Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Honking Box Preview: American Idol

If the recent weather has been any indication, Spring is finally here. Which also means the American Idol live shows are about to kick off. Yes, just as The X Factor is synonymous with the run-up to Christmas, the soundtrack to each Springtime has become the trillings of a dozen hopefuls (with varying degrees of quality) followed by the snippy one-liners of a useless Englishman.

But who to support? Well, Ellen DeGeneres, obviously – the quicker Simon gets her over thisaway to replace Louis Walsh, the better. But contestant-wise, it’s a trickier situation. With Crystal Carrington-looking wistfulfest (and early favourite) Lilly Scott surprisingly getting the boot last week, this year’s Idol has already thrown up surprises left, right and centre, so don’t be surprised if the worst contestant scoops the final prize. But for now, our now-annual rundown of the American Idol Final 12 should give you at least some indication as to where to put your money...

Andrew Garcia
Having blown away the judges and the competition at Hollywood Week via an inspired acoustic version of Paula Abdul’s Straight Up, that same performance carried him through three consecutive weak performances during the semis. Unless he can pull out something truly special in the Top 12, we’ll be bidding him adieu within a fortnight.

Crystal Bowersox
While you get the impression she feels like she’s ever so slightly above this whole demented circus, there’s certainly talent on display. And even if you don’t like her brand of Lilith Fair she-rock, her expression of “please, shoot me in the face and end this misery” throughout each group song is something to behold.

Lee DeWyze
Perhaps the greatest hope as far as the boys go, Lee’s natural talent and pleasing rawk grizzle make him a very strong contender. After the successive wins of David Cook and Kris Allen, it’s clear America already has a taste for the airwave-friendly guitar-wielder, though with the judges openly gushing over the girls this year, it’s a toughie.

Siobhan Magnus
Small in stature and mahoosive in voice, but the true selling point of Siobhan is her charming indie-soul eccentricity. Expect to see this one reach the latter stages – she’s already been marked by Cowell as a dark horse. Admittedly, he said the same thing about Leona Lewis, but largely because she wouldn’t look out of place sporting a nosebag.

Paige Miles
The lone hope for the divas amidst a sea of folksy shoegazers, Paige has been told by Simon she carries the best female vocal in this year’s competition. Pity she doesn’t know what to do with it, then. A further issue is that her LOL ZOMG in-show ‘quirk’ is that she likes colouring-in books. Colouring-in. She’s 24 years old.

Aaron Kelly
...Or David Archuleta 2.0, as is more accurate. Sickeningly cutesy, entirely bland and more harmless than a paraplegic kitten – but not a bad singer by any measure – he’s a surefire bet for the nanna vote as well as the far more limber dialling fingers of pre-pubescent girls across America. Which, predictably, makes him pretty much a shoo-in for the final.

Didi Benami
Each season of Idol boasts a marvellously-monikered finalist – see also Lil Rounds, Ramiele Malubay and Bucky Covington. This year, the title falls to Didi Benami, though sadly there’s little else to write home about. Any other series, she’d have been the quirky option, but in the company of Crystal et al, she’s just beige. A female Kris Allen, if you will.

Casey James
It’s safe to say he’ll never shake off the indignity of being made to strip in his first audition by Kara DioGuardi and Victoria Beckham, but his country-tinged FM stylings aren’t half bad and might just be good enough to win votes outside of the inevitable housewife circle. (Not to be confused with Casey Jones, angry sportsman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle aide.)

Katie Stevens
A wholesome teen belter who joins Paige on the bench of non-Alanisised strumster chicks. Well, not so much a bench this year as two broken deckchairs. In spite of some mighty vocals, she’s the most generic singer this season, something that’s unlikely to get her more than a few weeks into the competition.

Tim Urban
Flimsy-voiced blandfest Tim initially failed to make the Top 24, only to scrape through when another contestant exploded or got drunk or something. Without a doubt the weakest singer in the competition, the fact he has hair like Sue Lawley circa 1979 doesn’t help proceedings either. If there’s any justice, he’ll be first off.

Michael Lynche
Namely, the one whose wife went into labour during Hollywood Week – as far as talent show personal struggle subplots go, it’s a good ‘un. Perhaps second only to Lee as the strongest male contender, Michael’s characteristic voice (and let’s be honest, backstory) should see him progress well into the latter stages of live shows.

Lacey Brown
A near-miss last year, when she was cut at the same time the unthinkably dreadful Megan Joy was put through – enough to flatline anyone’s confidence, making her comeback all the more impressive. Horribly inconsistent throughout the semi-finals, but when she nails it, she nails it. Also, she’s from Amarillo. Sha la la, la la la la la. *clap-clap*

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