Friday, March 27, 2009

Idol Rules: Top 10

Week three of American Idol is what I like to call “The Audit”. The music theme is usually broad enough that no contestant should fall outside of their comfort zone. In the past the themes have included “Songs from the Year You Were Born”, “Songs on Gwen Stefani’s iPod”, and this week’s theme of Motown is making its second appearance for the Top 10. Now that we know who is boring or entertaining and have a vague notion of each contestant’s Idol identity (for the most part), the audience can now offer the following evaluation: who do we still want around?

I realize that this sounds obvious, as it is the basic concept of the show. However, the voting in the third week doesn’t reflect who America likes – it reflects who America really doesn’t want around anymore. This week also allows viewers to figure out where the fanbases are located and how they have dispersed now that three contestants have been eliminated. Lastly, the contestants now must use their performing abilities and their identities to create memorable performances. Let’s look at the results.

Notably absent from the bottom three was Megan Joy (Corkrey). Her identity as the candidate of the website Vote for the Worst has helped her, as well as the fact that she has given memorable performances. These performances are not good, but they are still memorable (“caw caw” begat “influenza B” begat “For Once in My Life” making Stevie Wonder wish he was deaf also). However, one thing that I noticed during the results show occurred right before Ryan announced that she was safe. There were some girls sitting behind Simon who were yelling “no!” when Ryan asked the audience if they thought that Megan was in the bottom three. You can tell these girls were not of the snarking/VFTW mentality because they are sitting behind the judge’s table. Also, if you consider who supported Alexis, who was ousted last week, the most likely contestants they would rally behind would be Megan and Allison. Megan is not going to win, but she may be around longer than people will expect...or like.

In eighth place this week was Scott MacIntyre. The best synopsis of his performance came from Idolator:

“You know who I think of when I think of dudes singing "You Can't Hurry Love"? Phil Collins. You know who wore paisley shirts in his videos, and was very likely to pair them with things like pinstriped blazers? Phil Collins. You know who is not a contemporary artist in any way, shape, or form in 2009? Phi... oh, you know. I blame the wardrobe department for this a little bit, I admit.”

Aside from being a total Phil Collins performance, this was the third Phil Collins type performance in a row for Scott. I actually had Scott picked to be in the bottom three since yesterday afternoon, before the show, because I knew he would retread the same boring, unmemorable path. His identity saved him this week, but I can’t imagine his fanbase growing.

The surprise of this week’s bottom three was Matt Giraud. He went first, which is a less than enviable position on a two hour show, and gave a somewhat tepid performance of “Let’s Get it On”. My initial reaction was that it sounded like it could be the background music for a Country Crock commercial. Matt’s challenge right now is that he has to share his piano guy identity with Scott. Although he is getting praise from the judges for his vocals, most of the guys this season are strong on vocals so it falls back to performance and identity. The good news is that if Scott is knocked out, Matt will get a large chunk of his fanbase. The bad news: Scott had more votes this week.

Michael Sarver got the boot this week, which was not too much of a shocker. His performance of “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” wasn’t good, but it wasn’t memorably bad the way that Megan’s was. He was also plunked down right in the middle of the show before favorites like Adam, Lil, Danny and Allison performed. He failed to develop any sort of identity, instead relying on a “taking it to church” type performance which he described as “off the cuff” and “fun”, which makes me wonder what type of church he goes to on Sundays.

I am curious to see how Sarver’s fanbase will disperse, as there is no obvious analogue. I suspect some will move to Megan (the last remaining country style contestant) and Kris (because of objective cuteness), which is bad news for Matt and Scott.

So here are the rules for week 3:

*The rules from previous weeks carry over. If you fall behind and don’t make up your missed rules, you will be in trouble.

*The fanbases are starting to solidify at this point. Wooing voters will require performances that deserve being rewarded.

*If the home audience can not differentiate your week 3 performance from any of your previous performances, you will be in trouble.

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