Another result for the record books

Let’s talk a little about how this never should have happened.

While I personally found it underwhelming, Pia Toscano’s version of “River Deep – Mountain High” rated an 85 in WNTS’s ratings. Dialidol had her at third highest ranked singer of the night, and safe within their margin of error (Dialidol is extremely cautious about calling someone safe). She had one performance before with an even higher score, a 91 for “I’ll Stand By You”. As I’ve noted, very few previous contestants who scored that high in the first few weeks fail to make it to the Top 4.

These scores aren’t theoretical. WNTS score and Dialidol score are statistically significant predictors of the outcome of any given round. While sex is also a major factor, a score like 85 is so high that the logistical model put Pia’s elimination chances at less than 1%.

We have to face some real questions:

1. Could the demographics for Idol be shifting enough to throw all previous years off? With an average viewership drop of only 3% from last year, I find this hard to believe.

2. Is there some systematic reason for the worsening condition of women? I certainly haven’t noticed anything regarding styling, or any other technical reason.

Finally,

3. Is Idol being honest about its results?

I hesitate to raise this question, but this is a major outlier. I’ve noted that in Season 9 Dialidol had some major sampling problems, but overall they are a highly reliable, scaling determiner of the disposition of a contestant’s performance. The average approval polling, however, evidences none of these problems. Pia had zero votes in Zap2It’s Exit Poll every week. Nobody ever thought she was gone, or even near enough the bottom to risk a bet on. It’s also been noted that ratings after a surprising result (e.g., Casey) raise the show’s ratings (about a 10% bump last week from the one previous).

Yes, sometimes a 22-year-old athlete non-smoker has a heart attack. But it’s extremely rare, and these events are getting to be not-rare enough that my eyebrows are firmly raised.

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