I’ve been watching American Idol for as long as I can remember. The very first season premiered in June of 2002—within two weeks of when I was born—and my mom watched it as she took care of her new baby girl. When we took a trip to Los Angeles, my parents surprised me with a golden ticket and told me I was “going to Hollywood.” Since then, we’ve yet to miss a season, so I’ve seen the show through its slew of judges, contestants, and eras.
Over the last few years, even as the show has transitioned from Fox to ABC, most of its format and “formula for success” have remained the same. As I’ve begun to notice the surefire trends that lead to contestants’ success both on and after the show, I’ve started predicting who has the best chance of being the next American Idol.
The judges—Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan—recently selected this season’s top 24 singers. Based on my knowledge of each of the contestants in the top 24, here’s who I think will be voted into the top 10 based on previous years’ trends and what the competitors need to do to succeed.
- Chayce Beckham
The 24 year–old country/rock singer is set up for success on American Idol. With an emotional backstory about overcoming his struggle with addiction; strong, deep, raspy vocals; and a humble personality, he’s the complete Idol package. Performers like Nick Fradiani (Season 14) and Phillip Phillips (Season 12) won the competition with similar combinations of vocals, personality, and style.
- Madison Watkins
Watkins is full of personality—the bubbly boost of ABC’s Idol Season 4. Each round, she’s taken the stage to deliver upbeat and powerful performances. Her rendition of “It’s A Man’s World” in the Showstopper round proved she could carry a soulful tune in addition to a pop song. This well–rounded range could take her far, just as it did with Season one winner Kelly Clarkson.
- Willie Spence
This 21 year–old R&B singer with timeless vocals is sure to do well this season. Like Beckham, Spence has an amazing backstory: after having been hospitalized earlier this year, he lost weight so he wouldn’t lose his chance to sing on American Idol.
- Hannah Everhart
The 17 year–old “country–Katy” (as she’s been referred to on Idol) easily has her foot in the door for the Top 10. Her spunky persona and diverse range—encompassing country, rock, and pop—will be huge assets as she moves further in the competition. Without another female country singer in the mix, Everhart may want to lean on her roots to fill that niche.
- Deshawn Gonclaves
Gonclaves takes multi–talented to a new level. The Jackson State undergrad is a skilled tuba player and also has one of the most powerful voices in the season.
The judges have been singing his praises since his initial “angelic” audition, so it’s no surprise that he’s gotten this far. His youthful take on soul music sets him apart from the other contestants and should secure him a spot in this year’s Top 10.
- Casey Bishop
One of the youngest members of the competition at just 15 years old, Bishop has continuously blown the judges away with her performances. Luke Bryan called her “the damn winner of American Idol” during her audition, and she has continued to impress. With a raspy, yet soulful voice, Bishop is sure to make the Top 10 if she keeps up her jaw–dropping performances.
- Caleb Kennedy
The young country singer has already shown his prowess as both a song–writer and a performer. His recent self–titled EP is already making Top 5 on the iTunes country album charts and Top 15 overall. At just 16, he’s off to an amazing start for his music career, as well as on the show. Young country stars notoriously do incredibly well on American Idol, and Kennedy is likely to be remembered with the likes of Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina (Season 10).
- Grace Kinstler
Kinstler is a soulful powerhouse, and every time she gets on the stage, she shows herself to be one of the strongest singers in the competition. After literally bringing Luke Bryan to tears during her audition, she has shown her versatility through a variety of songs, from classic soul like “Natural Woman” to a soft, heartfelt rendition of “Father,” which she dedicated to her own dad. Kinstler’s vocals are matched with La’Porsha Renae (Season 15) and Fantasia Barrino (Season 3).
- Hunter Metts
Without fail, every Idol class has its sweet boy–next–door pop singer—and this year, it’s Hunter Metts. His soft but charming vocals are reminiscent of last season’s finalist Jonny West. This engineer–turned–Idol–Top–24 is likely to do well, as long as he follows the judges’ advice and brings confidence to the stage every time he performs.
- Alana DelSherm
DelSherm’s strong vocals are sure to get her to the Top 10. Her performance of “Bust Your Windows” showed off not only her singing ability, but her larger–than–life stage presence and dancing skills as well. The combination of spunk, a huge vocal range, and captivating performances should get her far in the competition, just as it did for Idol greats like Jennifer Hudson (Season 3) and Jordin Sparks (Season 6).