After the Group 2 disaster last week, the eight hopefuls performing next Tuesday are lined up and ready to go.
We’ve seen all eight in earlier audition episodes, some albeit briefly. Because prior performance is no indication of how any contestant fares once the pressure is really on, to call this race requires an understanding of two cold, hard facts.
The Voting Block Doesn’t Change
Viewers who voted for the first two groups, excluding any massive hometown support for particular candidates, are going to be the ones voting again for this group. The choices they made with their phone calls and text messages will, as in past seasons, follow a particular pattern of preference for a particular type of contestant.
The votes so far seem to have been based more on personality than singing. The first four finalists can sing, no doubt, but not so markedly better than the other competitors that their voices alone carried them through.
The primary way the candidate’s personalities come through on the show is in their interaction with the judges and their banter with Seacrest.
In early episodes, Simon had commented that Diana DeGarmo was “too cute,” both in her attitude and wardrobe. While its clear she took his critique to heart through her song choice (“I’ve Got The Music In Me”), she managed not only to keep some of the “cuteness” in her outfit, but to point out to everyone that she wasn’t about to change just for Cowell.
“One Last Cry” was a surprisingly a propos song choice for Camile Velasco who seemed on the verge of tears before, during, and after her performance. While the judges pointed out her “potential,” the audience voted her through on the strength of her emotional response to the thrill of singing in front of millions.
Fantasia Barrino has a strong, confident personality that comes through in her interviews with Ryan as well as in her singing. AI audiences have shown that they respond to positive, enthusiastic performers much more than those who are overly serious.
Lastly, Matthew Rogers has stood up for himself throughout the season so far. He was visibly shaken by the judges’ response to his less-than-stellar performance, and the authenticity of his disappointment resonated with viewers. They wanted to give him a second chance.
The Show Should Look Like America
The producers want a diverse Top 12. They will do everything and anything they can to ensure an equal mix of gender and race among the finalists.
So far, there are three women and one man. This implies there are more spaces left for men than women.
Additionally, there have been two Caucasians, one African-American, and one Pacific Islander voted in so far. From a race perspective, it’s a roughly even mix so far.
Jon is the easier singer to call. Look at it this way–so far, there have been three women and one man voted through to the finals. With eight slots left, and assuming the field will be evenly split, that leaves room for only three females to make it through, but for five males. Statistically, one of these three guys will likely go on.
Jonah can be ruled out easily. He just doesn’t have the mass appeal necessary to carry the vote. Of the two remaining guys, we’ve seen a lot more of Jon. He seems to have an appealing, modest personality (remember the “pen salesman” jokes?) and the boy can sing. On Wednesday, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s the fifth person voted into the Top 12.
While there’s no good reason the other four women couldn’t make it through, Amy has had plenty of screen time, giving the audience a chance to get to know her. And, her personality and look recall Nikki McKibbin, who made it to #3 in the first season.
I’ll have revised picks up once these kids have had a chance to sing on Tuesday night.