Friday, March 12, 2010

American Idol: The wrong four out the door?

Well, "American Idol" eliminated four more singers to get down to the top 12 finalists. Spoilers, and my thoughts on whether America got it right (hint: no) coming up after the jump...

Where to start? Well, the good news: after two weeks of eliminations that were awkwardly dominated by minority contestants (albeit minority contestants who didn't really deserve to stay), Paige Miles survived on the female side, and Big Mike Lynche and Andrew Garcia advanced for the men. Todrick Hall was, however, eliminated, and he was easily the worst of the four singers sent home.

The bad news? The other three bootees were all significantly better than several of the people who stayed. The other guy sent home was Alex Lambert, who had all the stage presence of a turnip, but who if you closed your eyes had the best singing voice of any of the remaining men. He's someone who, if he got some confidence and good coaching (and cut off the stupid mullet), could have become a really interesting contestant, and certainly had a lot more potential than either Aaron Kelly or Tim Urban. (Tim survived because he's cute, and because he very wisely chose "Hallelujah," which is one of those songs voters will love you for so long as you manage to carry a tune during it, which he did.)

Of the eliminated women, Katelyn Epperlyn was pretty uninspired this week, but she gave one of last week's best performances with her piano performance of Coldplay, and she was better than either Paige or Katie Stevens every single week of the semis. And Lilly Scott had, until this week, been one of the more memorable contestants of either gender, with her spin on The Beatles' "Fixing a Hole" one of my favorite performances of the semis. (Though I'll confess that watching her do her usual baby doll-voice thing on Patsy Cline this week made all of her affectations much more obvious, and I suspect I would have tired of Lilly within a week or two of the finals.) I wondered why the producers were wasting the pimp spot on her this week when she seemed a sure thing to advance, and speculated that maybe they saw in the vote totals that she needed the help. Turns out they were right - and that the pimp spot isn't all-powerful.

So what did in Katelyn and Lilly? As I always say about "Idol," it's better to be bad than to be mediocre. Paige and Katie both got pounded by the judges this week, and rightfully so, and so whatever fans existed for each of them dialed like crazy to try to protect them. Katelyn wasn't great, but the judges' comments were more disappointed than angry, and Lilly got lukewarm praise, which is about the deadliest reaction you can get from the judges, because it inspires nothing but complacency from the voters.

This hasn't been a very impressive crop of contestants already, and with the eliminations of Alex, Lilly and Katelyn - and even of Todrick, who couldn't sing but at least had ambition and tried to do something other than cling to a guitar and sing ballads - the field of finalists looks even less impressive. Can Crystal and Siobhan alone keep things interesting for the next three months?

What did everybody else think? How wrong did America get it?


Anonymous said...

i think american idol was completely wrong i actually stopped watching american idol the year chris daughtry got voted off and this year just started waching again but i am difiently done watching this year they have made the show stupid there is only a few good singers left so you pretty much know whos gonna win alex was my favorite and i am done with this. i dont even see how this happened america must have their ears plugged cause this was rediculious

John Sturgeon said...

I'm pretty disgusted that Lily and Katelyn didn't make the top 12 as Katie Stevens comes off as fake and mediocre to me and Paige will not go far. Loved Lily's comment on how unbelievable talent was sent home tonight. On the guy's side, it sucks that Alex got cut and that Tim, Lacey, and Aaron are still in. I'd say this season comes down to Crystal, Siohban, and Lee (if he can stop having pitch problems). I also think Big Mike may have a shot at making the top 4.

Anonymous said...

absolutely wrong!!! Alex was also my favorite. I hope we hear more of him!

mb said...

Would this have happened if American got to vote for who should get kicked OFF in the early rounds, instead of who stays on? No, it wouldn't have.

No tears for Katelyn, though, honestly.

ADW said...

I'm kind of mortified that a song like "Hallelujah" has gotten so mainstream that I hear it constantly and it mat have won hearts with a so-so version. I still love it, but it's been a little unsettling for me since it was in "Shrek".

I liked Todrick's originality and hoped he could stay on for a bit more. Alex and his puppy dog look and mullet didn't overwhelm me but I liked his voice and thought he might develop into a better singer. I can't remember what the more boring people did.

I liked Lily Allen a lot before last week but her cooing and smiling during "A Change Is Gonna Come" nearly killed me. And then she did the same schtick again. If she'd stayed with upbeat material...who knows. I can't say I'm sorry to see that little regard for the songs get a pass.

And Katelyn Epperlyn wasn't great but she was better than many. The show has seemed uninspired lot of the time this year - now the structure of voting seems to be catching up with them. I hope they don't return to blaming viewers. That's just irritating as all hell.

Kirk Hamilton said...

Wow. Three months. When you say it out loud like that... no. I don't think that this crop of contestants can keep the show interesting for that long.

I only saw the guys this week, but they bored me to tears. Yikes.

Unknown said...

I've never really watched Idol before but my flatmate has me watching now...I'm a day behind (in the UK) so came straight from the guys' performances last night to spoilers here.

Only one I'm really upset about is Katelyn, as I really liked her and loved her voice and she seemed like one of the only girls aside from crystal who wasn't a bit insipid. I was pretty frustrated with the judges continually trying to make her younger and thought she sounded better last week but what can you do. I didn't mind Lily but I didn't love her, and I think what killed her is performing well after Crystal did so awesomely...a bit anticlimactic and not so vote inspiring.

On the boys side, as long as Big Mike made it through I'm happy. Easily the best performance of the night, and I like his unconventional (for Idol) nature and his general awesomeness. Todrick was a bit of a disappointment because I liked him and really felt that he had more potential and was more interesting than any of the boys other than Big Mike.

How about we get a final with Crystal and Big Mike as the top two?? Boy would that make me happy.

Ethan said...


Way to go America. That was disgusting.

You could easily argue that none of these contestants should've gone this week. Tim, Aaron, Paige, and Lacey are all much worse and or boring imo. But they are all nailing key demo's that the 4 who went home weren't lucky enough to get the benefit of.

Tim is a joke. He's getting by on the tween girls thinking he's cute. He should be ashamed to see Alex go before him. From the look of shock on his face every time he goes through, I think he is.

Aaron is getting by on the grandma vote. Plain and simple. This happens every year (Kevin Covais anyone?). And every year it drives me up the wall.

Lacey is getting by from the midwest/southern vote. Which is a HUGE segment of the country. Every year a contestant sings mediocrely, but stamps it with a country twang and that in itself is worth a bunch of votes. Actually surprised we don't have more contestants pandering toward the country folk.

And Paige, I dunno about Paige. She was as bad as any contestant as been the other night, and hasn't been good at all since Hollywood. She either made it by due to help from the Vote For the Worst people or had a lot of people feel sorry for her. Also, there is the issue of all the minorities going home first this season. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if the producers fudged the #'s strictly to save a bit of face and not send her home with Toderick this week.

Shaunna T. said...

Toderick should've gone home. But other than him, it was all wrong. Katelyn had talent, but she isn't a huge loss. Losing Lilly and Alex however, is a killer. Idol producers should be somewhere crying right now. You could very easily argue that if they got their acts together, both could have gone very far.

As for who stayed who should have gone. Tim, Paige, and Aaron are nothing but cannon fodder until they leave. Paige you can argue has talent. But til this point, has shown an incredible lack of intelligence when it comes to song choices. I kind of don't mind seeing Katie stay. Even though she hasn't been too good. She does have a good voice, and fits exactly what AI is looking for demographically. If she could just figure things out, she could still bring something to the show. Lacey isn't bad. But she is very blah to me.

I am really going to miss Alex. Ugly mullet or not. He shouldn't have gone home!

Anonymous said...

The one guy who said that this wouldn't have happened if people voted for who should leave instead of stay is totally right. But I get why they don't do it that way. It's not as exciting or inspiring to tell people to vote for who sucked. They want to focus on people voting for who they love. It's all about positivity. THAT SAID, I really wish it wasn't the way it is. Alan, do you ever see a world in which that could be changed?

Anonymous said...

Also, Never underestimate small town middle America. They don't get all the attention as do the coasts and big cities. But they are a large % of the voters. And middle America likes safe down-home good ol' kids. It's the exact reason Lilly went home this early and Aaron Kelly is around. Just the look of Lilly. The sight of her alone scares them. Siobhan, whatever you do, hide your tattoo!! And I won't get into how this also plays part into why all the minorities are going home. (Sigh)

Unknown said...

"She either made it by due to help from the Vote For the Worst"

Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner! A lot of people really underestimate the power of VFTW, or they just don't know about it. That is why being mediocre is SO much worse than being horrible.

VFTW is why Tim Urban made it through the first week, and has now been able to gain some teen girl votes thanks to his dimples, and why Paige and Lacey are still here.

VFTW also has way more power in the earlier rounds where there are enough people to split the votes and give their chunk more weight. The less people, the less it counts. And unfortunately for Lilly and Alex, who was a fav of mine vocally, they pretty much got screwed.

So I do think that America got it wrong to a certai extent where they don't know how to vote against something like VFTW that is so focused. People probably spread their votes around hoping to keep their top 5 or so people but that leaves a lot of room for the others to fall behind.

Jon said...

Any Idol trivia buffs know if Lilly is the first pimp-slot contestant to be voted off? I always assume the last singer is safe and can't think of any big ones in recent seasons.

The vote was all wrong. It shocks me that Lacey and Tim have substantial voting blocs. I'm most upset about Katelyn who I thought was a classic Idol dark horse- great potential, very commercial and capable of a lot of growth through the top 12. Really loved Oh Darlin and The Scientist. Shame we'll be listening to Paige, Lacey and Katie instead.

Anonymous said... Alex Lambert may not have been completely comfortable performing in front of any sort of crowd yet (although he did improve over the past couple weeks), but give the guy a break!!!! His voice was completely's unique and it just has such a wonderful tone.

With some coaching about his stage presence, a stylist (to help him pick out clothes and create a more personalized look for him), and a haircut (seriously, the mullet needs to go bye-bye), I think he could have been a major competitor.

Personally, I don't care how he looks, I just love his voice. I have to think that the rest of America cares about these other things though, because for some reason he didn't make it into the top 12.

AI could very well be the only break he would have ever gotten, but I hope not. His talent his so natural and raw, HE doesn't even know how good he is. I really hopes he gets over the nerves and pursues a music career.

Anyway, I don't have as strong of feelings about the girls, except that Paige and Katie should have been booted before anyone else. Neither of them have a clue what type of artist they want to be...and I'm sick of watching them trying to figure it out.

As far as Todrick goes, I like him, but he truly is better suited for Broadway.

AI sucks this year!!! Definitely the worst season ever. America has to have better talent...I just can't figure out what they were thinking when they let some of these people through. I'm done with this show.

P.S. Aaron Kelly may be a nice kid, but he annoys the f**k out of me...he and his music are completely irrelevant. Uggghhh...Anyone else agree?

Anonymous said...

Never underestimate small town middle America. ... they are a large % of the voters. ... And I won't get into how this also plays part into why all the minorities are going home. (Sigh)

OK. So how about getting into the fact that winners have included Fantasia, Ruben Studdard, and Jordin Sparks?

And that the final fours have included Tamyra Gray, Kimberley Locke, Vonzell Solomon, Jasmine Trias, Lakisha Jones, Melinda Doolittle, Syesha Mercado and Allison Iraheta?

"(sigh)" indeed.

The minorities are being sent home in 2010 because they did not perform well! It's no more complicated than that.

(Yes, Angela Martin should have been included in the top 24.)

Tsiango said...

P.S. Aaron Kelly may be a nice kid, but he annoys the f**k out of me...he and his music are completely irrelevant. Uggghhh...Anyone else agree?"


Agree with the fact that past African-American contestants have done well. But the thing is all those mentioned were really good. And yes, none this year were. But the fact is the AI audience (mostly white middle America) will take the pretty white kids over the minorities when things are even on the talent level. They aren't overtly racist so as to vote off superior minorities. But when it's even or close, the white kids (especially the cute ones) have the edge big time.

Will Balton said...


Alan Sepinwall said...

A lot of people really underestimate the power of VFTW

Can we please stop pretending that VFTW is responsible every time a bad contestant advances? There are so many counter-examples of VFTW favorites failing to advance, even in the semi-finals when their alleged influence should be enough to sneak one person past another. Antonella Barba going home before the finals a few years ago when she was the perfect VFTW candidate should have put this legend to rest once and for all.

VFTW makes an easy bogeyman/scapegoat, but there are so many other more plausible reasons - most of them articulated elsewhere in these comments - for why these four went home at the expense of worse singers.

Unknown said...

"As I always say about "Idol," it's better to be bad than to be mediocre."


I think that many people seem to believe the VFTW exists because you clearly suggest it yourself, per your review. I agree that it isn't always a deciding factor on who gets saved, but VFTW definitely has a lot of influence on the votes.

Indeed said...

I'm most disappointed about Katelyn going home. I think she had a lot of potential. I imagined she would have gotten better and better every week. Also sad about Alex.
Lilly had some good moments, but mostly she grated on my nerves so i wasn't that sorry she was sent home.
My biggest impression of the night though, is that everytime they showed Crystal she seemed to have a look on her face that screamed "What the hell have I got myself into with this?". Anybody else see that? She barely cracked a smile when she made the top 12. I mean, really, she can't show a bit of happiness about it?

Chris said...

Is Alex Lambert still milling around the stage?

Honestly, no need to get too worked up about anyone who was kicked off--they really weren't particularly interesting. As long as Siobhan and Crystal stay around there'll be some interesting music on TV for a few weeks, which is all you can really ask for from some dopey show.

The bigger problem may be the judges....with Simon mentally checking out, Kara doing that odd flirting thing with him and sobbing after mediocre performances, Ellen adding nothing, etc., I'm beginning to actually miss Paula. Hell, Randy's starting to seem like the best of the lot. Yikes.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I think that many people seem to believe the VFTW exists because you clearly suggest it yourself, per your review.

That's not what I was suggesting at all. The bad vs. mediocre thing has nothing to do with VFTW (which, again, makes for a nice story, but has proven its ineffectiveness far, far too many times for me to believe in its alleged powers). It has to do with fanbases.

Let's say, for argument's sake, Paige and Lilly had an equal number of fans who will pick up the phone and vote/text for them. Lilly does okay, but she's overshadowed by the Crystal performance she had to follow, and the judges' praise is positive but not overwhelmingly so. Her fans assume she's safe because she sounded good and the judges didn't hate on her, and so don't spend two straight hours voting. Meanwhile, casual voters (who might be swayed by over-the-top praise or a performance clearly more impressive than Lilly's) don't bother to vote for her at all.

Paige, meanwhile, is horrible and gets savaged by the judges. This also doesn't help her with the casual voter, but it does scares the hell out of her fanbase (and "Idol" fanbases tend to be invested in the contestant rather than the quality of a given performance), and so her fans vote and vote and vote and vote some more, because they're afraid she'll go home otherwise.

VFTW doesn't figure into this scenario. And, as I noted last night and on Tuesday, Lilly's vote totals already had to be unimpressive for the producers to give her the pimp spot, so it's not like Paige (or Katie) needed a lot more to outlast her.

Anonymous said...

I didn't mind Tim making it through this week, but I SOOO wanted that annoying country-ish boy to go home. I'm already quite tired of the Mr. Aw-Shucks Archuleta-lite. I think if he wasn't singing country (which doesn't have another real contender in it this year) he'd have been out already. Come on... "I'm Already There"? REALLY? God, this is gonna get ugly.

Other than that, I didn't have a huge problem with last night's vote. Lili was arguably the biggest shocker, but not too big a surprise to anyone who thinks about the show as "Pop Idol" instead of a pure singing contest. Lili's style just ain't mainstream. Plus, her song choices bordered on bad (for this show and her style, I mean). Sure, she did a great job with that Beatles song, but it was one that only hard-core Beatles fans would recognize, making it basically an unknown song to most (and that's risky in this competition). Her "Change is Gonna Come" was too affected by far. Then last night she picks one of the more boring Patsy Cline songs, and... yawn. If you have to go there, at least give me "Crazy."

But beyond that, I think what mostly doomed Lili and saved Paige was demographics. This show often weeds out what might be considered "duplicates" during the semifinals or early finals, and we saw some of that here. With Hailey and whatshername gone, Paige could have picked up some of their votes. Admittedly, they're weren't exactly the same style, but none of the three really stood out as having a defined style, which might be part of the problem as well.

Meanwhile, Lili was fighting against three alternative girls: Crystal (incredible talent who only this week looks like she realizes what's she's gotten herself into), Lacy (wildly inconsistant, but extremely cute, likeable, and much more contemporary-sounding than Lili), and Siobhan (who annoyingly reminds me of Rachel from "Glee" -- incredible talent, but too smug by half, and staking out a musical style somewhere between Barbara Strisand and hotel lounge). So with those four girls still in the competition... yeah, one was bound to go. Some would prefer it be Lacy, but at least she sounds like something I could hear on the radio today, not 60 years ago.

As much as people lament that this is a singing competition -- a notion even Simon alternates between fostering and decrying -- it's more complicated than that.

Anonymous said...

I don't think America got it all that wrong. Sure, Lilly was pretty good, but she also sounded a lot like several of the contestants who are left, and she was mediocre this week. It's really not that big of a loss. The guys, too, are all fairly similar in talent level---lots of "pretty good" singers---so it's not surprising someone as obviously uncomfortable on stage as Alex Lambert went home.

It is noticeable how the minority contestants go home early most years, and it's obvious American Idol will never have a true hip-hop artist as a winner---meaning someone with the ability to sing, dance, rap, etc., leaving out Fantasia, Ruben, and Jordin---but the contest is just not set up that way. If it took dance and performance ability into account, maybe they could find the next Usher, but that's not what the show is looking for, plus the weekly choices of songs during the Top 12 weeks does not help a hip-hop artist do well. That's the same reason only one country artist has won.

Miken said...

This was the perfect layup week going into the Top 12.

Todrick, Tim, Paige and Katie should've went home. Lacey could have went instead of Katie and Aaron could have went instead of Todrick, but 4 of those 6 should've went home.

I feel bad for Alex because I don't think he had to win the thing for him to get a record deal. He would put out a better CD than almost everyone left in the competition because the tone of his voice was awesome.

And I felt even worse for Lily. You can tell that her and Crystal have that feeling that they sold out, but at least they'd get paid for doing it. It had to be soul-crushing for Lily that she went on a show like that and that's the way her run ended.

LA said...

I'm pissed that Lilly's out and I'm REALLY pissed that Katie Stevens is in! WTF, America?!

As for Alex Lambert and his Carol Brady shag, good riddence.

Steve said...

This is the worst season of Idol I could ever remember. In terms of talent, not a single one of them has that wow factor that contestants in every season have displayed.

It was made crystal clear last night when Matt Giraud blew them all away and even Scott McIntyre--whose story I loved but who had an overrated and weak voice-- outsang all of the contestants.

Alex Lambert is the only male contestant with a chance to have a truly magnificent voice/singing performance. He just needs to be coached. If I were a manager, I would sign him to a contract immediately, get him a voice coach and a style coach, and turn him into a star.

It was nice to see Lily's parting words though I wish they had a bit more bite to them. She was one of the better contestants, but I don't think any of them are great.

On the guys side, Aaron and Tim are by far the worst. Aaron is only sixteen and it shows. He has no charisma or power behind his voice. And the entire Lonestar song was out of tune. It was appalling. Whomever called it the "grandma vote" was dead-on.

And Tim is just a Zac Efron, Hollister model wannabe who has such an average voice that the show should be embarrassed.

I also think Big Mike should be called the "Big Overrated." He isn't bad, but this week's performance was NOT tear-inducing. In fact, it had much less depth and feeling than Maxwell's version or the original. His falsetto was very nice, but he would be gone in previous seasons. AI is just pimping him because he's not the typical look and he just had a baby.

Andrew Garcia and Didi Benami are my favorites and are the most refreshing. Didi's Ingrid MIchaelson performance was terrific and that is the artist she sould be. I would love to hear her sing "Fidelity" by Regina Spektor.

Andrew Garcia gets slammed by the judges for not duplicating his "Straight Up" performance, yet he is still a lot more entertaining than all of the other contestants.

I like Crystal, but I don't think she is so amazing that it warrants such high praise. Simon was right when he said she is a lot like other buskers playing their guitars. She can sing well, but it's the idea of her that is selling so well. But I'd rather see her win than many of the other terrible acts. said...

100% agree that Alex had the best male voice of the season, and it was unique too. I hope Tim & Aaron realize that they should have been sent home.

Here's my recap. Let me know what you think:

Alex needed to stay. I could have seen him go far.

Let me know what you think of my recap:

Truthiness said...

I hate to have to be so blunt. But to all the people complaining about the minorities going home early. Like someone said, when the minorities are clearly good, they don't go home early. But in cases where they aren't that good or simply mediocre, they go home early. Not sure how that's really that surprising given the % of the audience that is white middle America. Hell, if you took the % of AI's audience that is white and flipped the demos and made it african american, I can guarantee you that all the white kids would go home early every year. Just the way our country is. Sad, but the truth.

Unknown said...

Maybe Ellen could mentor Alex and help him gain some confidence. That's all he needs. Booting him off the show and calling him a turnip won't help. He had a great voice, he was cute, and he seemed very earnest and sincere. This is the worst I've felt about someone leaving in a long time.

Angela said...

This is the first year I ever watched Idol so I'm new to all this, and I only have negative comments so I'll skip over most of them except for these....
Crystal, I have a bad feeling about. I think her singing is mediocre, and run of the mill, even if she does have stage presence. I think she would like to be Janis Joplin but she's never going to be. And I still don't get her attitude. She's acts mature, and confident, but then she pouts. Sobhine is at that age where she thinks she knows everything. And it's the reverse. I can't imagine her handling winning at this point in her life.

FWIW, Ellen said she is going to have Lilly on her show.I hope she said the same for Alex.
Alex has the most unusually pleasurable voice. I really enjoy listening to him. Sigh...Oh well, he got a a lot of exposure and I bet we are going to hear him again if he doesn't give up on it. And if he does, well, then he would never make it in this industry anyway. Like I know so much. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Really Really sad. Lilly & Todrick were in my top 6. The show just won't be worth watching until we get to the top 4: Crystal, Big Mike, Lee & Didi. It's a shame America doesn't vote for TALENT!!!!!

Craig Ranapia said...

I hate to have to be so blunt. But to all the people complaining about the minorities going home early. Like someone said, when the minorities are clearly good, they don't go home early. But in cases where they aren't that good or simply mediocre, they go home early. Not sure how that's really that surprising given the % of the audience that is white middle America. Hell, if you took the % of AI's audience that is white and flipped the demos and made it african american, I can guarantee you that all the white kids would go home early every year. Just the way our country is. Sad, but the truth.

I had to drag out my CD of Avenue Q, and cue up 'Everyone's A Little Bit Racist'. So, even when the mediocre performers are voted off, there's still bigotry in there somewhere... just because. Just as it's totally outside the realm of possibility that Adam Lambert's runner-up status was NOT the result of homophobic voter manipulation. (Then again, perhaps I'm biased because I find having to choose between Lambert and Kris Allen about as palatable as choosing whether I'd prefer to die from the Ebola virus or Necrotizing fasciitis.)