The Super Bowl is over, the snow is starting to melt. Must be time for another dose of American Idol. Again the round up is on to find the most talented young singers in America. Or sometimes the most outrageous. This year does not disappoint with a very eclectic group.
American Idol never ceases to shake up the airwaves. Be it Simon Cowell’s scathing critiques or Paula Abdul’s half-drunken behavior, it’s just mesmerizing to watch. This year the producers have added a fourth judge, Kara DioGuardi, to add spice (especially when Paula seems out of it). Kara speaks her mind and takes her time doing it.
Let’s look at the male American Idol contestants this year:
Adam Lambert: (26) Los Angeles, CA
We have not heard much about Adam Lambert. There is a reason for that. American Idol is holding out the best for the live audiences. There have been small clips of Adam singing in Hollywood that promise a great season for this guy. He certainly looks the part of a pop/rock star with spiked hair and leather, and his voice has a crazy range.
Alex Wagner-Trugman: (19) Studio City, CA
I like Alex and he has a great voice, but I was shocked that the judges chose him over cutie Cody Sheldon. I thought Cody was a shoe in when I saw the match up. He chose a bad song, but did it well. Alex blew him away on vocal skills and the judges chose wisely.
Anoop Desai: (21) Chapel Hill, NC
This young man is the Clay Aikon of Season 8. No way does that voice come out of that body. Anoop is soulful and has a nice range. I can already hear the cheers of “NNNNOOOOOP!”
Brent Keith: (29) Blanchester, OH
This unassuming young man is the oldest contestant and may do well. Brent is a country/classic rock fan, and looks every bit the part. He has little to lose and everything to gain from this much like the reigning American Idol David Cook. I have a very good feeling about Brent, he seems very comfortable in his skin.
Danny Gokey: (28) Milwaukee, WS
There is already a flurry of gossip whirling around Danny Gokey. He has mentioned numerous times that he is here on the wishes of his wife who passed away 4 weeks before his audition. Some are actually holding this against him (that he is using it for sympathy). Either way, he can sing and I’m glad he made it to TV.
Jorge Nunez-Mendez: (20) Carolina, PR
Another little American Idol Season 8 secret is Jorge Nunez-Mendez. Though there was talent found in Puerto Rico, most have fallen to the judges blades. Jorge has a great sound and look that we have not had on the show yet.
Ju’not Joyner: (26) Bowie, MD
Ju’not is a complete mystery to me. I don’t remember him at all. Here is the kicker, he was in Hollywood for American Idol Season 7. This was his third audition and this time he made it though Hollywood week. I still don’t remember a single clip of him singing this year or last. Hope that’s a good thing.
Kia Kalama: (26) San Clemente, CA
Kia Kalama should do well on TV, he is fun to watch and looks comfortable on stage. His voice may betray him early as it did in Hollywood. He just lost it a few times from overstress. Hopefully he can find a way to keep it at its best for the rest of the competition.
Kris Allen: (23) Conway, AR
Yet another carefully hidden secret is hotty Kris Allen. The American Idol producers have done a nice job keeping the unknowns unknown until air time. We have seen Kris a few times and he has never disappointed the judges. He could be a front runner if he can excite a crowd of teens.
Matt Breitzke: (27) Bixby, OK
What can you say about a giant welder on American Idol? Good thing he can sing. Matt can sing, again though, it will come down to his ability to excite a teen/tween crowd enough to dial a phone. Matt was forced into a ‘sing off’ to get to the TV portion of the competition. He and Michael Sarver, the other hard working dad, could not break the judges and both were asked to stay.
Matt Giraud: (23) Kalamazoo, MI
As is the case with many Idol hopefuls this year, Matt is no stranger to performing for an audience. The Western Michigan University graduate plays regularly at Zazop’s and Monaco Bay Piano Bar & Grill in Kalamazoo. Matt is another ‘secret’ this year, as all we have seen so far is a soulful performance of “Georgia On My Mind” during Hollywood week.
Michael Sarver: (27) Jasper, TX
Michael Sarver has the same issues as Matt Breitzke, the other hard working dad on Idol this year. Michael is a rough-neck oil worker, so he is definitely tough enough to withstand criticisms. His biggest issues will be with exciting the audience enough to get them to vote.
Nathaniel Marshall: (18) Malone, NY
Nate will grab the hearts of many watching American Idol Season 8. His personal story is tougher than the average young person on the show. Mother was in prison while he grew up moving from family member to family member. I wish the best for Nate, but think he may be too theatrical for the teen audience.
Nick Mitchell: (27) Brookfield, CT
AKA Norman Gentle…this may have been the biggest mistake of all for American Idol. Don’t get me wrong, I think Nick/Norman is funny in a ‘so stupid you can’t help but laugh’ kind of way. He is not funny enough to pull in a teen crowd. He is not a great enough singer to have advanced to more TV air time. This will be the choice that bites them this year.
Ricky Braddy: (25) Nashville, TN
A college graduate from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, Ricky Braddy has more than enough classroom experience. The nice thing is that he can actually sing! How many times have we seen ‘teachers’ who can’t hold a tune? Not the case this season! Ricky can, and is one of Paula Abdul’sfavorites.
Scott McIntyre: (23) Scottsdale, AZ
Scott McIntyre is the serious contestant this year. I’m not sure how well he will do on American Idol though. There is no doubt that Scott has the talent needed, but he may not have a thick enough skin for the competition. Again, exciting the tweens will be an issue for this AI hopeful.
Steve Fowler: (26) Beechwood, OH
It’s hard to predict how well Steve will do this season on AI. He forgot the words to his song in Hollywood and almost did not make the cut. His vocals are strong, but it has yet to be seen how he will handle the pressure of competition. Steve walked off the stage in Hollywood after forgetting his lyrics…that has to stop.
Von Smith: (22) Kansas City, MO
Von is one of the veteran American Idol contestants this year. After gaining fame on YouTube.com, Von was a guest on The View. He then signed a record deal with Kon Live Distribution. He obviously has the vocals for the contest, but may not do as well as a big fish in a small pond. We shall see.
It has become obvious that the American Idol producers understand that they can’t afford another Taylor Hicks or Rueben Studdard. Though both were fine singers, neither can sell records. That’s what it’s all about. I would expect to see much more country this season and less complaining from Simon Cowell about it. He must finally realize that country sells. He only has to look as far as Carrie Underwood (winner of American Idol Season 4) to see the dollar signs. Many of the guys this year have already stated that country is their genre.
American Idol Season 8 will now split the contenders into 3 groups of 12 and a wildcard to get to our finalists. Of the group of 18 guys my picks are: Adam Lambert, Anoop Desai, and Matt Giraud. I think the dark horse this year is Nathaniel Marshall. Good luck to all the hopefuls. The elimination shows will air on FOX: Tuesday, February 17th, Wednesday, February 25th and March 3rd.