Friday, March 11, 2005

this was not a shocker

There seem to be shockwaves running throughout Idol fandom over the elimination of Nikko Smith over Scott Savol and Constantine Maroulis as the top twelve was announced.

I don't understand the outrage.

We knew going into last night that one of three guys who, in any other season would have been a no-brainer top-five finalist was going to be cut. That's the biggest drawback to this year's semi-final format. Neither Scott nor Constantine "stole" Nikko's spot. Each of them fought to advance and, while this year's elimination system was skewed against a very talented field of guys, the game is still the same.

In this competition it's not as much about pure talent as it is about "the package."

Constantine grabbed the hearts of fans everywhere on day one. Of course, one can complain that his exposure was orchestrated by producers, giving him an unfair advantage in building a early and solid fan base, and that might have some validity. However, his following seemed to grow, not shrink, as the semi-finals continued, despite being outsung and outperformed by the other "rocker" at every turn. Fans will dial until their fingers bleed for their guy. And when he is less than perfect, they'll dial two phones with both hands to keep him in the game. So, as John Stevens proved to us last year, sometimes a poor performance will put a contestant in the top three.

Fair? Maybe not. But it's part of the game.

Scott also has an advantage that Nikko just didn't have. He let us into his life. He is this year's underdog, the unlikeliest of Idol contestants, and some people naturally gravitate toward supporting the last kid picked for the team. If Scott sang on par with Janay, that would be one thing. But he's a vocal dreamboat, even if he's not as easy on the eyes as Anwar and as comfortable on the stage as Mario.

Nikko was always distant, aloof and reserved. He was this year's Latoya -- talented vocally, but detached emotionally. And so, while he did have fans, he didn't seem to be able to light the fire under them that needs to be lighted, especially when everything is on the line.

I predicted Nikko would leave. I am not surprised in the least.

I really feared the pity votes to save the child would be enough to put Janay through to the finals. Thankfully none of us will have to listen to her attempts at performance, and, even more gratefully, we will not have to watch her crumble on the big stage, being decimated by the now-coed competition. Thank you America for sparing us. And for sparing her.

For the first time in four seasons, we have a talent-packed final twelve. We have no Jim Verraros or Corey Clark to cringe over. There is no Leah LaBelle or Carmen Rasmussen to humiliate. All of our finalists have the ability, so the mechanics of the game need to be fully understood. It's a relatively level playing field, so there are fan bases to contend with. And there are still the uncommitted voters, just waiting for one contestant or one performance to throw their heart and their votes to. There are Nikko, Travis and Amanda fans out there for the taking.

And there is one very sad person out there too, obviously with super-human dialing ability, so Lindsey, if you're smart, you might want to wear an I [heart] Janay shirt next week.

You did good America.


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Thanks Rob for the awesome image!