Thursday, March 16, 2006

"Idol" Elimination 03/15/06 -- Melissa McGhee

As we all already know by now, Melissa McGhee was eliminated from "American Idol" on Wednesday night, the first cut from the Top 12.

Anybody surprised? Didn't think so. Yes, it was bad that she utterly murdered the lyrics to Stevie Wonder's "Lately." In retrospect, she's probably aware that when you botch Stevie's lyrics in rehearsal and Stevie makes fun of you and you feel ashamed and that event becomes a pre-performance video clip, the one thing you don't want to do is mess up the lyrics again. It makes you appear ungrateful and just a little bit stupid.

Here's the thing: Melissa was going home regardless. Even if she'd been nearly perfect on Tuesday night. I'd bet (a dollar or so) that the voting results weren't even close, particularly given that Melissa had two semi-favorites with her in the Bottom Three.

Melissa just joins the esteemed likes of Julia D'Amato and Lindsay Cardinale (too lazy to check spelling), very attractive and very uninteresting gals who somehow slipped into the Top 12, but were neither hot enough to mobilize male viewers, nor talented and approachable enough to mobilize female viewers. The Approachability Factor (not to be confused with the It Factor, Wow Factor or the Eiger Sanction) is where audition-round TV time -- something Melissa got screwed on -- comes in. I know nothing about her story. If FOX had given me various sob stories from her past, though, I'd have read that knowledge into her story. If, for example, Melissa thought she was a boy until she was 16 and only recently found out and made the change, I'd have been extra impressed by her femininity. Or something like that. Regardless, she had no core group of voters behind her, no reason for audience sympathy or interest and finally no reason to be around.

Also for our other two Bottom Three-ites? Well, I guess that was a tiny bit surprising, seeing Ace Young and Lisa Tucker up there as well.

It was just Tuesday that some pundits were declaring Ace a shoo-in to win this whole thing. Not to be mean, but that was obviously a guy who had never really watched "Idol" before. He based his judgment on Ace's ability to make his wife swoon. If making the little gals go weak at the knees was the major qualification to be "American Idol," Justin would have beaten Kelly, Clay would have beaten Ruben, Anthony Federov would have made the finals against Carrie instead of Bo and nobody would have won in Season Three. Yes, giggling teenage girls make up their huge bloc of "Idol" voters, but teenage girls aren't a boy-crazy monolith. There's ample evidence that their voters are more aspirational than fueled by dreams of romance. Kelly and Carrie won and gals like Diana DeGarmo and Jasmine Trias had long runs because the girls in the audience wanted to be like them, wanted to hang out with them and that was more important than which guy the girls thought was cutest.

Why don't girls want to hang out with Lisa Tucker? Dunno. Why didn't they want to hang out with Tamyra Grey or Jennifer Hudson? Well, in those cases, Tamyra had talent, but she wasn't as approachable as Kelly. And Jennifer had talent, but she wasn't as approachable as Fantasia. Is Lisa doomed because as polished and professional as she may be, she doesn't seem as bubbly and as endearing as Paris? I don't think that's the whole reason for it, but it's bound to be something.

On a side note: I'm still not sure how Melissa outlasted Ayla Brown based on my own theories about approachability and aspirational voting. As a smart, athletic, attractive, hard-working gal, surely Ayla should have had voters wanting to hang out with her, date her or just admire her. Perhaps she was too hard-working and too "striving"? Dunno. It still seems like Ayla should have been here instead of Melissa.

Ace and Lisa have to watch out or else they're going to become this season's Anwar Robinson. Anwar, if you'll recall, entered the Round of 24 as a favorite, entered the Top 12 as a favorite and managed to get bumped through a string of lackluster performance. He was never the least gifted singer in any given week, but after he ceased to be the best singer, his fans forgot he was there. Ace and Lisa were both OK this week, but if they don't become better than OK, they're going home.

Oh and as for Kevin Covais? We're obviously stuck with him for a while. He's got the support of the grannies, the tweens and the VoteForTheWorst gang. The VFTW crew isn't actually strong enough to carry a contestant to a championship, I don't think. They are, however, sufficient to outweigh those of us who think that Eraserhead's Baby really really really needs to go home. I figure that Kevin's heading for a Scott Savol-style run, into the top six or seven. Long enough to make this particular recapper want to tear his hear out.

But that's just what I'm thinking this morning before the coffee sets in.

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