America was introduced to American Idol‘s season 11 top 13 this week: Phillip Phillips, Jessica Sanchez, Hollie Cavanagh, Joshua Ledet, Heejun Han, Shannon Magrane, Skylar Laine, Elise Testone, Colton Dixon, Jermaine Jones, and wild cards Erika Van Pelt (Randy’s choice), Jeremy Rosado (Jennifer Lopez), and DeAndre Brackensick (Steven Tyler).
Entertainment Weekly caught up with the finalists at Idol‘s top 13 party in Los Angeles Thursday night and asked them everything from thoughts on their strengths and weaknesses, to makeover hopes and fears, to their feelings about the judges so far this season.
We also caught up with Steven and Randy to get their opinions on the finalists this year — and asked Randy what he thinks about the show’s ratings being down this season.
What sets you apart from the other contestants?
DeAndre Brackensick: Other than my hair? [Laughs] I do have a big, big range. I have a low voice, and I have a very, very high voice. I try to use the high to my advantage, not too much. But hopefully the high can push me through at least to tour.
Skylar Laine: I’m the only country person left in the group, so that sets me apart.
Shannon Magrane: I definitely do think I stick out from the crowd being tall. [6-foot, ¾-inches tall, exactly]
Jessica Sanchez : I think we all have our different styles. I’m the more mainstream kind of pop urban singer. I love attitude and bringing new things to the table. I think what separates me from the other contestants is that I’ve done this before and I’ve been watching American Idol since I was a very little girl and I’ve been preparing myself throughout the years for this moment. And I’m here now and I’m ready to work hard.
Elise Testone: I have lots and lots of experience. I’ve been in so many bands. I’ve been a backup singer, a lead singer, I have a music degree. There are a lot of things the younger competitors have that I don’t have, so I do see a nice healthy competition going on.
Erika Van Pelt: I have sort of a unique tone and timbre. I like to belt it out and I sort of can pull it back and do sort of these more restrained tunes, but when I get going I like to rock out and I like to squall and I like to show people I have that rock edge, too.
Heejun Han: The fact that I’m a very good-looking guy. I love it… I’m just being myself all the time. That’s me.
Colton Dixon: I’m so different from everyone else. I’m the only rocker left, first of all. I’m so happy about that. Erika has a little bit of the rock thing going, but the guy-girl thing, it’s not going to matter.
Phillip Phillips: I’m just trying to change the songs up to make them my own. I don’t know if anyone plays the guitar on the show. I’m just trying to be myself.
Jeremy Rosado: I know that I have the favor of God, and that’s gonna get me farther than anything else.
Hollie Cavanagh: People don’t expect my voice to come out of me because I’m tiny. A lot of people say I have a big voice.
Joshua Ledet: My genre. I don’t think there is anyone in the competition who sings the gospelly type, so that is probably the big separation between me and other contestants.
Jermaine Jones: My deep bass baritone voice, my height — 6-foot, 8 ½ inches, and don’t take away my half! — my stature.