As "American Idol" inches closer to naming its Top 13 on Thursday, North Carolina's hopes for the next Scotty McCreery are down to just one -- country singer Chelsea Sorrell, right, of Stokesdale, just north of Greensboro.
Chelsea, 23, who also tried out for the popular singing competition last season but didn't make the voting rounds, will perform tonight, along with 11 other women hoping to make the finals. Based on viewer votes, the top 5 men and top 5 women will advance to the Top 13, along with one wildcard pick each from judges Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Wacky Old Uncle Steven Tyler.
Fayetteville residents had hoped David Leathers Jr. -- the baby-faced singer who had received lots of screen time earlier this season -- would make the cut as a surprise on Tuesday night's show. Producers had listed David as one of four previously ejected male singers who would be invited back.
But in the end, they picked Jermaine Jones, the deep-voiced mama's boy who had broken down in tears when he was originally sent home. With his backstory, his prime spot at the end of Tuesday's show and his not-bad performance of "Dance With My Father," Jermaine seems a shoe-in to advance to the finals.
He was one of the few guys to make much of a positive impression. Phillip Phillips, the Dave Matthews wannabe, was another, delivering an original take on "In the Air Tonight." And Joshua Ledet soared with a performance of "You Pulled Me Through."
Most of the other men were either:
--unmemorable (where did Chase Likens even come from?)
--memorable for all the wrong reasons (producers may be trying to pitch Eben Franckewitz as the next Justin Bieber, but what Eben did to Adele's "Set Fire to the Rain" was just unlistenable.)
--or downright annoying (get over yourself Reed Grimm and your pseudo-hipster take on "Moves Like Jagger" -- ugh)
Much as the judges keep telling us this is the best crop of "Idol" contenders ever (they say that every year), this year's guys certainly paled compared to Scotty and his fellow contestants from Season 10.
For his part, Scotty, now done with his Brad Paisley tour and back with his Garner High School baseball team (and batboy, left,) tells us he's catching the show when he can.
He's a fan of Heejun Han, whose performance of "Angels" on Tuesday was fine, but not outstanding. If the popular Heejun can just get his singing up to the level of his hilariously deadpan commentary, he'll go far.
Scotty also knows several of the finalists because they tried out last year with him -- Colton Dixon, Deandre Brackensick and Aaron Marcellus (who was going by Aaron Sanders last season.)
Scotty also met fellow North Carolinian Chelsea last year. We'll see tonight if she has a chance to bring the "Idol" trophy back to the Tar Heel state.