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The NGH Report - American Idol 19's Top 24


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Okay okay okay!

 

We are done with Hollywood Week and I thought I'd check in with my views on the semifinalists and where I think they stand coming into the next round of this competition. As always, please remember these rankings are completely based on my opinion after observing the contestants talent, genre, and history of Idol voters. Also-- I think it's very important to keep in mind, especially in these truncated seasons, how important a contestants edit up until now plays into another big factor - their current fanbase and support. 

 

I've arranged them into four categories: The LongshotsThe DarkhorsesThe Contenders, and The Frontrunners.

 

Trust me-- you are going to disagree with a lot of these, but let me just reiterate... this isn't a prediction. It's my own observation from writing about this show for going on two decades now. We like to pretend that history doesn't repeat itself, but it does... or at least it rhymes. Idol is full of patterns and some types of contestants do, statistically, start in a stronger starting position. 

 

After that disclaimer, here we go!

 

THE LONGSHOTS

 

Alana Sherman - Who?! Oh, right... the 21-year-old food delivery driver who we saw all of TEN SECONDS of during the audition rounds! Congratulations, Alana, on being the most ignored semifinalist of Season 19. Idol Disney has definitely done a better job of showcasing the auditions of every contestant who goes on to make the live rounds, but this one was on the edge... I went back... it was literally ten seconds of audition footage with ZERO backstory. Viewers don't know her. Historically, it is very difficult to climb out of a situation like this and if I were Alana... I'd be pissed. 

 

Andrea Valles - I remember liking Andrea's audition quite a bit more than Katy, but I thought she came off as bit too safe for me in the Hollywood rounds. Clearly, the judges saw something they liked, but there hasn't been a lot of excitement built up for Andrea and, in comparison with some of the stronger women singing in the same genre, she runs the risk of fading into the background. 

 

Graham DeFranco - Graham has gotten quite a bit of screen time, but from what I'm seeing out in the Idolverse, the main reaction to Graham seems to be, "He's got a nice voice, but where is Murphy?" Seriously. He's a "fine" singer, but there's very little excitement for Graham out there. He seems to have a funny demeanor and is a self-deprecating presence (which is something I relate to), but other than that... I don't really know how he goes much further. 

 

DeShawn Goncalves - I hate placing DeShawn here. I really do. He's an incredibly talented and musical dude, but... man, I just think he might be a bit too jazzy and ethereal for the flyover states. He relies on a lot of fun tricks and whistles and, I got to say, I'm impressed! But... he seems to be hesitant to really dig into a melody and I think some may find that a bit alienating. 

 

Anilee List - Unfortunately, Anilee was added to the Top 24 when Benson Boone dropped out of the competition, so the editing team had to go back and quickly show us her showstopper performance. Other than that, she's been rather absent since her initial audition. She's got a solid backstory, great personality, and a strong vocal talent, but I wonder if she's going to be off to a slow start coming into the competition a bit late. We shall see.

 

Colin Jamieson - This dude won't stop smiling. He needs to only pick happy songs because it is very odd to watch him talk about heartbreak and grief with a @#$%eating grin plastered on his face. Still, I think there is SOME appetite for a contestant like Colin, but even when his performances are showcased, they never really rev me up. He's solid, but to break through in the semifinals you have to be a combination of lucky and brilliant. He's lucky... but brilliant?

 

THE DARKHORSES

 

Cecil Ray - I think Cecil seems like a nice guy and I think he's pretty impossible not to root for in this thing. Let's be honest, the growth story arc he would have to come in here a complete amateur living in a trailer to winning American Idol would be a Disney moment. For sure. But, to do that... he's going to actually have to start, you know, growing. He's got a very strong tone and a sweet Country twang, but now he's got to find that confidence and start building something otherwise I think he'll be eclipsed by the other young country guy in this thing who is already appearing WAY more ready for this. 

 

Hannah Everhart - Hannah is all character, all the time. She's got this deadpan vibe that make for pretty fantastic television moments. It's like if Kellie Pickler was on sedatives. I don't know how people are going to react to Hannah's music. It almost doesn't matter. Still, I guess she's kind of the only country female in this thing? So... never say never... country singers, statistically, do rather well on American Idol.

 

Beane Hepler - One of my favorite contestants of the season is Beane. He's gotten plenty of screen time to make a go of this, so why is he in this category? I just... I don't think enough people are going to really "get" him. He's reminiscent of Jeremiah Harmon, but also with a "who gives a @#$% if any of these songs make sense together" vibe. So, we shall see about Beane. I can see where he may take off as a bit of a niche contestant, but as a winner? Very unlikely. 

 

Ava August - On the other side of that same coin, Ava could potentially break out in a big way and win this thing. She's got this Taylor Swift vibe, but like, if Taylor had started out her career with Folklore. She's a smart songwriter for being all of 15 years old and doesn't suffer from a lack of confidence. My only worry is that we still haven't seen quite enough of her for me to put her down as a "Contender," but it wouldn't surprise me if we all thought she was by this time next week. 

 

Mary Jo Young - Mary Jo is currently a bit of a one horse pony. She kills these mid tempo power ballads that allow her to pour on that emotional break in her voice. The backstory is fun, if not enraging ("I've never really sung in public before!") and she does seem to have a bit of a fun personality for viewers to enjoy. I just wonder what else she really has up her sleeves. The inexperience could be rough if she is confused at what type of artist she is trying to be... and as someone very new to this, perhaps she still has no idea.

 

Liahona Olayan - I love Liahona. I'd put her in the next category, for sure, if it weren't for her quasi-bratty breakdown in the Duets round. She came across as rude, immature, and selfish, and Katy was right to tell her so. I think the viewers agreed, and I wonder how many of them are going to hold it against her in the next round. We've seen situations where contestants lose in Hollywood based on their actions, but still make it to the live rounds due to their talent. 

 

Madison Watkins - Madison, rightfully, should be in the next tier up, but Madison suffers from a bit of the "perfection curse." Idol viewers, traditionally, vote for contestants that they can visualize as an underdog. If you look at Madison Watkins (a talented drop dead gorgeous hair model living in Los Angeles) you don't necessarily think, "She's an underdog, like me!" I mean... really look at the winners of Idol's seasons. The vast majority of our winners are people who were looked over or who came from nothing. Madison doesn't quite fit that bill, despite being a powerhouse.

 

THE CONTENDERS

 

Cassandra Coleman - Cassandra has my favorite voice of the season. It transports me somewhere. She's been given a hell of a lot of screen time and she has a personality that really makes you want to root her on. She struggles with confidence issues, but we already see her growing at such an early stage. If she can manage to track a bit of a Maddie Poppe track for herself she could, with a bit of a luck, take this thing all the way. There is potential there for her to connect to younger and older voters alike, which can be a very important weapon to have.

 

Alanis Sophia - After an incredible final Showstopper performance, Alanis has climbed up a bit on this list. She's memorable, contemporary, and has the goods. I've been impressed so far with her tactful and clever song choices. She's playing the game well in the early stages and that shows me quite a bit about a contestants potential. 

 

Hunter Metts - A white guy with a guitar is always going to rank highly on this program. That's just how it is! Hunter bores me a bit. I think everything he sings pretty much sounds like the same song, but he's handsome and his vocals are perfect for his stylings. Will he tire on some? That's yet to be seen, but as of now, he's received a great edit and it is clear that the judges love him. 

 

Casey Bishop - If we are looking at "the most potential" I think it has to go to Casey Bishop. She's so young and doesn't even know what she's capable of yet. If she can find a way to harness that voice and pick the right songs, she could give quite a few people a run for their money. It would resemble a bit of the Jordin Sparks arc we saw back in Season 6. I'm not sure how possible that will be with the truncated seasons of the past few years, but there is definitely a chance.

 

Wyatt Pike - In a similar fashion to Hunter, Wyatt is a white dude strumming a guitar... the positive for Wyatt is that he's also got this great troubadour vibe to his tunes and I think that gives him, as a character, a bit of an edge. The two dollar bill in his fedora is seared into my memory. He's a smart contestant with a very musical acumen. Philip Phillips made this thing work on a bit of grit and the right songs... why couldn't he?

 

Alyssa Wray - Personally, I think Alyssa overusing, and I don't think it sounds effortless, but I'd have to be crazy not to realize how much camera time she has received and how almost anyone watching this season would immediately be able to pick her out of a crowd. In the semifinals, that's so important. There will be 24 contestants and Alyssa is big and bold in so many ways. She is in a very strong position to move forward.

 

Caleb Kennedy - Caleb isn't the best country voice in the competition this year, but Caleb is the best country contestant in the competition this year. He's a very strong songwriter and he is authentic with a capital "a." He knows who he is and he doesn't care if you don't like it. I think people need to be prepared for how well he could potentially do once voters are allowed to participate. Out of all of the folks in this category, I would say Caleb was the one I struggled with... I think he could potential move up a tier. 

 

THE FRONTRUNNERS

 

Chayce Beckham - I can't get quite on board with calling Chayce a "country singer" quite yet. He's Americana-inspired, sure, but full on Country? I don't know. He's definitely another contestant with that gritty-toned Phillip Phillips vibe. Contestants like Chayce have, traditionally, done very very well on Idol. I don't expect that would change here. He just needs to pick the right material and dig deep and he should be around for a very long time. 

 

Grace Kinstler - One of the social media stars (already) of this season, Grace Kinstler has, in my mind, the best vocal instrument in the competition. Her voice can soar with an ease that we rarely see. She's humble, kind, has seen tragedy, and doesn't imbue a lot of privilege. Voters will eat her up. On top of that, we have seen her in every single round and we are familiar with her thanks to our friends online posting and reposting her original audition. Grace is a frontrunner.

 

Willie Spence - I think it's also very possible that Willie Spence just runs away with this whole thing. The other major social media star of this season, he has consistently spellbound America with his vocals, yes, but mainly with his interpretation of the material. He's done all of this and we haven't even reached the semifinals yet. It's like we are seeing a version of Ruben Studdard, but... far better? And I say that as someone who believes that Ruben Studdard is one of the most beautiful voices this show has discovered. Like, I know I may be repeating myself, but... I just wonder if this season is already over.

 

That's it for me!

 

See everyone next week!

 

NGH

 

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If you REALLY want your doubts about Chayce being a country singer exacerbated, find his old reggae-funk-punk band Sinking Sailors. 
 

it’s weird. He looks like Eddie Vedder. 

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can you really see some of this year's contestants releasing an album and going on tour!? most of them are NOT ready and don't have any musical identity. take for example casey who people adore she has a good voice but lack of understanding who she is. otherwise likeness for rock music still it doesn't make her a rock artist. and the judges don't do her much favor with the overpraising. they should have make her wait few years to mature. same with ava august who seems like a wannabe who makes herself look older than she actually is. 

you can say it about almost everyone this year. 

we'll see how the live shows go.. 

Michael Jackson Reaction GIF

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16 hours ago, thenghreport said:

Alana Sherman - Who?! Oh, right... the 21-year-old food delivery driver who we saw all of TEN SECONDS of during the audition rounds! Congratulations, Alana, on being the most ignored semifinalist of Season 19. Idol Disney has definitely done a better job of showcasing the auditions of every contestant who goes on to make the live rounds, but this one was on the edge... I went back... it was literally ten seconds of audition footage with ZERO backstory. Viewers don't know her. Historically, it is very difficult to climb out of a situation like this and if I were Alana... I'd be pissed. 

She’s one of the best this season imo.

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Hannah Everhart - Hannah is all character, all the time. She's got this deadpan vibe that make for pretty fantastic television moments. It's like if Kellie Pickler was on sedatives. I don't know how people are going to react to Hannah's music. It almost doesn't matter. Still, I guess she's kind of the only country female in this thing? So... never say never... country singers, statistically, do rather well on American Idol.

I'm losing it. That is perfect.

Quote

Ava August - On the other side of that same coin, Ava could potentially break out in a big way and win this thing. She's got this Taylor Swift vibe, but like, if Taylor had started out her career with Folklore. She's a smart songwriter for being all of 15 years old and doesn't suffer from a lack of confidence. My only worry is that we still haven't seen quite enough of her for me to put her down as a "Contender," but it wouldn't surprise me if we all thought she was by this time next week. 

You see it too?

 

On 4/3/2021 at 12:30 AM, kenboy123 said:

Based on recent voting patterns, I honestly can't see Willie winning...

You mean the recent voting patterns that crowned an androgynous black girl with neck tattoos from Harlem as its most recent champion? Just by being male, Willie checks off more boxes on the Idolmetrics checklist than the defending champion.

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Just now, ScarletDevilCCX said:

I'm losing it. That is perfect.

You see it too?

 

You mean the recent voting patterns that crowned an androgynous black girl with neck tattoos from Harlem as its most recent champion? Just by being male, Willie checks off more boxes on the Idolmetrics checklist than the defending champion.

 

Sam had a better story, a story that made people feel sorry for her and it was brought up every episode which compelled people to vote for her, that season also had 4 young "hot" guys in the top 5, if it wasn't for her story being brought up every episode, she wouldn't have won...the public don't vote for the "Ruben Studdard" types anymore...

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20 minutes ago, kenboy123 said:

 

Sam had a better story, a story that made people feel sorry for her and it was brought up every episode which compelled people to vote for her, that season also had 4 young "hot" guys in the top 5, if it wasn't for her story being brought up every episode, she wouldn't have won...the public don't vote for the "Ruben Studdard" types anymore...

Fair enough. I will concede that being the lone female in a five-person finale, and with probably the least genre overlap with the other contestants to boot, was about the most favorable vote splitting circumstance we've ever seen.

 

As for the "Ruben Studdard" types, they've managed to make it fairly far. The last one to actually have Ruben's size was probably Jacob Lusk all the way back in Season 10 (5th place, same as fellow big black guy George Huff and one place short of where Michael Lynche ended up but Big Mike got a save to get him that high), but since then we've had Joshua Ledet, who made it to 3rd place, and Michael J. Woodard, who made Top 5. And I guess there was also an early exit, courtesy of Curtis Finch Jr., but the less said about the male half of Season 12, the better.

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11 hours ago, kenboy123 said:

 

Sam had a better story, a story that made people feel sorry for her and it was brought up every episode which compelled people to vote for her, that season also had 4 young "hot" guys in the top 5, if it wasn't for her story being brought up every episode, she wouldn't have won...the public don't vote for the "Ruben Studdard" types anymore...

 

I mean... I'm not sure there is much evidence to the "public don't vote for the Ruben Studdard types" since we haven't really had a Ruben Studdard type since, you know, Ruben Studdard. 

 

We have seen multiple R&B black men make it to the Top 5, 4, or 3, but none of those mean ever had the type of viral backing as Willie Spence has had in the past few weeks. 

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7 minutes ago, thenghreport said:

 

I mean... I'm not sure there is much evidence to the "public don't vote for the Ruben Studdard types" since we haven't really had a Ruben Studdard type since, you know, Ruben Studdard. 

 

We have seen multiple R&B black men make it to the Top 5, 4, or 3, but none of those mean ever had the type of viral backing as Willie Spence has had in the past few weeks. 

*Waits for secret formula* 👀

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7 minutes ago, thenghreport said:

 

I mean... I'm not sure there is much evidence to the "public don't vote for the Ruben Studdard types" since we haven't really had a Ruben Studdard type since, you know, Ruben Studdard. 

 

We have seen multiple R&B black men make it to the Top 5, 4, or 3, but none of those mean ever had the type of viral backing as Willie Spence has had in the past few weeks. 

 

We've also seen a lot of the R&B black men not get the vote, being chosen by the judges by the wildcard and then going out the next week (granted none of them were as good as Willie)...having said that, I think being male is only an advantage if you are good looking...Willie could win, but IMO...he won't, he will likely get really close...even if he does, I don't think he will "run away with it"...

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16 minutes ago, kenboy123 said:

 

We've also seen a lot of the R&B black men not get the vote, being chosen by the judges by the wildcard and then going out the next week (granted none of them were as good as Willie)...having said that, I think being male is only an advantage if you are good looking...Willie could win, but IMO...he won't, he will likely get really close...even if he does, I don't think he will "run away with it"...

 

None of those men are comparable to Willie, in my opinion. Jacob Lusk, Big Mike, Joshua Ledet, George Huff... none of them have received the amount of buzz that Willie Spence has received prior to the actual voting rounds. Articles about him make up the majority of Google News alerts, the Facebook stats are crazy (As of midnight last night, his performance was shared 1.4k times. In comparison, the next largest was Grace at 471 shares).

 

The buzz around Willie is VERY similar to Season 2. Ruben was the frontrunner from the get go, and while he certainly had competition, he was lavished in praise by the judges, the critics, and Idol audiences. 

 

If your argument is that Jacob or Mike didn't connect, so Willie must be in the same boat, you are missing a HUGE part of why people are excited by Willie.

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2 minutes ago, thenghreport said:

 

None of those men are comparable to Willie, in my opinion. Jacob Lusk, Big Mike, Joshua Ledet, George Huff... none of them have received the amount of buzz that Willie Spence has received prior to the actual voting rounds. Articles about him make up the majority of Google News alerts, the Facebook stats are crazy (As of midnight last night, his performance was shared 1.4k times. In comparison, the next largest was Grace at 471 shares).

 

The buzz around Willie is VERY similar to Season 2. Ruben was the frontrunner from the get go, and while he certainly had competition, he was lavished in praise by the judges, the critics, and Idol audiences. 

 

If your argument is that Jacob or Mike didn't connect, so Willie must be in the same boat, you are missing a HUGE part of why people are excited by Willie.

 

I'm not saying he's on the same boat, I'm saying his archetype isn't the type that wins anymore...I get that he is much better and he's levels above most of them and that a lot of people are excited about him, but IMO...it may not be enough to win because this archetype does tend to struggle with votes, so he certainly isn't going to "run away with it" even if he does win...it's a highly competitive season with a lot of good contestants...that's what I think...  

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28 minutes ago, kenboy123 said:

 

I'm not saying he's on the same boat, I'm saying his archetype isn't the type that wins anymore...I get that he is much better and he's levels above most of them and that a lot of people are excited about him, but IMO...it may not be enough to win because this archetype does tend to struggle with votes, so he certainly isn't going to "run away with it" even if he does win...it's a highly competitive season with a lot of good contestants...that's what I think...  

 

I think we also need to consider the fact that the ABC Disney voting pool is different than the FOX voting pool.

 

Maddie Poppe and Samantha Diaz were also not the type of archetype that usually wins Idol. But they did. 

 

It's very possible that the old Idol voting patterns have changed.

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39 minutes ago, thenghreport said:

 

I think we also need to consider the fact that the ABC Disney voting pool is different than the FOX voting pool.

 

Maddie Poppe and Samantha Diaz were also not the type of archetype that usually wins Idol. But they did. 

 

It's very possible that the old Idol voting patterns have changed.

 

Maybe they have, but remember who was in the top 5 with Samantha last year????....4 young "good looking" guys...

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4 minutes ago, kenboy123 said:

 

Maybe they have, but remember who was in the top 5 with Samantha last year????....4 young "good looking" guys...

No, I get ya there, but "change" can sometimes take a few cycles. I'm just hesitant to say, for sure, that the same Idol voting patterns are applicable in 2021 as 2011. 

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2 hours ago, kenboy123 said:

 

Maybe they have, but remember who was in the top 5 with Samantha last year????....4 young "good looking" guys...

I feel like it's a great disservice to those four men to lump them all into a single category. For one thing, in most seasons, all of those "good looking guys" would be white; last year's group had two whites, a Latino, and a South Asian. But even the two whites were far from being cut from the same cloth--Jonny West was your blond, clean-cut All-American boy, while Dillon was a recovering addict with almost as many tattoos as Just Sam, maybe even more. The first person to rebut about how Sam won mentioned her story that was frequently brought up, but I felt like it was still a surprise win because she didn't even have that niche to herself; Dillon's story of redemption was every bit as compelling in my mind. I guess maybe some people would feel more for Sam since poverty isn't necessarily something you can control whereas addiction, I'm not going to be one of those people who say that addicts just need more willpower to stop because addiction is a powerful thing, but unless your mother was using heavily throughout her pregnancy, it's also not something you were born into. But bad decisions or not, Dillon had estranged himself from his entire family for a time, hit rock bottom, and was trying to make something of his life. I felt like, being a WGWG with a lot of the same other checkmarks as Sam, he was probably the biggest potential drain on her votes, whereas if Louis had made it through instead, Sam's victory would've felt preordained (and if Julia had made it through, I daresay she becomes the favorite, or else opens it up for Arthur.)

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