AI OD: The top 24 leaked -- The boys - VIDEO
Considering there are names that no one would know unless they were on the inside; they are from auditions yet to air, it seems very possible that his list is at least partially accurate. I'm going to do two separate posts for boys and girls as I'm gathering up available online video, some pics and what we can find so far about these possible contestants. !SPOILER WARNING! after the jump. If you don't want to know, then don't go.
[UPDATE - Now updated and with additional audition video! - j/h]
TOP 12 MEN
(In alphabetical order because there are no favorites here... yet!)
David Archuleta, 16, Leander, TX (San Diego Auditions)
The little guy who suffered from "vocal paralysis."
But how did no one on the show think it worthy to mention that Archuleta has already won a televised singing competition, he was crowed Junior Singer on Star Search in 2003. Don't get me wrong, he could sing!
And while searching for videos, I found this even older (2002) video of a young David Archuleta singing to the first group of Idols before Kelly Clarkson even won that crown. So I guess you could say he's been a part of Idol since the beginning... awww!
Colton Berry, 18, Fisherville, VA (Charleston Auditions)
There isn't much out there at all about Colton. He's been a longtime staple in the local theater scene in his hometown and has aspired to be a musician. But other than a quick snippet of him celebrating with his golden ticket at the end of the Charleston episode, we've seen nothing of him. Looks like we have another one of those invisible contestants who get no camera time early on and have to prove themselves even harder (like Bo Bice).
Robbie Carrico, 26, Melbourne, FL (Miami Auditions)
If having recorded four albums can be considered amateur enough, welcome Robbie! His first album came as a member of boy/girl band Boyz-N-Girls United (that's him on the left there). The group opened for Britney Spears, and Carrico was even said to have been dating her at one time. Good thing he got out of the way of that train wreck before it exploded.
More recently, he's changed his musical style to a heavier rock-influence with Missing Picket. The band has recorded three albums of their own and there are plenty of samples on their official MySpace page.
Jason Castro, 20, College Station, TX (Dallas Auditions)
Another one we didn't see much of on television, Castro will stand out at least a bit due to his long dreadlocks. He's been performing live for awhile now, and bits of that have creeped onto YouTube. The following two snippets show him handling Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" and Sublime's "Santeria." He's got a pleasant enough voice here, and admittedly the audio quality isn't great, but I don't know if I'm seeing enough to make me think this guy can win this thing.
David Cook, Blue Springs, MO (Omaha Auditions)
David Cook came out of the Omaha Auditions one of the clear favorites. His powerful rendition of Bon Jovi blew me and the judges away. If there is a male heir apparent to Daughtry's rock throne, it is David Cook. I also found a news clip from the Kansas City, MO local FOX affiliate where they interviewed several local hopefuls, including David. He does a quick a cappella number on there, for a different sound from him.
Chikezie Eze, 22, Inglewood, CA (San Diego Auditions)
Chikezie tried out last year but didn't make the show because "you wasn't feelin' me." He came back this year with confidence and a great style and vocal. His MySpace page has already been gutted by the Idol machine as they do ever year. He didn't make the San Diego episode, but we caught up with him on "The Best of the Rest" and I'm glad we got a chance to see what he can do.
Garrett Haley, 17, Lima, OH
The good news is he won't be alone as there's even less out there about Garrett Haley. From Ohio, I'm going to guess he's auditioning in Omaha so maybe we'll see more of him as well. He has the requisite stripped and raped MySpace page, which he even has set to private so you'll have to request to be his friend if you want to see any more than a picture of him with his white boy "I'm Rick James, bitch!" hair cut and a pretty girl by his side.
David Hernandez, Phoenix, AZ (San Diego Auditions)
I guess Idol didn't feel the need to modify David's MySpace page. Looks like his only friend is Tom and he hasn't been on there since August 12, 2005. But at least there's a link to an official band site that doesn't work, so he's got that going for him.
Luckily, through the wonders of YouTube, there is David Hernandez material out there. Here he is with singing partner Jacob Madrid rocking Boyz II Men's "If I Ever Fall in Love Again." Here's a classically good looking "all American guy" with a voice like that. Should bode well for him in the weeks to come if he can show some range and diversity.
Michael Lee Johns, 28, Los Angeles, CA, San Diego, CA
This Aussie transplant wowed me with his original audition, just as much as he impressed the judges. He took it all so in stride, though, as if he fully expected the outcome. In fact the entire audition felt somehow choreographed to me.
Somehow American Idol hasn't touched Michael's MySpace music page yet, so you can still go there to hear other tunes by him. He also spent some time with a band called Film. As to the question of how much is too much when it comes to professional experience? I guess when you raise the age limit like Idol has you have to figure these people for whom singing and performing is their dream aren't going to sit around and twiddle their thumbs until they're almost thirty.
Luke Menard, 27, Bloomington, IL (Atlanta Auditions)
Speaking of experience, Luke Menard hasn't been sitting on his laurels. He's been performing for years with popular a cappella group Chapter 6, which manages to mix beautiful harmonies with humor to great effect. If the clips I've seen of Chapter 6 are any indication of his talent and personality, Menard may just be one to keep an eye out for. We'll see if he shows up when we hit Altanta.
Here he is with Chapter 6 doing The Wizard of Oz ... just trust me on this one and watch it, okay? That's him on 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow.'
For something a little more traditional, but still with the Chapter 6 slant, here's their rendition of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody."
How about Louis Armstrong's classic "What a Wonderful World" (no they don't try and sing it like him but they did make a more traditional styled music video for this).
Danny Noriega, 18, CA (San Diego Auditions)
Danny said he was glad he didn't make it last year because it gave him a chance to go and find his voice and gain confidence. It shows in a confident audition which, while it didn't floor me, is definitely one of the better ones we've seen. His MySpace page is set to private, but I did manage to find a video of Danny singing Aretha Franklin's "Chain of Fools." So far, I'm far more impressed with his Idol audition, as he totally oversang the Franklin song. At least he knew enough to admit it.
Jason Yeager, 28, Branson, MO
Jason Yeager has been working in Branson, MO for the past several years, as part of singing group Country Tonite followed by a stint as a back-up singer for Shoji Tabuchi at his theaters. He has a MySpace page, which is enough to tell me that he's religious, as his quote is from scripture. Of course, having gone to college in Springfield, MO (near Branson) that doesn't surprise me as that is in the thick of the Bible belt. His page is set to private, and I've not been able to find any bits of him singing, so that's all I know about him at this point.
Despite not knowing or having seen much about several of this Top 12 (if it's accurate), it's looking pretty solid so far. Definitely a better crop of talent to choose from than we had last season, and actually in many of the other seasons. If this truly is half of our Top 12, then maybe the judges and producers weren't lying when they said Idol was going to be a much improved product this year.
Tomorrow, I'll see what I can find on the "Top 12 Girls." See you there!