''Idol'': Ranking the top 16 | EW.com


''Idol'': Ranking the top 16

David Archuleta on top, Kady Malloy you-know-where.... See how Michael Slezak ranks the singers going into the last week of semifinals, then vote for your favorite

American Idol

”Idol”: Ranking the top 16

1. David Archuleta
The American Idol equivalent of a newborn puppy has some fans wondering if season 7 is all wrapped up after his soaring rendition of ”Imagine” left Paula in tears and the audience in screaming rapture. Still, it’s not advantageous to peak too soon in the competition — just ask Melinda Doolittle. (Last week’s Power Ranking: No. 1)

2. Jason Castro
Granted, the sweetly befuddled dude fumbled the big note on his cover of ”I Just Want to Be Your Everything,” but why didn’t the judges give him credit for reinventing Andy Gibb’s disco-era nugget into a folksy delight? Not a big ”vocalist” like Idol winners past, but is that necessarily a bad thing? (Last week: No. 2)

3. Carly Smithson
Neutralized bad buzz about her failed 2001 major-label debut with a McGenius interview package showing her pouring a pint of Guinness at her day job. Better still, Irish-born lass nailed the week’s biggest song — Heart’s ”Crazy on You” — with awesome vocal control while her female competitors sputtered badly. (Last week: No. 7)

4. David Hernandez
Showcased a strong set of pipes for the second straight week, but unlike his ho-hum, first-round cover of ”In the Midnight Hour,” his week 2 take on ”Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” was soulful, sexy, and confident. Hasn’t generated scads of buzz so far, but you know the old expression about ”slow and steady.” (Last week: No. 12)

5. Asia’h Epperson
Insanely gorgeous teenager has star quality in spades — she even shines during those heinous group performances — but was her disastrous cover of ”All by Myself” (complete with screeching high notes and disappearing lower register) a one-week blip, or the start of a momentum meltdown? (Last week: No. 3)

6. Ramiele Malubay
Technically solid on ”You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” and ”Don’t Leave Me This Way,” but needs an infusion of passion and originality. Ramiele couldn’t match respective Idol covers by Nadia Turner and La Toya London, to say nothing of the Dusty Springfield and Thelma Houston renditions. Week 3 will be crucial. (Last week: No. 6)

7. David Cook
Self-proclaimed ”word nerd” proved Idol rockers need not be grimly serious with a rollicking, super-fun version of ”All Right Now” that was far less pitchy than his previous cover of ”Happy Together.” Still, he should’ve kept quiet when Simon questioned his charisma level, especially since the British judge had a point. (Last week: No. 15)

8. Michael Johns
Audition-round front-runner has seemed less exciting with each live performance. He repeated his Hollywood-week song choice, the Doors’ ”Light My Fire,” to start the semifinals, then struggled with the upper register of Fleetwood Mac’s ”Go Your Own Way.” Might not be as talented as he is good-looking. (Last week: No. 5)

NEXT: Nos. 9-16, and your chance to vote for your favorite