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American Idol Spoiler Watch: Orlando's Got Talent Winner Janell Wheeler

Updated on January 22, 2010

The Marketability Is There, But Is the Talent?

American Idol 9 has kicked off and continues to show its city auditions. Meanwhile, several online sites have released their annual American Idol spoilers. and other sites have revealed that Orlando's Got Talent winner Janell Wheeler has made it through the Hollywood auditions and into the voting rounds. Idol showed a small clip of Janell's audition in Orlando. She sang "House of the Rising Sun," and I must say that small bit was impressive.

Clearly, Janell is a beautiful girl with lots of marketability. Her talent is still unknown except that she certainly has the voice to fit either a country or pop sound. Janell's MySpace page has some recorded music. Of course, her live voice, like many singers, can be much different than her recording voice. If she is featured more during the Hollywood segment of the show and displays some decent performances and personality, expect Janell to come out as one of the favorites as soon as the voting rounds begin.

Janell seems to have some similarities to Carrie Underwood, winner of American Idol 4 and the biggest seller among all American Idol winners. It's not so much the look that is similar. While the extent of her talent is not clear yet, Janell seems to have something that is a hot commodity in the music world - a crossover voice. This kind of versatility helped Carrie become a star, and it may help Janell during this season of American Idol.

As it relates to Idol, one big difference between Carrie and Janell is that Carrie was treated as a favorite right off the bat. Janell has not been treated this way as of yet. She got a very small segment for her initial audition, so fans could at least guess that Janell will need more airtime for Hollywood to help her survive the first weeks of the voting rounds.

Some may assume that Janell will coast through the opening rounds and into the Top 24 based on her fairly stunning looks. History shows this to be incorrect. Both attractive and talented singers often get the axe in the three weeks leading up to the Top 12. Most of the fans have no idea who the contestants are, so even song choice or what the contestants say in their intros can determine whether they survive those first three weeks.

Close watchers of the show know that even the order or performances can affect the voting. In particular, going first is like a curse. A large number of contestants in the first weeks who go first get cut that week. Judges routinely praise contestants that promptly get cut and criticize contestants like Sanjaya Malakar that sail through to the Top 12.

All of this means that positive airtime with at least decent performances and an engaging personality leading up to the Top 24 can greatly increase the chances of getting through to the Top 12. With the limited time she has had on air, fans of Janell can only hope that she gets positive edits during Hollywood Week. We know that she made the Top 24 if the spoilers can be believed, but that says nothing about how much we will see her on camera.

All things considered, Janell has one strong thing going for her - a voice that can adapt to different genres. The looks do not hurt, but they do not necessarily help, either. Janell seems to have what it takes to make a run for the Top 5. But that depends largely on Hollywood Week and how the producers present her to the voting public.


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