Rant: How American Idol's Gender Split Format Will Weaken This Season
Letís be honest. The fine folks who vote to keep contestants in the game on American Idol arenít exactly above reproach. They voted Jennifer Hudson out in seventh place during Season 3 of the competition. They voted Chris Daughtry out in fourth place during Season 5, and two years ago, they tried to vote Casey Abrams out in eleventh place before he was saved by the judges. Given twenty contestants and asked to narrow down to ten, the chances of a few bozos squeaking through is incredibly high. Unfortunately, this year, thanks to the structure of the system, thatís guaranteed to happen, even if everyone at home votes with their heads instead of their hearts.
American Idol is very fond of splitting the boys and girls up during the early rounds. Given the male-to-female ratio in the population, that should be the simplest way to chop everyone into small groups and maintain parity. That never really works out, though. Either the boys or girls are always better, and never has that talent divide been more overt than this year. A case could be made that an accurate top ten based on talent should include seven or even eight girls. Worst case scenario for the ladies, six of them should clearly get through. Sadly, because of the system, that wonít happen.
One, two or maybe even three really talented women are going to go home tonight, while one, two or maybe even three mediocre boys are going to go through. Now, youíre probably asking whatís the big deal. Youíre probably wondering why it even matters when only between 0 and 3 contestants emerge as popular musicians from each season. Well, it matters because the contestants who really have it tend to get a whole lot better after performing in front of America for a few times. They tend to squash their nerves and start looking like people who could actually succeed in the industry, while the also-rans never improve past a certain level. Because so many good girls are going to go home during the Semi-Finals, thereís a distinct chance that we may miss out on one who could have potentially become a star.
Iím very confident that Zoanette and Adriana Latonio will be given their walking papers. The former is visually interesting and super talented, but sheís just not inside the box enough or professional enough or consistent enough right now. The latter has a ton of talent too, but she really needs to give her voice a year or two in order to mature. That leaves eight women who gave good performances fighting for five slots. Right now, Angie, Kree, Candice and Amber all seem like potential mega-stars, while Janelle, Aubrey, Breanna and Tenna seem like they could actually sell records with a steady improvement to their performance skills and the right song.
If everyone were jumbled together, I think thereís a distinct chance eight of those women would get through alongside Curtis Finch Jr and Burnell Taylor. Unfortunately, thanks to the system, only five of them will get through, leaving a final ten that could well be the weakest in the history of American Idol.
I have no idea whether the show will get another season, but if it does, Nigel Lythgoe and company have to figure out a better way to work the semi-finals.
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