On Wednesday, MTV's "American Idol" experts confidently predicted that big Michael Lynche would be facing elimination for a second time this season after a so-so outing on Shania Twain night. But a few hours later, Mike was saved (again) from the bottom and it was caterwauling, glassblowing apprentice Siobhan Magnus who was ousted, leaving this much-heralded "girls" season on "Idol" down to one female front-runner, Crystal Bowersox.
"Siobhan's elimination was a pretty big shocker," MTV News' "Idol in 60 Seconds" major domo Jim Cantiello said. "In the 'Idol' pundit world, all bets were on Michael Lynche to go home."
Among the factors Jim cited as contributing to the surprise: Magnus got the final "pimp spot" on Tuesday's show, which helped her join an elite group of pimp spot bootees that includes Lilly Scott, Melinda Doolittle, Anoop Desai and, if you include the finales, David Archuleta and Clay Aiken. Also, for the first time in weeks, she received good notes from the judges' panel for her energetic cover of "Any Man of Mine." Well, except for Simon Cowell comparing her screaming to that of a woman giving birth.
"Perhaps viewers assumed Siobhan was safe, or they resisted the over-praise from the judges," Cantiello speculated. "[But] Siobhan's journey has been frustrating. The cool, quirky Cape Cod crooner who began this season rocking out to songs by the Animals morphed into a cabaret performer with a penchant for generic ballads and singing through her nose. While 'Any Man of Mine' wasn't a particularly great performance, it signaled a step back in the right direction."
Cantiello now fears that the excitement factor may have passed for the season. "I simply do not care what Casey James or Lee Dewyze or Aaron Kelly or even MamaSox will sing," he lamented. "What you see is what you get. No alarms and no surprises."
MJ Santilli of MJsBigBlog.com predicted a while ago that Magnus might be booted early because of her erratic singing, often defensive post-performance ramblings and amorphous artistic identity. But MJ, too, was unprepared for the elimination this week.
"Even though she was one of the weakest performers on Tuesday, there were contestants who were either weaker performers and/or less compelling personalities," she said. "Aaron Kelly has been mediocre during his entire run on 'Idol.' He's got a decent voice, but his song choices and performing skills have been awful. ... But his mommy-centric version of 'It's in the Way You Love Me' had moms and grannies lunging for their phones, I suspect."
Santilli also said Lynche's performance was just OK and that neither singer leaves you wondering what they'll be up to next. "Siobhan had a better spot in the lineup than either Mike or Aaron, and the judges liked her too," she said. "Yet, the viewing audience rejected her, and I can only surmise that she was just too damn weird for 'American Idol,' ultimately."
With the unpredictable Magnus gone, Santilli lamented that the rest of the season could be a "long, dull slog," but that wasn't what worried her the most. "Even as the judges declared this season a 'girls year,' even as they attempted to stack the deck in favor of females, the girls still got picked off early, one by one," she said. "I'm beginning to wonder if a girl can win 'Idol,' at this point."
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