'Idol' Deja Vu: Season 9 Contestants and Their Previous 'AI' Doppelgangers

by AOL TV Staff, posted Feb 19th 2010 5:05PM
Aaron Kelly and David Archuleta
When the ninth season of 'American Idol' kicked off this January, it was clear that the magic that's made 'AI' one of the highest-rated shows in TV history remained untarnished. But, of course, nearly a decade into the show's run, a few familiarities were inevitable. Some of 'AI''s nearly 28 million viewers may have had a sense of déjà vu after being introduced to season 9's new hopefuls, noting that they seemed eerily similar to past season's contestants ... and we don't mean "Bikini Boy" vs. Bikini Girl.

We've handicapped the remaining contestants' and recent castoffs' chances for pop success based on the qualities that remind us of some of our favorite past winners and wannabes.Aaron Kelly and David Archuleta
When the ninth season of 'American Idol' kicked off this January, it was clear that the magic that's made 'AI' one of the highest-rated shows in TV history remained untarnished. But, of course, nearly a decade into the show's run, a few familiarities were inevitable. Some of 'AI''s nearly 28 million viewers may have had a sense of déjà vu after being introduced to season 9's new hopefuls, noting that they seemed eerily similar to past season's contestants ... and we don't mean "Bikini Boy" vs. Bikini Girl.

We've handicapped the remaining contestants' and recent castoffs' chances for pop success based on the qualities that remind us of some of our favorite past winners and wannabes.
Casey James and Bucky Covington

With the exception of a goatee and hot country career, season 5 eighth runner up Bucky Covington and current Top 24 finalist Casey James could pass as brothers, right down to their North Carolina and Texas, respectively, drawls and Chippendale's-stripper haircuts.

Casey vs. Bucky: Following 'Idol,' Bucky burst onto the country charts with a hot self-titled debut that sparked a few hits and proved that his vocal and songwriting talent runs deeper than what's on the surface.

Casey, however, was forced to strip off his shirt at his audition in a desperate attempt to make it to Hollywood, making it by the skin of his pearly whites. The fact that he's "so good-looking" (so gushed Kara DioGuardi) shifted attention away from his performance -- which is an unfair handicap because once he opened his mouth, his Eddie Vedder-meets-John Mayer vocals were pretty awesome.

Whether or not he's forced to jump through hoops of fire on his way to the top spot, if Casey keeps his shirt buttoned and lets his songs -- like his memorable Hollywood Week take on Ray Charles' "I Don't Need No Doctor" -- announce his arrival to the big time, he could win the competition and gain the same respect and chart success as his country-rock clone.
Aaron Kelly and David Archuleta
Aaron Kelly and David Archuleta, both 16 at the time of their auditions, share the same aw-shucks charm and squeaky-clean teen idol looks that were predestined for the cover of 'Bop.' During the auditions, in what looked like a scene from 'Groundhog Day,' Simon Cowell praised Aaron's performance of Miley Cyrus' 'The Climb' by complimenting his "good choice of song," just as he applauded David in 2007 for his "great choice of song" in John Mayer's 'Waiting on the World to Change' (yes, in a weird coincidence, Simon actually emphasized "good" and "great").

Aaron vs. David: It was no surprise when Archuleta landed a home run right out of the 'AI' gate: His 2008 self-titled debut and smash single 'Crush' debuted on the Billboard charts three months after he left the competition as season 7's runner-up. Taking into account their vocal, physical and personality likenesses, Aaron could easily step up onto a similar pop platform with or without 'Idol''s top prize on his CV. (And if David didn't make it all the way, we can't imagine that Aaron will.) As long as Radio Disney is on the dial and Hollywood keeps making those 'High School Musical' movies, these guys will have a solid music career.
Didi Benami and Danny Gokey
Top 24 finalist Didi Benami could easily get by on her talent alone, but at her audition it was her sob story that endeared her to viewers -- she dedicated her unique cover of the Beatles classic 'Hey Jude' to her late BFF Rebecca, who passed away four years ago.

Season 8 semifinalist Danny Gokey had a similar backstory that you couldn't get through without a hankie in hand, but instead of four years, it was four weeks prior to his audition that his beautiful wife Sophia passed away. He dedicated his golden ticket-winning performance to her.

Considering Benami and Gokey's pleasant disposition, comfortable style and love of classic songs, someone should consider hooking these two up to make beautiful music together.

Didi vs. Danny: Guest judge Avril Lavigne believes Didi has "huge potential," and we think the chart-topper is right on the mark with that prediction. Like the sentiment of Gokey's latest Billboard hit 'My Best Days Are Ahead of Me,' Didi just keeps getting better each week -- shining recently with Sarah McLachlan's 'Angel' -- and she's got a strong chance to become the hottest 'AI'-launched pop star since that other charismatic, guitar-playing young woman who nabbed season 1's top honor.
Michael "Big Mike" Lynche and Ruben Studdard
Even before Kara referred to Michael "Big Mike" Lynche as a "singing teddy bear," the similarities to "Velvet Teddy Bear" Ruben Studdard were obvious. Like Studdard, Lynche is a hulking figure with a soft, smooth-as-glass singing voice. "Big Mike"'s audition of the Righteous Brothers' 'Unchained Melody' even won over Randy Jackson, who said that he "can definitely sing." The same praise was aimed at Ruben back in 2003, when Randy said he had a "really good voice." In a weird twist, even MIchael and Ruben's cheesy Boys II Men-like delivery, complete with lame pantomime-y hand gestures, are humorously similar.

Big Mike vs. Ruben: Although he made the Top 24, sources report that the personal trainer's road to stardom may soon take a detour back to the gym. Regardless, while Ruben has enough Luther Vandross-caliber soul in his voice, Big Mike's act comes across a bit put-on, and he's got about as much passion in his delivery as an iron dumbbell. Thus that detour seems inevitable.

Jay Stone and Blake Lewis
Anyone who saw Jay Stone's season 9 audition was painfully aware of how similar his act was to the season 6 introduction of Blake Lewis ... Well, anyone except Jay, who, despite showcasing a human beat-box novelty act that made him a spitting image of Lewis, swore his musical offering was "new and different." After Stone was prompted to sing, Randy's laughter nearly drowned out his voice and made it clear why instead of singing earlier, Stone chose to imitate the sound of someone playing a scratchy Beatles record on a turntable powered by a clunky generator.

Likewise, Lewis's cover of Seal's 'Crazy' caused Randy to comment, "The beat-boxing was better than the singing." But dated novelty acts only go so far. (We mean you, William Hung and "Pants on the Ground" guy!)

Jay vs. Blake: In contrast to some other Hollywood Week invitees, Stone's 15 minutes will probably end with 'Idol.' After all, his act already wore thin before he had the chance to unpack on his trip to Tinseltown. When Randy attempted to compare Stone to Lewis, he had to be reminded of the name of the sixth-season runner-up. We have a scratchy feeling that Stone isn't going to linger very long in America's collective consciousness either.
Matthew Lawrence and Matt Rogers
Even before former footballer Matt Rogers attempted to tackle James Ingrams's 'Just Once' in season 3, his brother hyped Matt's novelty act by introducing him as "A blockhead ... with an unbelievable voice."

While short of "unbelievable," Matt did kinda have a jar head, and delivered a smooth audition that garnered a "yes" from an uncharacteristically agreeable but unenthusiastic Randy and Simon -- but not without Cowell noting dryly, "Big man, big voice."

When season 9 hefty hopeful Matthew Lawrence sauntered into his audition his sizeable similarities to Rogers were apparent, right down to the goatee and instantly likable personality. He, too, serenaded his way to Hollywood with a heartfelt take on Ray LaMontagne's 'Trouble.'

Both Matts earned their place in the 'AI' contest, but Lawrence proved to be an even bigger man with an even bigger voice. Though he got booted for shredding Gwen Stefani's 'Sweet Escape,' his singing talent will come in handy if he, like many of 'AI''s former contestants, decides to head to Broadway. Matthew certainly has a future starring as a lovable but misunderstood singing curiosity in the inevitable revival of 'Beauty & the Beast' and 'Shrek: The Musical.'

Matthew vs. Matt: Matthew also has a ruggedly "genuine" (said Randy) singing voice that resonates with enough "believable" (remarked Simon) sincerity of life-earned drama to fill up an entire country album. He stands a good chance of stealing the contest because his Chris Daughtry-caliber vocals and remorseful ex-con image are ready-made to fall into place in the country music arena alongside tough guy crooners like Tobey Keith and George Strait. Plus, he already owns a cowboy hat and has a great story for his eventual "Behind the Music" profile.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

Follow Us

From Our Partners