American Idol revealed its Top 10 during the first live show of the season Monday night. From here on out, the competition gets more intense, as any one of these phenomenally talented young people could be the next American Idol.
But let's be real, only two of them have an honest shot of winning the popular vote.
Based on Sunday and Monday's performances — the first ones that America voted on and the first ones that many people just tuning in will have seen — the clear frontrunners are country spitfire Gabby Barrett and sexy rocker Cade Foehner. Gabby and Cade both got America's vote and had stellar performances Monday night. Most importantly (and somewhat unfortunately, through no fault of their own), they're the kind of people who win American Idol.
Cade performed Gary Clark Jr.'s "Bright Lights" and looked and sounded great doing it. He has killer '70s-influenced style and is a dual threat, able to sing like Robert Plant and play guitar like Jimmy Page (in terms of style. He's not a one-man Led Zeppelin). And though American Idol is doing what it can to break the cycle of polite Southern white boys winning, it ultimately comes down to the popular vote, and Cade fits the profile of the type of guy America likes. Cade is at least not bland like, say, Phillip Phillips.
Gabby Barrett, meanwhile, had the night's most energetic performance, doing a high-kicking rendition of Miranda Lambert's "Little Red Wagon." She didn't have the strongest vocal, but the fact that she was able to still do a relatively strong vocal while running around the stage was more than enough to put her at the top of the list. Plus she has the country-girl spirit of Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.
The other four contestants who America voted for were polished, quirky popster Maddie Poppe, country baritone Caleb Lee Hutchinson, versatile showman Michael J. Woodard and awkward teen Catie Turner. So unless they screw up next week, odds are they'll stick around.
Personally, I really liked Maddie Poppe's silky take on the Bangles' "Walk Like an Egyptian." She didn't do the Susanna Hoffs side-eye, though, so five points from Hufflepuff for that.
The judges' picks were Venezuelan singer-songwriter Michelle Sussett, whose vaguely political original "I'm a Dreamer" impressed Katy Perry so much that the judge scolded America for making the wrong choice...again; golden-throated R&B singer Dennis Lorenzo; the enigmatic and versatile Jurnee; and powerful-piped drag queen Ada Vox, who made the bold and defiant song choice of "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" from Dreamgirls, which won former Idol contestant Jennifer Hudson an Oscar. Ada's performance was the best of the night. She has the best story, having made it to Hollywood Week back in 2012 as Adam Sanders. If it were up to the judges, Ada Vox would win it all. Get it together, America.
Watch Katy Perry's executive decision passing Ada through to the Top 10 and tell me you don't get choked up. I dare you.
Here's how I think the Top 10 will shake out:
1. Gabby Barrett
2. Cade Foehner
3. Caleb Lee Hutchinson
4. Ada Vox
5. Maddie Poppe
6. Catie Turner
8. Michael J. Woodard
9. Michelle Sussett
10. Dennis Lorenzo
Your turn. Tell me who you think will be ABC's first American Idol.
American Idol, for the first time ever, will air live across timezones Sundays at 8 ET/5 PT, allowing for real-time voting, starting Sunday, April 29.