American Idol 2023 Top 55 Contestants Guide (Videos, Photos)

American Idol 2023 Top 55 Contestants Guide. – judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and host Ryan Seacrest
Pictured: Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and host Ryan Seacrest. (ABC/Eric McCandless)

It is time for the American Idol 2023 Top 55 Contestants Mega Guide, which features singers fans will meet on season 21.. This list includes 52 out of the 55 standout competitors. In each of the descriptions of the contestants, I categorized them in a fun category, described their musical style and background and shared some facts about them.

There are a lot of contestants this season who have been on other shows in America and outside of America. I will note how far they made it in this posting, but more detailed information about their past histories on those shows can be found on my previous preview article.

American Idol 2023 Spoilers: 12 Competition Vets Who Make It Far
American Idol 2023 Spoilers Showcase Round Contestant and SONG List

I tried to pick out some stand out vocals from their pages, and mention some of their original music if I could locate it. Also, featured in this list is all the competitors from the America’s Platinum Ticket Contest from the American Music Awards. Now let’s get to previewing some standouts from this season.

American Idol season 21 premieres on ABC Sunday February 19 at 8 pm. Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan sit on the judges panel. Ryan Seacrest hosts.

American Idol 2023 Top 55 Preview

Ones to Watch

Although the top 24 hasn’t been revealed yet, these contestants are ones that I have pegged as ones to watch based on covers and originals I have seen from this bunch. Each stands out as an artist and has something special about them which makes me believe they could go very deep on the show or even possibly win. They are marketable, unique, and seem like they would do well with the voting population. If you decide to look at no one else on this list, this is the category that stood out to me the most.

Emma Busse

Emma is a singer, dancer, and actor based in New York City, originally from Vancouver, British Columbia. Her voice is one that just cuts through. She has been in several musicals and recently graduated in May from the American Music and Dramatic Academy with a degree in Musical Theater. Emma’s voice has an interesting theatrical quality to it that makes me think that she could tackle pop rock numbers; it has hints of Casey Bishop in it. Her control is incredible, and of all the contestants Emma stood out as a front runner to me.

Tik Tok:
“Andromeda” cover:

Oliver Steele

Oliver is a gifted guitar player and an indie singer infused with soul. His style is reminiscent of Allen Stone and John Mayer. His music is driven by his guitar and his voice is soulful in a very captivating way as it cuts through the music, he sounds very connected in his sound, and he is one of the most polished artists of the season as he transforms every song into his own. He is a Breedlove artist, and is originally from Michigan,but based in Nashville where he often gigs. I expect his voice to wow in a live setting.

Tik Tok:
Better Together/Full House Theme Medley:

Phil Kane

Phil is a college freshman at Belmont University in Nashville and is originally from Pawhuska, Oklahoma where he won Pawhuska Got Talent in 2019. He has also won other local Got Talent and 4-H competitions. If I had to pick a finalist from first sight, I would pick Phil who has a star quality to his voice which is a mix of indie pop and country pop music. He sports a mullet, so my guess is he will try to use his country charm on the show. He’s a good songwriter and a voice that is destined to wow the judges, as it has a little bit of rasp, a little bit of twang, and it is very marketable. His crossover appeal is undeniable.

A fun fact for foodies is that his mom is Cyndi “Hyacinth” Kane who is celebrity chef, Ree Drummond’s, best friend and is also a published author. She has appeared on the Food Network with Ree and on her famed blog; both of which are titled “The Pioneer Woman”.

Tik Tok:
“Miss Me Back” Original:

Rebecca Brunner

Rebecca, a singer-songwriter from Chicago, Illinois who has since relocated to Nashville may look familiar. She was on The Voice Season 13 and landed herself a spot on Blake’s Team after a powerful audition of “Believer” by Imagine Dragons. Since then, she has posted covers and originals including Round Hole, a pop smash with Nashville based songwriting group The Songhouse. The song has gained over 4 million streams on Spotify. Rebecca’s tone is a standout as it is round and a bit husky sounding. Her tone is a bit similar in style to 2000s hitmaking singer, Natasha Bedingfield. It stands out on whatever material it is on with elements of pop, soul, and some pop-rock as it is a bit raspy. I expect Rebecca to go much further than she did on The Voice as she has one of the most marketable sounds this season.

Tik Tok:
“Anyone” (Justin Bieber) Cover:

Tyson Venegas

Tyson dropped out of The Voice Teens (Philippines) in 2020, at the age of 14, due to the pandemic and restrictions on travel, but it is likely he would’ve made it far. Canadians have started to make waves on American Idol (Lauren Spencer-Smith and Cameron Whitcomb), so I expect Tyson to be the next one to wow America. He is the type of vocalist who could sing the phonebook with minimal backing of him playing the piano or guitar. His range is impressive and in my previous article, I compared him to Bruno Mars. I could also see him tackling Justin Timberlake. There is something that feels both current about Tyson but also a smidge throwback as I see some early 2000s influences in his style of music

Tik Tok:
“A Song For You” Cover:

Wé McDonald

Fans of The Voice, Wé is back! Her audition is one of the most beloved in The Voice history due to the differences in her speaking voice and deep alto tone. See the article about competition vets, to relive that moment. She is possibly the most hyped returner this season as she placed 3rd place on Season 11 of The Voice. Her style consists of R&B and soul with a little bit of theater mixed in there. The singer’s latest release, “Mr. Montgomery” is loads of fun and is very current sounding. Her vocal tone is rich, full, and strong. And that is why I expect her to go deep in yet another competition.

Instagram: (106K)
Tik Tok: (554.2K)
“Lift Me Up” Cover:

Country As Can Be

Country has been the winning genre lately with the last two singers being in the country realm. Last season, the top 2, Noah Thompson and HunterGirl, were both country artists. The following competitors have pure country voices and if they make the top 24, they are destined to be forces due to being pure country which the audience tends to vote for.

Kayleigh Clark

Kayleigh, a country singer from Sumrall, Mississippi, was featured in one of the first promos wearing bright pink. She has a classic laid back country tone with a bit of a nasally quality to it. Kayleigh is a bit raw vocally, but there’s something special in her wholesome country sound. The sweet spot to her voice is on the high notes as she has a nice power to her voice.

Tik Tok:
“Unchained Melody” Cover:

Marybeth Byrd

Marybeth is another singer who made it far on The Voice, placing in the top 8 on Season 17 as apart of Team John Legend. I expect her to have more freedom to hew to her country roots on Idol, as John often had her singing non-country songs to stand out among the other Voice contestants. She is now 21, attending Arkansas State University, and she has released a song titled “Truly Livin’.” Marybeth mixes soul into her signature country style, and even when she isn’t singing country, she makes songs sound country. Her style would be comparable to singers like Leeann Rimes and Faith Hill who also mix pop and country into their sounds.

Tik Tok:
“Jolene” Cover:

Preston Duffee

Preston is probably the closest to pure country there is this season. He was the first contestant to be featured in a season 21 promo where judge Luke Bryan exclaims “coming in country” as he enters in a camouflage t-shirt. Preston’s voice is a bit raw, but it’s full of twang and is destined to make the country crowd fall in love. His style is a mix of classic country and modern country which should help him wow both young fans and older fans. If the judges put him through to America’s vote, I expect him to be a threat to win it all especially since country males have won so many titles lately. But since so many country males have won lately, I believe this season, producers will push for a female winner who is more pop forward.

Tik Tok:
“Something To Write About” Original:

Trey Louis

Trey’s voice is shocking, and I’m sure it’ll be featured in the auditions. He has a super rangy country voice with loads of soul and is a bit reminiscent of Chris Stapleton and other soulful country singers. His voice isn’t the most original out of the country bunch this season, but from a vocal standpoint he may be the strongest country vocalist of season 21. He has had multiple videos on Tik Tok go viral including a cover of Stapleton’s “Broken Halos”.

Tik Tok: (157.7K)
“Broken Halos”:

Indie Singer-Songwriters

In recent years, indie singer-songwriters have become increasingly popular, including singers like Alejandro Aranda, Fritz Hager, Hunter Metts, and Wyatt Pike, all who were very popular on their respective seasons. These singers aren’t the most mainstream, often are great songwriters, and stand out amongst the crowd.

Adin Boyer

Adin is an indie rock singer who is a skilled pianist with multiple viral Tik Tok videos featuring his piano skill. He is on the autism spectrum, is an autism advocate, and is a college graduate of the California Institute of Arts with a BFA in performance and composition studies. He released an EP on August 26th, 2022, titled Caseload and he is currently working on another EP. On his website, he lists his influences as Coldplay, The Killers, U2, and Keane. Adin is a good vocalist but an even better composer; his original performance I linked below has some of the songwriting and production magic that Alejandro Aranda and Angie Miller brought to the show.

Tik Tok:
Piano Tik Tok: (138K)
“Predicament” Original Live Performance (Hotel Café):

Beckett Rex

Beckett Rex is a talented 18-year-old indie folk singer-songwriter from Ojai, California. Beckett’s dad is British actor Malcolm McDowell, best known for his roles in A Clockwork Orange and Time After Time. Beckett’s single, “Pale Blue Eyes” was featured in People Magazine as the music video featured Malcolm. His song “Weirdo” which is co-written with Simple Plan’s lead singer Pierre Bouvier has over 170K streams on Spotify. Indie music has become bigger on Idol in recent years, and Beckett’s sound which is similar to popular folk artists like George Ezra and Vance Joy could stand out amongst the crowd and take him deep in the competition.

Tik Tok:
People Article:
“Weirdo” Live:

Powerhouse Divas

Powerhouse singers have one advantage and that is they bring the vocals. There is usually one that goes far (in recent years Nicolina Bozzo and Grace Kinstler), and some even win (like the OG, Kelly Clarkson). The following singers have crazy range, can belt, and are great vocalists!

Elise Kristine

18-year-old, Elise Kristine, is a viral sensation and powerhouse singer. She’s got crazy impressive range as she can hit whistle tones and is theatrical and soulful at the same time. She also is very talented at impressions. Her style and technical ability are a bit reminiscent of former 3rd placer Grace Kinstler. She has a few viral videos doing parodies and impressions of other singers and has nearly 594K followers. I linked a video below that mixes her technical and comedic abilities.

Tik Tok: (594K)
“This Love” Cover:

Kya Monee (AI19 Hollywood Week)

Kya is the most powerful of the R&B singers this season. She was able to match the uber-talented, powerhouse talent that late Willie Spence was in American Idol Season 19. Her duet with him was one of the best duet/group performances in Hollywood Week history. The judges were wowed, with Lionel calling the duet “divine.” Kya’s voice is unique and has an ache to it that is bound to give everyone goosebumps this season. She might be one of the better soul singers we’ve seen on the show in recent years. With the right song choices, she could deliver similar moments to other soul singers that have wowed on the show.

Tik Tok: (534.2K)
“All I Ask”:

Nutsa Buzaladze

This Dubai based Georgian singer is a competition veteran. She has competed in various Got Talent, The Voice competitions, and more. She won New Wave (a competition similar to Junior Eurovision) in 2014 and Kenga Magjike in 2021. Nutsa is the strongest when it comes to belting and her style incorporates some old-school sounds with some jazz inflections. Her original music has some disco influences, and other works sound a bit similar to the style of Christina Aguilera. She is quite the powerhouse, and I’m sure she’ll bring her A game to Idol as she has in other competitions and all her live performances. Her experience performing live and in several competitions should benefit her greatly.

Instagram: (332K)
Tik Tok:
“Feeling Good”:

Olivia Soli

Olivia is a singer who has spent time in Los Angeles and New York City and has been performing since she was 5 years old, according to her IMDB bio. Olivia’s first released single, “Boy Bye” came out in 2021 and it reminds me of something Jojo would put out, as it is infused with 2000s pop sounds. Olivia is a diva through and through and in an interview with The Music Bugle, she listed “Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston as major influences.” She has appeared on celebrity vocal coach Stevie Mackey’s Tik Tok and his series called Taco Tuesday’s showcasing her powerhouse vocals.

Tik Tok:
“Stone Cold” (Demi Lovato Cover):


Marketability is what makes these contestants stand out, and are all within the pop genre. They either bring stage presence, sound like a star, or have clear artistic direction that could lead to them selling records post-Idol.

Alexis “Lexi” Stephens

Lexi is a pop singer from Palm Harbor, Florida and is a student at the prestigious Boston Conservatory, part of the class of 2025, studying musical theater. While listening to Lexi’s covers, her background came out as she is very good at emoting and conveying the lyrics. Out of this entire bunch, Lexi is one of the most current sounding singers and is like some of the pop singers in last season’s top 24 like Cadence Baker and Emyrson Flora, with clear influences from current pop stars like Olivia Rodrigo and Billie Eilish.

Tik Tok:
“In My Kitchen” Cover:

Caroline Kole

Caroline may look familiar as she was on Season 2 of NBC’s songwriting competition, Songland where she worked with Shane McNally on her song “Fools Good” for the Ben Platt episode. Her song wasn’t chosen, but she later released the it on her own. Some may argue that Caroline doesn’t need the show. She had a record deal and publishing deal with Sony as a child and toured with Reba McEntire as a country artist. She has had recent streaming success too with her 2020 song “Freaking Out” gaining nearly 13 million streams. Caroline may be the strongest with the pen this season, as she’s a great songwriter with relatable lyrics and her pop-rock style is unique to her. Her songs sound radio-ready and are a bit similar to the style of recently grammy nominated GAYLE.

Tik Tok:
“Freaking Out” Live Acoustic:

Fire Willmore

Talk about names that sound like stars, Fire Willmore, a singer from Lawton, Oklahoma, is just that. Her spunky online covers fit her first name, Fire. Her covers are soulful pop numbers which also fits her popstar name. Fire is a proud mother who often posts about her daughter and has been open about being a teen parent, so that is sure to be a part of her backstory. Her voice is a bit raw and appears like it could develop more, but based on clips, it appears she will bring stage presence and heart, and that could take her far.

Tik Tok:
“Talking To The Moon” Virtual Audition:

Haven Madison

Haven is a diamond in the rough. Her platinum ticket contending audition wasn’t perfect vocally, but her song illustrated that she’s excellent as a songwriter. Of all the artists this season, Haven could go deep just based on this. She is a developed artist who has one of the most potential selling records. Her EP titled All The Things I Didn’t Stay is one of the strongest bodies of works from this group of contestants, as it has shades of indie pop brilliance similar to artists like Gracie Abrams and Lexi Jayde.

She grew up on a tour bus too, so talent runs in her blood. Her dad, Jason Roy, is the lead singer of Grammy nominated Christian rock band, Building 429 who has had multiple Christian music number 1s. He accompanied Haven at her audition. Haven’s brother Avery, also known as Voidletter, produced her song, “Still Need You” which is an absolute stunner.

Tik Tok:
“Still Need You”:

Michael Williams

Michael may also look familiar, as he made the Playoffs in Season 18 of The Voice. It’s a bit ironic that his battle partner, Allegra Miles, was on Idol last season and he wowed with her during Season 18 with their battle of “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.” He vastly improved, but wasn’t quite ready vocally when he was on The Voice and that is most likely why he was eliminated in the Playoffs after winning the 4-Way Knockout. His recently released “Honey” sounds like a Jonas Brothers song, which is fitting since his The Voice coach was Nick Jonas. His falsetto is pleasing to the ears and this song sounds like a radio hit. He is another one who has potential to become one of the season’s heartthrobs.

Tik Tok: (150K)
“Biblical” (Calum Scott Cover):

Stefan Benz

Stefan, a South African singer who lives in Los Angeles, has the largest Instagram following of all contestants this season and is a borderline plant. He attended the 2022 American Music Awards and has been on red carpets for multiple other awards shows. He is managed by Creative Artists Agency, and after impressing in 2018 and making the semifinals of the 2018 World Championship of Performing Arts, he was signed by Manny Mijares and former The Four judge and Republic Records executive Charlie Walk (who was placed on leave for sexual misconduct allegations) to Hit Music Partners.

At 16 years old, American Idol could be the perfect launching pad for Stefan. His sound is a pure pop, and he has star quality. His style is a bit like Justin Bieber and other pop heartthrobs, and he has released a lot of music at a young age. This style doesn’t always go far on Idol, but he has some of the most potential to go far outside of the show.

Instagram: (237K)
Tik Tok: (150.2K)
“Babysitter” Original:

Old School

This group is full of throwback styles whether it’s crooning, jazz standards, rock and roll, or styles that sound a bit vintage. These singers put their own touches on music by invoking some classic sounds and are influenced by many of the generations before them.

J. Valerione (They/Them)

J’s website lists “Donny Hathaway, Stephen Sondheim, Alan Menken, Stevie Wonder, and The Clark Sisters” as their musical influences. These influences lend well to J’s jazzy and theatrical sound with a very clear and smooth sounding tone. This style isn’t all that common to Idol and it could stand out. As a child, they toured with well-known non-profit and show choir, The Young Americans and they have starred in several musicals. J has also appeared on I Can See Your Voice.

Tik Tok:
“I Can See Your Voice”:

Sarah Mac

Sarah Michele Maccar who goes by the stage name of Sarah Mac has very few clips on her socials but based on the sole clip found of her singing solo, she is a rockstar with a big, booming voice with a little bit of grit. Her cover of “Whole Lotta Love” is a great vocal, so I look forward to hearing more from her. Clips with Georgia based band Thud EhVul and His Advocates are also very good. Her voice has hints of jazz, soul, and rock within it.

“Whole Lotta Love” Cover:

Summer Joy

Summer Roberts, who goes by Summer Joy on stage and is a student at Belmont, has a timeless voice. She has a very jazzy and soulful sound featuring an impressive lower range. Her style is similar to R&B singers like YEBBA and Emily King who are masterful vocalists. Summer is one of the best singers this season and if the competition was based solely on vocals, Summer would have a shot to win it all. We haven’t seen a lot of her style on Idol before so I’m unsure how it will fare, but Summer is a captivating powerhouse.

Tik Tok:
“Bittersweet” Cover:

Tripp Taylor

Tripp Taylor is a unique artist who is a student at Carnegie Mellon University. Tripp’s style is full of old-school influences, and his voice is bound to shock many. He can flip from being a smooth crooner to showing power with loads of rasp. He could take on old-school rock and roll, country, and standards. His voice is very versatile. He has nearly 200K followers on Tik Tok and has went viral a few times including a masterful cover of “Friends On The Otherside” from The Princess and The Frog. His deep crooning could turn into a novelty, so Tripp will need to balance that and showcase his vocal gifts and the old soul he has at the age of 18.

Tik Tok: (199.2K)
“Friends On The Otherside” Cover:

Zachariah Smith

Zachariah, an Orlando based singer, doesn’t have a ton of content on the internet, but he has a rich soulful voice from what’s out there. He is a mix of country and throw back 60s and 70s rock. He sometimes performs with his wife Crysta too. It appears he might be a bit of a throwback performer. He’s not super original, but his content is entertaining, and it appears he might be quite animated on stage based on the karaoke performances I’ve seen.

Tik Tok:
“Tennessee Whiskey” Cover:

Out of the Box Country

The show appears to be showcasing more out of the box country singers or possibly singers who have country roots but may be singing different genres. This includes Americana, Bluegrass, Southern Rock, and even singers with twang that may crossover to country during the span of the season even if they aren’t purely country.

Brayden King

Brayden, a country singer from Alberta, Canada, isn’t your typical country singer. He has a big booming raspy voice that leans into country rock or alternative country. According to his website, his influences include “Bruce Springsteen, Colter Wall, Eric Church, Tyler Childers, Jon Pardi, and Chris Stapleton”. Being a unique sounding country singer isn’t the only way Brayden stands out, as he is 6 feet, 9 inches tall. Experience will be helpful as well as he is a touring musician who has released several music projects including his most recent EP, “Live from the Road” which includes a collection of live originals.

Tik Tok:
“Whitehouse Road” (Tyler Childers Cover):

Caden Glover

Caden won the West Virginia state fair pass to auditions. He plays the banjo and is an Americana and Bluegrass singer with an old soul, featuring an animated and raspy voice. His sound and songwriting are influenced by his small-town surroundings. Caden recently released his first EP titled The Cabin Session.

Tik Tok:
State Fair Audition:

Colin Stough

Colin is an 18-year-old gritty country singer from Amory, Mississippi. His raspy tone suits southern rock, blues, and country. He has a variety of covers on his social media pages including several from Zach Bryan, Waylon Jennings, and Chris Stapleton as well as some original music.

Tik Tok:
“Wild Palomino” Original:

Kenley Brown

Kenley, also known as Mikenley, is a soulful singer from New Castle, Indiana, with hints of country in her voice. Her raw style reminds me a bit of Hannah Everhart. A lot of her covers are outside of the country realm, but there’s something very country about her raspy and slightly twangy sound. Her style of country is becoming bigger in the country realm with Elle King transitioning to country music and the emergence of Lainey Wilson. Both are similar to Kenley’s style. Kenley’s family is talented too, as she has posted a few videos of her singing with her mom and dad, and her dad played for her at her first gig this past December.

Tik Tok:
“Dreams” (Fleetwood Mac Cover):

Mariah Faith

Mariah is a Conway, South Carolina singer who sports dreadlocks. She is a hair stylist who has also gigged some around the Myrtle Beach area. She has recently started using the tag of country singer in postings, so she may be competition for Kenley who is in the same realm. They both have a soulful raspy voice with loads of power. There’s something so compelling about Mariah’s voice, and there’s something about her voice that reminds me of Season 8 runner up Crystal Bowersox.

Tik Tok:
“Where Rainbows Never Die” Cover:

Warren Peay

Warren’s long locks and long beard fit his sound perfectly. He has a gritty country rock sound, that features a very 60s/70s southern rock vibe. His voice is super raspy with a lot of grit, but it comes off as natural which is always a plus when it comes to a raspy sound. There’s something about his voice that reminds me a bit of Creed’s Scott Stapp, and his voice also has shades of Gregg Allman.

Tik Tok:
“I Got You” Cover:

Tones That Stand Out

These singers let their singing tones do the talking. Whether it is the raw and natural quality of their voice or something unique and special about their sound, their tone cuts through music and stands out.

Cameron Osterloh

Cameron Osterloh, also known as Cam Amen, is one of the rawer singers of the bunch. The soulful crooner, who is from Ocala, Florida, doesn’t appear to have a lot of professional experience compared to some of the others, but the karaoke performances he has posted shows he has a gift. He is very emotive and soulful, and his tone strikes me as one of the more interesting ones this season as it is super raw and has a deep richness to it. The rawness reminds me a little bit of last year’s Kelsie Dolin, only Cameron has some stage experience based on clips he has posted singing karaoke in his town. He even won a duet contest with his late grandmother with a cover of A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera’s “Say Something.”

Tik Tok:
“Say Something” Duet Winner with Grandma:

Hannah Nicolaisen

Hannah gives off shades of fan favorites Emma Klein from Season 17 and Shannon Gibbons from Season 18. Her voice is soulful, a bit bluesy, and is the type that would have done great on the original FOX American Idol. She is also an incredible songwriter, writing folksy soul numbers. Her style reminds me a bit of easy, breezy soulful pop singers like Colbie Caillat and Sara Bareilles. Her tone stands out due to the natural quality of it as it is as pure as it gets.

Tik Tok:
Original Song:

Megan Danielle

Megan’s tone stood out from day one when she appeared on Season 18 of The Voice. She competed alongside American Idol’s Allegra Miles (Season 20) and Michael Williams on the Covid season. She made it to the top 9 on Team Kelly Clarkson. Her tone has a real rock and roll quality to it and is super emotive on ballads. It has a bit of a Bonnie Tyler and Melissa Etheridge quality to it. It’s quite versatile and could take on anything from Christian contemporary music, to rock to folk or even country. She has released two singles and her ballad “All Around” is a stunner.

Tik Tok:
“Rebel Heart” (Lauren Daigle Cover):

Samuel Harness

Samuel hasn’t been away from our screens for very long. He was on Season 20 of The Voice where he made the Playoffs and was a fan favorite. His tone is another raspy one. It is quite pleasing especially when covering emotive pop rock ballads. His style is a bit like British pop balladeers; Lewis Capaldi, Tom Walker, and James Arthur and he has numerous originals including his song “Help” which is a mental health awareness song. I expect him to do well on Idol if he chooses the right songs.

Tik Tok: (113K)

William Guy Tongi

William is a Hawaiian singer-songwriter with a relaxing island sound. In an interview with Lauren Gruwell, he said he is a “country-alternative, mixed with island.” To me he doesn’t sound country, but he’s got his own sound and his tone is cool, and the laid-back aspect of it reminds me of fan-favorite auditioner from Season 14, Hollywood Anderson. In 2020, he released his first single titled “Dreams” which showcases his unique sound. Through his originals, he has a storytelling ability and could thrive on the show. He has Tongan and Samoan roots, and he sings Tongan worship songs, so he may bring something new to Idol in that way if he decides to perform one on the show.

Tik Tok: (75K)
Interview with singer-songwriter Lauren Gruwell, plus performance of original “Sunrise”:

Gospel Tinged Soul

Each one of these singers has a bit of gospel in their repertoires and their styles are very soulful. They are great singing runs and have the ability to let loose and emote while performing.

Destiny Reeves

Destiny is a gospel-tinged R&B singer with incredible control over her voice. She has one of the purest sounds of anyone this season. As a child, Destiny made multiple appearances on the Apollo stage in New York. Her technical ability has also allowed for her to tackle multiple vocal challenges across her socials.

Tik Tok:
“Killing Me Softly” Cover:

Elijah McCormick (America’s Platinum Ticket)

Featured in the American Music Awards, platinum ticket voting contest alongside Matt Wilson and Haven Madison, Elijah was the one who won America’s vote to receive America’s Platinum Ticket which gives him an advantage in Hollywood Week. In the clip from that audition, he sang “Bless The Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts. Elijah is an emotive R&B singer from Pinecrest, North Carolina and he has an emotional backstory.  He nearly died at the age of 18 in a car crash (after graduating in 2019) and was hospitalized for 79 days. Read more in the article below.

Tik Tok:
Article: Elijah shares his near death experience
“Ordinary People” Cover:

Joseph Lee White, Jr.

Joseph who also goes by Lee on some of his socials is a contemporary R&B artist from Chicago. The singer has a rich tone and is a run technician as his runs are some of the most well-executed out of any of the singers this season. His performances are emotive, and his range is impressive.

Tik Tok:
“When I See You” (Fantasia Cover):

Intriguing Performers

Each one of these singers puts interesting spins on songs and has the ability to make songs dramatic and a bit theatrical, which could lead to some dynamic performances this season from each of them.

Kaylin Hedges

Kaylin, a New York City based teen, appeared in videos that are nearly at a million views with her celebrity vocal coach Natalie Weiss when she was 12 years old (Natalie herself almost made the season 4 Top 24). She also was in Hollywood Bowl’s production of Annie and starred as Haley Westerbrook in Loch Ness, a musical. Now at 15, she continues to perform. Her style is theatrical with notes of pop and rock and one of the strongest parts of her voice is when she belts and her control over her head voice.

Tik Tok:
Natalie Weiss Private Coaching Video (6 minute mark):

Nailyah Serenity

Nailyah Serenity’s name sounds like someone destined for stardom. She is an astrologer who does readings and titles herself the “astrologer of tha south.” She is also a makeup artist. Nailyah released her first single this past summer titled “Loathe Love.” This single sounds a bit similar to the style of current Beyonce music and Chloe Bailey. She loves putting her spin on current pop hits by making them more dramatic, and she also takes on some standards and jazz songs,

Tik Tok:
“Unloyal” (Summer Walker Remix):

Chill Worthy

These singers are bound to give you chills. Some are great with runs, others are emotive and sing ballads, and others transform songs, but all have one thing in common and that is they can sing covers that may translate to big moments on the Idol stage.

Austin Markham

Austin is a Nashville based R&B singer originally from Oklahoma. His style is a twangy-bluesy inflected R&B–think Justin Timberlake or like a more R&B version of Gavin DeGraw. At times his voice gives me shades of Season 15 winner, Trent Harmon. In August of 2021, he released his first EP titled Me. which included this signature swampy R&B style of his. He has also built up a solid Tik Tok following with over 238K followers.

Tik Tok: 238K
“Mirror” (Madison Ryann Ward Cover):

Dawson Wayne

Dawson is a pop singer with a nice smooth and softer sound similar to pop vocalists like Sam Fischer and Ben Platt. He released a song with Strive To Be (a youth group from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) titled “All My Heart.” Past Idol alums Liahona and Ammon Olayan and Kenedi Anderson have also released music with Strive To Be.

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Jayna Elise Brown

Jayna Elise Brown is the Jayna Brown who captured America’s heart on America’s Got Talent Season 11 where she received a golden buzzer during the judges cut round from Louis Tomlinson with my favorite rendition of “Rise Up” by Andra Day to date. This moment got her all the way to the semifinals. The thing that Jayna has always been great with and still is, is building dynamics into a song. She knows how to start quiet and build a song, and the softer parts of her voice are some of the strongest. Her latest song “Lionheart” also showcases this ability as she builds upon each moment to create an ultimate wow moment.

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Lucy Love

Lucy is another contestant who was spotted in the first promo of the season looking thrilled after her audition. Since then, Idol has showcased her in a longer clip where Katy raves about her and the singer shares her struggles as a single mother. Her name also sounds like a star. Lucy’s voice surely stands out as it deeper than most female singers. Her control is crazy good as every cover of hers is nearly pitch perfect and her runs are nearly perfectly executed. Each cover is her own creative take where she adds both soulful and jazzy touches. Lucy has released an EP through Bandcamp titled Love’s Story.

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“Misunderstood” (Nina Simone Cover):
American Idol promo: Katy Raves!


PJAE, also known as Peter Gomez, is an Oklahoma City based pop and soul artist, who has studied at the Academy of Contemporary Music at the University of Central Oklahoma. His style is similar to singers like Sam Smith. His falsetto is one of the strongest parts of his voice and he can do intricate runs. He is a gifted songwriter as well.

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“Know That You Are Loved” (Cover):

Sarah Snyder

Sarah is a balladeer from Central Valley, California where she is the worship director at Soul Harvest Worship Center. Her style reminds me of Season 16’s Shannon O’Hara as her voice also suits pop ballads and fits right in with the emotive and clarifying style of Christian Contemporary music. She would sound excellent covering music from Adele or Lauren Daigle. Her songwriting style on her original below reminds me a bit of a Taylor Swift ballad. It’s a well-penned number.

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Pop R&B Entertainers

These singers are entertainers that bring a mix of pop and R&B to the table. Their music would fit in with the likes of singers like Jason Derulo, Khalid, or The Weeknd. Each one of them is sure to bring stage presence and marketable styles to the Idol stage.

Isaac Brown (not Raven Symone singer)

Not to be confused with the Isaac Brown from Raven’s Home who is similar age, Isaac is a recording artist from Los Angeles who can sometimes be spotted on the streets of LA and Hollywood singing and dancing. Isaac brings some rasp to his soulful R&B sound, allowing for him to stand out amongst the R&B singers on this season. His style is very pop centric soul music, and his latest single titled “Sayonara” sounds very similar to singers like Jason Derulo and Chris Brown.

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Malik Heard

It’s been a while since Malik has competed on a TV show, but he competed on Season 10 of The Voice where he earned a triple steal in the battles, before getting eliminated in the Knockouts as a part of Team Pharrell Williams. Malik was a passionate performer on Season 10, and his stage presence is something that I remember from him. His falsetto is one of the sweet spots of his voice, and his contemporary R&B style fits right into the current music scene. He also has tackled several run challenges on his socials displaying his impressive range.

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Matt Wilson

Matt is a contemporary R&B and pop singer from Buffalo, New York. He is another contestant that was vying for America’s platinum ticket during the American Music Awards. Although he didn’t win the spot, his audition was my favorite of all the platinum ticket contenders with his rendition of Giveon’s “For Tonight.” Matt has gained confidence performing on the stage of his church, Prince of Peace Buffalo. His original music is contemporary R&B with some pop mixed in and a little bit of rapping here and there. His single, “I Can’t Wait” is dedicated to his wife and is a midtempo dance ballad.

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About Blake Busch 242 Articles
I am a graduate of Drake University with a BSBA in marketing and minor in data analytics. My favorite shows to follow are American Idol and The Voice. I also love crime thrillers, Top Chef, and Masterchef. My hobbies include cooking, baking, playing basketball, and watching sports.