Why the model predicted the Top 10 correctly

The debut of the new semifinals model went off without a hitch. The model chose 100% correctly, somewhat better than I had hoped. I’d like to just go over how the model thought things went down.

Below is reprinted the Men’s prediction:

Name Pre-exposure
(seconds)
Audition WNTS DialIdol VoteFair Probability of
advancing
Lazaro Arbos 1263 Yes 49 3.559 18 0.893
Devin Velez 524 No 71 4.693 17 0.856
Burnell Taylor 969 Yes 74 0 13 0.804
Curtis Finch 893 Yes 48 4.661 10 0.730
Paul Jolley 859 Yes 52 0.984 10 0.591
Charlie Askew 1115 Yes 9 5.641 12 0.575
Vince Powell 585 Yes 45 0 10 0.403
Nick Boddington 657 No 58 0.146 5 0.126
Cortez Shaw 569 No 33 0 2 0.012
Elijah Liu 351 No 42 0 4 0.010

As I wrote that night, the most probable Top 5 Men consisted of Lazaro, Devin, Burnell, Curtis, and Paul. At the beginning of the night, Charlie Askew occupied the 5th spot, with Paul in 6th, but with an update to the final Dialidol and Votefair numbers, that was reversed.

Notice that the various indices were divergent. WhatNotToSing ranked Nick Boddington as third best, but Dialidol showed him just above zero (9th place), and he was also 9th place according to Votefair. That, along with the fact that his audition was not shown, made him an unlikely finalist.

Dialidol, meanwhile, ranked Charlie Askew as being in first place. While this is often a strong indicator, it is less so in the semifinals. Last year, for instance, Dialidol thought Eben Frankewitz was a lock. But WNTS gave Charlie a 9 out of 100, dead last by a large margin, and Votefair showed him only as 4th most popular. Viewed in the aggregate, Charlie’s numbers were weak. That being said, the model, in my opinion, got lucky with this call. It could have easily gone to Charlie instead of Paul.

Lazaro was predicted most likely to advance based on decent to strong numbers on all indices. He was fourth on Dialidol, first on Votefair, and fifth on WNTS. Couple that with a high amount of pre-exposure, and the model assigned him a very high probability of advancing. That he was revealed last was possibly an indicator that he was way out ahead of the pack. At this point, he might be considered a front-runner among the men.

Finally, Burnell Taylor had a 0 on Dialidol. This was the kiss of death for the others with the same (Vince Powell, Cortez Shaw, and Elijah Liu). But Burnell had something those guys didn’t: he was third most popular according to Votefair and had the top WNTS score of the night. That, along with the pre-exposure considerations, made him favored to be included.

Now the women:

Name Pre-exposure
(seconds)
Audition WNTS DialIdol Votefair Probability of
advancing
Angela Miller 904 Yes 75 5.618 45 0.936
Candice Glover 912 Yes 88 3.371 9 0.830
Kree Harrison 723 No 80 2.333 13 0.650
Amber Holcomb 355 No 73 1.457 7 0.447
Janelle Arthur 923 Yes 49 0.131 3 0.446
Adriana Latonio 375 No 30 6.331 9 0.418
Breanna Steer 390 Yes 46 1.920 2 0.412
Tenna Torres 756 Yes 31 1.638 2 0.350
Zoanette Johnson 1277 Yes 7 1.899 8 0.343
Aubrey Cleland 363 No 52 0.223 4 0.169

If Lazaro can be considered the front-runner among men, I think it’s fair to say that Angela (Angie) Miller is the same among women. In fact, she may be, at this point, considered the front-runner of the contest. Her ranking among the indicators was 3rd on WNTS, 2nd on Dialidol, and 1st to a large degree on Votefair. This should be closely watched, because Votefair has severely overrated contestants in the past, such as Jessica Sanchez. But assuming it’s not being juked by rabid fans, Angela seems to be positioned well.

Candice Glover was another cinch for the Top 10. Third on Dialidol, tied for third on Votefair, and with the top WNTS score of the night, her advancement was not doubtful. I retain a bit of skepticism as to her staying power, as some similar singers, such as Mandisa, started strong but didn’t go the distance.

The model was not confident enough to call the contest for Amber and Janelle instead of Adriana and Breanna. Their probabilities were below the threshold where most errors occur. Adriana Latonio had a very strong Dialidol score (both of Dialidol’s picks for the top spot were wrong), but a poor WNTS score and a small amount of pre-exposure.

Janelle squeaked by according to the model, benefiting from particularly low WNTS scores for her competitors. She had weak numbers on Dialidol and Votefair, and she is at a disadvantage going into the finals. Without some kind of game changer, look for her speedy departure.

When I watched the show, I had thought Aubrey Cleland was going to skate by, but the model correctly repudiated my view. She showed no real sign of support on Dialidol and Votefair, and had a decent but unspectacular WNTS score.

Finally, we come to Zoanette. I’ve been saying throughout these rounds that I thought Zoanette had no chance with the voters. She was a goof, much like Normand Gentle, more a laugh-at-her-not-with-her contestant than a real contender. The judges may have tolerated that, even venerated it, but my feeling was that the audience would have little patience for it, and I guessed right. Other than the fact that she had a lot of screen time in the auditions, there was no reason in the numbers to think she would advance.

The three positions that the model was not confident on could, of course, have gone another way. Probabilities don’t imply any kind of certainty, and the most probable events frequently don’t occur. Thus, inasmuch as I use that as an excuse when the model is wrong, I must point out the 100% accuracy of the model this year was a bit of a fluke. It could easily have been only 70% accurate.

The model represents conventional wisdom, in my mind, and as such this has been a very conventional year, so far. There were no real surprises, or anything that makes you just shake your head and wonder how it happened. That’s good for someone trying to predict it, but it’s not necessarily good for the show.

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