This picture pretty much sums up where we are in American Idol Season 11. It seems that Hollie Cavanagh has burst through her mid-season slump to provide much of the energy and excitement of the past two weeks. At the same time, Jessica Sanchez appears to be hanging on with her great voice but she has not shown much growth this season. Phil Phillips has been fading badly and you can see it in his eyes. All reports are that he is fighting through some severe health issue and is barely hanging on. Through it all Joshua Ledet has been putting together a spectacular string of performances to have one of the greatest American Idol seasons of all time.
We only have three performance shows left and I have no idea who is the favorite to win American Idol Season 11. Given where we are today, I think my top 4 would have been Joshua Ledet, Colton Dixon, Skylar Laine and Hollie Cavanagh. However, I can’t vote 60 million times and I think this is a very good top 4 and I think we are in for an exciting three weeks. Every one of these top four placed at least one performance in our American Season 11 Top 10 performances.
American Idol Season 11 Top 4 Power Rankings
1) Joshua Ledet- People that don’t like him claim that he screams through every song. He does not. Screaming compromises tone and undermines pitch. Gospel and soul singing call on the singer to express emotion through pushing their vocals. Compare Joshua Ledet to Otis Redding, Andre Crouch, Sam Cooke, Fred Hammond, Al Green or Teddy Pendegrass. Joshua Ledet can sing with the best of them. However, his tremendous vocal talent is not what puts him into the American Idol Hall of Fame. Joshua’s ability to dig into a song and pull out the emotional core of a song and then deliver it to us in performance after performance after performance is what sets him apart from Jessica Sanchez, Jacob Lusk or David Archuleta. There is a depth to this young man’s talent that is only now being mined. In maybe the best season ever of Amercian Idol, Joshua Ledet has set the bar week after week. Last week’s “To Love Somebody” was the final proof for me of Joshua Ledet‘s greatness. American Idol Season 11 is so talented that every perfomrance over the next few weeks will determine the ultimate winner, but I have decided that, for one21music, Joshua Ledet is the best of American Idol Season 11.
2) Hollie Cavanagh- Here we go again. Hollie Cavanagh has flipped the switch and has turned into a formidable force on American Idol Season 11. If you remember she started the season by taking on Celine, Christina and Whitney three weeks in a row and we were blown away by her vocal prowess and control. Then, as American Idol Season 11 heated up, Hollie Cavanagh did not repsond. Her performance were wooden and without emotion and her general stage demeanor was tentative. Then Akon made the comment about “fliping the switch” and she did. Since then her performances have been engaging, heart felt and, well, fun. Between performances her free wheeling spirit and sense of humor has emerged. Hollie Cavanagh has become a real delight on American Idol. The exclamation point on this comeback was last week’s intimate, wrenching performance of “Bleeding Love”:
3) Jessica Sanchez- I know, I know there are many who believe Jessica Sanchez to be the class of American Idol Season 11. I believe she is very, very talented. I just don’t believe she is the best of this bunch and that is no insult. Jessica Sanchez‘s performances wow me and sometimes thrill me, but they do not really pack much of an emotional punch for me. Maybe she is mature beyond her years but I just do not believe she has the life experience to connect with “Try A Little Tenderness” or the gravitas to pull off “Proud Mary”. I also do not believe she has learned to use her vocal power to deliver the emotional power of a song. Too many times she goes on runs when the simple melody would be much more powerful. Her performance last week of “You Are So Beautiful” is a grand case in point. This was powerful and impactful until she threw in those little runs on the last two choruses that actually diminished the emotional intimacy of this song.
4) Phil Phillips- Once again, I know he has many fans. Quite frankly, I think he is the favorite to win at this point. However, I would place at number six or seven if I were ranking American Idol Season 11. His style is fun, exciting and quirky. I love the way he bends songs to his view of the world. Thing is he really can’t sing all that well. Other thing is, he has not really evolved much over American Idol Season 11. Rather than peaking to the finish he had been plateaued for several weeks, until last week, when he regressed. He just turned “The Letter” into a song I could sing (that is not a compliment) and with “Time of The Season” and “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” he showed the limits of his singing ability. Phil Phillips is a highly talented musician with a clear and interesting vision. American Idol is just not the show to reward that talent.
Three more weeks to see who the American Idol audience loves the most. I hope you are enjoying this season as much as we are. Join us tonight as American Idol Season 11 has another dual performance night with “California Sounds” and “songs I wish I would have written”.