After the drama of last week’s American Idol results show, when Casey Abrams had to be rescued by the judges’ save, this week was equally dramatic (if somewhat more predictable) as both Naima Adedapo and Thia Megia were removed from the competition in a double elimination. All of a sudden we are now down to nine contestants, and I bet that mansion is starting to feel an awful lot bigger and emptier.
Here are my thoughts reflecting back on the week when eleven became nine.
Kermit the Frog Ryan Seacrest calls the contestants to perform and then face the music in small groups. First up are Scotty and Lauren, and the Master of the Overly-Dramatic Pause™ seems to have taken the week off as he doesn’t even bother stopping for breath before sending them back to safety. Jacob versus Naima unsurprisingly ends with Naima being sent over to perch on the Stools of Doom™. The trio of Pia, Thia and Haley sees Thia the Singing Statue™ joining her. Finally, we have the remaining four boys – Casey, James, Paul and Stefano. Casey and James are quickly told they are safe, before Ryan tells the other two that the final person in the bottom three is … Paul.
And when it comes to putting the bottom three out of their misery, Seacrest is positively brisk in telling us that Paul is safe, meaning that Naima and Thia are out. Another two girls bite the dust.
This week’s results should have come as little surprise to long-time fans of the show. In most seasons there has been one round with a shocking result – the exit of Tamyra Gray back in season one, Jennifer Hudson‘s elimination, Casey’s save last week – but this is generally followed by a week in which the result is extremely predictable as voters are shaken out of their complacency and the elimination process runs precisely to form.
The candidates for the bottom three were obvious, with only four contestants really in the running. Stefano, Naima, Thia and Haley had all been in the bottom three previously, with only Haley putting in a strong performance this week to keep herself out of trouble. And although Paul had not previously been sent over to the Stools of Doom™, a series of performances which were odd rather than quirky earmarked him as being obviously at risk.
And once Naima, Thia and Paul had been identified as the bottom three, it was always likely to be the two girls who were going home. Naima was one of this season’s more interesting individuals, but she had too many pitch problems early on and while her experimental style was laudable (and will be missed), it was always likely to alienate too many factions in the audience to keep her in the competition for long.
Thia was the opposite. Her vocal instrument had enormous potential, but she failed to show any personality at all and too often seemed even younger than her 16 years, showing herself up as being a vacuum of musical history and struggling to connect with the emotion of songs. She is a prime example of a contestant who could yet enjoy a profitable singing career, but who never showed enough of an all-round package to be a serious contender on Idol.
Four down, three to go …
So, after four weeks the girls have seen their numbers dwindle from seven to just three, while all six boys remain in contention (although in truth both Paul and Stefano are ‘contenders’ in name only). I’m not losing any sleep over the fact that Thia and Naima have taken their seats behind K-Rod (Karen Rodrigeuz) and Ashthon Jones on the Gravy Train from Fame to Obscurity (Journey Time: 15 Minutes)™, as between them they always stood exactly zero chance of ever making the top three, let alone win the competition.
Nonetheless, I will be amazed if Pia and Lauren do not make at least the final four. The latter remains my tip to win. After a slow start – no bad thing – her performances continue to improve and her all-important personal ‘journey’ from teenage ingenue to seasoned professional is gradually unfolding before our eyes. Think Lee DeWyze. Think Kris Allen. It’s better to start on a slow-burn than it is to shine brightly but briefly and fade away to nothingness.
… But who will be the first boy to go?
Add in the fact that Haley’s status has now been boosted by two strong weeks in a row – it has been quite a transformation from yawn-inducing yodeller to growling gamine – we are surely looking at the male/female balance being redressed over the next couple of weeks. The increasingly bland Paul and the always bland Stefano are the obvious candidates for the chop, but both Casey and Jacob are also one over-the-top performance away from a shock elimination.
How could two singers with so much obvious talent depart so early? Quite simply, it is in the immune system of Idol viewers to reject individualism and accept conformity. With the exception of Taylor Hicks in season five, America likes its Idols to fit neatly packaged musical stereotypes and ultimately always opts for mass market orthodoxy. Hence Ruben Studdard beat Clay Aiken, Carrie Underwood saw off Bo Bice, Jordin Sparks defeated Blake Lewis, Kris Allen won out over Adam Lambert and Lee DeWyze overcame the vastly more talented Crystal Bowersox.
As things stand, I still think Paul and Stefano will be the next two to go, and I expect Casey’s fan club to be fully mobilised after the shock of his near exit last week. But Jacob is vulnerable. He has never quite lived up to early expectations, and his camp, melodramatic style does not play well with certain segments of the voting population. Could he suffer a surprise exit in the next week or two? It’s definitely possible.
American Idol posts
Auditions: New Jersey, New Orleans, Milwaukee, Nashville, Austin, Los Angeles, San Francisco
Hollywood Week: Solo auditions, Group round, Final round
Las Vegas & Green Mile: Las Vegas & Green Mile part 1, Green Mile part 2
Semi-finals: Boys, Girls, Results/wild cards
Top 13: Performances, Results
Top 12: Performances, Results
Top 11: Performances, Results
Top 11 redux: Performances
Link: American Idol website