"American Idol" is in its final stretch, and while much of America is excited about May 24th's final showdown--and shocked over James Durbin's exit in fourth place--I think there are a few other also-rans who really got robbed this season, contestants I would have liked to see get a shot at the finale. Season 10 was packed with talent, so much so that many awesome singers who would've sailed through in any other season (um, at least last season) were sadly left on the sidelines this year. So let's hope some of these people audition for "American Idol" Season 11--or maybe "The X Factor" or "The Voice"--in the future.
After her show-stopping, jaw-dropping performance of "All By Myself," this little lady with the big pipes was hyped to possibly win this whole competition--or at least make the top five. When she instead went home in NINTH place, it was one of the biggest elimination shockers in "Idol" history, right up there with Chris Daughtry and Tamyra Gray. Pia will be just fine--rumor is she already has a record deal, plus a reality-celebrity boyfriend, "Dancing With The Stars" heartthrob Mars Ballas--but her untimely "Idol" exit was sad proof that sometimes America gets it very, very wrong.
A fan favorite from the moment he and his melodica auditioned with "I Don't Need No Doctor," and the best musician in "Idol" history according to Randy Jackson, this lovable Seth Rogen lookalike seemed destined for finale greatness. Instead, America got it wrong TWICE: first when he was voted off in 11th place, and then again when (after a dramatic use of the Judges' Save) he stalled in sixth. His beardy growling has been missed ever since.
This girl had it all: Capes, cute little veiled hats, tons of dramatic flair, and a killer voice. Sure, her cover of Fiona Apple's "Criminal" during top 24 week was a bit of a misfire, but fascinatingly so. And when Rachel was good, she was very, very good. I can only imagine how much more interesting this season would have been if the judges had brought this wild child back as a Wild Card.
All of America--girlies, grandmas, Gleeks--instantly fell in love with this little hippie with the headful of dreams and Raggedy Andy ringlets when he auditioned in New Orleans. A self-described "red apple in a pile of green apples," this 16-year-old Robbie Nevil doppelganger and bully target proudly positioned himself as a role model for any high school misfit, lispily declaring: "You should just be happy with yourself no matter what, because there's only one life to live." Preach on, Brett! He sadly got cut in top 24 week, but his ongoing "It Gets Redder" campaign proves he's still awesome. And he's so much more fun than Scotty McCreery!
With her teensy amount of screentime leading up to the semifinals, this top 24 cannon-fodder contestant had almost no chance of making it through. That's a shame, since she actually had one of the best female voices of the entire season. The Other Lauren really got robbed.
CLINT JUN GAMBOA
This dive-bar karaoke host could sing like no one's bizness, wore rad Mr. Peabody glasses, had personality for days, and recorded songs for the soundtrack of the ridiculous cult flick The Room. If it hadn't been for his ill-advised bullying of 15-year-old contestant Jacee Badeaux (which, honestly, was probably edited out of context to seem worse than it really was), he might have gone far. Anyone know the name of the karaoke club he works at? I might pay it a visit, just in hopes that I'd get to see Clint sing "Superstition" again.
I will definitely miss "That Guy." Carson made me laugh every week, and "American Idol" needs a little humor. Carson could have been this year's Norman Gentle, Danny Noriega, Mikalah Gordon, or Jon Peter Lewis. Someone give this dude his own show! He's an actor, right?
Rob is just another example of a man dragged down by a hard-hearted woman. Auditioning with, then bunking next to, and then rehearsing for hours with his unrequited former love, Chelsee Oaks, took a toll on this sad-sack...and unfortunately, he totally unraveled in Hollywood Week's round three as a result. But he showed so much promise up until then. If only Rob could have gone solo in Hollywood, he might have gone a lot farther. Check out more music from him at http://www.myspace.com/robbolin, from his indie EP unsurprisingly titled This Is What Heartache Sounds Like.
He received precious little face time, but when this Nashville auditioner was on the screen, he lit it up. The guy had chops, not to mention the best "Idol" fauxhawk since Sanjaya, and the girlies would have gone nuts for this cutie. Is it possible that the "Idol" producers were afraid of having another female-friendly boy winner this season, so they shockingly shut out people like Colton, Carson, and Rob? We'll never know.
With her big Tyler-esque lips and big voice and personality to match, this geek-chic girl won my heart (and Steven's) at her first audition. Sadly, we didn't see much of her after that--she was unceremoniously cut on day one of Hollywood Week, with no explanation or follow-up footage of her second audition. Oh well. Go check out her food blog at http://sarahsmusicalkitchen.com and get some snack ideas for your "Idol" finale viewing party.
This man was the total package: looks, style, silver sneakers, and killer pipes. And after several seasons that were frustratingly short on promising R&B contenders, Jerome seemed poised to bring "Idol" back to the days when soulful winners like Ruben and Fantasia ruled the roost. This guy really should have gone farther than Jacob Lusk and Jordan Dorsey. (Hear his new song here.)
MOLLY DEWOLF SWENSON
"American Idol" loves underdogs. So Molly just didn't fit the bill, I guess. With her coltish supermodel looks, Harvard degree, and White House internship, clearly this was a girl who was going places, with or without this little reality show. I still hope I get to hear Molly sing for the President someday, because she has an exquisite voice.