Photo Credit: Michael Becker / FOX
During Thursday's episode of American Idol (Fox, Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m. ET), the 10 finalists were announced. Slowly. Over a 90-minute period. You'd think that such a long reveal would stretch out the dramatic tension. But the truth is, most of this crop of contestants just don't inspire butterflies.
This week was the viewers' first chance to have their say in the competition. No doubt because of Idol's new SuperVote function, which allows online voters to place 50 votes at once, a whopping 39 million votes were cast. Finally, we got to see what America thinks of the contestants.
Out went judges' darlings Zoanette Johnson (that smiling, roaring lion of a singer) and Elijah Liu (the teen dream in training). Also gone was poor Charlie Askew, who was so sadly and obviously wounded by judges' criticism on Wednesday. Aubrey Cleland didn't make it, either, though she was one of Nicki Minaj's "I am obsessed with you" favorites.
Viewers opted for the following 10 singers: Paul Jolley, Burnell Taylor, Curtis Finch Jr., Devin Velez, Lazaro Arbos, Janelle Arthur, Candice Glover, Angie Miller, Audrey Holcomb and Kree Harrison.
Some of these were obvious choices. Glover was a shoe-in; she's hands down the best vocalist of Season 12. Miller, who's nailed every song she's taken on, practically brought Keith Urban to tears. "All you needed, baby, was a break," he said. Harrison has been a fan-favorite ever since she first walked onstage, appearing in desperate need of a stylist. That day and at every audition since, she blew away the judges anyway -- just with her voice. (Harrison is like the Vino Alan of the last X Factor season -- a grungy-looking guy who enjoyed overcoming judges' lowered expectations.) Prediction: These three ladies will make it to the finals.
Certainly it's tough to imagine any guys making it there. Arbos, who loses his stutter when he sings, appears to have made the cut based mostly on his lovableness. Surely "Spanish Ken Doll" Velez (Nicki's description, not ours) won't be able to inspire more votes than the season's female vocal powerhouses. And Jolley? Sorry, but we just can't forget his Hollywood round semi-breakdown, and the tongue-lashing it inspired in Minaj. ("You walked out here so defeated, and it really irritated me," she growled. "It's such a turn-off.") No way this guy's the next Idol.
Once again, it appears obvious: the producers want a girl to win, so they've limited viewers' options. And they will get their way -- even if the competition suffers as we're heading there.