"American Idol" has finally rolled into the voting rounds, in which fans -- for the most part -- control the fates of the remaining 25 singers on the show. If Tuesday night's male semi-finalist show is any indication, the decision in 2012 will be a tough one.
That's not to say voting for any one singer can and will continue to be impossible, but finding a clear favorite within the group of 13 guys is a tall order (and don't even get me started on the ladies). There's no Scotty McCreery or Adam Lambert in this grou -- someone who screams "sure bet" -- and Tuesday night (Feb. 28) didn't change much.
Many of the contestants are seemingly still on the same level as their colleagues, which makes the fan voting all the more important. Much like last season, five finalists will be chosen by vote to participate in the Top 13, while each judge will have one wild card pick from those who didn't get voted in to move on.
Who has the largest amount of support from friends and family back home? Which contestants possess qualities that may have nothing to do with singing but may rake in the votes? It's tough to say, but let's look at each contestant by group, starting with those most likely to move on and moving down to those who are really looking for voters' help.
Will Move On:
Joshua Ledet - "You Pulled Me Through"
It's tough to picture a Top 13 without Mr. Ledet, because even if he doesn't get voted in, he's arguably the judges' first choice for a wild card. Joshua performed Jennifer Hudson's "You Pulled Me Through," and it was easily the night's strongest showing, and brings up a fairly understandable comparison -- Ledet is like a male Hudson. On the fence? Check out the final third of the performance.
Colton Dixon - "Decode"
Again, a Top 13 without Colton is hard to imagine. He's sure to have the fan vote (just LOOK at him), and even without it, the judges seem to love him. Colton really pandered to the "Twilight" crowd with Paramore's "Decode" from the film franchise, flanked with strings and dramatic backing music. Randy threw around the phrase "indie/alt-rocker" with the 20-year-old, which seems true at least in the latter sense.
Should Move On:
Adam Brock - "Think"
Adam had one of the strongest vocals of the night, so it should follow that we should be seeing him again, right? Well, maybe. It's tough to say what kind of fan backing he has, mainly given his age (27). But his performance of Aretha Franklin's "Think," while lacking the high note of season nine's Siobhan Magnus, was way more on key than hers, so there's a start. Not a flashy showing, but appealing.
Creighton Fraker - "True Colors"
The former New York street performer was admittedly a bit more subdued than what we're used to on Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors," but Creighton turned it up by the end of the song and should be moving on not only for this performance, but for his exceptional showings prior to now. He continues to show that he has one of the most sizable ranges of any male contestant this season.
Reed Grimm - "Moves Like Jagger"
Reed's the oddball of the season, and in case you'd forgotten that already, he reminded everyone with a lounge-y, jazz-styled "Moves Like Jagger." At least when similarly-voiced Casey Abrams tackled Maroon 5 last year, he kept the song in its appropriate genre. Still, Reed's showing that he isn't afraid to make some strange choices (again with the drums!), and his voice is still one of the strongest of the season.
Deandre Brackensick - "Reasons"
I'm still not sure how I feel about Deandre, but I do have a good feeling that a lot of people -- many of them girls and around or below his age -- get him. He undeniably possesses a strong falsetto when he wants to, and his high note was incendiary, but Deandre also may fall into the same category Siobhan did, relying on said note to keep him going through. I thought his performance simply lacked much of a base to keep his falsetto soaring, but he'll probably squeak through.
Shouldn't, But Have a Shot:
Eben Franckewitz - "Set Fire to the Rain"
Remember when many touted Eben as the next Bieber early in the season, a young singer with massive potential? Yeah, he kind of flubbed this one. Poor song choice, poor vocal... NO emotion whatsoever, and if you're singing an Adele tune, that last aspect is a must. But we can't say what kind of fan support these contestants have yet, and Eben could very well have legions of younger voters behind him.
Heejun Han - "Angels"
Oh, Heejun. Heejun, Heejun, Heejun. The fan-favorite's take on Robbie Williams' "Angels" was OK at best, but the point to remember is that he is a fan favorite, and that could take him far. I worry that many of Heejun's performances might follow this same formula (see: ballad, not much going on onstage) if he's put through, though. But again, America seems to love him.
Phillip Phillips - "In the Air Tonight"
Ever thought you'd hear this Phil Collins standard smooth jazz-ified with a sax part? Well, Phillip can. All told, he and the "Idol" producers shot for a dense, dramatic sound, and his vocal very much suited the feel of the performance. But it was oh-so-safe. Phillip follows the same pattern that many eventual "Idol" winners followed in the past few years, so you have to think he still has a shot.
Won't Move On:
Jeremy Rosado - "Gravity"
I liked Jeremy's take on Sara Bareilles, but I'm just not seeing any star potential from the guy. The 19-year-old seems destined to fall into the category that plagues singers each and every season: strong voice, but forgettable. Who woke up this morning and remembered the guy? I hope I'm wrong on this one, though. His R&B vocal has major potential.
Aaron Marcellus - "Never Can Say Goodbye"
Aaron suffers from the same issue as Jeremy. He has a strong voice, but he's not exactly a performer everyone remembers the morning after. His version of the Jackson 5 song showcased a crazy-good high notes and runs at its end, and it would be cool to see what Aaron could do moving forward, but he'll have to get voters to remember him first.
Chase Likens - "Storm Warning"
Ryan Seacrest referred to Chase as "this season's country crooner" prior to his performance, and it got me thinking: is that right there the only reason Chase is even here? Don't get me wrong, I like the guy, but the show has had stronger country-esque singers in the past. Perhaps the show felt they needed a male country singer, but Richie Law's personality was too much of a turn-off? Chase has a chance if country-inclined voters will vote for anything remotely country, but that's about it. Just OK.
Jermaine Jones - "Dance With My Father"
What's that, you say? Where did Jermaine come from? After advertising a thirteenth contestant since Thursday, the doors opened to reveal the show's low-voiced "gentle giant" at show's end. Call me crazy, but I loved his rendition of the oft-covered Luther Vandross tune -- it was good to hear the song performed by someone with a deep voice. I just don't see the voters catching on.
Who do YOU think is going through and who's going home Thursday night? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to check out "Idol" tonight at 8 p.m. on FOX, when the Top 12 females take the stage.