Sunday, March 16, 2014

American Idol Top 11 Results

Who should have been eliminated (based on one performance only) : Sam Woolf
Who I predicted would be eliminated: Jessica Meuse
Who was eliminated: Ben Briley

It has been a weird season for American Idol and this past week was the weirdest.

One thing that has been consistent though is that through all three weeks of the Finals, the three singers I have listed at the bottom of my performance rankings have been presented to America as the Bottom Three. Nine for nine.

Nonetheless, I was surprised to see Ben Briley, Majesty Rose, and Sam Woolf at the bottom. Going into the week, I genuinely would have predicted them as the most likely Final 3 of the competition. While front-runner Sam was sent to safety first, Ben was eliminated over Majesty by just 0.7 percent. Conveniently enough for Idol, a third consecutive female was not ousted to start the Finals.

With such a bottom three, and eventual result, I have to start wondering if all the changes in how votes are cast this season could lead to all assumptions from the previous 12 being somewhat moot. For now though, it looks like a poor performance in a particular week is hurting the contestants more than anything else. Perhaps voting loyalty is not as concrete, at least this early, as is usually the case.

For Ben, this was likely a surprising exit from the competition, after he won America's vote to get into the Top 31, and received a good deal of praise for his live performances. He seemed pretty shell-shocked, to receive the criticism he did after his odd rendition of "Bennie and the Jets" on Wednesday night, and on Results night. Finishing in 11th place means once again missing out on the Summer tour and the experience and paycheck that comes with it.

In the surprising position of singing for the save, Ben choose to go with "Stars", which the very week before was the very song that Emily Piriz tried to no avail to save herself in the exact same situation. That was quite an odd decision by Ben's part. He started ok for the first few lines, but once I realized what song it was during the chorus, his voice sounded and misplaced on the Grace Potter number. There was also some sort of weird Axl Rose-like attempt to change his voice around on it as well. It was very odd all along, just like Ben's choices on the previous night.

I still thought that it was possible the judges would save him and allow the Top 11 to go on tour, but it was not meant to be, and suddenly Ben was out. So much for my musings on here the week before that it was conceivable he could get into the Finale and perhaps upset Sam. Would they perhaps have saved him if he did something more country?

Ben proved this season that he is musically talented, but I am not sure if I or most Idol fans are truly understanding at what kind of artist he is. Even his personality seems a bit undefined. He came out for weeks in backwards baseball hats, presenting himself as a Good Ol' Boy from Tennessee who loved his wife and the Vols. In this "Movie Week" though, both on Wednesday and Thursday, he was dressing far more upscale and had his hair all done and everything. I think a lot of people who previously voted for him was just confused by his musical and stylistic choices alike that week and withheld votes because they either felt he was inauthentic or not sure they understood it.

The good news for Ben is that he can now return to the state, family, and deviled eggs that he loves and that he will have ample opportunity to move on with his life and whatever kind of musical career he wants to have. He can probably find a good deal of success locally playing shows and whatnot, but after doing something so different this week, he has to be kicking himself in a way. Had he just played it safer and did something more like the country/southern rock thing he had done before, he would almost certainly still be in the competition, perhaps for a while, and his summer would have been booked.