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American Idol: Shock Elimination!

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I’m sitting here in just absolute shock. Pia Toscano has just been eliminated from this season’s American Idol.

Are You Kidding Me?!

Pia should have made it all the way to the final two this season. But instead she went out in ninth place. American Idol is now down to two women and all six men. C’mon now.

Pia was in the bottom three tonight with Stefano Langone and Jacob Lusk, who was my prediction to bite the dust this week.

Earlier today, I re-watched everyone’s performances and the last person I would have predicted in the bottom three was Pia. Granted, she needed some work in the stage presence department, but her vocal performances, including last night,  have been absolutely flawless this season. AMERICAN IDOL: Pia Toscano is eliminated on AMERICAN IDOL airing Thursday, April 7 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: Michael Becker / FOX.

I think a lot of people are going to blame Pia’s elimination on voter complacency, which to be honest, definitely must have something to do with tonight’s shocker. However, the judges need to accept that part of Pia’s elimination is on them.

During Wednesday night’s performance show, not one of them said anything overtly negative to the contestants about their performances. Part of the judge’s job is to let the audience know which contestants rock and which ones need to get it together. When everyone’s receiving praise, the voting public doesn’t know what to do.

That said, judges get your heads back in the game and do what you are overly paid to do, which is to critique these singers. Jennifer Lopez needs to find her inner “Jenny From the Block” and let the contestants know what’s what. Steven Tyler needs to altogether wake up and start making comments that are useful. Not every performance is “beautiful.” And Randy Jackson, I expect you to call it how you hear it. Don’t dial back your feedback; it is so needed.

Pia has been receiving high praise from the judges all season long, and maybe her fans thought they could ease up on the power voting.

Whatever the case may be, it’s was completely disheartening to see such a huge talent be sent home way before she should have been. It is unfortunate that the “Judges’ Save” had already been used this season, but that’s the nature of the game. I don’t think the judges ever thought that Pia would ever need to be saved. I guess they haven’t been watching the past couple seasons, where female contestants have been picked off before the men repeatedly.

So, the moral of this story? Judges, please do your jobs and judge the contestants. Fans, vote to keep the talent in the competition. Don’t ever think your contestant is safe.

My last thought for the night: It’s now Scotty McCreery’s competition to lose.

Alright Idol fans, let me hear your thoughts on tonight’s insane results.

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About Kirsten Coachman

Kirsten Coachman is a writer and editor from the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit her long-running music blog, Wait...WHAT, at waitwhatmusic.net. Follow Kirsten Coachman on Twitter: @KirsCoachman
  • nancy ur

    You couldn’t have said better. This was exactly what I was thinking. The judges keep praising all performances without marking the difference between the ones that are outstanding and the ones that are just good or ok. It is totally their fault. Steven Tyler is being paid to judge not just to say stupid comments that anybody could say.

  • You’re right about the judges offering undifferentiated praise for nearly everyone.

    I also thought it was bad form for them to openly express anger about the results. They know someone has to go home every week, that’s the way the show works. And if you’re angry that Pia is off, that means you’re angry that someone else is staying — so it’s sort of insulting to the other contestants for the judges to express outrage at that point. Yet we haven’t a clue based on their performance-night comments who they think is weaker.

    It’s true that the general level of talent is high this season…few embarrassments or outright turkeys.

    A larger issue is the possible sexism voters are showing: 5 weeks, and 5 women voted off. The male contestants this season are quirkier, with more individuality. Several of the women have been competent but boring ballad singers. [I would actually put Pia in this category, although certainly I expected her to last longer.]

    Maybe the judges were gun-shy, because their comments definitely played a role in Naima being voted off last week. [She was the rare quirky female this season — perhaps too uneven, though I liked her.]

    At this point, are we going to hear boos and see judges’ tears every week? The talent is deep and they seem to like everyone. We need a Simon-equivalent to clarify, but I don’t think we’ll get one.

    It’s Stefano’s turn to go home next week, I imagine.

  • It was not her turn to go, and I did vote for her. I really think she has the potential to be the next big female singer…like a Celine, or Whitney or Mariah. She has the range and the pitch. I don’t know if people didn’t vote for her because they found her intimidating…hate to say it but sometimes being gorgeous and physically striking in addition to talented can make people think “she doesn’t need my vote”, or can actually make people jealous. There were several others who could have gone home last night even though it was a good performance show overall. I thought Jacob, Paul, or Haley should have gone.

    And then you have to wonder if the votes really count at all or if they do stuff like this just for shock value and ratings?

  • I don’t think it’s sexism, I think it’s 14-year-old girls that have crushes on the male contestants.

    It was obvious last season that Idol was definitely panning to a younger demographic, and by what Top 6/Top 7, there were two females left?

    I don’t want to say that all female fans of Idol vote for guys, but I think the majority do. And then they vote the full allotted time every week.

    The judges really need to step it up for the rest of the season so Haley and Lauren Alaina have a fighting chance, because it’s long overdue for a couple guys (namely Jacob and Stefano) to head on home. MTV’s Jim Cantiello brought this up last night on Rickey.org that Stefano has done just as many ballads as Pia and the judges haven’t said anything to him. And I think that’s really interesting. When it comes to Stefano, I think Jennifer Lopez is just another 14-year-old girl making sure her crush stays in the competition instead.

    But did you notice at the end of last night’s show that Ryan Seacrest said something to the effect of needing the audience to continue to tune in? I won’t be surprised if the ratings tumble next week, because the show took a massive hit with Pia’s elimination.

  • She was a bit like Celine Dion…and Celine Dion doing “River Deep Mountain High” is not my idea of a good time. And Paul was really great this week.

    Of course, we can’t argue taste [though we can try].

    And remember, no one can vote against a contestant….they can only vote for them. My guess is that the votes were relatively evenly distributed this week, and Pia fell into the “she’s good, but not exciting enough to vote for” category for a lot of folks.

  • I’d be willing to bet that ratings will not dip significantly. Because of Pia? C’mon! If anything, the buzzy conversation about the controversy will cause curious folks to tune in.

  • I don’t think they’ll dip significantly either, but I won’t be surprised if the numbers are down.

    I thought it was interesting that Ryan mentioned to continue to tune it, because he’s basically the producer’s mouthpiece, so obviously the show is concerned.

  • I hope she’s already got good management. Cause’ I imagine the record labels are already lining up to sign her.


  • I can imagine when the Idol contracts are up at the end of the summer that she’ll get scooped up very fast, probably by 19E.

  • Sherry

    I was totally surprised. She was not my favorite, but I thought she would probably win (or come in second to Scotty). I agree that it could be Scotty’s contest to lose, but then again if she could go, so could he. Perception about favorites doesn’t seem to mean anything this year.

    Entertainment Weekly picked Casey to win and he was voted off at number 11. He is only there because of the judges, and I have to wonder if they regret not being able to save Pia.

    Male singers have been ruling the show for the last several years, they just need to figure out how to make a male winner have a Carrie Underwood/Kelly Clarkson type career.

    I’d be surprised if this hurts the show’s ratings. If anything it will get people more excited to see what’s going to happen and to vote for their favorite. I don’t think this was engineered though. There’s no way they wanted to have six guys and two girls at this point. I think if the producers could have picked a winner themselves they would have picked Pia.

  • DebbieJ

    Okay, here’s my take on why Pia was sent home and that America didn’t get it wrong: Compared to the other remaining contestants, she isn’t comfortable in “performing”. She’s even said so herself. She knows this is her weakness and that she needs to work on it. She sings wonderfully, but her performances are boring. I never remember the song she sang the next day.

    Everyone else has something that makes them stand out: Casey has an exuberant personality that shows in every performance; James has passion that shows through every time. Paul has a unique quality to his voice and has great stage presence, as odd as it made be (and those pearly whites don’t hurt, either). Jacob’s heart is always on his sleeve and you can feel it in every performance. Stefano, well, I can’t place what makes him special because I don’t think he really has something special yet (and will probably be the next to go). Even he was shocked that it wasn’t him last night. (And I sorta felt bad for him because the judges were so shocked that it was Pia, so by extention, not him!) Scotty knows who he is and has since the beginning. Like Jimmy Iovine said, he’s a one trick pony, but man, what a trick. Haley has strong stage presence and makes you feel alive when she’s performing. And Lauren is so bubbly on and off stage, she is a fan favorite. Unfortunately, what Steven Tyler said to Pia on Wednesday night was true. There’s a million guys in a million bars having a million drinks for her. But they’re not the population of America who will pick up the phone and vote on a singing competition on TV. She will go far, but not so quickly. But the tour will help her get experience.

  • Yeah, what DebbieJ said.

  • About the comment of the producers picking a winner, you know, Nigel went out of his way to talk up Lauren Alaina while the audition episodes were airing. If she could muster up some energy on stage while performing, I could see her possibly pulling an upset. But then again, my predictions this season have been off by a mile, so who really knows.

    I wanted to share this link of MTV’s Idol in 60 seconds.

    I really do think the judges needed to say something to her sooner about her stage presence. I thought some of the video packages, like the wrestling one from a couple weeks ago, showed that Pia liked to goof around some.

    I am thinking, that Pia’s biggest issue was not that she has boring ballad performances week after week, it’s that she just wasn’t able to emotionally connect with the audience.

    At this point, I’m just rambling. As a longtime Idol enthusiast, I guess I’m just bummed. It really bothers me that Pia went out before a couple different contestants this season. It’s just hard to wrap my mind around, I guess.

  • Oz

    Fatal blow to the show or wake up call? I have silently watched the show for 10 seasons and am doing what I nearly did when Chris was prematurely voted off which is protest publically against a total injustice.

    There is a tier one and a tier two in this years competition, Pia was in tier one and arguably leading that pack. It was not her who peaked early on the contrary, it was the judges by running out of superlatives to lavish each and every contestant with. In this delirium of hyperbole they have made the audience lose perspective . . . and lose one of the most complete female contestants since Carrie Underwood (post farm girl look).

    I really like Jacob but he might have left based on his video clip comment coupled with a performance less than his best. Stefano has serious potential (yet to come together) but he picked a love song ballad again with no eyebrow raised by the judges. Haley and Lauren are massively improved compared to the last 2 weeks but were still not touching Pia. All of this should have been blatently obvious but with all the colour the judges are splashing about no one could see the black and white, which was Pia was (is) the best girl and in the top 2 based on her performance this week and from before.

    The Brits go for the underdog and you can always pretty much guess that the ‘better than rest’ contestant is at a disadvantage. But a few years ago there was a perfect girl on a similar show by the name of Leona Lewis . . . the typically predictable Brits showed great form in saying ‘I know she is too perfect but she is our perfect’. Leona won the show and went onto do great things. Pia was America’s Princess to crown but I suppose this year is for the ‘boy next door’, sadly.

    I am considering not watching the rest of the season but a part of me wonders if this will be the wake up call to make sure American Idol can deliver on the best season with the undoubtable best collective talent of all time.

  • Oz

    Actually, don’t read my essay just watch the MTV 60 seconds idol recap Kirsten posted on comment number ’13’ … Kirsten, thank you (btw I thought the guys describing of Jacob’s performance as ‘terrible’ and Pia’s personality as ‘wallpaper’ was OTT)

  • Sherry

    I think it’s Jacob who is OTT.

  • This is deja vu. Jennifer Hudson had never been in the bottom the night she was eliminated. My theory is that people assumed she was safe. It happened with Tamyra Gray and Daughtry as well. America just never learns anything. Pia will go on to do great things. She has the looks and voice to be hugely successful. As for her performing style? She can learn that. She’s going on tour this summer, and I absolutely can not wait.

  • Oz: Jim Cantiello is pretty OTT himself. He’s pretty entertaining.

    But on the topic of Jacob, what do you think his chances are going into next week? I actually had him pegged to go home this week based on his hot mess of a performance and his comments. How long do you think he will last?

    Jason: I have never thought Jennifer Hudson was a shock elimination. Everyone was so focused on Fantasia, that I don’t remember Jennifer being a legitimate front-runner. But, I have faith that Pia will be signed right away. And I definitely think tour will give her the experience she needs to work the stage and the crowd and hopefully connect more.

  • Cantiello is super entertaining…that’s the first time I had seen him…I’ll be a regular viewer from now on.

    After the Casey and Pia surprises, how can we make reliable predictions? If it were up to me, Stefano and Haley would be the next two to go. The remaining 6 after that would actually be the most interesting half of the 13 finalists [except for Naima].

  • I definitely think Stefano could be on the chopping block again this week. But really, who knows?

    Haley seems to still be riding her momentum from Elton John week. I actually wouldn’t mind keeping her around a little longer. She’s kind of grown on me. She just needs to tone down her growl.

  • Butch

    In a way, it was no surprise. Super hot girls don’t usually fare well on Idol. Katharine McPhee was a rare exception. Girls and women are the voters, and they don’t want to see the super hot chick do well.

    Pia was eye candy for guys that watch the show. Problem is, most of them don’t vote. Other than being smoking hot, she was a boring person with zero originality. Good voice, but nothing interesting about her.

    Stefano, on the other hand, has an incredible singing voice (best out of this year’s finalists, hands down). I hope he doesn’t get “blamed” for Pia’s departure and ignored by voters.

    Jacob is who I would’ve sent packing. He is an atrocity.

  • Oz

    Kirsten, first time I have seen Jim Cantiello but not goint to be the last, definately entertaining.

    On Jacob he is the last big big ballad / slower song voice left now Pia is gone so I think he could stay on for a bit but he has to check what he says on the video clips!

    My tier two include Haley because of her over growling but as the last 2 girls think she might be safe (personally like her); Stefano because he has not grown as much in the competition and relative to the other contestants picks song I think don’t resonate with the audience as well when he sings them and unless he flies next week I thnkhe will be in trouble; Casey because, now this is going to sound quite odd, because he too much of a musician and there is not enough of a strong protagonist on the judging panel to form opinion of the audience like Crystal had last year with Simon; Jacob becuase I fear he is starting to believe the hype about him a little too early and audiences, in my humble opinion, don’t like an infant prima donna (again I like him as a singer and do think he is talented).

    I slightly fear for Lauren who week by week seems to be retreating into her shell though she says she is getting more confident. She needs to slam songs like she did in the duo with Scott (judges gave them a standing-o . . .admittedly this more frequent this year but I thought understandable for that duo). Also I fear for Paul who is not showing the same level diversity (even vs Scott who is branching out) of some of the others and this may eventually hurt him. They both for me are still tier one along with James and Scott.

    Sorry for the long comments, just pent up frustration bursting out, which has been sparked by Pia being eliminated. Promise I won’t clog your blog more . . . well maybe a little bit but not a lot . . .

  • Oz, Keep the comments coming! That goes for everyone! I’ve loved commenting back and forth today!

    I love that y’all are diggin’ Jim. He’s probably my favorite Idol pundit.

    See, I really haven’t had a favorite this season. I really like Scotty’s voice, although I’m not a huge country fan in general, I really like his tone.

    I like Paul, because he’s different, but it really depends on his song choice.

    I want to like Lauren, but I hate how the producers pimped her out so much in the beginning. She needs to show more of her personality on stage. She just looks uncomfortable.

    At first I wasn’t loving Haley, but her performance of “Bennie and the Jets” was fun and she sounded good. I would like to see her stay longer.

    I do think Stefano has a nice tone to his voice. He needs a song to showcase it, because he hasn’t had a real strong performance yet.

    I like Casey’s voice when he’s not growling. That said, it’s not as strong as some of the other contestants.

    I kind of like Jacob’s voice when he’s restrained and not going crazy with the notes. As soon as he goes nuts with the notes, I’m done. His comments this week were so unnecessary, and because he had never been in the bottom three until this past Thursday, I’m going to assume he’s been reading the blogs, which is probably not the best thing to do when you’re on the show.

  • john

    A simple change to the format could stop these travesties from happening. The final three could be revealed as now and the third place given safety. The judges could then have a function and decide which of the bottom two goes. If not unamimous, then bottom as voted by america.

  • john

    As above but forgot to say, judges would stop having a say when down to the final five or six!

  • Butch

    No change in format is needed, the judges don’t need more power. The “save” is already too much.

    It’s not a travesty that Pia went home – she didn’t have a strong enough fan base. That happens almost every year to someone with talent.

  • Looks like she already got signed, to Interscope (big surprise, since its Iovine’s label).

  • Hmm…that’s interesting. I love that she’s signed and gets to make music, but it kind of invalidates the competition a bit. Usually contestants who are not the winner and runner-up have to wait to release music until after a certain point, like August/September.

  • They want to strike while the iron is still hotso to speak (or why people still remember her). Makes sense in my own opinion…

  • It does make sense, but as far as I’m aware there’s no precedent of this happening before the winner and runner-up are signed. In that sense, it’s just interesting.

  • Butch

    Wasn’t Kristy Lee Cook signed directly after her departure from the top ten? She said in interviews during the Idol tour that they were recording an album within two weeks of her getting the boot.