Top 8 Pre-game odds

For the first week, gender makeup no longer is a statistically significant factor. To good significance, the mean approval rating from the past 3 weeks is. The elimination probabilities are

Name Elimination Probability
Jacob 0.07
Haley 0.06
Casey 0.06
Lauren 0.03
James 0.02
Scotty 0.06
Stefano 0.20
Paul 0.08

The numbers are all low because the average prior scores for this group is much higher than previous seasons. This really is a very talented group. The probabilities don’t add up to 1 as a result.

Nevertheless, the model thinks Stefano is more than twice as likely as his nearest competitor, Paul, to go home. He needs to really kill it if he wants to stay in the game.

Song spoilers: good or bad picks

Song spoilers (via twitter):

Michael,Tina,Janice Joplin,Johnny Cash,Aretha,Elvis,Beatles(George Harrison),Creedence + Percy Sledge R&R Hall of Fame Night on #IDOL 2nite!

The overall average score is 50. Here’s a list to give you an idea of how a given artist’s songs have scored (assuming that the song is “When a Man Loves a Woman”, mostly attributed to Percy Sledge and NOT to CCR)

Artist Avg Score Margin
Michael Jackson 50.9 +0.9
Tina Turner 50.1 +0.1
Janis Joplin 61.0 +11.0
Johnny Cash 63.0 +13.0
Aretha Franklin 65.3 +15.3
Elvis Presley 54.8 +4.8
The Beatles 50.9 +0.9
Percy Sledge 44.0 -6.0

If it was Casey who chose Percy Sledge, and I think it is, he picked a terrible song. Aretha is a great choice, as is Johnny Cash (almost certainly Scotty) and Janis Joplin (hopefully Haley). Pia’s pick of Tina Turner is not good at all, and whoever chose the Beatles didn’t make his life any easier.

Top 9 pre-game odds

Let’s get right to it

Name Probability of elimination
Haley 0.218
Lauren 0.126
Pia 0.125
Paul 0.124
Stefano 0.097
Casey 0.093
Scotty 0.092
Jacob 0.079
James 0.052

Now that we’re in the Top 9, the odds of being eliminated as a man get marginally bigger. The problem here is that the data from previous seasons is lopsided towards women; therefore, I’ve based current projections only on seasons with 3 or 4 women only left in the Top 9. This week now incorporates average prior approval ratings into the mix, taking the average of the last three weeks.

Conventional wisdom is that Pia Toscano needs to step up her game, and I don’t see any reason why this is wrong. Despite having only 3 women, they are still at a huge disadvantage here, and her performances lately have been perceived as boring. Her song choice this week, River Deep – Mountain High, is in my opinion a terrible choice. It is a marginally well-known song, and has a limited but disastrous track record on the show. She runs the risk of being forgettable very easily; if you’re rooting for her, it could come down to performance order, so hope for the pimp spot.

Last week notwithstanding, Haley Reinhart is still in big trouble. She has to beat Paul and Stefano by about 10 points to not be considered likely to be in the bottom 3. Lauren, Pia, and Paul are all about equally likely to go, and so their performances will sort them out. The only people I consider bulletproof are Jacob Lusk and James Durbin, though Jacob is certainly singing against type this week, as it’s Rock and Roll and he is more of a soul/R&B guy.

Final 11 redux pre-game

Sight unseen, the variables that determine a losing Idol performance are age and sex. Young people are historically treated with skepticism by the public, especially those under 20. The public is also biased against women generally, but there is no real bias in theme rounds where the person whose songs are being performed (Elton John, in this case) is the opposite gender from the contestant:

Theme Contestant Eliminated
Barry Manilow (M) Jennifer Hudson (F)
Beatles (M) Amanda Overmyer (F), David Hernandez (M), Michael Lynche (M)
Bee Gees (M) LaKisha Jones (F), Josh Gracin (M)
Billy Joel (M) Kim Caldwell (F)
Bon Jovi (M) Phil Stacey (M) and Chris Richardson (M)*
Diana Ross (F) Brandon Roger (M)
Dolly Parton (F) Ramiele Malubay (F)
Elton John (M) Camile Velasco (F)
Elvis Presley (M) Chris Daughtry (M), Katie Stevens* (F), Andrew Garcia* (M)
Frank Sinatra (M) Aaron Kelly (M)
Gloria Estefan (F) John Stevens (M)
Mariah Carey (F) Kristy Lee Cook (F)
Michael Jackson (M) Jasmine Murray (F)*, Jorge Nunez (M)*
Neil Diamond (M) Brooke White (F)
Queen (??) Bucky Covington (M)
Rolling Stones (M) Lacey Brown (F)
Shania Twain (F) Siobhan Magnus (F)
Stevie Wonder (M) Melissa McGhee (F)

*in double elimination

It’s about even.

The people I would worry about Thia, Lauren, and Haley. All women, all 20 or younger, and two of which were in the bottom 3 already.

Final 11 – Minority Report

I’m not really inclined to agree that Naima is the next most likely to be voted off. She’s just more memorable than some of the other girls, although her performances for the past couple of weeks have been at best uneven (and, to be perfectly honest, pretty bad at times). That said, when you say something about Naima, people who watch Idol will know immediately who you’re talking about. The judges call this “flavor” or, perhaps, “flava.” When you say “Haley” or perhaps even “Thia” it may take people a moment to recall who you’re talking about. I’m guessing this might have played some part in Karen’s early elimination; Karen is just such a boring name, and didn’t really express who she was as a person (not that I demand everyone have a stereotypically ethnic name should they fail of being a white person).

I confess I hope the next person to be eliminated is a guy, and I do hope that it is Paul. I can really do without him, and again, I feel like when someone starts talking about “Paul” I don’t instantly know who they mean. “Oh, you mean the real quiet dude who you can barely hear?” I have a feeling that having an interesting name (Ace Young, for example) may play some small factor, though we have done no data analysis looking into that theory. “Paul McDonald” just isn’t it. It doesn’t even have the pleasing assonance of “Casey Abrams.” For that as well as his generally mediocre-to-crappy singing and performance style, I would say that if American sends a guy home, it will and should be Paul.

If the anti-female bias does come into play, I would definitely put my metaphorical  money on Haley over Naima, but I have been wrong many times before.

Hey America, try shedding some mediocre dudes for awhile!