Opinion: Jessica Sanchez has been overrated all year

When I said in last night’s projection that I could be persuaded that Jessica could be going home, I meant it. She has most of the same hallmarks as Pia Toscano had last year: beauty contestant type with technically good singing, boring song choices, a plain voice, no musicianship on display, and over-the-top judge reviews.

The overrating even extends to my favorite quantitative variable, the WNTS approval rating. Check this out:

Episode Theme Order Song WNTS Rating WNTS stdev Result DialIdol Rank
Top 25 (Girls) Open 11/12 Love You I Do 84 17 Safe 2
Final 13 Whitney Houston 12/13 I Will Always Love You 91 7 Safe 3
Final 11 Year You Were Born 2/11 Turn The Beat Around 56 22 Safe 2
Final 10 Billy Joel 9/10 Everybody Has A Dream 79 18 Safe 2
Final 09 Personal Idol 6/9 Sweet Dreams 86 13 Safe 8
Final 08 1980s 5/8 How Will I Know 64 21 Safe 4
Final 07 2010s 3/7 Stuttering 78 18 Saved 5

I’ve been insisting in the LiveBlogs that Jessica is off-pitch and a snore, and apparently at least some people agree. But just look at these scores! A 91 for her Whitney Houston copy-cat version of “I Will Always Love You”? Are we being serious? There are only 17 performances out of 1504 that were rated better than that. That puts it in the 98th percentile, equal to Elise Testone’s version of “Whole Lotta Love”. I can tell you which one of those I remember with any fondness, and it ain’t Jessica’s.

Moreover, the scores aren’t significantly polarizing, indicated by the standard deviation of the WNTS Rating. (The standard deviation indicates how different about 60% of the ratings were from the mean score.) They don’t approach the amount of disagreement that viewers had over Adam Lambert, Paul McDonald, Casey Abrams, Megan Joy, or Phillip Phillips. She ranks in the lowest third in that metric.

Why? I suppose the argument that people will make is that “nobody can find anything technically wrong with the performance, so they approve”. So, everyone can agree that they don’t really like it, but there’s nothing wrong with it.

I think that about sums up this season.

If you’re wondering whether Jessica’s trajectory follows Pia’s, the answer is yes, eerily so:

Episode Theme Order Song WNTS Rating WNTS stdev Result  DialIdol Rank
Top 24 (Girls) Open 12/12 I’ll Stand By You 91 11 Safe 5
Final 13 Personal Idol 5/13 All By Myself 82 13 Safe 4
Final 12 Year You Were Born 7/12 Where Do Broken Hearts Go? 76 14 Safe 4
Final 11 Motown 8/11 All In Love Is Fair 73 20 Safe 4
Final 11 (ii) Elton John 4/11 Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me 67 20 Safe 4
Final 09 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 7/9 River Deep – Mountain High 85 17 Eliminated 3

Complete with an identical 91 score in the early rounds, a brief spill into the 60s, and then straight to the bottom of the voting, just one round later. The WNTS rating is simply not a good predictor of this type of contestant. Why? Because the people that they poll are overrating the contestant. I don’t know why they are doing that, and I can’t change it, but I can get angry about it.

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