In some ways, you would be right to do so. Yes, Paula, Simon, and the amazing dynamic between them are long gone. No matter how many times the producers try to switch things up — like when they introduced the “judges’ save” a few seasons back — the premise still seems a bit tired. And Idol hasn’t produced a genuinely strong artist since who-knows-when. (Was it Season 8′s Adam Lambert? Season 6′s Jordin Sparks? Or Season 4′s Carrie Underwood?)
That being said, Idol is set to debut its Top 10 contestants for Season 12 tonight at 8 PM on Fox, and if singing competitions even marginally pique your interest, then you should absolutely check it out. The new, quirky set of judges — including Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj, and our beloved Keith Urban — are reason enough to tune into Idol tonight. But it’s the truly impressive group of contestants that’ll keep you coming back.
Season 6′s Jordin Sparks was the last female to be crowned American Idol, which means that men — white men, to be specific — have won the past five consecutive seasons of the show. As a result, the producers and judges seem to be pushing for a female victor this season, which has led many to wonder, “Did American Idol stack the competition in favor of women?“
All of that being said, half of this season’s Top 10, as per usual, are men. And a few of them in particular have strong potential to extend the male winning streak. Contestants Lazaro Arbos and Paul Jolley are nothing to lose sleep over, but the remaining three are truly talented and worth checking out.
- First is 19-year-old Burnell Taylor from New Orleans, LA. His Urban Outfitters look might be a bit kitschy, but his soulful sound has so much power and spunk, it’ll literally give you chills.
- Next up is 18-year-old Devin Velez from Chicago, IL. He may look and dress like a tech nerd, but when he opens his mouth — and especially when he sings in Spanish — panties drop all across the nation.
- Last up is 24-year-old Curtis Finch Jr. from St. Louis, MO. His overt religiousness may be a bit off-putting, but his powerful voice is stunning, and when he hits his high notes, your jaw will hit the floor.
This season, regardless of whether or not the competition is stacked, the female American Idol contestants are playing to win. Almost all of the fan- and judge-favorites from as far back as Hollywood week have been women, and some of the five that made this year’s Top 10 are serious show-stoppers. Janelle Arthur and Amber Holcomb aren’t anything to go crazy for, but the remaining three absolutely are.
- 23-year-old South Carolina native Candice Glover is probably the front-runner of the entire competition at the moment, and she deserves it. She has soul like it’s nobody’s business, and her version of “I’m Goin’ Down” last week was likely the best cover of the Mary J. Blige classic to date. Randy Jackson even said that he “learns from her” when she sings.
- Next up is 18-year-old Angie Miller from Beverly, MA. Everything about her seems a bit dated — from her hairstyle to her Vanessa Carlton singer-songwriter vibe — but her voice is strong, she has that Disney star likability, and we’re sure the makeover that Top 10 contestants receive will do her very well.
- Finally, 22-year-old Nashville native Kree Harrison has been a favorite from the get-go, especially in the eyes of new judge Keith Urban. She has a maturity and confidence to her voice, in a Kelly Clarkson sort of way. That paired with her girl-next-door look could take her very far.
And if the contestants really aren’t enough to bring you back to Idol, then just do it for Keith. He’s worth it. We promise.