The battle for the hometown visits is on among the Top 4 American Idol contestants, and now the Idol Nation is left waiting for the results to see who will be eliminated next! Will it be teen heart throb Phillip Phillips, experienced-beyond-her-years Jessica Sanchez, teen-Celine Hollie Cavanagh, or Idol-throwback-to-another-era Joshua Ledet? Depending upon how much of each contestant’s fan base actually voted after last night’s performances, the bottom two could be anybody’s guess, but to shed some science into speculation for tonight’s results, we’ve examined a proprietary mixture of social media trend data and performance ratings to bring you our best American Idol Top 4 predictions.
Read on for a recap and our take on last night’s performances, of “California Dreamin’” and “Songs You Wish You Had Written”, along with the resulting ZScore calculated for each contestant, or SCROLL DOWN for our bottom line predictions. The ZScores given below provide a relative ranking of the likelihood that a particular constant will be going home in the upcoming elimination. The contestants with the lowest ZScores are in the most danger of going home.
For the second week in a row, young Hollie Cavanagh takes the stage first, this time with Faithfully by Journey. Strategically, the first to go is a difficult place to be, but in this case, it’s much to Hollie’s benefit, because as the night wears on, we all see that Hollie is the performance-challenged singer of the night. She’s best judged when there is nobody else to compare her to, and so this first performance earns her a shower of modest praise from the judges, including Randy’s exuberant comments, “Hollie Cavanagh, you’re peaking at the right time in this competition…dude, you are right in the zone. Hollie wants to take this…Hollie wants to have the whole thing!”
However, Hollie just can’t hang on to that healthy start, and after singing the classic ballad by Bonnie Raitt, I Can’t Make You Love Me, Hollie falls short, proving that she really couldn’t make us love her. Jennifer comments that the song “just got the best of you,” and Steven adds that, “it just fell a little short…” Good golly, Hollie, your fate now hangs on a thread.
DATA REVIEW: Hollie had been trending up with fans in recent weeks — even at a higher rate than either Phillip Phillips or Jessica Sanchez. However, on a post-performance review, fan chatter in the last 24 hours is seemingly on the decline, indicating a high likelihood of danger ahead for Hollie.
Our Call: DANGER ZabaScore: 4.0
Next comes Phillip Phillips with a now to-be-expected-monotonous performance of Have You Ever Seen the Rain by Creedence Clearwater Revival. What can we say, except that it was “just ok” for us? Time and time again, week after week, Phillip Phillips is always just ok for us– in song, in appearance, in everything, yet the hype surrounding this seemingly average dude, just continues to grow. But then again, what can you expect for a young, teen girl crowd who is also guilty of going hog-voting-wild over Alfred E. Neuman look-alike Scotty McCreery?
However, the second time around, Phillip delivers Volcano by Damien Rice, and this time, we feel more than just ok about Phillip because he plain ol’ sounded good. It was an honest, raw performance, and one that even we are willing to praise Phillip for. And apparently the judges are taken off guard by a better than usual performance by Phillip as well, so much so that Steven can’t quite collect his thoughts properly and says, “I heard the musician that time man, you just sang like you really dug the way you sung.” Somebody, please tell us, what does that mean??
DATA REVIEW: Phillip has always been a favorite among fans, always at the high end of the American Idol Social Media Scorecard. However, in recent weeks, Phillip has been on a clear decline with respect to new fan growth, clearly trending downward in the statistics. For this reason, we believe Phillip may be in the bottom two for the week.
Our Call: DANGER ZabaScore: 5.6
Joshua’s first selection of the evening is the ambitious song, You Raise Me Up by Josh Groban, which is an amazingly natural choice (raised platform, choir and all) for this church-raised soul singer. While some of the audience felt as if he failed to connect to the song, we felt differently. His performance was solid, is vocals ran deep, and because he followed a string of mediocre first round performances from Hollie and Phillip, the judges were ready to lay on the praise. “What can I say? It was another great performance for you,” says Jennifer. Randy adds, “You validate what we say–if you are a great singer and a great artist, you can sing anything,” and he is right, because later on in the show, Joshua returns to deliver a truly gritty performance of It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World by James Brown that has the audience up on their feet!
Joshua’s performance of this seemingly untouchable classic opens the floodgates of praise from the judges. Randy tells him, “I think it was one of the best performances in the history of any singing show,” and Steven also adds, “Neither man nor woman has ever sang that good with that much passion ever! I’ve never heard anything like that in my life!” With comments from Steven that can even be considered coherent at this point, we know that Joshua has struck a chord with this performance and that he has set a high bar to reach. That is, until Jessica returned for round two.
DATA REVIEW: After starting the season alienating the Idol Nation with the overuse of his talent for “screeching,” this late in the season, Joshua has learned to temper his vocals and showcase his “style” to his advantage. The data shows that Joshua started with a significantly lower fan base than Phillip Phillips and Jessica Sanchez, but that over the last few weeks, he is on the trend up with fans, enjoying the greatest rate of fan growth over the remaining contestants. Only time will tell if this late growth spurt is enough to keep Joshua safe this week.
Our Call: WILDCARD ZabaScore: 12.8
Jessica Sanchez takes the stage for the first time with Steal Away by Etta James. It turns out to be a crowd and judge pleaser, though not of the same magnitude as her second time on stage would soon be. Jennifer tells her, “I have to say, when I think about all the great females singers out there who would be your contemporaries out there, you are just one of the best,” and Steven concurs, “Another winning performance. Just over the top.” But it’s not until Jessica returns after Joshua’s leave-room-for-nothing performances that we see how consistently great she truly is.
Wearing her emotion as clearly as her dangling pair of over-sized earrings, the tiny 16 year old belts out a performance that astounds us all. Like the judges, we expect a good, solid performance from Jessica, sort of like the resolution of the climax to a good book, but we did not expect to reach multiple climaxes during the evening’s show and this girl delivered the goods. However, it seemed as if the judges had already drained themselves of all the praise on Joshua’s performance before, leaving Jessica almost inadequately compensated for the powerful performance she gave. Sure, Jennifer had tears in her eyes, but after giving it all up to Joshua, their comments seemed incongruous with what we just saw. “You got up there and you slayed it!” says Randy. Yes, Randy, she certainly did.
DATA REVIEW: Jessica is a long-time fan favorite with the most Twitter followers and Facebook fans. Consistently stellar performances have constantly propelled her to the top of the ladder for social media buzz and last night’s performances were no exception–the last 24 hours of related Tweets reached an unprecedented volume of over 14k in number, more than 10k over the next closest Top 4 contestant. Due to trends like these measured overnight, we believe Jessica’s popularity will likely send her on an Idol-driven journey home next week.
Our Call: SAFE ZabaScore: 16.1
The Bottom Two
The Wild Card
Who’s Going Home