There are plenty of endearing personalities on this season of American Idol, but if you didn't officially fall in love with Michael J. Woodard weeks ago when he took on "Maybe This Time" from Cabaret, then do you even have a soul? First of all, what a song choice. What a vocal range. Secondly, his personality is so joyful and infectious that you can't stop smiling, no matter what it is he's singing, and that's why Michael J. Woodard is American Idol's standout contender.
"Maybe This Time" was just one of Woodard's impeccable performances this season. He's definitely not afraid to take on giant monsters of songs, proven time and time again with songs like "Titanium" by David Guetta and Sia, and "Beauty & The Beast" from the iconic musical. The 20-year-old manages to keep the integrity of these popular ballads intact while also making it incredibly clear that he's giving us his versions of the tunes. He's soft and soulful while still having a voice that could hold up on a Broadway stage, and it won't be surprising if that's where he ends up after all is said and done.
His talent is definitely not lost on the judges — they've had nothing but praise for him, and Katy Perry even tossed a chair off the stage following his Cabaret performance because she was so delightfully frazzled. "You are giving us another level that is so pure, and people are going to keep tuning in to see what you do next," Lionel told him after one of his performances. "You're a star."
And fans of the show are similarly enthralled. Though some of them say they lost him in the shuffle when more contestants crowded the show in early weeks, nobody is denying his star power now. In fact, the number one post on Reddit's American Idol discussion board on Wednesday afternoon was entitled, "Michael J. Woodard should win." "I really cannot believe that I didn't really take notice of him before!" Reddit user slamonthebreak wrote within the discussion. "Now I'm having trouble keeping it in because I'm literally just so filled with love for this kid and I want everything good in the world for him." "What he is doing is insane. He’s next level in every way," another user, jillanco, wrote. "The technique, story telling, vocal changes, timing, movements, and musical choices are incredible."
He even got a special shout-out on Twitter from Ben Platt, Tony Award winner and star of Broadway's Dear Evan Hanson, giving him some pretty high praise.
Woodard should really be the contestant all other singers on the show are watching out for. He's in the Top 7 now, and will attempt in the coming weeks to claw his way to the finale — it'll be appropriate if he does. This season of Idol is full of people who are easy to root for — Jurnee has unleashed fierce vocals and simultaneously made people want to be her best friend, Cade Foehner has an astounding knack for making songs his own, and Catie Turner is basically America's little sister. That's just to name a few — there's no one remaining on Idol who doesn't deserve to be there.
But at this point, Woodard seems like a whole other star. His voice would fit right in on Top 40 radio, and it would sound just as at home ringing through a crowded theater with an orchestra behind him. At the very least, he's set up to go the way of Idol alums like Jennifer Hudson or David Cook, who ended up taking their pipes to the stage in addition to cultivating a traditional recording artist career. Whatever happens, there's no way a performer like Woodard doesn't go on to do incredible things.