The torment is over for Elise Testone, the talented but inconsistent American Idol finalist who knocked us out one week, but then disappointed us the next. That inconsistency finally caught up with her Thursday night when America voted her off the island.
I was glad to see her close out her Idol career with “Whole Lotta Love,” the Led Zeppelin classic that was her finest three minutes earlier this season. Unfortunately, that “up” was surrounded by a few too many “downs.”
A whopping 58 million voted Wednesday night, 10 million more than at this time a year ago, according to host Ryan Seacrest.
So here are the final five, with my updated odds on their chances of winning:
Jessica Sanchez: Even. A Jessica vs. Joshua finale would be the finest finish in Idol history. The only comparable final two would have been Ruben vs. Clay in 2002.
Joshua Ledet: Even. Either finalist would be a worthy champion.
Skylar Laine: 15-1. Voting-wise, I think she is the only one who might challenge either Jessica or Joshua, but talent-wise she’s not even in the same ballpark.
Hollie Cavanagh: 35-1. She continues to improve, but at this stage her best hope is for a third-place finish.
Phillip Phillips: 40-1. My feelings about Phillip have been well-documented. I just can’t see a title run coming.
WHERE WILL JESSICA WIND UP IN THE ALL-TIME FEMALE RANKINGS?
For the past few weeks I have been on the bandwagon of Jessica Sanchez, feeling she could be regarded as the finest female vocalist in the 11-year run of American Idol. And I’m standing by that, more than ever, judging from her Tuesday night performances of “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Dance With My Father.” That said, who exactly would make up such a list?
We will withhold Jessica’s name from the following rankings until the end of the season, but look this over and decide for yourself where you think she should be. I formulated these rankings on what they showed me while on Idol, not necessarily what they have — or have not — done afterward.
1. Carrie Underwood (Season 4 champion): In my humble opinion, the show has produced five great female talents, including Jessica Sanchez. The others are Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Allison Iraheta and Jennifer Hudson. I’ve been disappointed we haven’t heard more from Allison, but she’s still young. And the reason I have Jennifer relatively low on this list is because she was not the same Jennifer Hudson during her time on Idol. The raw talent was there, obviously, but not the refined version we hear today.
2. Kelly Clarkson (Season 1 champion): From the start, she had the “it” factor. I often wonder if Idol would have taken off like it did if she had not been a part of the first season.
3. Allison Iraheta (Season 8): I’m still waiting for a breakout CD from the girl with the fire engine hair. Her bluesy Joplin-esque style was a treat each and every week.
4. Crystal Bowersox (Season 9): Crystal was one of those singers who rarely disappointed with her indie roots. That she lost to Lee Dwyze in the finals still ticks me off.
5. Fantasia Barrino (Season 3 champion): One of the purest, and most technically correct singers ever on Idol, which was always surprising because of her actual lack of professional training. She was never cut from the “pop” mold, but more of a Broadway style of talent.
6. Amanda Overmyer (Season 7): The early elimination of this motorcycle-riding, down and dirty rocker girl remains one of the great travesties in Idol history.
7. Kimberly Caldwell (Season 2): Another earlier-than-should-have-been ouster. Kimberly was also my first Idol crush, but that has nothing to do with her making the top 10. Honest.
8. Jennifer Hudson (Season 3): If I were ranking these Idol divas by post-Idol success, Jennifer would probably be No. 2.
9. Kellie Pickler (Season 6): Seriously, was there anyone who doubted The Pick would be a star after her Idol elimination?
10. Kat McPhee(Season 5): Six years later, I’m still trying to figure out why America voted Taylor Hicks as the American Idol over Kat McPhee.
11. Asia’h Epperson (Season 7): She gave us a raspy Whitney Houston, but never made it out of the semifinals. Another Idol travesty.
12. Pia Toscano (Season 10): I had her ranked No. 1 in 2011 when she was eliminated just a few weeks into the finals.
13. Brooke White (Season 7): Remember how she sang most of her songs in her bare feet?
14. Mandisa (Seaosn 6): She’s still a pleasure to listen to on contemporary Christian radio.
15. Lauren Alaina (Season 10): She definitely had some skills, but peaked way too early last season. She was never able to recreate the buzz she stirred in the early weeks. Scotty McCreery blew by her in the final month and a half of the competition.
Honorable mention: Jordin Sparks (Season 6 champion).