With the complete overhaul to American Idol in response to last year’s low ratings, season 13 has been nothing short of rejuvenating. Randy Jackson was pushed to where he belongs – off the judging panel and backstage as a mentor. Keith Urban deservedly stayed, while the best female judge the show has had, J-Lo, returned. Also, Harry Connick Jr. was brought in, who has added actual humor and for once, honest, musically-trained-like critiquing. No more cheerleaders, “yo dawgs,” cornball jokes and unnecessary drama. In addition, the auditions were watchable for once, focusing less on the trolls looking for airtime and more on the singers. Some were great, some were mediocre, some needed a lot more training, but all of those whose auditions were shown seemed to work their butts off to be there. Starting Wednesday evening, the next couple of weeks will be Hollywood Week and as a refresher, here are ten standouts expected to do great come crunch time.
Jessica Meuse – 23 – With all the country and pop singers crowding the American Idol scene, it is always entertaining to have a rocker or someone with a bit of an edge. Last season did not have one and it was as boring as watching curling. This season could possibly bring us Jessica Meuse. As Harry Connick Jr. pointed out, the 23-year-old has got this Stevie Nicks like vibe and tone to her voice, and her original song, Blue Eyed Lie, was an absolute killer. She is edgy, has great vocals and presence, is an above-average songwriter if you look up her material, and she is easy on the eyes. Her style and her music, however, may not appeal to the show’s fans and that could be her downfall.
Bryan Watt – 29 – J-Lo’s reaction to Bryan Watt in the below video sums up the effect he will have on America this season. Watt is everything that American Idol fans love – country, clean and easy vocals, handsome, confident in his shoes and someone who can sing with a little heart. This 29-year-old will not only cruise through Hollywood Week, but the chances of him winning the whole competition are very high.
Melanie Porras – 19 – With her curly blonde hair, sweet personality and raspy voice, Melanie Porras bears a striking resemblance to past American Idol top 3 contestant Haley Reinhart. Porras did not show as strong of a bluesy vibe as Reinhart in her audition, but she did show a hint of it and she definitely has commercial appeal. It will be interesting to see how well she fares during Hollywood Week.
Munfarid Zaidi – 19 – Zaidi has got this groovy, cool-jazzy kind of vocals. He also seems like he will grow into one of those comedic acts, which could unfortunately overshadow his singing if he does make it past Hollywood Week.
Majesty York – 21 – York had a subtle performance and is just beautiful to listen to. This standout would add something different to American Idol. However, the 21-year-old singer seems shy and a little unsure of herself, and people like her crumble during Hollywood Week. It would not be a surprise if she does not end up on the lineup come the top 31. Nevertheless, her vocal talent is undeniable, with her giving one of the more refreshing auditions.
Ethan Harris – 20 – Harris has got an interesting, high-pitched tone to his vocals. The singer definitely has the most radio-friendly appeal on this list and that could help him go somewhere.
Briston Maroney – 15 – Carrying the retro guitar of his great, great grandfather and singing like a veteran musician who has been doing it for years, it is hard to believe he is only 15. Maroney will give Bryan Watt a run for his money as American Idol fans love a kid, especially if he is a country singer. It helps that Maroney’s vocals slightly resemble Billy Corgan from the Smashing Pumpkins, definitely not something you hear everyday.
Dexter Roberts – 22 – Great vocals, great guitar playing – everything seemed to come naturally to this country singer. The only thing stopping Roberts is the competition. It is tough to say this, but fans have shown they much prefer their idol to be younger like Briston Maroney and/or handsome, with simple clean vocals like Bryan Watt.
Marrialle Sellars – 17 – During the auditions the judges really ate up Marrialle Sellars, a Miley Cyrus/Beyonce hybrid. This girl did not have one of the best vocals, but it was effortless and nevertheless above average. Sellars also has that unexplainable “it” factor. Harry Connick Jr. certainly felt it, saying she will be a nightmare for the other competitors.
Keri Lynn Roche – 24 – A seemingly natural performer, with grit in her vocals. However, her song choice of Radioactive was a bit odd, as it is not really the type of song that shows off ones vocals, especially hers. Keith Urban recognized that asking her to sing something different. Song choice is key to making it far in American Idol and it is an area that could possibly hurt her.
If the standouts and many other auditions are any indication, this 13th season of American Idol is shaping up to be quite a refresher after last year’s drear season. Come the top 31, which will be dwindled down to 13, some of the above standouts may even be forgotten with such a strong batch. There are twists promised before then during Hollywood Week starting tonight and it will all be very intriguing to watch.
Editorial By Kollin Lore