American Idol Season 11 Top 24: Who Made the Cut?

So American Idol is back for another season and it already promises to be a dramatic one. With people passing out, contestants fighting amongst themselves and Steven Tyler stripping down to his skivvies (and then some) to cap off a tough night of eliminations, this is shaping up to be a heck of an interesting season.

source: americanidol.com

This is normally where I’d talk about the massive blunders the judges made when selecting their top 24 but for the most part, I agree with their choices. That isn’t to say there aren’t contestants I’m going to miss and that isn’t to say there aren’t contestants I would’ve liked to see go further. Lauren Gray is probably at the top of the list for me there. While there were a lot of talented contestants cut and there were cuts that were harder to watch (Jermaine Jones, I’m looking at you there), Lauren was probably the one I was saddest to see go. She was a favorite of mine since her incredible audition and was someone I thought had the chance to go the whole way. I guess I was wrong. So who did make it and who do I think has real winning potential? Let’s dive in.

source: americanidol.com

Aaron Marcellus

Home Town: Atlanta, Georgia
Auditioned In: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Age: 27
Aaron auditioned last year and made it to the Green Mile but was not given a spot on the top 24. I don’t remember much about his journey on Idol so far this year but I do recall him making quite an impression on me during one of the group rounds. He’s a talented guy. I just don’t know if he’s memorable enough to stand out from the crowd.

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 Adam Brock

Home Town: Washington, Pennsylvania
Auditioned In: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Age: 27
Adam has been one of the shining stars of the season for me thus far but like James Durbin last year, I worry about how being away from his family will impact his performance on the show. He has talent – there’s no denying that but the pressures of the competition already seem to be weighing pretty heavily on him. I’m worried about that in the long run. Overall though, I think he’s made enough of an impact to stick around for a while, as well he should.

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Baylie Brown

Home Town: Krum, Texas
Auditioned In: Galveston, Texas
Age: 21
I fell in love with Baylie back in season six and was beyond angry when she got the boot mostly for forgetting her lyrics. Since Baylie’s elimination, Idol has really loosened up on the whole forgetting the lyrics thing (as well they should, in my opinion considering even pros forget the words) and Baylie has strengthened her vocal abilities. I think she could be a real contender this season.

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Brielle Von Hugel

Home Town: Staten Island, New York
Auditioned In: Savannah, Georgia
Age: 17
Like so many of the top 24 contestants this year, I remember Brielle from last season but only really remember her as the other girl I really like in Pia Toscano’s group. This season, she made a much bigger impression but for all the wrong reasons. I try not to hold the behavior of clearly overzealous stage parents against their children but it’s hard to avoid in this case. Brielle’s mother was a nightmare and Brielle’s own diva-tastic leanings gave me pause. She’s clearly a talented girl and I think she deserves a spot on the show but will America get behind her? Hard to say. Voters are notorious for not really warming to divas on this show.

source: americanidol.com

Chase Likens

Home Town: Point Pleasant, West Virginia
Auditioned In: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Age: 20
We haven’t seen a whole lot of Chase in his time on Idol (this year or last year) but I like him all the same. He has a great voice and seems to be a pretty likable guy. Considering Scotty McCreery’s rather surprising win last season, I have to admit I wouldn’t be terribly surprised to see Chase do well – assuming he’s given the chance to stand out a little bit more.

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Chelsea Sorrell

Home Town: Stokesdale, North Carolina
Auditioned In: Savannah, Georgia
Age: 23
So far, nothing Chelsea has done has really popped for me. She has a great voice and she seems to have a lot of personality. Maybe she just hasn’t made a mark on me as of yet because she hasn’t gotten the attention some of the other contestants have. We’ll see what happens once the live shows start. The live performances can really change everything – as long as she makes a big enough impression to get through the first few shows so we can get to know her better.

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Colton Dixon

Home Town: Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Auditioned In: Savannah, Georgia
Age: 20
Colton has been one of my favorites since he was passed over in favor of Brett Lowenstern last season. I love Brett. He’s talented and has a great personality but I still wanted to see Colton go to the live shows in his place. I wasn’t surprised Randy, Steven and Jennifer talked Colton into auditioning again and I was even less surprised they put him through to the live shows. He has a ton of talent and personality and he’s got a totally different style than most of the other contestants in the top 24. I have to admit though, I’m pretty disappointed his sister didn’t make it through. I’ll be watching for her next season.

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Creighton Fraker

Home Town: Queens, New York
 Auditioned In: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Age: 28
I can’t find words to express how much I love this guy. He’s absolutely incredible. He has floored me each and every time he’s taken the stage. This guy is a star – unique, bursting with talent and perhaps a little bit crazy and over the top. I look at Creighton and I see someone that has the potential to be really, really big. My only concern is that America won’t get him or get what he’s doing. I truly hope that isn’t the case.

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DeAndre Brackensick

Home Town: San Jose, California
Auditioned In: San Diego, California
Age: 17
How freaking awesome is DeAndre. I had a lot of favorites this year but there are a couple contestants that were among my favorites last year as well. Colton Dixon is one. Hollie Cavanaugh is another. DeAndre is definitely another one to add to that list. I fell in love with him during group round last season when his group totally rocked Somebody to Love by Queen and was heartbroken when he was sent home. When I saw his face this season, I was so excited that he’d taken Jennifer’s advice and come back. He has so much range. I think DeAndre has what it takes to make it to the top ten, if not the top five.

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Eben Franckewitz

Home Town: Loveland, Ohio
Auditioned In: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Age: 15
This one is going to make me very unpopular. I know this already but I’m saying it anyway. I don’t really like Eben. I’m not saying the guy isn’t talented. He really is but there’s something about his voice that bothers me. I liked his audition and I liked his “sing for your life” performance but everything in between was a little hit or miss for me. Doesn’t matter what I think though. The audience loves him and he’s probably going to go along way in this competition, if he doesn’t go all the way to the end.

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Elise Testone

Home Town: Charleston, South Carolina
Auditioned In: Savannah, Georgia
Age: 28
Words can’t express how much I love Elise. I think her presence on the show is going to bring a lot of energy and excitement to the stage. I’m thrilled the judges kept her. I don’t really remember her audition and I can’t exactly say when her name really started lighting that spark for me but it’s burning now and I can’t wait to see what she’s going to do in this competition.

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 Erika Van Pelt

Home Town: South Kingstown, Rhode Island
Auditioned In: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Age: 26
I’ve liked Erika since her audition although I have to admit losing track of her here and there throughout the course of the competition thus far. I think that has a lot to do with the fact that the women are especially good this year and that means someone is bound to get lost in the shuffle. With that said, I haven’t seen a bad performance from Erika yet and I don’t think that will change once the like shows start.

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Haley Johnson

Home Town: Beaverton, Oregon
Auditioned In: ?
Age: 23
I hate to admit this, but I don’t remember Haley at all and the official American Idol website wasn’t much help in fixing that as there are almost no videos of her aside from group performances. I feel like I should know her from her audition or from something in Hollywood, but she just doesn’t stand out for me. I guess I’ll have to wait and see what she has in store for us when the live shows kick off next week.

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Hallie Day

Home Town: Baltimore, Maryland
Auditioned In: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Age: 24
Hallie came out of nowhere for me. I don’t remember her audition and I don’t remember a lot of what she’s done since, but I do remember her from one of her group performances. I think she’ll bring something really special to the show even though I’m not completely convinced she’ll be the breakout star of the season.

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Heejun Han

Home Town: Flushing, New York
Auditioned In: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Age: 22
I don’t even know what I can say about Heejun. He’s awesome. I remember watching his pre-audition video and just falling in love with him, sitting back and crossing my fingers that he was actually good. When he started singing, I was shocked. Not only is he adorable but he’s also incredibly talented. As the show progressed, I only grew to love him more. I could see Heejun making the top ten and maybe even the top five if he chooses the right songs. Love him.

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Hollie Cavanagh

Home Town: McKinney, Texas
Auditioned In: Galveston, Texas
Age: 18
Hollie was one of my favorites last year. I was angry she didn’t make it through. I felt she should’ve taken Haley Reinhart’s spot, kind of funny considering Haley later became my favorite contestant on the show and the contestant I wanted to win the whole thing when it came down to the top three. Perhaps it was better that she didn’t make it through last year because she seems much more confident this year. I think she has a decent chance of doing well. My only complaint? We didn’t see nearly enough of her thus far.

source: americanidol.com

Jen Hirsh

Home Town: Agoura Hills, California
Auditioned In: Galveston, Texas
Age: 22
Jen has auditioned for Idol twice before but has never made it this far in the competition. After watching her this season, I can’t imagine why. This woman has such an incredible voice. Throughout Hollywood and Vegas, Jen has really been a standout for me both in her group performances and her solo performances. Her solo performance of Georgia on my Mind is one of my favorite renditions of the song to date on the show. I can’t wait to see how she does on the live shows. I think she has the talent to go all the way although I am concerned there could be another Pia Toscana type shocker with her.

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Jeremy Rosado

Home Town: Valrico, California
Auditioned In: Savannah, Georgia
Age: 19
Ugh, please. How great is Jeremy Rosado? His “Sing for your Life” solo performance was freaking stunning. This kid has so much talent it’s ridiculous and he’s such an unassuming guy. I really think he could have a spectacular Idol run in front of him as long as we get the chance to know him a bit better. People really like to vote for the contestants they care most about. My worry is that some of the stronger, louder personalities this season will outshine him. Assuming he steps up and steps front and center, I think he could be a contender.

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Jessica Sanchez

Home Town: San Diego, California
Auditioned In: San Diego, California
Age: 16
Barring any phenomenally bad song choices, I can see Jessica Sanchez in the top ten this season. I’ll go a step further. I could see her in the top five. I even feel confident saying she has a shot at winning the whole thing. I said that about Lauren Alaina last season and I’d say she did pretty well for herself. Jessica really stepped up her game at the right time, delivering a moving, beautiful “Sing for your Life” performance I just didn’t want to end. Talented, beautiful and seemingly down to earth, this competition could be hers to lose.

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Joshua Ledet

Home Town: West Lake, Louisiana
Auditioned In: Galveston, Texas
Age: 19
As with Jessica Sanchez, I think Joshua Ledet has the talent, personality and looks to take this thing all the way to the end. While I’ve heard some comparisons to last season’s Jacob Lusk on other blogs, I don’t really see the similarities. Sure they both have incredible voices and larger than life personalities, but I think Joshua is a lot more dialed back than Jacob was. I think he’ll get the voters on his side and is really a contestant to watch this season.

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Phillip Phillips

Home Town: Leesburg, Georgia
Auditioned In: Savannah, Georgia
Age: 21
Phil is one of the first contestants that really got me excited about this season. He’s talented, unique and seems to be a genuine artist. I’m concerned about his chances on Idol though. Real artists don’t always get the recognition they deserve on this show (Casey Abrams). Of course, Phil is a pretty good looking guy so perhaps he’ll get those teen girls to pick up their phones and vote. I really, really want to see Phil stick around. Love him.

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Reed Grimm

Home Town: Ellsworth, Wisconsin
Auditioned In: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Age: 26
Like Phil Phillips, Reed is a contestant I’ve had my eye on since the start. I love everything about this guy. He’s talented, has tons of personality but more than all that, he seems determined to stay true to who he is as an artist and as a music lover, I find that incredibly appealing. Also like Phil though, I’m worried Reed won’t be able to get the voter support he’ll need to stay in the competition. As much as I hate to admit it though, I think there’s a pretty good chance Reed will have the Vote for the Worst folks on his side which is kind of a double edged sword. They’ll help keep him around but for all the wrong reasons – much like Paul MacDonald last season.

source: americanidol.com

Shannon Magrane

Home Town: Tampa, Florida
Auditioned In: Savannah, Georgia
Age: 16
Remember the awkwardness of her audition? The whole thing with Steven, Shannon’s father and Steven’s typical lack of discretion. Who knew back then that this 6″ tall volleyball player would make it this far. It’s really no wonder when you watch her performances over the last few weeks, particularly her solo in Vegas. This kid can sing. I think she stands a real chance of being one of the breakout stars of the season.

source: americanidol.com

Skylar Laine

Home Town: Brandon, Mississippi
Auditioned In: Houston, Texas
Age: 18
I’m not typically a big fan of country music as I’ve mentioned but there’s something about Skylar I really like. I’ve been a big fan since her audition and I think she has all the right things to do well in this competition. She doesn’t have the best voice on the show but as many people point out time and time again, American Idol isn’t just a singing competition. Skylar is a performer and yes, I can definitely see the Reba comparisons. Might explain why I like her so much as I adore Miss. Reba.

The 13th Guy

By now, everyone knows the big shocker at the end of the Thursday’s episode was the announcement that there would be a 13th contestant returning for the boy’s team. Was it fair? I don’t think so. They should’ve at least brought back a 13th contestant for the girl’s team (Lauren Gray and Skylar Dixon come to mind) but that’s the decision that was made all the same.

A lot of people are crying that this was a ploy for ratings but according to AI insiders who leaked the top 24 long before it aired, the judges really struggled with who to send home from the boy’s team and the final decision took several days longer than it was supposed to. I can see them deciding they cut someone they shouldn’t have and bringing him back. Making us wait until Tuesday to find out? That was a ploy for ratings. Here are the four options on the table.

source: americanidol.com

David Leathers Jr. auditioned in Savannah, Georgia and was a favorite among many to make it to the live shows. I was pretty surprised when he was cut in favor of Eben and not in a pleasant way. While Eben seems like a nice kid, I felt David was the more talented of the two and as a viewer, I didn’t get the chance to see the rockier performances that apparently swayed the judges in Eben’s favor. If I were a betting woman, I’d put my money on Davis as the 13th guy and I’d expect to see “Mr. See Your Girl” stay in the competition for a while.

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Jermaine Jones is the man constantly referred to as “The Gentle Giant” who auditioned in Portland, Oregon and boy let me say this, his elimination was so incredibly tough to watch. I love this guy. He’s talented, sweet and I really think he could have a long and celebrated career ahead of him but I’m not sure American Idol is the right show for him. I think he’d have a very tough time with some of the theme nights but I also think he’d have some amazing moments. I sincerely doubt the judges will bring him back as the 13th guy but with that said, someone really needs to offer this guy a record deal. Now.

source: americanidol.com

Johnny Keyser would be my choice for the 13th guy and if this was a decision viewers were able to vote on, Johnny would get my vote. I’ve been a fan since his audition in St. Louis and was absolutely shocked he didn’t even make it to the Green Mile. To be honest, I thought Johnny had a very good chance of making it all the way to the end – if he didn’t win the whole thing. Talented, attractive and charismatic? Please, he’s everything the judges are talking about when they talk about the complete package.

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Richie Law… no. Please, please, please no. I will never, ever understand why people make themselves look so bad on this show (the private confession without his group? COME ON!) when they know America has to vote for them. Amercia has never gone on talent alone. If people hate you, they’re not going to vote for you. Normally I don’t buy into the impressions people give off in their interviews and the behind the scenes stuff because it can be edited to make people look a certain way but the actual words he spoke to the camera and the fact that he asked for a private confessional without his group… no. That can’t be tricky editing. This kid is just that arrogant. And to pick a fight with Heejun and Phil Phillips? And then Jermaine? Please. If this kid comes back, it’ll be a wasted spot because America will never keep him around.

So there you have it – your top 24. Come back next week after the live shows for my official American Idol predictions.

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