My early pick to win ‘American Idol’ and top 10 power rankings

AMERICAN IDOL – “113 (Top 14)” – After solo and celebrity duet performances with the top 24 contestants, the judges narrowed down the field to the top 14 finalists. Now the judges are handing over the reigns to America to start voting on who they want to crown the next Idol, as the search for America’s next superstar continues on its new home on America’s network, The ABC Television Network, SUNDAY, APRIL 22 (8:00-10:01 p.m. EDT). (ABC/Eric McCandless)
CALEB LEE HUTCHINSON

Posted Friday, April 27, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

There is no clear-cut favorite as “American Idol” has unveiled the top 10 this season.

Technically, only the top six were picked by the public so we know early leaders include Michael J. Woodard, Gabby Barrett, Caleb Lee Hutchinson and Maddie Poppe. (It appeared Catie Turner just made the cut.)

You may think I’m being a “homer” but with Dallas resident Caleb, we may have our second Georgian win the competition after Phillip Phillips season 11. He isn’t the most dynamic figure on stage but he is appealing. (I’ll explain below.) And the reality is “Idol” voters have picked a white dude eight of the past nine seasons.

On a side note, America voted in only one minority last week for the top 10. The judges ended up selecting four minority contestants to fill out the card, including a lesbian and a man who dresses as a woman. MJ Santilli of MJ’s Big Blog noted that it’s a sad state of affairs that Latino woman Michelle Sussett had to pledge her allegiance to the country. I’m not sure if any of those four have a realistic shot at winning at this point, for better or worse.

My top 10 power rankings based on how I think the top 10 will finish in order based on what we’ve seen so far. And just to remind you: I picked Kris Allen to go home first at this stage season eight:

1- Caleb Lee Hutchinson

Upside: He is the only country male artist, which is a good thing on this show. He has this low-key inner confidence. He has a solid, pliable voice. He is likable. He knows who he is.

Downside: He isn’t the most exciting presence on stage, something he can work on in the coming weeks.

Most similar to: Scotty McCreery, winner season 10

2. Gabby Barrett

Upside: She has spirited energy on stage and a solid country pop voice that could be marketed. She can also sing R&B well.

Downside: Her top 14 “The Climb” felt a bit rote, a bit too karaoke. She needs to make some more chances in her covers.

Most similar to: Skylar Laine, fifth place, season 11

3. Maddie Poppe

Upside: She has a comfortable, relatable stage presence. She brings a particular quirky style that doesn’t seem ridiculous. Last week, she managed to create her own twist to the borderline-novelty Bangles 80s hit “Walk Like an Egyptian.”

Downside: Is she too old fashioned? Katy said she reminded her of Janis Joplin and she once sang “Brand New Key” by Melanie from 1971.

Most similar to: Jax, third, season 14

4. Cade Foehner

Upside: Channels the 1970s rock god down pat, which older voters will like. He has a great, gritty rock voice and is a superb guitarist.

Downside: He seems to swimming in a single lane and has not wandered far from it. He needs to stretch more.

Most similar to: Bo Bice (runner up, season four) meets Caleb Johnson (winner, season 13)

5. Michael J. Woodard

Upside: He’s a committed, mesmerizing vocalist.

Downside: Maybe a little too musical theater for the voting public given his predilection for songs from that genre? Then again, he may be able to find work on Broadway.

Most similar to: Anwar Robinson, seventh place, season four

6. Jurnee

Upside: Smooth vocalist who is rarely out of tune.

Downside: A competent singer but she always wears this oddly blank look on her face whenever she sings. Is she really feeling what she’s singing? And her “Bang Bang” showed she can’t do upbeat well at all.

Most similar to: Syesha Mercado, third place, season 7

7. Catie Turner

Upside: She is strange. She is peppy. She is dorky. She is sweet. She dresses like an Amish woman but not in a bad way.

Downside: Her singing is usually solid but it’s not clear what type of artist she’d necessarily be given her song choices so far. Her last three covers are by Lady GaGa, Camila Cabello and Hozier.

Most similar to: Lisa Loeb meets Joey Cook, seventh place, season 13

8. Michelle Sussett

Upside: She exudes sultriness. She can dance and has impressive stage presence.

Downside: Her vocal skills are shakiest in the top 10.

Most similar to: Haley Scarnato, eight place, season six, meets Pia Toscano, ninth place, season 10

9. Dennis Lorenzo

Upside: A lovely falsetto. An honest, authentic feel. His tough childhood background adds levels to his singing.

Downside: Has a relatively low-key personality that makes him potentially forgettable.

Most similar to: Michael Lynche, fourth place, season nine

10. Ada Vox

Upside: He has a powerful voice and a powerful presence on stage.

Downside: There is a conservative segment of the “Idol” viewing audience that isn’t exactly ready for a man dressed as a woman competing. And as Ada, he can come across as overtly intense.

Most similar to: Lakisha Jones, fourth place, season six


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