Welcome to the “American Idol” version of March Madness, when they finally get around to picking a winner. This season may end up having the biggest surprises ever since so many of the Top 12 have lots of potential that they haven’t quite lived up to yet.
After last week’s sorta-shocking eliminations, it became pretty clear that it’s way harder to evaluate potential than it is to evaluate actual artistry, which has proven very confusing to the “Idol” audience. (Sorry, Lilly. We’ll miss you, Alex!)
We’ll see if weeding out some of the similar singers will make performance nights more fun. In any case, here’s our pre-season rankings for this year’s Top 12:
1. Crystal Bowersox. She’s really the most dependably strong and confident of the contenders. Though her singer-songwriter range has been a bit limited so far, it’s so high-quality that she’s hard to beat.
2. Michael Lynche. He really stepped up his game last week and proved that he can outcharm anyone when everything is running right.
3. Siobhan Magnus. She hasn’t gotten everything to click all at the same time yet, but she certainly has all the tools to make a run, especially after that one note that people are still talking about.
4. Casey James. A good voice, a good personality and good looks will take you far in “Idol.” He’ll likely prove that.
5. Aaron Kelly. “Country Archuleta” could be a real force if he figured out how to act his age.
6. Didi Benami. She has a nice voice and definitely knows how to play the game. That should get her to the middle of the pack.
7. Tim Urban. This year’s Sanjaya has the looks and the personality that will send tweens a-swooning – if only he could sing.
8. Andrew Garcia. Once the front-runner, Garcia seems completely confused by the judges’ comments. Will he get his mojo back before he’s voted off? The clock is ticking.
9. Lee Dewyze. He’s positioning himself as this year’s Daughtry, but he doesn’t have the voice or the arranging smarts to back it up.
10. Katie Stevens. Another one-time front-runner, she also seems like she has lost her way.
11. Lacey Brown. She should have been dumped weeks ago for her wobbly vocals, but her upbeat personality has saved her. Not sure how long that will continue.
12. Paige Miles. Not only has she been attention-deprived, but she seems to be confused about how to use her pretty-great voice.
PHOTO: Michael Lynche and Crystal Bowersox -- this season's Top 2? -- by Fox.