Culture

American Idol: Which of the Top Seven Will Go Tonight?

Season 11 Top Seven

So, shocker of shocker, the single best singer ever on all 11 seasons of American Idol, Jessica Sanchez, garnered the lowest number of votes last week and remains on the show only through the judges’ save.

Quelle surprise! America consistently gets it wrong as the number of contestants dwindles. Year after year, singers with true talent fall by the wayside and marginal talents advance. Think about it: how many Idol winners have gone on to major careers? Kelly Clarkson (Season 1), Carrie Underwood (Season 4), and last year’s Scotty McCreery. That’s about it. Most other winners faded back into obscurity. Lee DeWyze, anyone?

Colton Dixon

Many non-finalists have gone on to great careers, including Kellie Pickler and Chris Daughtry, and particularly Jennifer Hudson, voted off as No. 7 in Season 3 but who went on to win an Oscar, Grammy, a Golden Globe, and numerous other awards.

This year, Season 11 presents a particularly good crop of singers. Sanchez, all of 16 years old, is perhaps the strongest, most natural performer ever to appear on the Idol stage. The voice control and stage presence for someone so young is preternatural. She is nearly matched by Joshua Ledet, who knocked Bruno Mars’ “Runaway Baby” out of the park. (Personally, I think he out-Bruno’ed Bruno.) Yet there was Joshua, also in the bottom three.

What’s going on? It’s simple: Cute guys always advance. Talent, not so much. In Season 9 Tim Urban advanced to the top seven despite a complete inability to sing. This year we have Colton Dixon and Phillip Phillips filling that role. Colton is surely a nice guy, but he has a thin voice and very limited vocal range. Phillip, on the other hand, simply sounds like Dave Matthews covering whatever song he chooses that week. But he’s cute.

Another large chunk of this year’s vote automatically goes to Skylar Laine, with limited vocal range but a lock on the country music aficionados. That leaves a limited number of votes for the others, including Jessica and the nearly as talented Hollie Cavanagh.

Because the judges used their one and only save last week, that means two contestants will be voted off this week. Who should go? Phillip for sure. His shtick got old a long time ago and, besides, as much as I like Dave Matthews, the world needs only one of him. Joining Phillip should be Elise Testone, who other than absolutely nailing Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” a few weeks back has been screechy and off-pitch almost the entire season.

Who will go? With the way the American public votes for these things, it’s hard to say. What say ye?