We’ve seen American Idol contestants get eliminated after their first difficult week, or go home after never having been in the bottom group previously, or leave when no one suspected they might be in trouble. If not for use of the Save, two of those three indicators would have described Jessica Sanchez just a week ago.
But I don’t know that anyone has combined all those factors PLUS being practically a perfect demographic match for the sort of person who typically wins Idol, and that’s why Thursday’s ouster of Colton Dixon is among the more startling eliminations in the show’s 11 year history.
Colton’s combination of edgy look, emo performing style, and open religiosity made him a potent contender on Idol, even if his vocals weren’t always on pitch. But his efforts on “Bad Romance” and “September” on Wednesday were missteps – both in the singing and possibly even in the choices themselves.
Colton seemed to believe that the Lady Gaga song in particular might have turned off his usual fans, since after getting the bad news, he apologized for going too far outside the box, saying it was a lesson he would keep in mind when making his record. Ironically, backstage footage from Wednesda
y shown earlier in the night featured Colton saying, “I don’t want to sound cocky, but I don’t care” about the judges’ very mild rebuke of him. His exit song was a repeat of the Christian contemporary song that we first heard a few weeks ago, which he sung while on his knees – a likely sign of where he wants his career to go now.
Hollie Cavanagh and Elise Testone were the others in the bottom three – the latter winding up in that spot for the third week in a row and fifth time overall. She has never been good at hiding her frustration, and openly criticized the judges on Thursday, saying she feels “discredited” by their comments. Complaining of any kind is typically very unpopular at home, so Elise may face repercussions in the next vote. And everyone in the final six now has reason to believe that no one will ever be safe again – which could lead to some terrific singing ahead.
His departure leaves just two men among the final six – unusual for Idol in recent seasons. And with Phillip Phillips the last white male who plays an instrument in the field, he’s clearly now an overwhelming favorite to win, although this season’s voting is getting increasingly hard to predict.