Congratulations America. You did a great job assembling the American Idol Season 12 top 10. This is the best American Idol group assembled in at least 5 years. There are no less than seven performers who could rightly win American Idol Season 12. The group skews heavily toward soul/R&B/gospel singers (5) then to country (2) and adult contemporary (2) and only one performer with any rock leanings (Angie Miller).
Since One21music focuses on Christian musicians performing on American Idol, we are excited that we have been able to determine that 8 of the American Idol Top 10 are Christians. Candice Glover, Lazaros Arbos, Janelle Arthur, Curtis Finch Jr, Amber Holcomb, Angie Miller, Devin Velez and Burnell Taylor are all Christian musicians. Except for Lazaros Arbos each one of these Christian musicians has a chance to win American Idol Season 12.
American Idol Season 12 Top 10 Power Rankings
1) Candice Glover
American Idol has not seen a true soul singer win since Rueben Studdard in Season 2. Is soul music on its way back? Joshua Ledet made a deep run on American Idol Season 11 and, in my opinion, should have won it all. Candice Glover is a more exciting singer than Rueben Studdard and a more polished singer than Joshua Ledet. Candice Glover has shined brightly ever since American Idol moved to Las Vegas. On Thursday night she made her strongest statement yet. When most of the American Idol Season 12 Top 10 were too emotional to sing their celebration songs, Candice delivered her best performance of the season with a jaw dropping version of “I’m Going’ Down”.
2) Kree Harrison
Probably the only singer to rival Candice Glover and Curtis Finch Jr in singing talent and vocal performance maturity, Kree Harrision has the advantage of being the standout country singer in American Idol Season 12. Not a singer limited to country music, Kree Harrison cans sing anything but chooses country music. She should have the talent and versatility to handle any theme American Idol throws at her this year. I would not be surprised if some of her biggest moments come when she is forced out of country music to interpret another genre. My only knock on her has been that she has seemed serious on the verge of sad up to this point. The backstage exposure in more casual settings should improver her image. She certainly came out of her shell on Thursday night with this performance of “Evidence”. Such a great voice.
3) Angie Miller
Angie Miller has made the biggest impression with Christian ballads performed at her piano. Her Hollywood and Sudden Death songs were the two best performances of American Idol Season 12. However, once she steps away from the piano she has been a little more shaky. Angie Miller should stay at her piano until American Idol takes it away from her. The instrument seems to anchor her and balance her emotions. Angie Miller has the huge advantage of being completely unique on American Idol Season 12. No one is doing what she does and that alone could get her into the Top 4 or 5.
4) Devin Velez
Here is the American Idol Season 12 dark horse. Devin Velez is an 18 year old high school graduate with no performance experience. I could only find two videos of him before American Idol. Both were Devin Velez performing hymns for only the camera. His performances so far have belied his lack of experience. His rich voice and vocal command lay a great foundation for his growth on American Idol Season 12. Up until Thursday night we have only seen ballads from Devin Velez but then he stepped out with “Power of One” to show that he shines on uptempo songs as well.
5) Curtis Finch Jr
Curtis Finch Jr is a master singer who has delivered amazing, powerful performances every time he has stepped on the American Idol Season 12 stage, maybe too powerful. His vocal and stage performance is so steeped in the gospel tradition that I fear America will grow tired of his deeply expressive vocals and the demonstrative stage antics. It would serve him well to pull back and perform a few songs in a controlled, subdued manner. I just hope that America can look past the style t o see Curtis Finch Jr.’s amazing singing talent.
6) Amber Holcomb
Amber Holcomb and Devin Velez are the two youngest performers on American Idol Season 12. Like Devin, Amber Holcomb does not have much recorded experience performing in front of audiences. Considering that, her two performances in Las Vegas were amazingly daring, on the verge of foolish. She delivered a beautiful, nuanced version of “My Funny Valentine” and the she threw caution to the wind with “I Believe in You and Me”. I think it is the first time I have seen someone on American Idol sing that song with nuance while injecting their own stamp on the song with run after run after run. I guess it is not daring if you know you got it. For Amber Holcomb to be a serious contender to win American Idol Season 12 we need to see much more of her personality.
7) Burnell Taylor
Burnell Taylor is the most unique performer on American Idol Season 12. He has a distinctive voice and an intriguing phrasing style that has mesmerized me so far. I think he has a stronger voice than he has demonstrated to this point. He will need to adapt his style to keep America interested. I can see him having a journey similar to Hayley Reinhart, where he struggles to find the recipe for wide approval and then, one week, he will find the formula to blend his unique vision with the demands of popular acceptance. If that happens early enough, he could win American Idol Season 12.
8) Janelle Arthur
She has been climbing this American Idol mountain for years only to find success in the same year as Kree Harrison. Janelle Arthur’s shiny personality, committed country stylings and strong push from American Idol Season 12 would be enough, in any other seaso,n to go deep into the competition. Unfortunately, this season has so many good singers that her great, but not spectacular, voice will cause her to fall short. I would not be surprised if she made it into the American Idol Season 12 top 5, but I cannot see her going much further than that. Does not matter, because I think Janelle Arthur has already done enough to establish herself as a life long fixture in the country music scene.
9) Lazaro Arbos
I hold my breath every time Lazaro Arbos performs. He has a beautiful voice but he picks songs that are bigger than him and then he struggles to pull through. He has succeeded so far but I think the competition is just too talented this year. Lazaro needs to be much more careful in his song selections, he needs to prepare more fully and then he needs to relax in his performances.
10) Paul Jolley
Paul Jolley is a little like “Nashville”. He says he is a country singer but he sings like Broadway. Paul impresses me as a singer who wants to succeed but has no real vision or passion for what he wants to bring to the world with his music. Before he can hope to succeed on American Idol Season 12, or beyond, he needs to find his artistic vision. What am I saying, he made the top 10 on American Idol Season 12, that ranks as a success in my book.
American Idol Season 12 resumes on Wednesday night when the Top 10 perform the “Music of American Idols”. By now, that represents a pretty deep well of songs. It is too bad that Angie Miller has already performed Colton Dixon, she probably cannot dip into that well again. Look out for Kree Harrison, who performed Kelly Clarkson‘s “Stronger” during Hollywood week, to maybe perform that song again.
Check back with One21music on Thursday to review the performances and speculate on who is heading home.