To say that it’s been a busy day in the world of Idol is a giant understatement. America voted and… turned in a somewhat surprising verdict. The Powers That Be voted and… sacked Randy Jackson. And may well be sacking everyone.
Let’s deal with the on camera drama first: Angie Miller’s boot. To say it was unexpected is an understatement. Angie was, on paper, the frontrunner. However, she’s not the first Idolsphere frontrunner to fall at this stage of the game. A certain Melinda Doolittle comes to mind. So, what happened here?
I suspect that her exit was entirely due to… numbers. Let me explain. We know, based on Idolmetrics, that Northeasterners are at a disadvantage on Idol. Right from the start, Angie was in a bit of a hole from there. Next, consider one number that we haven’t heard in a few weeks: the number of votes. The last time we heard a vote total was (I think) when Lazaro went home, at 34 million. The top 10 show had about 26 million.
The numbers may sound impressive, but let’s consider what we normally get around this time of year. Season 10 had 95 million votes in the top 3. Last year we had over 90 million. This year… I know it’s a genuine tinfoil hat moment, but isn’t it just a bit suspicious that we didn’t get a total last night? It suggests a number that’s significantly down. I’d guess a number in the 40-50 million range.
What I’m suspecting is that Idol‘s falling ratings – and fanbase – hit Angie disproportionately hard. Idol’s most loyal viewers – and voters – may well be in the parts of the country that Kree and Candice called home. We may all have thought that it was Kree who suffered from not having a really knockout performance, but maybe it was Angie. She needed more casual fans to throw voters her way; Kree’s hometown package and Candice’s Somewhere gave each of them the boost they needed.
In hindsight, maybe we gave too much credit to Angie’s titanic social media lead and not realized that the frontrunner had clay feet. We saw Idol’s falling ratings and didn’t really understand what it meant for the competition itself. I’ll be honest: I goofed on this one. It was a bad call. The dots were there to be connected, but they weren’t.
Still, any resulting top two was bound to be interesting. Whichever pair ended up in the finale, I thought it would be the closest finale in years. I generally have a pretty good idea going into the finale week who’ll win, but this year? I have no idea. I can lay out a plausible case for Candice winning (sublime talent, hasn’t really put a foot wrong). I can do the same for Kree (fear the country vote, good enough singer to keep the night close). You can’t even fall on regional differences, since they’re both from the South. It really is too close to call. Maybe for once, it will be decided on finale night.
Now, the off-camera drama. Oy. Randy Jackson leaving was… not expected. He had survived the cull at the start of this season – somehow – and had become an Idol fixture.
I have no love lost for Randy, but was he the biggest problem with Idol this year? No. At worst, he was complicit in some of them (casting such a weak top 10), a direct part of others (the dysfunctional judging panel), and a mere tool at other times. He wasn’t particularly helpful or valuable, but his departure will mean little in and of itself. It’s almost like he’s become a continuity gag of sorts, where an Idol show is not complete until Randy shouts “in it to win it!” I won’t particularly miss him, but there are others that should have been sacked ahead of him.