Once again an inherently unfair voting system caused a popular and talented singer to be eliminated before her time. Clearly Pia Toscano was a contender for the final. When voting rules allow unlimited voting for a contestant it becomes a voting contest, not a singing or popularity contest. How can you have fair results when individual voters can each cast thousands of votes for a contestant? The road to winning then becomes a contest to see which fan group can get the most organized and produce the most votes.
Don’t blame America ; blame American Idol for their arrogance and unwillingness to change a very profitable relationship between themselves and AT&T. (You can only text vote if you have an AT&T account. At&T also profits when Go – Phones with cross country area codes are used to vote for additional hours.)
Ryan Seacrest : “American got it wrong.”
Jennifer López : “I have no idea what just happened here, I’m shocked, I’m angry. I don’t even know what to say.”
Randy : “I’m never upset on this show and I’m never really mad. But this makes me mad,” he added, his voice cracking. “I mean, what is going on?”
Steven Tyler : “I don’t know, America, mistake is one thing, but lack of passion is unforgivable. They’re wrong. I don’t know what happened with this. She’s beautiful. When she sings she’s a bird.”
Adam Lambert on Twitter “Sad to see Pia go. One of the best voices on this season. Makes me think Voters aren’t focusing enough on vocal/musical ability,”
Was I shocked? Hell no! I wrote the book “American Idol Vote Scam“. Although the main focus of my book was about how Adam Lambert unfairly lost I researched and wrote about the history of American Idol voting controversies.
Richard Forbes of Vote Fair explains:
“There are likely to be claims that Pia’s lack of warmth, or her emotional restraint, or some other personality characteristic is to blame for her early departure. Although that accounts for why she is not quite as popular as Scotty McCreery and James Durbin, that explanation fails to account for the real cause of her early elimination, which is American Idol’s flawed voting method.”
Forbes had Pia in third place this week. Forbes has long been an advocate of limited voting. The voting on Forbes website would have produced Crystal Bowersox, Adam Lambert and David Archuleta as the winners of their seasons. There have been eliminations that are obviously unfair. Chris Daughtry and Jennifer Hudson, even Alexis Grace, went home too early.
Claymates will tell you correctly that Clay Aiken was by far more popular than Ruben Studdard. In Aiken’s case land line phones were jammed beyond capacity and millions of intended votes were lost. Ruben was the top vote getter because he was the contestant whose fans hung up the fastest and voted again.
Studdard’s win by about 130,000 votes was a statement on flawed land line voting that only allowed a limited amount of votes to get through creating a close outcome even though Clay had far more voters. Here is an example. You have two amusement rides with the same capacity and running for the same amount of time. Contestant “A” has 10,000 fans lined up Contestant “B” has 5,000 fans lined up but if in two hours only 4,000 people get to ride you have no way of knowing how many people were left out.
The land line flaw could have been corrected by having numbers that were not dedicated to a particular contestant. Unlimited texting created all new problems. Season 8 had the most text votes and the biggest upset in the history of American Idol when Adam Lambert was defeated by one state that produced 38 million votes. Free phones and assistance from Matt Jordan, a rogue AT&T executive, changed the outcome of Season 8. Not just for Lambert but for weeks before the final. Unlimited texting allows a small fan base to out vote a larger fan base. Time has proven that Adam Lambert is the far more popular contestant and the one with the escalating career.
This year, rather that correcting the voting system, American Idol added a new method of voting. Online voting allows fans to vote without the jammed landlines or the requirement of an AT&T account. Fans in other countries can vote if they use a proxy within the US or if American Idol is not screening for out of country votes. Voters outside the US have voted before with equipment like VBuzzer, iCall, Gizmo5 and MagicJack so this is not a new phenomena.
By all accounts Pia Toscano was one of the most popular contestants this season. Forbes had her in third place this week, but during many weeks she was in first place. Betting lines, Google Trends and Dial Idol also touted her popularity. The manipulations of the vote that allows a less popular contestant to win would vastly decrease with a voting system more similar to Dancing With The Stars or European systems where you pay to vote and the funds go to charity.
The American Idol Twitter Followers as of April 8, 2011:
Pia Toscano 71,458
Scotty McCreery 68,453
Casey Abrams 67,018
Paul McDonald 56,575
Lauren Alaina 53,295
James Durbin 47,674
Stefano Langone 43,023
Haley Reinhart 32,745
Jacob Lusk 27,144
This number is deceptive because Pia’s numbers jumped considerably when she was eliminated. Pia was in the middle of the pack before her elimination and never in the bottom like Jacob Lusk.
Although I attribute the flawed voting system as the main reason for Pia’s early departure I also fault the judging this year. The loss of Simon removed any honest critiquing. Not to say that Simon was not capable of manipulating voters, like last year when he endorsed Lee DeWyze over the more talented Crystal Bowersox. I believe it was Simon’s parting gesture to American Idol. Many times Simon was the voice of reason and called out the flaws in less than stellar performances. This year the judges love everybody.
Not one judge pointed out Pia’s superior vocal talent. No one without a musical background was given a clue as to who the best remaining singers are. With Pia eliminated the strongest female and the one with the best chance of winning is gone. I predict Scotty McCreery will win because he has an overall American boy appeal, at seventeen he is a natural on stage, his voice is a rare true base and he has great support back in Garner, North Carolina. Keep in mind the the most successful American Idol is country singer, Carrie Underwood. Anyone suggesting that Scotty’s chances are diminished because he is country is wrong.
Judges on Dancing With the Stars critique and instruct the contestants who make mistakes. The judges lavishly praise the best performances so that the audience knows the difference. The DWTS judges are rarely more than a number apart with their scores. The viewers understand who the most talented performers are and eliminations are rarely wrong.
If American Idol is based on the premise that the viewers pick the winners and that votes count then American Idol needs a voting system that allows that expectation to occur. Viewers invest time, emotion and money to participate in finding the next potential American Idol star. It should not be a power texting contest or one dependent on an outcome derived from jammed phone lines. It is not just about what happened to Adam, Clay, Jennifer or Chris, or this years displaced contestants, we the viewers have a stake in this and we should demand that the voting is fixed and fair.
Just to clear up some misconceptions:
Anyone who believes that teen texters choose the American Idol winners is absolutely wrong. Only 20% of Idol viewers are under 18. The average viewer of American Idol is around 43 and female. As someone close to that age I can text with the best. So can my mom who is 18 years older than me. Kris Allen won because Arkansas filled a stadium full of people of all ages, AT&T gave them phones and taught them how to power text. Watch the video here and see how Arkansas defeated Adam Lambert.
Kris Allen Voting instructions Click here
Kris Allen needs you! Click here
Watch Party Anouncements Click here
This year Scotty McCreery has parties , but does not have AT&T involvement.
Garner, North Carolina PartyClick here
The American Idol voting system is flawed. It can be gamed just like Kris Allen’s hometown fans did to defeat Adam Lambert. Pia’s early elimination, when she was contender, shows that American Idol needs to revamp the voting system so that the most talented contestants can advance as they deserve to do. Pia Toscano did not deserve to go home. This is one of the most talented seasons ever but American Idol is turning people off with the voting fiasco. How much more will viewers take?
American Idol Demographics
Dial Idol predictions this week
Post your comments, follow me on Twitter @kmkolsch and retweet the article.