performance was the all-time absolute WORST AI performance ever. I cant believe he made it through and I cant believe the Judges even put him into the finals. It was clear he is un-deserving. And there is no way Joe Munoz deserved to go. He was definitely one of the better performances that night. But Lee DeWyze in my opinion is the best guy there. I loved his performance, even with some off notes, it was great. I would Love to hear him sing the entire song. Ill be voting for him!

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