>On Thursday night’s American Idol elimination show, we entered knowing a few things:
- Paul, Stefano, Haley and Jacob were in danger of elimination.
- Casey and Lauren were on the bubble of the Bottom Three, but were certainly safe.
- Pia, Scotty and James weren’t going anywhere but the Top 8.
This wasn’t based on performances as much as on the data that we follow every week. So my prediction for this week’s Bottom Three (Paul, Jacob and Haley) was an educated guess based on numbers and history. At least tonight’s result got the historic part right.
In a shocker that may dwarf the eliminations of Chris Daughtry and Jennifer Hudson, Pia Toscano was handed her walking papers in week five. This will send enormous waves through the entertainment world as everyone from writers to odds makers will find themselves scrambling to make sense of things. And the “sense” side of this equation is what has me scratching my head.
Pia has sizable followings on virtually every Idol fan site. She was a Vegas co-favorite (with Scotty McCreery). She was one of only three Idols declared absolutely safe this week by DialIdol, which registered an overnight busy percentage of close 10 for Pia. By comparison, Paul McDonald and Jacob Lusk had less than 1 percent and were overwhelmingly at the bottom of the rankings. Pia’s Facebook page has more than 17,000 fans. Jacob’s has fewer than 10,000. On the Hollywood Stock Exchange Pia’s price was $16.19, which was second only to James Durbin. Stefano Langone was last trading at $8.10. (At $2 per placement, the winner would cash out at $24. Pia, finishing ninth, will cash out at $8.) On Funofficepools.com, Pia was the overwhelming pick to win; out of 421 people in the “Ricky” pool who picked winners, Pia was picked by 159 to win. James, Scotty, Lauren and Casey had 58, 58, 56 and 47 respectively.
The numbers simply don’t add up. Unless the busy percentages were only in one or two areas. Unless all of Pia’s fans are on Verizon instead of AT&T. Unless everyone else’s Facebook fans voted and Pia’s took the night off. Unless folks were inspired by Jacob’s “Man in the Mirror” and Paul’s “Folsom Prison Blues” and left flat by Pia’s powerhouse “River Deep, Mountain High.” Like I said, none of it computes.
No doubt that you’ll hear cries of “foul” from a lot of corners in the days ahead. You may even hear people demand to see the accounting of Idol’s numbers. It’s not going to happen. Just get used to Pia being gone, and get ready to buy her CD when it comes out. This is really setting up to be another Daughtry situation where the too-early boot-ee ends up running circles around the eventual winner.
Idol will certainly try and spin this as a “vote for your favorite” situation where no one is safe. The problem is that a lot of fans will just get hacked off and stop watching. There’s no sense in voting once your favorite is no longer there. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised to later learn that Pia had broken a rule that led Idol to eject her prematurely. That would make more sense than tonight’s vote.
While Idol will try and spin this to its advantage, expect the folks at X-Factor to use it also. The British original’s judging and voting would never have allowed this to occur, since the public only decides the Bottom Two. The judges then decide which of those two to send home after a “final showdown.” Only when the number of contestants reach four or five does the public voting make the absolute determination.
I’ll keep watching and blogging for the faithful, but a lot of my desire to watch Idol just left the stage with Pia. There’s really not much place in the world for a show where a performer of Pia’s caliber is so grossly underappreciated.