American Idol and now there are five

SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil - The Philippine Star
American Idol and now there are five
Top 5 finalists (from left) Laine Hardy, Alejandro Aranda, Wade Cota, Madison VanDenburg and Laci Kay Booth

Host Ryan Seacrest is hawking this season of American Idol (AI) as having the most talented crop of finalists in the show’s history. This is no overstatement. The picks this year are all outstanding and it is always sad seeing a contestant leave just because they did not get enough votes.

Today, May 13, is the second to the last week of the competition. By tonight, we will already have the names of those who will see the big battle for the title. The suspense is mounting and it is now time to prepare ourselves for the disappointment of seeing some of our favorites make their exits. But no matter who makes the grade, I can honestly say that this one has been another fun, exciting season for the reality show.

Here now are the five American Idol finalists. Check them out tonight at 6 on ETC.

Alejandro Aranda, a 24-year-old dishwasher and busker from Pomona, California, who again moved the judges when he performed his original song, Poison, in the Showstopper section. He was also great with his electronic take on the Woodstock favorite from Jefferson Airplane, White Rabbit.

If there is anybody among the finalists who I believe will have a successful career win or lose at Idol, it is Aranda. Remember the singer-songwriter is the in-thing nowadays. Think Ed Sheeran, Jason Mraz, Lukas Graham and many more. And Aranda has a knack for creating potential hits.

Laine Hardy from Livingston, Louisiana was the Season 16 entry who made it all the way to Hollywood. He returned this year as accompanist to a friend but was also handed a Golden Ticket after an impromptu audition. He has been on a roll ever since.

His singing is just fine but he has the cute Idol looks with the killer smile that young fans adore, excellent stage presence and he does pick crowd pleasing songs like Joe Cocker’s I Don’t Need No Doctor and Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Goode last week. Win or lose, I think AI has discovered its first singing heartthrob in Laine.

 Madison VanDenburg, only 17 from Cohoes, New York, earned a standing ovation from the judges when she auditioned with Dan & Shay’s Speechless and is proclaimed another Kelly Clarkson. This girl has youth, good looks and a fantastic voice. Might be a budding diva but there are times when I get the feeling that she is too studied in her performances.

At least that was how her Piece of My Heart by Janis Joplin and I Surrender by Celine Dion seemed to me. Power singing always goes big with audiences so she might just make it to the finals. But Idol has not had a belter in a long time. Jennifer Hudson and Lauren Daigle both lost. So it is voters who may decide to give one to the show with Madison or say no once more.

Wade Cota is a 27-year-old mix of country and heavy metal who comes from Phoenix, Arizona. He has a nice guy presence with an absolutely memorable voice, a sob story for a sidebar and aw shucks huggable looks. He is the kind of contestant that fans openly root for.

Wade can also be versatile with his music as evidenced by his song choices, Joe Cocker’s With A Little Help From My Friends and the inspirational Through The Valley by Shawn James. Now, American Idol viewers love country music and Wade who comes across as a softer Johnny Cash might just be this year’s prime pick.

Laci Kay Booth is 23 years old and comes from Livingston, Texas. She is the daughter of country music singer and songwriter Jody Booth. She did so-so renditions of Joplin’s To Love Somebody and Mariah’s Open Arms. But she was the one whom the judges chose to save over pastor’s son Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon.

The save was a total surprise as Jeremiah Lloyd really knocked the socks off everybody with his Somewhere and Swing Low, Sweet Chariot. How could they let Jeremiah Lloyd go? In fact, I have a feeling that the save will not work in Booth’s favor. She now has to rise up to the big challenge of that save today. But she seems like a sweet girl who is easy to like and that might help.

Good luck to everybody.


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