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Sanni M'Mairura, Rachel Hale, Briana Oakley mix unique stories with strong voices on'American Idol'

Contestants wait for their chance to audition in

Contestants wait for their chance to audition in front of the judges on "American Idol" in Los Angeles. (Jan. 30, 2013) Credit: Fox

"American Idol" found some unusual stars in San Antonio and on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, Calif., as Sanni M'Mairura, Rachel Hale, Briana Oakley, Micah Johnson, Adam Sanders and Matt Farmer mixed unique stories with strong voices.

Below's how I ranked them; put your thoughts in the comments, below.

1) Charismatic Sanni M'Mairura , whose mom's from Tanzania and dad's from Kenya, blew the judges away with "Who's Loving You." He's got a great personality and a big smile; plus, he can flat out sing -- as Nicki Minaj said "Your runs were pretty and all your riffs ended right."

2) Pretty and likeable Rachel Hale did  "People Get Ready" and then lit up the room with her irrepressible smile -- Keith Urban called her a "little Wynonna Judd-ish." She's exactly the kind of contestant who makes it to the finals.

3) Bullied high schooler Briana Oakley's "Up to the Mountain" was heartfelt and blew away the judges -- "wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow," in the words of Minaj.

4) Micah Johnson, who speaks with a speech impediment after he says a doctor taking out his tonsils accidentally hit some nerves, surprised everyone by bursting out into a pitch-perfect "Chicken Fried." Urban called it "beautiful," I call him a possible finalist with his great attitude and smooth-as-butter voice.

5) Adam Sanders got a standing ovation from everyone but Minaj with "Rather Go Blind." He looked a bit dorky and definitely didn't look like he can sing that big, but as Jackson said, "You shocked all of us."

6) Ex-soldier Matt Farmer showed he could win it all with "A Change is Gonna Come" -- he's got a great back story, strong voice and high likeability.

7) Young mom Savannah Votion's strong verison of "At Last" prompted Mariah Carey to marvel at her "big-voiced talent" -- she's got a lot of talent, looking forward to seeing more.

8) Worship leader Cristabel Clack 's "If I Ain't Got You" was sung earnestly, with a ton of power and feeling on the chorus. As Carey said, "I know you, I get you, I love you."

9) Ex-beauty queen Ann Difani 's "Stronger" showed off her classic, clean country voice. 

10) Matheus Fernandes's emotional "A Changes Is Gonna Come" got great reviews from the judges, which led to tears from Fernandes -- who called it the best moment of his life.

11) Shubha Vedula's "Something's Got A Hold On Me" only had Randy Jackson and Urban as an audience (Carey was late and Minaj had another commitment), but she's got a good voice.

12) Vincent Powell may have been called 'amazing' and 'fantastic' by the judges, but for me his "Rock Me Baby" was just good.

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