Friday, March 2, 2012

How to Win Your Idol Office Pool

I usually admit up front that I’m not much of a fan of American Idol. Of all the performers last year, the only one I really enjoyed was Casey, and I knew right off he was getting chopped.

That said, I did a very solid job when it came to guesswork, because I wasn’t terribly invested in anyone. And I’m not this year either. Jimmy Iovine has already said which people he would sign today, given the choice. Even if they lose, they win.

This couples nicely with something I once read, that said that getting into the top 10 of idol basically guarantees you a music career of some kind. You’ll have to really work for it if you come in second, because you might not get the same backing you’ll get as a winner, but…

You’re gold.

(For example, I think that Phillip Phillips will lose. In fact, I know he will. But he’ll still get some kind of contract, since Jimmy already said as much. Or he’ll spend the rest of his life touring as a Dave Mathews impersonator.)

That said, I’m not rating everyone’s chances just yet, because it’s WAY early in the competition and some of the people I think are pretty solid could easily flame out (as Jen did this week, picking two songs that didn’t do much for her really exceptional voice).

(Or Reed, who is an amazing musician who has no idea what an audience actually wants to hear, and just does his own weird thing.)

Over the weeks last year, I became really adept at picking who was about to get the axe. I won’t say I was 100% accurate, but I did pretty well. And I learned a few oddball tricks to picking the loser that bore themselves out the more I watched.

Here goes.

1. Check the front page of Yahoo the day people get cut. (

I have no clue why, but for some reason last year almost every week that night’s loser was listed as the top Yahoo search. It was a little freaky.

2. Pay attention to this week’s performance, but pay MUCH more attention to LAST week’s performance.

When Idol started, YouTube didn’t exist. Now, the performances are getting uploaded pretty quickly after they happen live.

Voting occurs right after the show, so viewers only get a little chunk of time to process their feelings about that week’s performance.

But last week’s has been kicking around on YouTube for seven days, and people have had a chance to be really, really, really cruel to it.

People think Casey got cut because of his growly version of I Heard It Through the Grapevine. No. He got cut for singing a Nirvana song. People who didn’t even watch the show lined up to abuse him for it online.

And I’d see it again and again. Someone would give a really dicey performance, and they’d sail through for one week… and then get plugged the next week. Because people had a whole week to live with it now, and that gave them time to get good and crabby about it.

3. Being in the bottom three is good… if you don’t lose.

I saw this all the time, too. Someone would hit the bottom three, and the next week they’d get voted out of the bottom. Only to return…

This is what led to all those so-called “shocks.” James is a perfect example of this. Good performances every week (to my ears, anyway). Always out of the bottom. And then? BOOM.

4. Don’t be a jerk.

Once again, folks. YouTube. That’s what killed Jacob.

On the flip side of things, be a nice person. Because even though it’s a singing competition? It isn’t really a singing competition. If it was, a bunch of random people would come out every week, perform, and the show would be over in about 30 minutes every week.

That’s not what happens. They bring out everyone’s mom, and grandma, and they do interviews, and blah-de-blah-de-blah.

If someone gets uppity? They’re out. The end.

And there you have it. Use these four simple factors, weigh them against everyone else, and come elimination day you can be like me. I guessed all three on the bottom about 90% of the time, and I guessed the actual loser about 85% of the time.

I’m guessing this year I’ll do even better.

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