In some ways, Thursday’s “American Idol” results show was the exact opposite of the one from last week.
Last week, the two oldest women were eliminated. This week, it was the two youngest. Two teenagers were the first guys sent packing, while this week a 29-year-old and a very experienced 26-year-old joined them.
But while this week was unkind to a different demographic, the reason for the exits were similar. To stay in, a singer has to stand out. The ones who got cut this week blended in with the crowd, which wasn’t enough to get them the needed fan support.
Ryan Seacrest said that close to 31 million votes came in this week. Divided among 10 contestants, it pales in comparison to the amount each singer will get later in the competition. Every vote counts, and for those who haven’t separated themselves from the pack a bad week is often fatal.
That’s what proved costly to Alaina Whitaker. The youngest woman in the competition, having just turned 17 a week ago, Whitaker was cited by Simon as a dark-horse contender on Wednesday. But the judge also warned that she looked too old-fashioned, and that her choice of “Hopelessly Devoted to You” wasn’t a good one.
She and Kady Malloy were called onto the stage, with Seacrest announcing that one was among the bottom three vote-getters and the other was out. Malloy hasn’t been better than Whitaker in either of the last two weeks, but she has been a lot more charming on her introductory videos and maybe that small edge was the difference. But she still looked shocked that she was selected to stay.
Nobody, however, was more surprised than Whitaker herself. The teenager broke down in tears, at first turning her back to the stage and saying that she couldn’t sing. Ryan tried to comfort her by praising her efforts on the show, and recruited Paula Abdul to produce one of her trademarked uplifting comments.
“You are such a gifted, bright young talent,” Paula said. “We say it’s just the beginning, and I know it’s hard to hear that, but truth be told this is a start to a wonderful career for you.”
Ryan gave her the choice to sing or not. Though she warned, “It’s gonna sound horrible,” Whitaker at least managed to start the next phase of her musical career with a final song on the “Idol” stage.
Unsurprising exits Earlier in the evening, Alexandrea Lushington became the first woman of the night to be voted off the show. That choice came down to her and Amanda Overmyer, and it was another case where the contestant who sang the best didn’t get as many votes as the one who was the most unique.
Overmyer has yet to prove that she can do anything more than yell out older rock songs, but then again nobody else on the women’s side of the stage has that particular skillset. She stood out, Lushington didn’t, and so she stayed on while the teenager got sent home.
“To me it’s not really the right choice,” Randy Jackson said of the voters’ decision, but he also told Lushington, “Here’s the problem: You’re a great singer, you have great skills, you just picked the wrong song.”
Neither of men eliminated came as much of a shock, since they failed to stand out in the crowd.
The first to go was Jason Yeager, who saw it coming after getting slammed by the judges Tuesday night. Danny Noriega was the unlucky one who was forced to sweat alongside him, and looked like he was about to faint from the stress until Ryan gave Yeager the bad news.
“I tried to mentally prepare myself for it,” Yeager said, even though he was surprised it came down to this. “Last Tuesday I honestly feel like I put everything out there. I was surprised by the criticism.”
Simon put it bluntly, as always. “Your problem is, quite simply Jason, that you don’t stand out in a crowd at the moment.”
The other pick came down to Robbie Carrico and Luke Menard. Though both came into the competition with a lot of experience onstage, Carrico brought the persona of a rock star, which the judges never quite accepted. They aren’t quite sure what to make of Menard, but he was much better on Tuesday after a mediocre performance the first week, and that might have been the difference as he stayed while Carrico went home.
“It was a bad song choice, and I could have sung it better,” Carrico said sadly.
“It just never ever felt real, Robbie. Sorry.” Simon said.
It’s all too real for the 16 remaining. Survive one more week, and they’re in the final 12 and only one goes home per week. But to do that, they have to stand out from the crowd.