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

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!