As "American Idol" marches on, it gets harder and harder to predict who might be going home from week to week. But in the early rounds, especially when producers throw a few wild cards into the mix, the job is a lot easier.
That was the case on Thursday night, when it was pretty obvious that baby diva Ashthon Jones was headed for the scrapheap of "Idol" also-rans.. Even though host Ryan Seacrest announced that the judges' save is in play again this year, it was clear after another uneven run through Diana Ross' "When You Tell Me That You Love Me" that Jones had run out of chances.
And, according to the "Idol" experts we've spoken to, America made the right call. "I hate to gloat, but I was right about Ashthon Jones!" crowed "Idol" blogger MJ Santilli about her forecast that Jones had blown out her last diva 'do on national TV. "The young diva was chosen as a wild card by the judges for the top 13. She had very little screen time, and her performances on the 'Idol' stage were competent, but nothing spectacular."
Popdust columnist Maura Johnston — who also was the special guest on MTV News' "Idol Party Live" show show Thursday night — went with Selena-loving singer Karen Rodriguez and was chastened by her wrong call.
"Jones' elimination was something of a surprise to me given that I'd picked Karen Rodriguez to go home on the non-strength of her limp Selena cover, but I probably shouldn't have been too shocked; Karen got into the top 10 and Ashthon snuck into the finals as a wild card, so Karen's previously existent support was probably a little bit stronger," said Johnston. "And Ashthon went earlier in the night, so her somewhat forgettable performance could have become even more so once the time to pick up the phone (or the Facebook) rolled around."
Despite the usual claims that the girls are as strong as ever this year, Johnston lamented that Jones' exit could presage a string of consecutive female eliminations in the coming weeks as this season's men appear to have stronger followings so far.
Santilli speculated that K-Rod, who was in the bottom three thanks to a tepid cover of Selena's "I Could Fall in Love," is probably headed home next. "Haley [Reinhart's] appearance in the bottom three was a bit of a surprise," she noted of the soul singer who tried to mix it up with a yodeling LeAnn Rimes cover this week. "I thought Jacob Lusk, whose 'I Believe I Can Fly' was a hot mess, would share the stools of shame with Karen and Ashthon. If Haley can find her niche in the next couple of weeks, she might stick around. Jacob on the other hand, will probably be gone in the next couple of weeks. I don't think his gospel style is resonating with 'Idol' viewers."
In other "Idol" news, next week the top 12 will sing songs from the year they were born, and the show will feature performances from the Black Eyed Peas and last season's "Idol" winner, Lee DeWyze.
Don't miss "Idol Party Live" every Thursday on MTV.com, following the "American Idol" results show, for analysis, celebrity guests and even some karaoke — get in the conversation by tweeting with the hashtag #idolparty! In the meantime, get your "Idol" fix on MTV News' "American Idol" page, where you'll find all the latest news, interviews and opinions.