Warning! The following contains spoilers for the American Idol Season 19 episode that aired Sunday, March 28. Read at your own risk!
American Idol's judges made a lot of tough decisions while whittling the first group of 64 competitors down to 24, and without question, one incredibly questionable elimination came when Philip Murphy was sent home. The contestant lived through a rough past, rocked a unique voice, and showed off awesome guitar-playing abilities, which seemingly primed him to be the next Alejandro Aranda, as Murphy was one of the few Season 19 contestants bold enough to perform his own original songs.
Yet, when he gave his latest performance on American Idol. Murphy was told by Katy Perry and Luke Bryan that he wasn't right for the series. It's certainly a confusing statement considering how only two seasons ago, an original singer/songwriter who had the same indie music background nearly won the competition. Of course, the key word there is "almost," and ever since Alejandro Aranda's near-win, all Idol competitors similar in style hasn't had quite the same luck.
What I found truly unfortunate about this latest snub is that, unlike Alejandro, Philip Murphy didn't even get a chance to make it to the live shows. Murphy was merely told that his musical stylings probably weren't right for the show, and while he was sent away with arguably the most positive message of the night, I don't necessarily agree that American Idol wasn't the right place for Murphy. I'm not alone in that sentiment either, as there were tons of viewers who were sad not just that he was eliminated, but also that it happened on his birthday.
Perhaps the sad truth is that the judges are right, and as Alejandro Aranda learned when he was upset by country singer Laine Hardy, having original music is not enough to win American Idol. At the end of the day, singing shows thrive on competitors who can perform songs that audiences love as close to or almost exactly like the original artist who first performed the song, since it's easier to judge that by comparison than to judge an original by itself. After all, there's no rule that says musicians performing originals get an advantage, and more often than not, it can work to a contestant's detriment.
And really, I'm not so upset about Philip Murphy not advancing purely because I thought he would win out through the end, since I can't know that. Rather, I'm bothered by the message it sends to others. American Idol and its producers don't seem all that interested in bringing forth a series where original acts can battle it out to be the next new thing. It wants to stay the course that's led them to 19 seasons, and while that's entirely understandable, I can't help but get a little upset over the potential that was built up in Season 17 fizzling away after this elimination.