Top 3 post-game

Sometimes models go against your gut because they’re wrong, but sometimes the reverse is true. As hard as it was to believe, the data pointed to Angie’s departure. Though she was hugely popular on Votefair, that index isn’t nearly as reliable as Dialidol in this round, which is why Dialidol factors heavily into the model’s predictions in the Top 3.

The model’s ranking accuracy in the Top 3 rises to 75% (6 out of 8 correct). As I said in the Top 3 Tracker methodology, it’s quite hard to predict what happens in the Top 3 early on, even though it’s pretty simple to determine who the Top 3 will be. All year the Top 3 Tracker had Angie, Candice, and Kree as the most likely Top 3. Angie always appeared on top.

The closest historical analog to this situation was Danny Gokey. Like Angie, he appeared to be headed for the finale in the early rounds. But his support suddenly flagged in the Top 3, and out he went. Angie’s Dialidol numbers had been low for weeks, indicating that while she may be popular, she didn’t draw rabid voting in the way Kree and Candice did.

However, if you want to credit one thing for sinking Angie, it was perhaps the judges and the documentary-length home visit clips of the week. Kree’s was heart rending and Candice’s uplifting. The judges lavished praise on Candice (not that she necessarily didn’t deserved it) in a way that they did not for Angie.

I’ll have an overview of the model’s accuracy this year coming within the week, but it’s been a pretty decent run.

Top 5 post-game

Janelle heads home, as predicted. Kree and Amber were quite close in the prediction, but it was a bit of a surprise to see Kree in the bottom 2 (though the model refused to call her safe, so there was reason to worry).

For anyone curious, at the beginning of this season I had to make a judgement call. The model’s parameters are tweaked so that a Top 12 was progressively winnowed to a winner. But this year there was only a Top 10. So the question is: do you count the Top 10 as round 3 or do you count it as round 1? But there’s no way to answer this question on an empirical basis, since there hasn’t been a Top 10 (except in season 1, but the model only considers seasons 5 and later). My reasoning was that the the voting works on calcification of voting patterns, and that those patterns just take time to emerge, regardless of the number of contestants. So I ran it as if the Top 10 was round 1.

Tonight provided a test, but the answer was inconclusive. If I had run the numbers as if this was the 8th final round, Janelle would still have been last, but next would be Candice, and that isn’t correct either. That is, if Dialidol (which had Amber 1st) is given more weight, it sends Candice (who was second-lowest on Dialidol) into the bottom 2, so there was no improving the ranking accuracy by tweaking parameters.

Now, of course, we have to wonder what the show is going to do for the extra week. A lot of people (including myself, eventually) were wrong that the save was a cinch. Perhaps a filler or charity show, or maybe the finale just gets moved up (this is doubtful, since they have likely scheduled a number of famous acts already for that week).

Top 6 post-game

Name Song WNTS
DialIdol VoteFair Not-safe
Janelle Arthur I’ll Never Fall in Love Again/
The Dance
45 0.957 7 0.570 No (safe, 3rd-4th)
Lazaro Arbos Close to You/
7.5 3.519 7 0.467 Yes (eliminated)
Amber Holcomb I Say A Little Prayer/
Love On Top
55 2.492 10 0.433 No call (5th)
Kree Harrison What the World Needs Now/
Help Me Make it Through the Night
70 2.951 20 0.244 Yes (1st-2nd)
Angie Miller Anyone who had a Heart/
Love Came Down
47.5 2.559 28 0.166 Yes (3rd-4th)
Candice Glover Don’t Make Me Over/
90 4.623 28 0.119 Yes (1st-2nd)

As I said last week, there was no reason to think that Lazaro being in the Top 3 meant he would not be eliminated this week. Also, as I noted a couple weeks ago, there was no reason to think that the save had to be used. The judges made the right call not to save Lazaro. There was no reason to keep him in the contest for another week, forcing a double elimination next week that might eliminate two people other than him.

I think the saddest part of this was that Lazaro was singing objectively much worse than earlier on. Demoralized and out of his depth, he didn’t even live up to the standard he had set at the beginning of the year.

My guess is that Janelle was 4th, making her out of order by 2 positions in the model’s ranking. Amber was off by one place in the ranking, as were Kree and Angie. This is the second time Janelle has overcome the odds, indicating she may have a bigger base of voters than it would appear.

Angie is in a slump. She’s fallen out of first place in the model’s standings, a place she had occupied all year, though she is still likely in the top 3 in the voting. Candice put in a couple powerhouse performances, and it could be that her position at the top is fleeting. However, I no longer consider Angie a lock for the finale.

Top 7 post-game

There’s no good way to score tonight, since the bottom 2 rather than 3 was revealed. We know that either Amber or Candice would have been in the bottom 3, but not which. The most probable person to be eliminated, Burnell, was. Janelle appeared in the bottom 3. Lazaro did not in the extreme: he was in the top 3.

A few weeks back, when the first top 3 ever was revealed, I wondered aloud about how volatile the voting can be. Tonight we saw an example of it being pretty volatile indeed. Last week we saw Lazaro go from at best 6th place to this week being at least 3rd place. That means he jumped at least 3 positions and at most 6 positions in the vote standings.

This suggests a couple things. First, if someone goes from having a maligned song (last week) to a relatively well-praised one (this week), the voting can change a lot. I would argue this is a good thing in a singing competition. Second, it means that Lazaro can absolutely be eliminated next week.

Here is a list of all Top 6 eliminations:

Season Contestant Bottom group
Bottom group
previous week?
1 Christina Christian Yes No
2 Carmen Rasmussen Yes Yes
3 John Stevens Yes No
4 Constantine Maroulis No No
5 Kellie Pickler No No
6 Phil Stacey Yes No
6 Chris Richardson Yes No
7 Carly Smithson Yes No
9 Siobhan Magnus No No
10 Casey Abrams Yes No
11 Elise Testone Yes Yes

Note that two contestants were eliminated in season 6’s Top 6 and season 8 had no Top 6.

A majority (6/11) were people who were safe in the Top 7 but had been in the bottom 3 before. Only 2/11 followed a bottom 3 appearance with being eliminated, and 3/11 were totally unexpected eliminations. So, if you’re pining for a Lazaro exit, there’s no reason yet to despair.

Top 8 post-game

Name Song WNTS DialIdol VoteFair Not-safe
Devin Velez The Tracks of My Tears 45 0.302 2 0.602 Yes (eliminated)
Burnell Taylor My Cherie Amour 45 0 4 0.567 Yes (bottom 3)
Lazaro Arbos For Once In My Life 26 2.813 4 0.536 Yes (bottom 3)
Janelle Arthur You Keep Me Hangin’ On 80 1.677 10 0.380 Yes (safe)
Amber Holcomb Lately 65 4.789 13 0.302 Yes (safe)
Kree Harrison Don’t Play That Song 73 1.407 21 0.235 Yes (safe)
Candice Glover I Heard It Through the Grapevine 76 5.808 17 0.228 Yes (safe)
Angie Miller Shop Around 38 2.580 31 0.150 Yes (safe)

Not much to say. The initial (and final) conclusion of the model was spot on. 8/8 calls correct.

So far the finals model is 100% on ranking eliminated people, and 93% on safe calls, though only 67% on bottom 3 calls (after the battering it took last week). Some of this is, of course, just plain luck.

Random thoughts:

By next week we will know which of the women is the weakest of the bunch. Amber is the only one who has been in the bottom 3 so far, but that may not be the only determiner. Janelle has gotten some bad reviews, but so far has shown no sign that she is weak (my Top 3 Tracker notwithstanding).

If Blake Lewis killed the “curse” of You Keep Me Hangin’ On, Janelle put the nail in the coffin. I rewatched one of those who was eliminated from that song, and let me tell you, the performance in that case was not good. Janelle did a good job, so she was safe. Simple, no curse. Song choice isn’t everything.

Speaking of curses, let’s talk about the curse of the women on Idol. It ain’t looking so good now, is it? I admit, it’s a pretty big turnaround, especially after Season 10’s serial elimination of women at the beginning. Now, yes, these women are way better, not just than the men this year, but better than the women were that year. The fact that the men this year are kind of terrible probably is a big factor. The execrable male group number where they all blamed each other afterward last night was a symptom of the dysfunction—the men are flailing, out of their depth.

Unfortunately, we have no idea whether WGWG phenomenon is finally dead, since all WGWGs were (perhaps specifically) excluded this year. I have no problem with that, as it was to me bad overall for the contest. In fact, Janelle playing guitar last night was the only instrument played by a contestant since Angie last did it, which is peculiar. I wonder if the producers aren’t perhaps dissuading the contestants from doing so. I, for one, don’t miss it much. Though Angie would maybe benefit from having it somewhat, she hasn’t seemed to have any trouble surviving so far.