1. Lil Rounds. Great name, best voice of anyone so far – the clear standout. Chances of winning jeopardized because she’s not really that hot, but so far, the favorite.
2. Megan Corkrey. A big surprise early on and still a standout – good narrative, pretty, distinctive voice. Might be a longshot because she comes off as quirky.
3. Allison Iraheta. The standout of this year’s crop of teens, she has a Lily Allen quality – not a great voice, but very charismatic and can really sell a song.
4. Jackie Tohn. This year’s “rocker chick”, with all the strengths and limitations that implies. May not go far, but has a pretty strong career as an actress as well.
5. Taylor Vaifanua. The hulking Samoan girl is pretty unconventional-looking, but that didn’t stop Jordin Sparks. Really need to polish her vocals, though.
6. Jeanine Vailes. Here’s where you start getting into the mushball middle with the girls – only at #6, and I could go either way on Jeanine. Good, but by no means great.
7. Jasmine Murray. Jasmine Murray is cute and has a pretty voice, which is different from being beautiful and having a great voice. Still, that might be enough this year.
8. Jesse Langseth. Basically just got on because Frankie Jordan already has a recording contract. Strong voice, but very little personality. Won’t go far.
9. Anne Marie Boskovich. Would be occupying the “rocker chick” role if there were no Jackie Tohn. Unfortunately for her, there is, which means she’s doomed.
10. Arianna Afsar. Good voice, and vivacious in a perky teen way, but gets lost in the slosh of decent-voiced teens this year. Still, a dark horse – she might go far.
11. Mishavonna Henson. I actually have something of a soft spot for Mishavonna; she impressed me more than her voice justified. But I don’t think she’ll get very far.
12. Alexis Grace. The only remaining pink-haired girl in the competition, which is about the strongest thing I can think of to say about her. She might last for looks.
13. Casey Carlson. The appeal of Casey escapes me, but she seems to already have one of the biggest online fan presences. Still, her voice isn’t strong enough to go far.
14. Tatiana Del Toro. Can actually sing, but has no emotional feel for the songs. She’s going to stick around forever, though, for pure drama queen potential.
15. Kendall Beard. This year’s Carrie Underwood, a country-lite singer who’s actually about as talented as the dismal Kellie Pickler. Might stick around a bit.
16. Stevie Wright. If you can pick Stevie out of a line-up, you were more impressed with her than I was. The female equivalent of Ricky Braddy. Hopeless.
17. Felicia Barton. All you need to know about her is that she was initially sent home and recalled only when Joanna Pacitti got booted. A pure third-stringer.
18. Kristen McNamara. The default survivor of the Battle of the Pretty Blondes is only on the show from pure luck. No way she lasts more than a round or two.
1. Anoop Desai. The Noop-Dogg has already won the hearts of discerning AI viewers. Strong, if not perfect, voice, great performances, totally cool and likable.
2. Danny Gokey. Along with his confidence, clear performing skills, and dead-wife narrative, Danny’s got a real emotional presence, and is clearly an early favorite.
3. Stephen Fowler. His head’s clearly not in the game, but I think he might emerge as a big-time contender. I think the judges really like him, and he’s got pipes.
4. Michael Sarver. The wildcat rig worker has the best voice of the two blue-collar dudes, and women are gonna love him, so he’ll be around for a long-ass time.
5. Matt Giraud. Mr. Duelling Pianos has a surprisingly slick voice, and he’s the most traditionally handsome of the top five, so he’ll get sold as the pretty boy candidate.
6. Matt Breitzke, This is the welder. I actually like his performing style more than Sarver, but his voice just isn’t strong enough; still, he could stick around for a while.
7. Ju’not Joyner. He’s got great pipes and has smartened up his look quite a bit. Still, he’s got that old ‘identity crisis’ problem the judges always hate.
8. Kai Kalama. He’s got a strong narrative and a good look that will compensate for his voice, which isn’t even that bad. No standout, but he could be here for a bit.
9. Jorge Nuñez. Obviously a sop to the Latino market; bland personality, but a very nice voice, almost guaranteeing he’ll have a recording career whatever the case.
10. Adam Lambert. Second-rate version of David Cook, and the first real dud among the fellas, but he’s not terrible by any means, and good-looking enough to stay on.
11. Scott MacIntyre. Some are worrying that the blind guy will stay on just out of sympathy, but all people have to do is not vote for him. He’s not bad, really.
12. Nathaniel Marshall. Actually a decent voice, but the most repellent personality this side of Tatiana. Will stay around forever thanks to Vote For The Worst.
13. Kris Allen. Here’s where we get to the glob of indistinguishable nobodies at the bottom. Kris is the slightly country-fried one, which might give him longevity.
14. Von Smith. A.K.A. “Jazz Hat”. Doesn’t even remotely deserve to be on the show, and he knows it. Aggro personality might carry him through a round or two.
15. Nick Mitchell. Utterly unfunny ‘comic’ AI contestant is not as bad a singer as he is a comedian, but damn close. Likely another VFTW beneficiary, though.
16. Brent Keith. “Who?”, you are saying. Exactly. The oldest of the Three Stoges of Hopeless Rejects at the bottom of a good group of guys. Will last longer, not long.
17. Alex Wagner Trugman. Virtually indistinguishable from the lamentable Ricky Braddy, and a slightly better singer, so he’ll last one round instead of zero.
18. Ricky Braddy. Would be the worst contestant to make it onto the actual show if it wasn’t for Kristen McNamara. Guaranteed gone by the first competitive round.