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Andrew is a staff writer at the “The Hudsucker”. He is a 30 year old lawyer living in Ottawa. Besides legal jargon, his brain capacity is taken up by reality show trivia, video game walk-throughs and room escape strategies. Andrew is also happily in a long-term, long-distance relationship. Follow him on Twitter as @sublymonal.

American Idol XIII: Rush Week

Now that the Top 13 has taken shape, I think it’s time to comment on each of them. For statistics purposes: I got 8/10 girls picks right and 7/10 guys picks right (including the bold Ben Briley prediction). I will say that some of their choices to sing shocked me, but some proved me wrong (Caleb and Malaya) and some didn’t (Emmanuel and Bria Ania). I will say that I’m still not a big fan of the “Rush Week” format. I think it gives the judges too much control over the final results. I mean, clearly if you put the eccentric Emmanuel up against talents like Sam Woolf, or even semi-talents like Caleb, you’ll end up with the Top 13 that you want. That said, let’s talk about the 13 that did make the cut and the potential each of them has to take the crown from Candice Glover’s hands (Sidenote: Candice’s album, “Music Speaks” is out and it’s rich with R&B glory, so check it out).

Credit: Fox + 19 Entertainment

13. Caleb Johnson – Call me crazy, but there’s no way in heck that this guy is going to win it all. He’s too polarizing amongst the Idol fanbase, to the point that some people think he still shouldn’t have made the finals despite a fairly solid performance on Wednesday night. I will say that that performance didn’t convince me that Caleb is capable of anything but the cheesy old-school rocker cliché so hopefully one of his next few performances will show us a different side of him and maybe, just maybe, he’ll move up this list.

Credit: Fox + 19 Entertainment

12. Kristen O’Connor – Speaking of one note, I have yet to see anything from Kristen that shows me she’s more than just a pretty face with a pretty voice. Compare her to Jena or even Emily, who both went out of the box and took a risk, I felt like Kristen played it safe, both with her Adele song and Katy Perry wildcard choice and, even with playing it safe, she fell flat in a few places and didn’t manage to muster the votes she needed to advance without a little help from the judges. Like Caleb, Kristen is going to have to step it up to have a fighting chance in the weeks to come.

Credit: Fox + 19 Entertainment

11. Emily Piriz – Let’s start with the obvious: Emily is the youngest contestant in the finals and Harry Connick Jr. has already pointed out that her immaturity may be an issue, relegating her to “safer” songs than Grace Potter’s “Paris Oh La La”. I’m not sure what Papa Connick Jr. expects her to sing… Taylor Swift? Demi Lovato? But either way, her bold choice of a sassy rock song did send her straight through to the finals so maybe Harry should just keep his mouth shut and let Emily do her thing. That said, I think the paradox might leave America a little confused unless she goes back to simplicity of what she did with her final solo in Hollywood.

Credit: Fox + 19 Entertainment

10. CJ Harris – Well, I thought CJ was a frontrunner. He’s softspoken, a father, a soulful country singer. But maybe with Ben and Dexter in the mix, he comes out at the bottom of the pack. Still, the judges seem to like him so I think if he can keep them on his side with some smart song choices that stay true to himself while still showing he can be current, he might win over a few more voters. But for now, I still see him closer to the bottom of the pack.

Credit: Fox + 19 Entertainment

09. Malaya Watson – Her quirky personality is backed up by a semi-strong voice and a penchant for old, soulful songs. She might have a streak of Candice in her. That said, her Rush Week performance is the first time I’ve really liked her so maybe she just got lucky with a good song, the last spot and a solid performance that she didn’t speed through like some of the other girls who didn’t make the cut. If she can prove in the coming weeks that her talent is for real, maybe she shake apart the pack of stronger contenders.

Credit: Fox + 19 Entertainment

08. MK Nobilette – Despite being at a disadvantage as Idol’s first out LGBT contestant, I think MK does a good job of letting her talent speak for itself. Her John Legend cover was one of the best of the week – so much so that Idol’s traditionally middle-America favouring fan base couldn’t deny her a spot. I think MK’s decision to be the strong, silent type of contestant might get her further than some of the louder, more eccentric types in the group but until America proves their willing to welcome her with open arms, I can’t say I see her winning either. 

Credit: Fox + 19 Entertainment

07. Ben Briley – Despite the judges being on the fence about him, Ben proved to be one of the more versatile contestants with his performance on Rush Week. His guitar solo may have distracted from lukewarm vocals, but his Amos Lee audition still stands out in my mind and I think he does have a really great, soulful voice and a likeable personality. He might just be a placeholder who’s votes are meant to go to Dexter after he gets eliminated but until that time, I’ll enjoy what we get from him.

Credit: Fox + 19 Entertainment

06. Jena Irene – Well I never would have said that Jena would be relegated to a wild card spot but damn if I wasn’t grateful for it when she busted out the keys and gave us a reprise of her original song “Unbreakable Me”. It was undeniably the strongest of the wildcard performances and her Hayley Williams of Paramore type tone is just too cool and current not to have her standout from the crowd. I still have faith in her as the dark horse and, need I remind you, runner-up (and some would argue, rightful winner) Clay Aiken from Season 2 was also a wildcard. Hopefully Jena picks better songs and delivers some less polarizing performances in the near future to keep her around.

Credit: Fox + 19 Entertainment

05. Alex Preston – I wasn’t sold on Alex going into the live shows, but his Rush Week performance of Damien Rice’s “Volcano” was so much more subdued than his past performances that he won me over. Even better was that he chose a song that previous winner-turned-success-story Phillip Phillips did and avoided any comparisons but giving it his own groovy twist (Yeah, I just said groovy in 2014, deal with it). I think Alex, like Jena, has a chance at choosing some well-worn songs and making them his own, and that will help him standout. Plus, he seems to have a big online following, despite being a WGWG with a unique voice.

Credit: Fox + 19 Entertainment

04. Jessica Meuse – Even after delivering two solid performances since the Single Ladies debacle in Hollywood Week, people are still labelling Jessica as the “unlikeable rock chick”. I, for one, totally disagree. Although she seemed a little stunned on her Luke Bryan cover this week, her affiliation with country music and her attachment to her home state of Alabama seemed to give her a leg-up in the voting. We’ve yet to see her without her guitar, but I’m hoping that her voice will speak for itself and, if she can alternate solid guitarless performances with softer, acoustic moments, she might drive herself through the weeks easily.

Credit: Fox + 19 Entertainment

03. Majesty York – As the first girl chosen during Rush Week, it’s clear the judges like her and for good reason. While she forget her words on her final Hollywood Week solo, her hip cover of Pharrell Williams current chart-topper “Happy” let her show off her personality and was probably one of the more memorable performances of the night, as evidence by the fact that she still secured enough votes despite going first – the traditionally “cursed spot” on Idol semi-finals shows. I’d love to see something like her “Violet Hill” audition out of her in the coming weeks to remind us that despite being bubbly and cute, she cant also give us vulnerability and emotion.

Credit: 19 Entertainment + Fox

02. Sam Woolf – Sam is definitely a frontrunner now that other tween favourites Spencer & Briston are out of the mix. He’s like a more refined, less polarizing version of Alex, who I listed earlier and here’s why. Sam can just sing a song straight up, he’s a good looking kid and the judges like him. He reminds me of Kris Allen in a lot of ways and Kris dark horsed his way straight to the top, so we’ll see if Sam can pull off the same feat with his weekly dose of refreshing, simple artistry.

Credit: 19 Entertainment + Fox

01. Dexter Roberts – I still maintain the fact that Dexter fits the Idol mould. Sure, he isn’t as good looking or charismatic as past winners like Scotty McCreery or Kris Allen, but his “farmhand to success story” shtick is a great selling point and the fact that he falls just on the edge of the country genre without being too cheesy will play well to middle America. So much so that I don’t think even limited voting will be able to stop this obvious WGWG winner.

So there’s my review of who’s left in the mix and the odds of winning. I, like Harry, just want an epic fight to the finish. Season 11 was probably the best example of that, where Jessica Sanchez, Joshua Ledet, Colton Dixon, Erika Van Pelt, Hollie Cavanagh, and Elise Testone (whose album “In This Life” is also out now and one of our writers wrote a review about) all gave a run at. And I think this Top 13 is comparable to that one in a lot of ways. There are a lot of “contenders” but no obvious winner.

With that said – every week Ash and I will be doing the same and reviewing their performances. Next week’s them is “This Is Me“, so I assume the contestants can sing whatever song reflects who they are, perhaps even originals? We’ll see what new ship captain Per Blankens allows but I say give them as much freedom as possible and set them loose on America – then let the country decide who did it best. Equally exciting is that the results shows have been cut to half an hour and part of that time will be spent hearing Candice Glover perform a song off her new album. So until then, vote on the poll below and tell me which contestants are your favourites going in to the finals! See you later this week.

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4 Comments on “American Idol XIII: Rush Week”

  1. Elizabeth Rosalyn The February 24, 2014 at 11:33 am #

    As of right now, I’m predicting that Sam will be in the finale (he seems like the most likely winner out of the thirteen). Rounding out the Top 3 will one of the girls (probably Majesty or Jena) and one of the country guys (whichever one of Dexter, Ben, or CJ connects best with the audience). Of course, this could all change once we see the live performances this week!

    • Andrew Rogers February 24, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

      That’s exactly how I feel. Sam, Majesty and Dexter are the most obvious Top 3 at this stage, but I think if Jena truly does ride that Dark Horse wave, she could be a contender!

  2. Alyce Wilson February 28, 2014 at 2:57 am #

    Followed your link from the Idol LJ community. Glad to see someone else posting there! I’d be curious to hear how your rankings have changed since seeing the live performances this week.

    • Andrew Rogers February 28, 2014 at 9:03 am #

      Thanks for reading! I’ve been reading yours too! I’ll start commenting on them as well. My recap for this week will be up today!

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