The X Factor USA 2013 – Power Rankings – Top 16 Overall
So the first live show for Season 3 of The X Factor USA is tonight, and because I’m out of my ever-loving mind, I’ve decided to complete our power ranking series with a previously-unscheduled ranking of the Top 16 Overall (what can I say? I’m occasionally afflicted with a vibrant, particular brand of madness). These rankings don’t necessarily reflect the order of talent from least to most talented. It’s more a representation of how I expect the competition to go. Talent is only part of the equation for why some acts tend to go farther in these competitions than others, so I’ll be looking into external factors such as personality, precedent, and past voting patterns. But mostly, I’m just going with whatever strange gut feeling I have about a given contestant. Lord knows, it’s gotten me into hot water before.
But before we do anything, let me invite every single one of you to hit up the comments below and offer your ranking of the top 16! I know it’s a largely impossible task, but you might surprise yourself with your own rankings! Lord knows, I did.
16. Carlito Olivero
I just don’t get it, with this kid. He seems like a wonderful guy, and he does have talent, but it mostly feels like he’s here because Paulina felt like doing him a solid. In fact, every round he’s made it through feels like the judges deciding to do the kid a favor, for whatever reason. It’s not that his talent isn’t there, and Lord knows he has more talent than some of the people who were put through to the Four Chair Challenge, but for the life of me, I’ve tried imagining him making it to the top 12, and I hit a roadblock every time.
15. James Kenney
Great guy who I ranked at No. 2 on my individual ranking of the Over 25s category, yet that was largely based on my own personal preferences, and I’m trying to be more objective here. I still could see him as a potential dark horse to go deep into the competition. But for once, I’m trying to leave potential out of the deliberations. It’s easy enough to see the potential in all 16 of these contestants, but it’s another matter entirely for that potential to actually be realized, and I’m not sure Kelly is going to give him the kind of songs that will get him there. That said, I’m completely open to being proven wrong here, because I genuinely like James and would like to see him go far.
14. RoXxy Montana
This is probably mild sacrilege, but I just don’t see it with these girls. Then again, I didn’t really get Sister C or inTENsity, so who knows what Simon will do? The girls can definitely sing, but I don’t think there’s a single act in the competition that the judges overpraised more than these three. Not saying they don’t have the potential to take the entire competition by storm, but I truly believe that in a battle between a pre-arranged group and a group the judges put together, the group the judges put together often win out, whether it makes sense for them to or not (again, inTENsity).
13. Khaya Cohen
I really wanted to put her through to the top 12, but I just can’t think of who would get bumped from Demi’s top 3. I know some people would prefer that Rion hadn’t made it this far, while others just don’t think Danie Geimer is as good as people are making her out to be, and I certainly can see why people would hold both opinions. If I had to guess, I would think Danie is fighting Khaya for the last spot in Demi’s top 3, and Danie could just as easily be a surprise boot that allows Khaya to advance. However, Khaya would have to deliver an out-of-this-world vocal, and so far, Khaya has been better in terms of potential than she has been in execution.
12. Carlos Guevara
If he makes it here, I think it’ll largely be due to his likability. He’s a genuinely affable guy you can feel good about rooting for, without coming across as desperate as Carlito does. Plus, he has one of the more underrated voices in the competition. Provided Paulina keeps giving him classics (provided the theme allows for it), Carlos could be one of the big surprises of the season.
11. Josh Levi
In my mind, I had him slotted higher, yet when I actually sat down to write this out, I went back and forth on whether I thought he’d actually outlast Tim Olstad. I suppose he easily still could, but I feel like there’s a very thin line separating him from either being Marcus Canty or being Arin Ray, when it comes to how far he’ll go in the competition. Right now, I feel like he’ll end up finishing at or near where the latter singer did. (But once again, I’d love to be proven wrong. Josh is my favorite singer in the positively dire Boys category)
10. Tim Olstad
In a competition where charisma and appearance is often privileged over actual singing ability, I’m still puzzled at how Tim made it this far. Great voice and all, but I just don’t get the sense that this is a guy who could sell a vacuum cleaner much less a million albums. But then, I thought the exact same thing about Tate Stevens, and ended up eating crow for all of November 2012. I suspect that Tim won’t be going anywhere for at least two weeks.
I think these girls could really surprise people. I mean, if I were Simon, I would had added another girl to this group, but they’re only one performance in and they’ve already shown more chemistry than this season’s manufactured girl group on The X Factor UK, the recently-eliminated Miss Dynamix (possibly the most random group put through to live shows since Diva Fever). As long as Simon takes the Fifth Harmony approach and keeps the song choices young and current, these girls could go much farther than ninth place.
Possibly one of the most marketable contestants across three seasons of The X Factor USA, yet she just doesn’t seem all that popular with people. The comments I’ve read about her online are similar to the same comments I saw about Angie Miller on American Idol 12, namely that she comes across as too self-serious and cutthroat about making it all the way. For many people, it’s almost as if she’s too professional, and that it creates a barrier to any appearance of authenticity. I can see the argument, even if I think she’s one of the better singers in the competition. How far she goes depends on whether those online comments represent the majority, or merely a vocal minority.
7. Danie Geimer
I love Danie, but I often wonder if she’ll hold up from one week to the next, or if her confidence will shatter like Beatrice Miller‘s did. She just seems fragile to me, though I’m hoping she’ll be able to build from week to week and deliver on the insane amounts of potential I think she’s shown. But again, showing potential is something far different than actually delivering. More than anything else, I’m annoyed that I have to talk in riddles about “potential” rather than talking in concretes based on what I’ve seen, since we’ve only seen these people perform twice. That’s just insane to me. Simply by auditioning, they were one song away from live shows. What fresh, risible madness is this?
I should probably switch her and Danie, since I have serious doubts that she’ll last this long. She’s the best singer in the entire competition, but she feels like a surprisingly early boot to me, like Stacy Francis or Vino Allan — the type of contestant who seems like a total sure thing in the early stages of the competition, but who simply fizzles out despite being fairly consistent. Granted, those probably aren’t the best comparisons to make, but Lillie seems like such a surefire finalists that she almost can’t be. Because when do these things ever work out the way they should? Or the way we expect them to during week one?
5. Jeff Gutt
I often wonder how popular Jeff actually is. People cried foul when he was cut last year, and were practically doing cartwheels when he came back this year. Yet I feel like he’s a contestant who appears to be more popular than he actually is. Jeff is the kind of guy who I don’t think is going to inherit the fanbases of other eliminated contestants the way that, say, Khaya’s fans might back Danie after her elimination (if that happens) or RoxXy Montana fans might choose to back Sweet Suspense after their elimination (again, assuming this were to happen). Jeff is the only rocker, which either means he has a huge voting bloc entirely to himself, or he’s on an island alone with only a handful of passionate, loyal diehards. Either way, that should carry him far, but I don’t know if he can get farther than fifth without wider appeal. But once again, everything I say is invalidated by Tate Stevens winning last year without ever moving out of his country lane. The smaller viewership pool for this show equals a smaller voting pool relative to other series, which means that a couple thousand diehard fans can really make an impact in the voting. If Jeff is really as popular as he appears to be, he could really kick this competition in the crotch (or some other analogy that fits better than getting kicked between the legs, since that isn’t actually something anyone should want to happen, unless your name is Horse).
4. Rion Paige
She strikes me as the Rachel Crow of this season, the young contestant who blows everyone away at auditions, yet falls just short of the finale. Given her popularity and her country leanings, there really is no reason she couldn’t still end up winning this thing, but I feel like the frontrunner on Day One is rarely the person who ends up getting a confetti shower at the end of the season. With that said, I’m not one of the recent crop of viewers who feel she was vastly overpraised by the judges. I still think her voice is remarkable, and her likability can carry her far even if it wasn’t. Now I don’t know if she’ll sell albums once this thing is over, but I could easily imagine her becoming a Susan Boyle-type inspiration who sells albums merely by force of her story coupled with genuinely stunning talent.
The story of Alex and Sierra will go one of two ways: either America will quickly tire of them, leading to a surprising early boot, or they’ll make the finale. I just don’t see a middle-of-the-pack finish for them: either they get booted really early or they go all the way. They’re just too divisive an act, as people either love them with the passion of a thousand burning George Foreman grills, or they hate them worse than everyone apparently hates Anne Hathaway (I still don’t get why, but whatever, Earth, I’ll stop arguing with you about it). It all goes back to them basically being a live-action Disney romance brought to life, and while that will likely wear thin on some, I actually think it’s one of their biggest strengths. No group in the competition has the sort of chemistry these two have, or the sort of emotional connection with everything they sing. These two are not just emotionally in sync, they’re downright harmonious. And their smoky, haunting Civil Wars-style song interpretations are unlike anything else in the competition. They’re one of my favorite acts this season, and I could definitely see them making the finale, even if I just can’t imagine any possible way they actually win this thing.
The Carly Rose Sonenclar of this season, but with more personality. And hey, don’t get me wrong, I liked Carly a lot. But Ellona just ticks all the boxes for a ready-made superstar. Great voice, great look, great stage presence, and great personality. She’s even got a great name! She’s the best chance Demi has of getting one of her acts to the finale this year, so hopefully she does right by Ellona, since one bad performance could easily turn things around, particularly for the Girls category, for whatever reason (just ask Drew Ryniewicz). I’m still not sure if she can topple my #1, but I think she’s the strongest threat to upset the proverbial applecart, come finale time.
Mich like Ellona, these boys pretty much have it all, from the look to the voices, and even an understated kind of chemistry. If Tate Stevens could win last season due in large part to being a humble, likable country artist, these boys should have no trouble making the finale. It’s not just that they’re country artists, but they’re also young, good-looking, and arguably far more relevant to the current market. If Simon knows what’s good for them, he’ll never ask them to branch out of their comfort zone, since he has a potential platinum-selling act on his hands here. But trusting Simon to give solid song choices is a questionable proposition, at best. However, these guys should be able to overcome crummy song picks simply by sheer force of personality, as their humility is pretty infectious, to say nothing of how audiences react to them. I’ll be floored (floored, I tell you!) if Restless Road doesn’t go all the way.
So that’s my list! Join me tonight at 8:00 PM ET, as I’ll be live-blogging the show, and Trey will be providing videos of the performances. But until then, let me know what you think of the top 16! Who ranks where, in your opinion? Sound off in the comments!
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