Idol Thoughts — 02.25.10

Airtime. Airtime was the wildcard that affected the outcome last night the most on the season’s first results show of American Idol. There’s no doubt that three of the four sent home had been shown less than other singers in danger of leaving.

Did Joe Muñoz sing worse than Tim Urban Wednesday night? Absolutely not. But who is Joe Munoz? We barely know him. Little airtime. Tim Urban, on the other hand, we know as the guy who they brought back, who got a second chance. A familiar face from Hollywood Week and his audition. Plenty of airtime.

So Muñoz was sent home last night. Urban spared. Also heading to L.A.X. this morning, bags packed for home, are Ashley Rodriguez (a ghost since her Boston audition), Janell Wheeler (the exception to my thesis about airtime), and Tyler Grady (memorable audition, haven’t heard him sing much since).

The point being, at this early juncture, viewers vote for who they know. And they mainly know who they’ve seen. Airtime.

It also didn’t help that so many performers gave so-so performances this week. If you were trying to predict who was heading home, you could’ve made the case for 50 percent of the Top 24. Tough one to call. And “call it,” I did not! One for four. Ouch.

Before the results show, here’s what I said:

Here’s who deserves to go home: Girls) Ashley Rodriguez and Haeley Vaughn. Guys) Jermaine Sellers and Tim Urban.

Here’s who WILL go home: Girls) Ashely Rodriguez and Lacey Brown. Guys) Tim Urban and John Park.

Of course, Idol voters are notoriously attached to their favorites, and often push them through despite the vocal “evidence” to the contrary. That’s why I distinguish between who deserves to go–and who will.

Oh, well. At least that last sentence rings true. Here’s a recap, from the live blog version of this writing, of the rest of last night’s show:

At the top of the show, Ryan asks Simon Cowell why he was “harsher than normal” on the contestants last night. Simon denies this, giving that “I’m just Simon” explanation. And he’s right. Clearly Simon’s judging last night was not the “buzz of the nation” today as Ryan bombastically claimed. Fact is, the first two nights have been weaker than expected.

Then on to the group number (“American Boy” by Estelle). It’s really hard for the individual singers to distinguish themselves in these numbers. They’re basically lip-syncing. Hard to mix so many live mics and make it sound good. Really, that’s the reason. Idol producers have acknowledged this in the past. And with 24 contestants, “choreography” consists of following the person in front of you.

Last season’s fourth-place finisher, Allison Iraheta, is back, performing a song called “Scars.” One of my faves from last year seems more grown up. Maybe it’s the ballad she’s singing. I prefer her pop-rockin’ first single to this. This one’s getting away from her, a few reaches for notes that aren’t there. And I’m not sure Allison totally believes in the song, based on the quirky faces she’s making. Ummm, quirkier than usual for Allison.

Footage of Tyler Grady from yesterday’s rehearsal is pretty funny. Apparently he showed up in a bathrobe and boots, thinking wardrobe would have some clothes for him. They didn’t. Not a dress rehearsal. So he sings his song as is.

They take a pause to bring on Kris Allen and talk about Idol Gives Back and raising money for earthquake relief in Haiti. Kris does a version of the Beatles‘ “Let It Be” that feels heartfelt and right for the occasion. Kris’ song will be available on iTunes, the money going to relief efforts. Best performance this week–by far!

Montage of the four departing contestants is set to the song “Leave Right Now” by Will Young, the first winner of Pop Idol in the U.K. Listen here.

Greg Valentine
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