American Idol Season 12 Power Rankings and Preview


ai12_top-40-second-10-girls-gal_1052American Idol LIVE shows officially kick off next Tuesday!  The Top 20 have been chosen by the judges, with some head-scratching omissions, but does it look like a girl can finally win American Idol since Season 6 winner Jordin Sparks.  Staff Writer Joseph Braverman has done an outstanding job thus far recapping each episode and will continue to do so for the remainder of the season.

While I’ll be bringing the Power Rankings of the contestants each week, I’ll also be kicking off our Past Idol series this Sunday with Season 11 Top 24 contestant Hallie Day who will be making a guest spot on The Awards Circuit Power Hour.

Before the first episode aired, the talk circled around judges Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey and their ongoing feud.  While no obvious disagreements have sparked any fights on the panel so far, the LIVE shows could kick things up a notch.  Nicki’s critiques have been mostly useful while Mariah seems to be Paula Abdul-ing herself all over the place.  A little incoherent at times, their seems to be an obvious click and war between Nicki and Keith Urban and Randy Jackson and Mariah.  Grammy-winner Urban has been an absolute delight on the panel this year although a little soft on some contestants, I’m happy with his inclusion thus far.

The Top 10 girls will compete for America’s votes on Tuesday resulting in the top five highest vote-getters moving on to the Top 10.  The same will happen for the boys on Wednesday night.  Unfortunately, since the first time since Season 1, we will not have a Top 12 or 13 for the finals.  Producer Nigel Lythgoe has decided to cut the entire competition in half next week with no wildcard choices (as of yet) or shows to make up for America’s mistakes.  The wildcard shows have been a life-saver for Idol over the years.  From Season 2 Runner Up Clay Aiken to Season 8’s Matt Giraud, the last-minute picks bring significant talent back to the competition.

Though the ratings for Idol have taken a steady decline over the years, there is an active movement among the producers to save FOX’s #1 talent competition.  As a whole, the talent this year is seemingly above-average.  It’s hard to live up to the years that included Chris Daughtry, David Cook, Kris Allen, and LaToya London but with quirky contestants getting the shaft like Juliana Chahayed, the show pigeon holes themselves with many contestants that seem like the “cookie cutter” Idol contestant and bring no extra flavor.  Chahayed and Jenn Hermano were two amazing talents that the judges made a bad call on eliminating.  Good thing they’re allowed to audition again next year.  Perhaps, we’ll seem them again.

Let’s take a look at the Top 10  Girls:

ai12_top-40-first-10-girls-gal_0043Coming into the Vegas Rounds, 19-year old Angela Miller is probably the frontrunning lady after delivering an outstanding original song during the Hollywood rounds.  The active American Idol voters are from the middle states and Miller is someone they can easily get behind if she can deliver from week to week.  Looking ahead, the beautiful Aubrey Cleland, the talented Candice Glover, and the eccentric Kree Harrison are all formidable contenders.  Cleland, who reminds me a lot of Leona Lewis and her early beginnings on UK’s “X Factor,” has the most marketable look with a beautiful voice.  If we’re looking at who could sell the most records post Idol, Cleland is likely the most likely to do so.

Candice, who competed last year and was cut in Vegas, returns with a mix of soul and humility.   Singing Aretha Franklin’s “A Natural Woman” this week for the judges gives America exactly what they’d expect from a soul-singing contestant.  If she has any shot at taking the title, Candice will need to change-up songs in an accessible way for America to connect with.  Season 6’s Melinda Doolittle did a outstanding job of doing this in her year but often skewing “too” old for Idol’s demographic cost her the title and a third-place finish.

Kree Harrison is the most surprising contestant to pop on the radar after her terrific rendition of “Up to the Mountain.”  Reminiscent of Season 9 runner-up Crystal Bowersox, Kree has the aura of “don’t give a sh**, I just wanna sing”  and while that’s admirable, she made need to warm up in order for the audience to support her.  And then there’s Zoanette Johnson…ummm…she’s the the Vote for the Worst pick, so she’s likely to go far but for the audience that doesn’t pay attention, some might dismiss her “colorful” personality.  I think either Zoanette or Janelle Arthur will take a place in the Top 10.  With little air time and personality Amber Holcomb, Adriana Lotonio, and Tenna Torres are likely to be dismissed.  Breanna Steer will split votes with Aubrey since they have a similar look and style but Aubrey has the egde and America’s attention as of now.


1 Angela Miller
2 Aubrey Cleland
3 Candice Glover
4 Kree Harrison
5 Zoanette Johnson
6 Janelle Arthur
7 Breanna Steer
8 Ambert Holcomb
9 Adriana Lotonio
10 Tenna Torres

Now for the boys:

ai12_top-40-first-10-boys-gal_0070I can only guess that the producers and judges put through this slate of men to make it as easy as possible for a girl to win Idol because this is one of the worst crop of boys since Season 6’s Top 12 mess of male contestants.  Season 9 comes to mind as well.  If a boy keeps the trend going I predict either the John Legend-esque Burnell Taylor or the Latin Devin Velez have the best shot to take the Season 12 title.  Being young, marketable, and likable are all in their favor right now.  Not to mention, Velez reminds me HUGELY of Clay Aiken after he sang his rendition of Beyonce’s “Listen” from Dreamgirls (2006).  Those same “claymates” might come to the boy’s defense.

Vincent Powell assassinated the competition on Thursday night after singing “Cause I Love You” by Lenny Williams but no screen time came before his powerful performance.  He’s already starting a little farther back in comparison to other heavily televised contestants.  He’ll need to give two or three more show-stopping performances to be taken seriously.  Curtis Finch, Jr. who has been given a huge pimp on the earlier episodes is one of the most unlikable contestants this season with one of the better voices.  Having the same problem that Season 9’s Michael Lynche had, there seems to be no ounce of humility in him with a bad habit of overperforming and making very distracting grins and faces at the judges during his performance of “Superstar.”  I’m sure Curtis and Vincent are applying for the same voting demographic and at this point, the latter has a leg up.

The story of a stutterer will get to any older person watching Idol but add that in with a decent singing voice and that puts Lazaro Arbos in a prime position to make the finals at this point.  While his rendition of Keith Urban’s “Tonight I Wanna Cry” wasn’t in the top-tier of singers on his performance night, Lazaro already has a big following thus far that should secure him a spot in the Top 10 and the Idol tour, given he doesn’t train wreck it in a big way next week.

Cortez Shaw’s performance of “Titanium” by David Guetta was a terrific interpretation but he’s a bit in the same boat as Curtis Finch at this point while his Hollywood episodes made him come off as Jermaine Sellars-esque, the Season 11 contestant that talked his way right off the competition.  I don’t think he’s too far gone that it can’t be corrected but any inconsistencies in song choice or attitude in critiques will have America turning on him faster than America turned on Constantine Maroulis.

And then we have Charlie Askew who walks the fine line between a mix of John Stevens and Sanjaya Malakar.  Quirky, interesting, with a not so hot singing voice, the VFTW crowd will be all over him.  Paul Jolley and Nick Boddington are out of the running as of now unless they kill it in one of their numbers next week.  And Elijah Lou, don’t get me started.  Think A.J. Gil’s run in Season 1 and you will see the comparisons.


1 Burnell Taylor
2 Devin Velez
3 Vincent Powell
4 Curtis Finch, Jr.
5 Lazaro Arbos
6 Cortez Shaw
7 Charlie Askew
8 Paul Jolley
9 Nick Boddington
10 Elijah Lou

Here are the official Twitters and Facebook for the Top 20 contestants and the official photos and images.  “American Idol” airs Tuesday at 8:00 pm ET on FOX.

[nggallery id=9]

Janelle Arthur         Age: 23
Hometown: Oliver Springs, TN
Twitter: @JanelleAI12

Aubrey Cleland         Age: 19
Hometown: West Linn, OR
Twitter: @AubreyAI12

Candice Glover         Age: 23
Hometown: St. Helena Island, SC
Twitter: @CandiceAI12

Kree Harrison         Age: 22
Hometown: Nashville, TN
Twitter: @KreeAI12

Amber Holcomb        Age: 18
Hometown: Houston, TX
Twitter: @AmberAI12

Zoanette Johnson         Age: 20
Hometown: Tulsa, OK
Twitter: @ZoanetteAI12

Adriana Latonio        Age: 17
Hometown: Anchorage, AK
Twitter: @AdrianaAI12

Angela Miller         Age: 19
Hometown: Beverly, MA
Twitter: @AngieAI12

Breanna Steer         Age: 18
Hometown: LaPlace, LA
Twitter: @BreannaAI12

Tenna Torres       Age: 29
Hometown: Queens, NY
Twitter: @TennaAI12

Lazaro Arbos         Age: 21
Hometown: Naples, FL
Twitter: @LazaroAI12

Charlie Askew         Age: 18
Hometown: Little Rock, AR
Twitter: @CharlieAI12

Nick Boddington        Age: 27
Hometown: Memphis, TN
Twitter: @NickBAI12

Curtis Finch, Jr.         Age: 25
Hometown: St. Louis, MO
Twitter: @CurtisAI12

Paul Jolley                 Age: 23
Hometown: Palmersville, TN
Twitter: @PaulJolleyAI12

Elijah Liu                   Age: 18
Hometown: Rowland Heights, CA
Twitter: @ElijahAI12

Vincent Powell        Age: 29
Hometown: Austin, TX
Twitter: @VincentAI12

Cortez Shaw        Age: 22
Hometown: Dallas, TX
Twitter: @CortezAI12

Burnell Taylor       Age: 19
Hometown: New Orleans, LA
Twitter: @BurnellAI12

Devin Velez         Age: 18
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Twitter: @DevinAI12

Discuss your favorite Idols!

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Clayton Davis--prolific writer and autism awareness advocate of Puerto Rican and Black descent, known for his relentless passion, dedication, and unique aptitude. Over the course of a decade, he has been criticizing both film and television extensively. To date, he has been either featured or quoted in an array of prominent outlets, including but not limited to The New York Times,, Variety, Deadline, Los Angeles Times, FOX 5, Bloomberg Television, AOL, Huffington Post, Bloomberg Radio, The Wrap, Slash Film, and the Hollywood Reporter. Growing up in the Bronx, Clayton’s avid interest in the movie world began the moment he first watched "Dead Poets Society” at just five years of age. While he struggled in English class all throughout grade school, he dived head first into writing, ultimately taking those insufficiencies and transforming them into ardent writings pertaining to all things film, television, and most importantly, the Academy Awards. In addition to crafting a collection of short stories that give a voice to films that haven’t made it to the silver screen, Clayton currently serves as the Founding Editor of He also holds active voting membership at various esteemed organizations, such as the Broadcast Film Critics Association, Broadcast Television Journalists Association, African-American Film Critics Association, New York Film Critics Online, Black Reel Awards, and International Press Academy. Furthermore, Clayton obtained his B.A. degree in American Studies and Communications.