I neglected yesterday to share my thoughts on why Jasmine Murray and Jorge Nunez were the first finalists voted off American Idol. Normally, I do that the day after eliminations.
Jasmine Murray and Jorge Nunez
Jasmine Murray seemingly had everything going for her going into the semifinals. She had the potential to be what judge Kara DioGuardi calls a "package artist," with vocal ability, looks, and a pleasant personality. She'd also had plenty of exposure in the auditions process.
What it really came down to was the singing. Her first time out, she sang a song that was considered to be a bad fit for her, and the judges chalked up her mediocre performance to bad song choice, despite numerous flaws in her vocal delivery. She was not the worst of the night, but she was far from the best.
The second time viewers saw her was in the Wild Card round, where she did a good job but wasn't the most exciting performance of the night.
This week, she gave a performance that was rated the worst of the night by the judges and fans alike. So despite the advantages she had going into the semifinals, she said good-bye in the first round of the finals, and no one was surprised.
Now Jorge Nunez, similarly, had a lot of things going for him. He has a very winning personality and demonstrated great vocal potential in audition week, where he also got plenty of exposure. If his fashion sense was a little old-fashioned, there was a passion and a joy in his performances. Many would argue that his vocals this week were better than some of those who stayed, so what cost him the vote?
The only other time viewers saw him perform a full song was in the semifinals, and he did a good job that night in a sea of much inferior performances. In addition, he got emotional when the judges praised him, with tears running down his cheeks. This probably endeared him to certain voters.
This week, he performed in a much stronger field, so he needed to stand out. Yet, he chose a Michael Jackson song that hardly anyone knew and didn't make much of an effort to make it his own. While his vocals were fairly good, they weren't outstanding.
In addition, after Paula asked him why he chose that song, he launched into a very long explanation that was difficult to follow. In the past, viewers have had little sympathy for contestants who are perceived to be making excuses. So my advice to future finalists: even if the judges or host Ryan Seacrest egg you on, keep your responses brief and your tone humble.
A final possible factor: Jorge was probably splitting the vote with Kris Allen, who also appeals to a similar demographic of young women. This week, Kris sounded very contemporary, which gave him the edge over Jorge. In addition, Anoop "Noop Dawg" Desai already has a loyal following, who likely carried him through.
And that's why they were sent home.
Even with other factors in play, it comes down to the singing.