If you’re like most people who watch “American Idol,” you probably picked a winner out of the auditions — or at least a couple of favorites to make it through to the Top 10. In so doing, some have already most likely seen at least a couple of their favorites eliminated (like Chris Medina and Julie Zorrilla) from the competition. But if you are like this writer, you picked several contestants who you thought were good enough to make the Top 10 finalists, and a girl and guy you want to end up as the ultimate winner (hedging, yes, but effective). Truly, who can sit on an impartial fence during “American Idol”?
Of course, it is easy to be led by the producers of the show, falling prey to the compelling backstories and the way the finalists are depicted. With that being said, it would have been relatively difficult for anyone to have chosen as a finalist Pia Toscano, the New Yorker who has blown the judges and the audience away with her flawless delivery in the past two performance episodes, out of the auditions and through Hollywood Week (considering that she was rarely shown), but not so much of a problem to have chosen someone featured constantly, like Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery.
So who do you love, to borrow from the old Bo Diddley tune (as performed by George Thorogood), among those chosen to make it into the Top 13? Do you like the frontrunner, Lauren Alaina, who not only has had the eye of judge Steven Tyler since the Nashville auditions, but is also Bodog.com’s odds-on chosen? Or do you like powerful Jacob Lusk, whose soaring voice is so filled with emotion he makes you feel every syllable sung?
Full disclosure: This writer had no problem seeing viewers being herded into liking Scotty McCreery, Lauren Alaina, Julie Zorrilla, James Durbin, and Chris Medina, among a few others. But in them, there was also the talent to win (which one is certain that the producers saw as well). Of them, a couple favorites have already gone home. Chris Medina, whose story of enduring love and loyalty to his fiance after a debilitating car crash made him, along with his great voice, a contender, shockingly never made the Top 24. Julie Zorrilla, whose Colombian story was the embodiment of the immigrant American Dream, fell in the Top 24. Two other favorites, Jovanny Barreto and Kendra Chantelle, also did not make the Top 13 cut. But this writer fell in behind James Durbin and Casey Abrams from the start.
Casey Abrams, the disheveled-looking Seth Rogen look-alike with the soulsy voice, immediately captured one’s attention at the San Francisco auditions. Oddly enough, Abrams has been presented to the “American Idol” viewer without much of a backstory. Still, he has been consistently creative throughout his performances, producing vocal arrangements for his songs that are in a class of singing all their own. As for James Durbin, the Tourette’s and Asperger Syndrome sufferer who also was introduced via the San Francisco auditions, one would be hard pressed to find anyone in the competition with a clearer, higher registering voice. His Adam Lambert-like vocal style was also a winner.
But you have to have a girl in the mix, just in case the finale isn’t a guy vs. guy sing-off. Despite Lauren Alaina’s likability and obvious talent (which will land her a contract in Nashville no matter what happens on “American Idol”), the smooth and controlled beauty of Pia Toscano’s vocal stylings wins out.
So who does this writer love — or rather, who would he like to not see go home on any results show throughout Season 10?
Toscano has amazing control and has come from relative obscurity (at least for this writer) to lead the girls (despite what the oddsmakers say). Durbin also has uncanny vocal control and proves it with his ability to change up styles from Judas Priest to Paul McCartney. The former is beautiful as well and will have no trouble obtaining a recording contract once “American Idol” concludes for the season. Durbin is the embodiment of a raw talent that will most likely make him the frontman for a metal band and easily the procurer of a major recording deal.
But in the end it is Casey Abrams and his inner fire, his growl-over-howl mixed with smooth bluesy control, that wins it all. It is his unconventional style, his somewhat cultivated unpolished anti-“American Idol” stance, his humility in the presence of constant praise, and his mischievous sense of humor (bringing “sexy” to the stand-up bass) that is the composite clincher. It is not so much that the writer believes he deserves to win more than many of the others (like the incomparable Jacob Lusk), it is more of a case of wanting him to win more than wanting the others to be the Season 10 winner.
But will he win it all? Who can truly tell, given the fickleness and odd democratic vicissitudes of the voting pubic? They’re the same people who gave us finales between competitors Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini, Taylor Hicks and Katherine McPhee, and Adam Lambert and Kris Allen. They are the people who kept truly marginally talented contestants like Megan Joy Corkrey, Tim Urban, and Sanjaya Malakar around in results show after results show. They sent Chris Daughtry, Jennifer Hudson, Clay Aiken, and Crystal Bowersox home without a winner’s title (not that it has hurt their careers), yet gave us standout winners Carrie Underwood, Fantasia Barrino, and David Cook. So, again, who really knows?
The good news is: At least this year it does not feel as if it is a case of who “should” win it as opposed to who deserves to win it. Of the Top 13 finalists, there seems to be at least 10 who are truly deserving enough (don’t get me started on melodrama diva Ashthon Jones) to dodge every results show cut until the finale and become the next American Idol.
So it comes down to a case of who one wants to win. For this writer’s part, here’s hoping it’s Casey Abrams.
“American Idol,” Fox Television
“Top 13 Performances,” AmericanIdol.com