Top 8 Forecast

Here’s a bit more detail than I previously printed. The name, gender is printed, followed by the preliminary approval rating from WNTS, the Dialidol score (also preliminary), the average of the 3 previous rounds WNTS scores, and finally the projected probability of going home.

       Contestant Sex WNTS.Rating Dialidol.score PriorAverage  Probability
1   Paul McDonald   M          20          11.83        51.66   0.14932005
3 Stefano Langone   M          58          12.09        36.66   0.12445903
7      Jacob Lusk   M          43          16.56        56.00   0.07198350
5    Casey Abrams   M          39          10.86        58.66   0.06979012
4 Scotty McCreery   M          45          22.93        58.33   0.06134782
6  Haley Reinhart   F          46          11.77        58.00   0.06083877
2   Lauren Alaina   F          63          14.32        69.66   0.02243664
8    James Durbin   M          71          13.98        74.00   0.01471944

Paul McDonald is forecast to go home, with Stefano as a close second. Dialidol predictions at this stage in the contest are pretty bad, and they don’t predict anything anyway—nearly all the scores are the same. Gender doesn’t factor basically at all. What does factor in is the average of the three previous rounds score (from WNTS) and the preliminary results for this night (shown above)

This was a dismal night, to be honest. While this season has been on average 4 points better than any other season, tonight was its nadir, and was below the finals average, historically speaking.

James Durbin should be safe (what Dialidol says notwithstanding). Jacob, Casey, Scotty, and Haley are all running almost even. If I had to guess, I would put my money on Haley to round out the bottom 3, but ultimately be safe on the strength of the previous two weeks, which were popular and kept her out of the bottom 3.

Editorial: Good singing does not mean good contestant

Nigel Lythgoe, the producer of American Idol, has said a lot in the past few days about Pia Toscano’s elimination. In particular, he might advocate a system like So You Think You Can Dance? has, where the Bottom 3 is chosen by popular vote, but the decision of who among them should go is left to the judges. Personally, I think this is a fine idea, and it wouldn’t make Idol any less fair, or probably any more fair either. Yes, the judges would have saved Pia, as they saved Casey, and maybe even Karen. Stefano may have gone home already, as would Paul.

But what of Ashthon Jones? The public rejected her in the vote for the Top 10, and the judges chose her as a wild card pick. That entire process was overseen only by the judges. No vote in the entire contest kept Ashton in. Her first week in the hands of the public, they voted her out. Lauren Turner arguably would have been a much stronger contestant, scoring significantly higher in the WNTS scores, and with a more distinct personality, reminiscent of other contestants such as Carly Smithson. The judges whiffed on that one big time.

The other revelation of Lythgoe’s is that Pia was, in fact, an average contestant when it came to vote totals. This wasn’t unforseen: she was frequently the tops according to the judges and critical review, but significantly underperformed on Dialidol. And Dialidol didn’t go far enough. While it often had her in the top 50% of the field, Lythgoe reports she wasn’t even there when the votes were counted. She was middle-of-the-pack.

I find this wholly believable. A good singer, which Pia most certainly was, does not necessarily make for a strong contestant. Continue reading

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.

Sizing up the competition

By and large, I would say that a general rule of American Idol is that the eventual winner comes out early with a very good performance. By “a very good performance”, I would qualify that as something that scores 85 or better on the approval ratings. Only one winner ever, Taylor Hicks, has managed to win the title without a score of 85 or better in the first few weeks. Kelly Clarkson had one in the second week of the finals, as did Ruben Studdard, Carrie Underwood, and Jordin Sparks. Fantasia didn’t have one until week 5. David Cook and Lee DeWyze had theirs in the 3rd week, and Kris Allen in the 4th.

We are now past week 4, and we have three performances over this threshold:

Contestant Song WNTS Rating
Pia Toscano I’ll Stand By You 91
Jacob Lusk A House Is Not A Home 88
Casey Abrams I Put A Spell On You 85

In fact, the people who got scores over 85 in the finals reads like a who’s-who of Idol finalists. Of those 40 contestants, only 6, George Huff, Trenyce, Siobahn Magnus, Amy Adams, Mandisa, and Constantine Maroulis, failed to make the Top 4. Huff missed by only one, Magnus and Maroulis by two, each in a huge upset.

If one of the other contestants wants to make a showing, the time to do so is rapidly passing. Lauren Alaina, for instance, generally scores well. But without a huge memorable performance to insulate her, one false step could send her packing.