April 12, 2012 at 10:26 PM ET
The “American Idol” results were surprising this week ... but shouldn’t have been.
Jessica Sanchez, a favorite of the judges all season, received the fewest number of votes. Of course, she wasn’t actually eliminated, a decision that became somewhat less dramatic when Steven Tyler took a look at the bottom three -- Jessica, Joshua Ledet and Elise Testone-- and told Ryan Seacrest that the judges would be using their one save of the season. Still, Jessica didn’t have to sing her exit song for more than a few seconds before Jennifer Lopez led the judges on stage to make it official.
Few would have predicted the bottom three vote-getters. Jessica hadn’t been in that position all season, and the praise bestowed on her has gotten more and more lavish each week. (Given her struggles Thursday, expect the judges to literally toss roses to her when she performs next time.) Joshua was at his best when he covered Bruno Mars, so it’s hard to figure what the voters didn’t like about that one. And Elise ... well, OK. She’s in danger every week, so the fact that she was in trouble again was predictable. Not everything can be a shock.
Many thought Hollie Cavanagh was a sure bet to go. She wasn’t even close. That likely can be credited to her fans redoubling their efforts to vote given her obvious vulnerability this week, but few would have though that the teenager in trouble would have been Jessica instead of her.
But here’s why Jessica’s poor performance in the voting this week is less surprising than you’d think: Though she’s a very good technical singer and has a powerful voice, she also has some flaws that past judges might have already recognized and compelled her to correct.
The big thing is that, as Simon Cowell was wont to say during his tenure on the show, she’s being self-indulgent in her song selection. Jessica is picking tunes to show off, with this week’s selection of Jazmine Sullivan’s “Stuttering” as a prime example. It was designed to impress the judges, and it did so. But it was the least commercial of the seven solo songs performed Wednesday, and evidently the audience shrugged and moved on. They don’t want a master class in vocals as much as they want to be entertained.
Also, her “BB Chez” alter ego is pretentious and ridiculous. Have all the personalities you want when you’re as successful as Beyonce, but not as an “Idol” contestant.
Contrast that to Skylar Laine. Skylar was in the bottom three two weeks ago, so it’s not like she’s immune to danger. This week, she took a different approach than Jessica, picking a Kellie Pickler song that offered smaller vocals but scored much higher on the entertainment scale. And she was rewarded for it.
Or look at Colton Dixon. He also picked a less commercial arrangement when he went with the Skylar Grey version of “Love the Way You Lie.” But more people have heard of that song, thanks to the version Rihanna and Eminem took to the top of the charts, and he did a better job of selling it to the audience. He, too, was among the top vote-getters.
At this point, everyone knows that Jessica has a big voice. She doesn’t need to go for the home run every week to prove it. But she does have to do a better job at letting it work in songs that the audience actually wants her to sing. And if the judges really want her to stick around, they’ll tell her to stop showing off and playing to them so much, and focus on pleasing the TV audience instead.
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