AMERICAN IDOL Recap: We Rank the Top 24


The Top 24 is finally set and we can finally be done with this nonsense of getting to learn about contestants’ puppies and finally get to some singing! Rejoice!

There is though one bit of housekeeping to take care of first. As has become a tradition in my column over the last half-decade, before I can rank the contestants objectively based on their weekly performances, I must first rank them subjectively based on my own set of criteria that makes up the Molly DeWolf Swenson Scale.

For those unfamiliar, Molly DeWolf Swenson is my favorite ‘American Idol’ contestant of all time. She came out of my dreams and onto my screen singing ‘Dock of the Bay’ at her audition after getting punched in the face by Randy Jackson before disappearing forever without barely a second glimpse of her ‘Idol’ luminance. But we did forever get this:

Despite her incredibly brief apperance, she did become my ‘American Idol’ girlfriend and we’ve been a very committed and even faker relationship ever since.

It is from my fondness for her that the Molly DeWolf Swenson Scale was born. It is where I rank contestants based on who I’m rooting for and it’s both a blessing and a curse. Well, really it’s just a curse because I never let my favoritism influence my reviews of the performers and also because my favorite contestant never wins…or even contends really.
So, with that thunderous introduction, here is this year’s Molly DeWolf Swenson Scale.

The Girls


Adanna Duru
If you’ve been on ‘The Voice’ before you automatically get a zero. Sorry, Adanna.
Molly DeWolf Swenson Scale: 0/10


Alexis Gomez
Jennifer Lopez told her to be “more Mexican” or something like that. She’s a country singer who sounds like a country singer and apparently thought the way to inject Latin flavor is to just sing a few lyrics in Spanish rather than English. That’s not unique; it’s just a choice that doesn’t make much sense.
Molly DeWolf Swenson Scale: 4/10

Jackie ‘Jax’ Cole
Jax is very interesting because unlike most pretenders on this show who work so desperately to develop a unique voice that they actual suck their singing ability right out of themselves, Jax’s tone actually seems legit. I’m intrigued to see how far she can take her offbeat voice and how her song choices will probably be the ones I look most forward to each week.
Molly DeWolf Swenson Scale: 7/10


Joey Cook
This year’s “female artist” because she plays an instrument, has a busker’s voice, pink hair and very limited talent; she’s destined to annoy me more often than she entertains me.
Molly DeWolf Swenson Scale: 3/10


Katherine Winston
Not that anybody’s actually seen ‘Jupiter Ascending’ (and if you have, you have my sincerest apologies), but if the genetic reincarnation idea from that film was true and if Stevie Nicks were dead, you’d very easily convince me that strange gypsy Katherine was, in fact, a genetic reincarnation of the Fleetwood Mac frontwoman. To top it off, she sang ‘Dreams’ for her showcase performance. I’m not sure how far that will take her on this show, but I do want to see Stevie as a guest judge so they can reenact the Harpo/Lucy mirror routine.
Molly DeWolf Swenson Scale: 6/10


Loren Lott
Queen of the Generic Good Singer, she hasn’t done anything to distinguish herself or really upset me either. She seems destined to finish eleventh and be wiped from all of our memories forevermore.
Molly DeWolf Swenson Scale: 5/10


Lovey James
Nobody cares, but there’s a conspiracy theory surrounding Ms. James! Seems people are thinking she only got through to the live shows due to her social media following which, surprise surprise, was largely bought! Ooo, you sneaky Lovey, you’ll need more than Twitter bots to win me over.
Molly DeWolf Swenson Scale: 5/10


Maddie Walker
The winner of Showcase Night One’s sing-off is a pretty generic country singer whose only real distinguishing characteristic is that she’s better than that other bad country singer who she got to face off against in front of the judges. That’s not exactly a vote of confidence.
Molly DeWolf Swenson Scale: 4/10


Sarina-Joi Crowe
She’s made it to Hollywood Week for the last four years running and finally breaks through to the live shows. So…good for Sarina! If only I could remember who you are.
Molly DeWolf Swenson Scale: 4/10


Shaina ‘Shi’ Scott
There are endless reasons why I love Shi. She’s got an incredible voice that’s a cool blend of rock and soul that we don’t often see from the ladies on this show. She seems a little unhinged so we may get a few memorable backstage moments from her. She’s also got this little thing going for her called being gorgeous. What can I say? I’m only human and Shi is only my favorite contestant this year. Well…almost.
Molly DeWolf Swenson Scale: 8.5/10


Shannon Berthiaume
Really all we’ve gotten to see of Shannon is a snippet of her singing “Piece of My Heart” in a bad Janis Joplin impression. There’s a lot about that sentence that I despise so it’s probably a good thing that producers haven’t given her much of a chance.
Molly DeWolf Swenson Scale: 2/10


Tyanna Jones
She’s got a solid voice, but she is almost more of a kid than a certain boy with a guitar who will be discussed in a few paragraphs. If there’s one thing I don’t like on this show, it’s the kid performers.
Molly DeWolf Swenson Scale: 3/10

The Guys


Adam Ezegelian
Oh God. Not the toy maker. Anything but the toy maker. Anything but the guy who looks destined to play Pennywise in the inevitable next film version of ‘It’. He’s already haunted my dreams for months. I don’t need to see him for much longer. I’d like to get a good night’s sleep at some point this decade.
Molly DeWolf Swenson Scale: 3/10


Clark Beckham
And here he is. This year’s big winner. Barely edging out Shi is the man who is poised to sing ‘Smoke From a Distant Fire’ and make my AM Radio dreams come true. OK, so that probably won’t happen, but I still like this kid just based on that hope.
Molly DeWolf Swenson Scale: 9/10


Daniel Seavey
Ugh. This kid’s gonna win isn’t he? The fifteen-year-old who sounds like he’s 40 and looks like he’s twelve is going to strum his guitar right into the hearts of everybody who’s inevitably going to vote via Snapchat and just torch this competition. Please tell me I’m wrong.
Molly DeWolf Swenson Scale: 3/10


Mark Andrew
This year’s Joe Cocker clone has a pretty solid soul voice, but he also has a Chia Pet man bun that I just can’t get over.
Molly DeWolf Swenson Scale: 4/10


Michael Simeon
This kid’s got a pretty solid soul voice, but there’s something about him that just seems disingenuous to me and that I cannot abide. I think it’s either the suit or the slicked back hair. Whatever it is, I kind of really want him to go away.
Molly DeWolf Swenson Scale: 4/10


Nick Fradiani, Jr.
The charisma vacuum that is Nick keeps stressing that this is his last shot. Because you die when you’re 29 right? It’s like ‘Logan’s Run’. Oh…he means his last shot on ‘Idol’. Well, he made it, but he’ll probably need more than a poor man’s Stefano Langone’s voice to make the most out of his “last shot”.
Molly DeWolf Swenson Scale: 2/10


Qaasim Middleton
Jax’s crush from Hollywood Week gives us the best subplot of the year. Will Qaasim defy his mother’s wishes and have sex now that he’s on the show with Jax? I’m really hoping for some ‘Bachelor’-style night vision canoodling between the two.
Molly DeWolf Swenson Scale: 6/10


Quentin Alexander
For awhile, I thought this guy was just a bull nose ring and some funky clothing, but in the snippet of his Showcase performance, he sounded like a Europop king made for the radio. I’m totally in all of the sudden and can’t wait to see what else he can do.
Molly DeWolf Swenson Scale: 8/10


Rayvon Owen
I’m not familiar with Rayvon, but I like his name.
Molly DeWolf Swenson Scale: 4/10


Riley Bria
I have never cared that Riley played with Keith Urban once and I still do not care about that. Since that’s really the only thing the show ever chooses to say about him, I guess I just don’t care about Riley.
Molly DeWolf Swenson Scale: 2/10


Savion Wright
I don’t think this show’s ever had a real funk/soul guy who can play guitar so Savion’s breaking new ground. For that alone, I want him to advance pretty far just to add some variety to a show that can get quite stale with so many similar contestants. Let’s keep him around.
Molly DeWolf Swenson Scale: 7/10


Trevor Douglas
Wait. This guy’s actually who’s going to win, right? He’s like every other cute guy with the guitar except he has glasses so he’s kind of like that nerd guy that nerd girls think are going to make their nerd dreams come true. If this comes down to him and Daniel, I may crowbar my eyes out during the finale.
Molly DeWolf Swenson Scale: 2/10

So there you have it, this year’s favorite contestant is Clark Beckham. Sorry, Clark, you’re officially cursed. Hopefully there’s a spot in a Sanford-Townsend cover band for you. I know I’ll buy a ticket.

Be sure to check back next week for a recap of the first live show!

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