Feb. 28 and 29 saw a lot of action on American Idol. Not only did viewers sit through four hours of television, 24 scheduled performances and one surprise number, and countless incorrect assessments of greatness from the judges, but they were also charged with quite a tall order. In a matter of days, Idol fans have to pick favorites for the shrunken 10 vote-determined slots available for the top 24 contestants. We already saw (and felt) hearts breaking when the group went from 40 to 24, so this cut is even harder to endure. The results bandaid comes off tonight, March 1, but when it does there are five folks that had better be on that list.
And whether or not a glimmer of interest in the competition itself, these are singers you should really keep an eye on.
If you're not yet singing 17-year-old Deandre's praises yet, you're in denial or your ears are broken. To put it simply: he's kind of amazing. Despite his young age, he's learned to work all the intricacies of his fantastic voice, slipping between his silky falsetto and robust, buttery modal voice. Judge Randy Jackson professed his love for Deandre by calling him ready-made - something that puts him light years ahead of the rest. He knows how to choose the right songs for his unique voice, he knows how to work the stage, and he's comfortable letting loose in his performances. In short, he's everything you want in a performer, and at age 17, his talent can only grow from there.
All hail this Queen of Southern California. In the interest of full disclosure, I'm inclined to root for my fellow San Diego native, but the proof is in the performance. Somehow, out of this tiny, young, unassuming person comes a voice that can grab the attention of an entire national audience. Her performance of "Love You I Do" during Girls' Night was nothing short of breathtaking. Her energy is through the roof, yet she runs through the song and around the stage with the ease of pushing a shopping cart. She's just got it and if the votes don't reflect that, I'll personally call ATT to make sure whatever outages caused a dip in her votes gets fixed immediately.
If you can get past the scatting that apparently is a huge issue for a large chunk of Idol viewers, you can see that Reed is not only a unique presence in the competition, but a talented, truly musical performer. Idol may not be the right platform for his style, but we've seen a shift since someone like Season 10's Casey Abrams made his way through the ranks last season. The door has been opened, and if Reed can't make it to the top, hopefully he can at least crack it open just a little more.
This kid can really, really sing. When he opens his mouth and that voice flows out, it's like some heart-wrenching spirit reaching out and plucking every viewer's heartstrings. It's hard to learn to connect onstage and it's doubly difficult to learn to connect onstage and through the television, yet Joshua just does it without looking like he's even trying. He's someone who needs to remain in our sights.
He's a bit of a 90s throwback and as much as I hate when Randy does it, I must say he's a little Dave Matthews-esque. But, the reason the almost retro vocal stylings work is because he's learned to place them in realms where they don't belong. His audition performance of "Thriller" is what really clenched it; he's continued to perform very, very well onstage, but there's something special about the way he breathes strange new life into songs that really shouldn't be his genre.
Who's in your top five? Let me know in the comments or get at me on Twitter @KelseaStahler And don't forget to check back here for our Top 13 rundown tomorrow!