Is This The Year a Latino Takes ‘Idol?’

Latinos have come close to winning American Idol (David Archuleta was the season 7 runner-up in a hard fought contest with David Cook, and season 8 contestant Danny Gokey finished third behind Kris Allen and Adam Lambert). But in a year when so many of the standouts are Hispanic, could this be the year a Latino finally wins Idol?

On last night's episode, Colombian-born singer, Julie Zorrilla — whose parents fled the country to escape guerilla warfare — stunned the judges not only with her killer fashion sense, but also with what judge Steven Tyler called "great star quality." Flashing her million dollar smile, the charming Zorrilla got two compliments from fellow Latina Jennifer Lopez: "Nice shoes," noted Lopez. "I rarely say that," she admitted, "those are nice." Lopez said she saw a confident performer in the 20-year-old Zorrilla: "I love the way you were planted on the ground," she said. "It says that you have confidence and that you’re a performer and that’s exciting for me."

Randy Jackson even went as far as comparing Zorrilla, who sang the song, "Summertime," to Idol's season three winner, Fantasia Borrino. "I haven’t heard that song since Fantasia blew it way out of the box on the show," said Jackson. "But you made some interesting choices with notes that actually really worked. It was really smart.”

Zorrilla is charming and we like her voice, but she's not the only Latin contestant who has made her mark this season on American Idol. Chris Medina was given a golden ticket to go to Hollywood when he impressed the judges with his solid vocals as well as his love and commitment to his fiancé, who suffered a traumatic brain injury just two months before they were to marry.

Cuban contestant JoVanny Barretto was also sent to Hollywood after blowing the judges away with a cover of Luis Miguel's ballad, "Contigo en la Distancia." Tiffany Rios, a Puerto Rican dance instructor, gave a memorable audition while wearing a bikini top with big silver stars attached to it. Travis Orlando also impressed the judges at the New Jersey auditions with a beautiful rendition of The Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby" and a Jason Mraz cover, mixed with a scrappy down-on-his-luck story of hard times in the Bronx. And of course, there was 21-year-old Karen Rodriguez of New York, one of the lucky few chosen from MySpace to audition for the show, who, after rocking her audition, said, "I wanna be the first Latina 'American Idol' winner. I wanna be that!" 

And last but not least, there were the Guitierrez brothers, Marc and Aaron Gutierrez, who sang a pitch-perfect duet of "Lean On Me" and won unanimous praise from the judges. 

What do you think: Is this the year a Latino wins Idol?  

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