Black men face uphill battle in American Idol semifinals

whiteguysLast year, in Season 12, much was made of the fact that a woman hadn’t won since Season 6, a six year gap. But a woman, Candice Glover, won, whether or not you think Idol was pushing for it, and she was the fifth such woman to do so (Kelly Clarkson, Fantasia, Carrie Underwood, and Jordin Sparks were the others).

But another demographic which is highly represented in the semifinals is black men, and they haven’t had a win since Season 2, where Ruben Studdard took the prize. Indeed, the five men voted through on Thursday were Alex Preston, Sam Woolf, Ben Briley, Caleb Johnson, and Dexter Roberts, all of whom were white. C.J. Harris had a good rating on WhatNotToSing, but failed to make it in the vote (he was, however, advanced by the judges).

When I went back over the history of the show, I was startled to discover that white men enjoy a 21 point advantage over black men in the rate voted in. Not a 21% higher share—the rate of black semifinalist men who were voted in is 21 percentage points lower than the rate of white semifinalist men voted in. Continue reading

The semifinals model revisited


Last year I developed a model for predicting the outcome of the semifinals. You can read what the projection was, and there weren’t any wrong calls, or even any ranking errors. The Top 10 people as scored by the model were the actual finalists. This doesn’t mean that the model is “correct”, so to speak, but it does mean that it is already does a decent job of projecting what will happen. As the saying goes, all models are wrong, but some are useful.
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A more subdued, mature Idol returns in Season 13


After an exhausting year in Season 12, one filled with drama (mainly due to Nikki and Mariah’s ostensible hatred of one another), Season 13 of American Idol is certainly lower-key. Out are the irascible Nikki Minaj and the dotty Mariah Carey, and in is Harry Connick Jr. Harry isn’t like any judge that’s ever been on the show; he’s a genuine musician, somebody who has been playing New Orleans jazz piano since he was small boy, someone who knows music theory and is vocal about the artistic merit of the music people make. In one of the auditions episodes, he lectured returning judge Jennifer Lopez on the pentatonic scale. He also provides a bit of the vituperative nature of Simon Cowell, making the current panel have many of the same dynamics as that with Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson had.

Which is to say, I’m a fan.
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How the model saw past Top 3 rounds

Tomorrow night I’ll post a forecast on the Top 3, and you may want to know how the model that the forecast is based on “saw” the past Top 3 rounds. Indeed, the model was potentially misleading in this year’s Top 4 (though the Top 3 Tracker was pretty good all year) by seeing Candice as the most likely. Of course, for all we know she was second-to-last, but it is peculiar that the person it saw as the most likely was safe and the person it saw as least likely was eliminated. In any case, take this historical information and make of the model’s prediction what you like. Continue reading