Thursday, February 13, 2014


Okay, now that we're pretty informed on how TPTB is shaping the season, who they are promoting, and the contestants' singing ability and personalities, here's one man's educated guess on how the rankings (for getting votes) are shaping up heading into rush week:

The Rankings:

Top 10:
1) Majesty Rose
2) CJ Harris
3) Sam Woolf
4) Dexter Roberts
5) George Lovett
6) Brandy Neelly
7) Briana Oakley
8) Malcolm Allen
9) Alex Preston
10) Austin Wolfe

Middle 10:
11) MK Nobilette
12) Jessica Meuse
13) Kenzie Hall
14) Casey Thrasher
15) Ben Briley
16) Jena Asciutto
17) Caleb Johnson
18) Spencer Lloyd
19) Jillian Jensen
20) Kristen O'Connor

Bottom 11:
21) Briston Maroney
22) Marrialle Sellars
23) Emily Piriz
24) Ethan Harris
25) Maurice Townsend
26) Malaya Watson
27) Emmanuel Zidor
28) Bria Anai
29) Jordan Brisbane
30) Andrina Brogden
31) Neco Starr

1) Majesty Rose--She has very expressive eyes, and a friendly disposition. Couple that with the fact that she defies stereotype extremely well, and has a very expressive softer register even with guitar, and that's a possible winner. She's one of the more creative types we've seen on Idol for a long time. "Violet Hill" was genius and enough to catapult her to the #1 spot alone. Harmonious. She's also shown underrated ability to belt, but not overdo it. Just has a great sense of what she wants to represent. Calm vibe inside and out, and she could navigate through the theme weeks, which is largely why I put her above some of the others immediately below. She did falter at the end, but it's hard for me to move her down when her style has been quite reliable.

2) CJ Harris--This guy is a frontrunner for votes, for this reason: his face always looks emotional, but in that awwshucks way. Alabama. He reeks humility, like he doesn't have a bad apple to his bone. A true family man with a big backstory, but with the emo looking face and the very emotional "my life depended on it" belting vibe to back it up. He covers up vocal imperfections with emotion and pure vibe, and for him, with him being a country boy, it really works. He's a decent singer, but it's just that the emotion overrides it very often. He's alternated between old school Civil Rights soul and down-home country, two genres with a ton of meaning, and he's going to milk it for all it's worth. He's playing this perfectly, representing himself personality and song styling-wise, but also with the songs themselves. He's really, really consigned with his guitar because as he saw in Hollywood, he's all sorts of awkward without it, and even his acapella he needed to slap himself to maintain beat. Still, he has so many ingredients, it doesn't matter. A real major frontrunner.

3) Sam Woolf--I think CJ for now hits so many attributes he seems like an automatic frau grab. Sam is grounded and has the look to be a teenbait, and even his original song in green mile showed a tendency to show good melody in particular. He has a good sense of what he represents musically, is consistent and has the backstory. He doesn't smile, but neither did DeWyze. He probably won't do much without the guitar, but it doesn't matter. If CJ loses ground musically, which very well could happen for sure, Sam has the musical consistency to move up a notch.

4) Dexter Roberts--He personifies down-South country with the bro aspect--everything that's current about country music. He looks like your Southern brother and doesn't look like that country star, but I don't think it matters since his vibe is completely there. He's got an extremely deep twangy bro country sound, has one of the best identities on the show, and is extremely relatable to the frau. Down home, humble, wears the cap.

5) George Lovett--This might be an utter bomb of a ranking, especially since he was the only contestant who didn't have their audition featured. But man, he's the contestant who shows the best emotion and lays it out there on stage, even more than CJ Harris. He seems to have a constant cheery attitude which is super refreshing when you see so many glum emo faces that characterize the Idol crowd. I think that could endear him to audiences , and he's got a very cool R&B vibe. I'm kind of surprised they never pimped him, but this ranking reflects what could possibly happen, and how highly I thought of his performance.

6) Brandy Neelly--This one was another one that was tough to pigeonhole, actually,because she has definite strengths that can allow her to do well in the show, and she fits the mold easily. There might be a few subtle weaknesses though, but we'll see. For a country singer, and at her age, she's surprisingly developed with her voice: she doesn't even tread all-out country, as seen in her youtube videos, as she's really like pop country in the vein of Dolly Parton. Old style emotional poppy country. That gives her a bit of a leg up in terms of singing versatility. She's well-trained on the flow of notes and how to modulate them and express emotion, but sometimes feels like she's overdoing it on the high notes and lost within the music as opposed to connecting with the audience. Also, she's more on the self-assured, and possibly cocky? realm in the country aspect, in the Lauren Alaina vein for sure. The thing is, I don't sense TPTB are going to pimp her in the vein that they did for Alaina, and there's a lot of fraubait up top as well. She lacks the down-home awwshucks outside personality of a Janelle Arthur or a Kree Harrison, for sure. Still, she's a legit singer, and she will navigate through themes easily and get a lot of the country girl votes, but I'm not sure if she's a great long term buy.

7) Briana Oakley--She actually fits the old school/young girl with bubbly personality prototype that gets votes on these shows. She's from California, which typically docks points, but it's about the representation here; also, she lacks super bubbliness the way Jordin Sparks or Rachel Crow had, but still. she smiles, is nice enough, etc to be slotted in. She's just a belter and there could be problems off show, but for the show, it's exactly what they want. That being said, she has a great confidence, knows what notes to hit, and plays with a super large range, expressing good confidence. Pretty much the prototype of an Idol belter, including the low-key personality.

8) Malcolm Allen--This guy has such an effortless voice and has shown that through all of his performances. It's amazing how consistent and fresh it sounds, actually. It cuts through with a very rich and pleasant sound, and he has a great sense of musicality. That living and breathing music comment he made rings true. I like that he doesn't have to belt to get his point across. He might very well be the best technical singer in the competition. And there's definite vulnerability in his voice with the smooth R&B tone. Two things though: while he's in the R&B vein, I get the sense he's getting pigeonholed into covering older songs or older style songs, and that's why Connick brought up marketability--it sounds like something from the '70s instead of now. And it's unfortunate, since I think he has a few current bones to display. Also, he's a nice guy, but I don't think he has the awwshucks aspect or super accessibility the other contestants have up their sleeve. It's a bit unfortunate, so I have to take some differences here, although the possible vulnerability does prop it up a little.

9) Alex Preston--This guy is a very mixed bag with some very interesting positives and some very weird negatives. He has a very good musicality and a reasonable aptitude for hooks, but he looks completely unkempt, chipmunky and makes weird scrunched up faces when he sings. He has a very defined view of what he presents, which is both good and bad. It might mean that he's less receptive to change, and because his style is a bit unidimensional, it might mean that he'll plateau fast. Also, he really lacks the awwshucks aspect we see from Idol WGWGs, so that's a very interesting wrench on things.  I kind of feel like he's always consigned to his guitar and will be extremely awkward without it, which might be fine in the real world, but under Idol's constraints he might extremely exposed. Also, he's done two original songs--his audition and green mile--and while his youtubes show aptitude, his only cover song--a very clever song choice--was slightly underwhelming in execution, because he really twisted that song up into a vein that fit his somewhat niche vibe. That song felt sort of in-accessible, which is weird for a twist up. That being said, compared to other contestants, he's here for his song twisting and original quirk, and that always presents a fresh look on things. Just don't think he has enough tricks up his sleeve, both artistic-wise and personality-wise, for the long haul.

10) Austin Wolfe--She's a nice and cute girl, but she seems to be a tad too self-assured personality-wise to really rake in the votes. Carly and Jacquie may have let their performances speak for themselves more, since we're dealing with a similar age bracket. That being said, she's incredibly polished for her age in singing chops--big voice, clever choices, mature beyond her years. She's a good fit for the show, for sure, but for vote getting?  Within Idol constraints, Adele and Imagine Dragons present different belting mediums for her, and I like how she's going current. But that's another problem: between the self-assured aspect and the current song choices, she's not really getting major vote valves. Carly and Jacquie made names for themselves by belting out tunes from another age. She's got the musical goods, but little to go with on personality at all. Hasn't been super memorable thus far.

11) MK Nobilette--I think there's a real sense of vulnerability about her in her sound, something that was readily detectable even in her youtubes. She's the first contestant to declare herself "out" on the show, and she might really mobilize those votes, especially since she has the emotional, heart-tugging sound to back  it up and has a good sense of artistry. As J-Lo said, a quiet storm she is--she seems very humble personality-wise, and draws in you in with a quiet sound singing-wise, and has artistry. Beverly McClellan did this on the Voice and went far, and there's precedence. Can be a real dark horse, even if she's barely been shown. That's how much of an impact her green mile might have had. Seems fairly legit with and without guitar as well.

12) Jessica Meuse--This one is extremely tough. She's had a ton of things happen for her--up, down, up. At the end, as I figured, TPTB tried to rehabilitate her image after the group round personality teardown. I still think she's just way too self-aware of what she wants to represent, and she's prickly and just too sensitive. But she peels away those layers by really pouring her emotion and heart into everything she sings, she shows some of the best hooks in her original songs, and that's real artistry. She's got a unique outlaw vibe that wasn't necessarily seen in the show. Her sensitive, fighter, misconstrued aspect might actually get votes as well, as she's casting herself in somewhat of a relatable light. She has one of the more defined personalities, but one that could interestingly get votes.

13) Kenzie Hall--I'm giving points to Kenzie because she has a super friendly general look, which puts the cuteness in a better light when it comes to voting. She has a great sense of timing and sings in a low key range that differentiates her from many of the girl belters. For those reasons, not to mention her twist up of a hip hop song, not seen since Kris Allen's days, she's extremely memorable. She might really rope the casuals in. But for vote getting? That's another story. Her low key style and the quasi hipster attitude within performances aren't exactly what frau vote for, and indie girls have a pretty poor track record of getting votes on this show (not on the Voice, which is why she might have fared better there). Also, her performance style has a welcoming, soft approach but she might be too green: she comes across as someone who has a good knack for more current songs, but older songs are a bit out for her, and this might really hinder her. She's a bit youtube artist-y for better or for worse so it's not exactly an organic fit for the competition, and it's cutesy.

14) Casey Thrasher--I' was never convinced from the massive pimping Idol gave him at the get-go. He's just got a very ordinary voice for the genre--decent-ish, but interchangeable. His choices within songs are a bit awkward, as if he doesn't fully embody the vision of what he wants to be. He did a bro country song acapella, but Dexter does it better, and he seems to have a bit of a confident, quasi-hipster air about him that might not be super accessible for the frau, and he's way less accessible than CJ for sure. More or less he's presented himself as going for the country emotional ballad angle which coupled with the dad story can be a good play, but he's a bit awkward without his guitar and pretty generic even with it. I don't think he has a great enough vision of him to establish a niche, not to mention vocally and personality-wise he's even questionable. If it weren't for the pimping he'd be lower down the list.

15) Ben Briley--Emotional country singer, but just kind of there in interchangeable fashion. We've seen his voice coupled with his family backstory before. There's not much there, and he tends to go up for higher notes which are kind of questionable, not to mention sometimes he's nasally. It presents a slightly different twist, but the whole representation is kind of like does a little bit of everything, but not good at any one thing. Still, there's no denying how much emotion he puts in, especially his "Stars" performances, and he's got a more down to earth aspect than Thrasher, seemingly, and that moves up a couple spots.  He is fraubait, but with so many country types it's hard for TPTB to get invested in all of them, and as seen in the vote-off, he's the odd one out, seemingly. But this rank represents how frau could vote for him,

16) Jena Asciutto--She really had the Hayley Williams' Paramore voice down pat especially twisting up Lana Del Rey's "Video Games" and putting her big belting voice to the forefront. She has a very defined image as a alternative rock belter, a great touch for Idol. It's a unique tinge, but her pimping is fairly moderate at best, and her memorability is just OK because her personality is just shy above anything else. For those reasons, it's really hard to put her above this, even though she has potential to navigate through theme weeks. We'll see. Empty slates personality-wise, or near empty-ones, just don't really seem to get anywhere on the girls' side, and Italian girls really seem to struggle in particular. She might falter down the line, but I think her voice is going to hold up against some of the weaker ones, but I have to put her below some obvious fraubait.

17) Caleb Johnson--I think Caleb's just super overconfident, which he puts to good use to propel his powerful vocals in his Southern rock/metal vibe. It's just that he gets so caught up in what he's doing sometimes he really loses eye contact and the essences of getting votes. Of all the contestants, he the most seems to have the most hipster, full of himself vibe actually, especially in performance style, but even in a few quirks as seen in the group rounds. He seemed to hog all the spotlight to himself in the group rounds, showing a major lack of awwshucks. People have compared this to James Durbin, his former group round teammate, but he doesn't have anywhere close to the backstory, and he lacks the Southern charm to make up for it. He seems even hipster than James does as well. He's unique for this competition which really lacks male power rocker voices, and TPTB's pushing him hard for that seemingly, but still. No guitar wielding, he's acting like a front man, as seen with the mic stand. Can be a surprise elim, but his rocker voice is sorely needed in this competition and I think TPTB might prop him up a little. Rockers tend to do well, even if not of his ilk, and people below him are far less defined than he is

18) Spencer Lloyd--Spencer's ranking is largely solely off his CW-type looks which really appeals to tweens, and the Christian angle to the frau. It's as if Ace Young gamed Idol and grabbed a guitar and played the Christian card, as I've said before. His vocals are extremely weak, he knows it, and also his songwriting is a like a homeless man's Jason Mraz. It's very wannabe. I think he might flame out vocally even before this but the tween base will really sustain him for a while. I wanted to put him above Caleb, because Caleb has the opposite problem, and at the end it's about raking votes. But I don't think Spencer can survive too long on a vocal basis and pretty soon he'll drown from those limitations. That Great Big World song, anyone with a tinge of emotion can sound good. It was an obvious fluke. Had that song not existed, he would have been screwed. He's also been given obnoxious edits in Hollywood and also bad vocal and song choice type stuff, so I really don't think he can sustain on that basis.

19) Jillian Jensen--She's really going to ride that X Factor fanbase that can relate to her bullying story, and she already has a huge headstart in twitter and the social media aspect compared to other noob Idol contestants in this respect. As usual, she puts her emotional vibe before singing, but she's trying to establish herself as a songwriter. Just a decent sound though. She always seems so angsty and emotional though, and wears the pain in her face probably the most out of the contestants. That's not a recipe for getting frau votes, especially with the piercings, and I'm not sure she has the voice or really the artistic creativity to really flesh it out through theme weeks. But she's living off that X Factor fanbase and this ranking reflects that.

20) Kristen O'Connor--She's got a good vibe and is extremely polished, knowing all the steps, choosing all the hard runs, has the current pop disposition both with look and singing choices. Her personality is awwshucks accessible, with a great smile, but her performances are a bit stilted and rely on her voice, kind of in the Jessica Sanchez slant. She has a lot of things that are marketable, especially if we're playing with a 50:50 singing/looks aspect in the market today. The Jessie J song showed some artistry and a different blend of confidence, which she seems to have with her guitar. Still, her personality within songs is somewhat robotic, tested and by the book, and general personality seems "generic nice" above anything else, and that's largely the vote valve she just might not valve, especially since TPTB just doesn't seem all that invested in her. She's a hard worker, but that might not be enough.

21) Briston Maroney--Based on TPTB exposure and his own personality quirks, this guy lacks memorability beyond his rough voice. His eyes are some of the least expressive in this competition, and frauen take that into consideration; in a similar vein, he's just very forthright, almost like treating this like a business meeting. He's got a fairly expressive voice within the roughness, for sure, but that voice lacks range and won't work for every song, so theme navigations will be a real problem. Still, he wields guitar, looks innocent enough to get in tweens, and that's the bulk of this ranking. The tween vote can be strong, especially if you stay true to yourself and don't overextend the boundaries, and Briston at least has that; but he's not accessible, and that could be a problem.

22) Marrialle Sellars--Somehow, she's an awfully weird case. I'm not convinced TPTB will just throw her to the wolves like that after giving her the major pimping during audition week. But after that, she's just never had any airtime during Hollywood week. She does have her family story to fall back on for votes, but her look is too negatively arresting for the frau--in that it reeks pop star. It's sort of like XFUK's Tamera Foster all over again, but the US is far less receptive to the pop star look than the UK ever was. Still, she was portrayed as incredibly underwhelming in her green mile, so it's hard to get read on where this is going. She does have a very weak voice, and moments where she tries to act swaggy or sing pop songs straight-up are an utter disaster because her voice just lacks range and is just decent as opposed to good. But, I think TPTB will rehabilitate her, and for now she's plummeted down to here, over a few people who also might not appeal to the frau or lack the voice to make the move.

23) Emily Piriz--She sings emotionally with a piano, but she almost seems like a copycat of Julie Zorrilla, down to the confident get-up. She lacks Zorrilla's accessible smile, and I think she'll run into a lot of problems with the frau with her confident get-up, especially with performing style (it's good, but that's a double edged sword on these shows). She is polished though, so she'll be above a few people who will falter simply due to awful song choices, but I don't think she has a long term recipe for votes.

24) Ethan Harris--He hasn't been seen during his initial audition, and it appears that TPTB have staggered the visibility of contestants based on who has stood out--suggesting that Ethan just hasn't stood out. It's not surprising. His voice is very thin, and he was heavily relying on Keith Urban pandering in his song, suggesting that his musical identity just isn't there. Not surprising, as he heavily relies on adult contemporary emotional-laced songs as opposed to his voice. His boy-bandy look and squeaky voice also stand out, and that might really be the crux of the ranking. But in terms of song choice and singing, he's going to falter. He's likely pitted by TPTB to gain a spot against Spencer Lloyd, but he might falter in getting it. His songs are just generic as hell, even in Green Mile, as figured.

25) Maurice Townsend--He's got a pleasant, decent voice that knows its limitations for sure, but he's progressively getting more unmemorable in a sea of more memorable people. He still has that humble, family angle that he's working, but so do quite a few others, and he's just getting overshadowed on that aspect. On the R&B aspect he's also getting overshadowed by a few others. In other words, he's just very expendable, and he doesn't have more tricks up his sleeve musically.

26) Malaya Watson--She has a very emotional angsty voice which she showed in her last song, and has a great belting voice. She was noted for staying on the center of her own pitch for most of her performances, and she's surprisingly polished for a belter, but also for her age. Still, she gets excited and sometimes is behind the beat, so she's still raw in that regard. Her nerdy look could earn points, but I'm not sure if her general personality is super accessible. It's decent, but it comes off extremely kid-dy, even for frau standards. Even her performing style seems somewhat on the kid vein, in both group and green mile rounds, and that could really hinder her.

27) Emmanuel Zidor--He's getting so much screentime and is extremely memorable, I think he could possibly get more votes than some of the less-shown, more unmemorable characters in the cast. He does show emotion, and he has a sensitive side which he showed in his audition. He teeters on the ridiculous, but still.

28) Bria Anai--She seems to have a tendency to really be extremely loud, almost like showboating in an attempt to show emotion. That's a bad habit she needs to break, but she might be too young to realize it. It's an awful recipe to get votes, because she doesn't seem to have great control in leveraging her voice to really create moments, because she uses it excessively to artificially force moments rather than naturally create them organically. Cart before horse, and even the pop star look and confidence swag is something that's going to be a turnoff for frau voting. She seems far more like a fit for X Factor, but I do give her credit for trying to rake back in the votes with a very friendly, smiley, bubbly personality.  She's got that marketability factor, but I don't think TPTB will know how to optimize her, much less the frau taking to it even in spite of her range, confidence and personality.

29) Jordan Brisbane--He has a sweet disposition and a bit of a baby face, so he might get votes that way. He has an eager-beaver approach to singing with jazz hands, but some breathing and coordination problems; very much like Thaddeus Johnson, he tries to power through the song as opposed to really slowing the song down in his mind and breaking it down organically. It's very typical for someone his age. He needs more years of seasoning. I'm putting him below Bria because he's far more undeveloped vocally, and Bria has that smile she can get to while Jordan only relies on his baby face representation.

30) Andrina Brogden--She sounds a bit copy cat and lacks depth and richness in her voice, with her "Burn" cover--she just didn't bring anything to it, like a lazy rendition to it. She seems to have a pleasant voice, but it doesn't go beyond that. I like that she chooses current songs, but it's copycat. She sort of looks the part, but she's way too welterweight personality-wise but primarily with singing and choice-making. Nothing really relatable to the frau, and wasn't portrayed as memorable.

31) Neco Starr--TPTB have displayed Neco enough particularly throughout Hollywood to perhaps push this ranking a little higher, but scour through most of Neco's youtubes on the Idol channel and you'll see how many down votes and comment criticisms he's getting with how he's oversinging, seems un-likable, etc.  There's a high correlation between those comments and how the frau actuate, barring sympathy votes and major pimpage. Neco has found a groove belting out modern music with swag, but that's exactly the problem: this fits far better on X Factor. With a bunch of fraubait, more humble people and more people playing sympathy cards, Neco's brand just won't survive. Not to mention he' doesn't quite know how to leverage his voice, as seen in his initial audition and Green Mile. He's the last person to attempt to get a spot, but I think there's too much against him, and he won't get it against the far more frau-accessible Ben Briley. Obvious.

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