"American Idol" Season 11 was supposed to be a girls' season. Of course, the judges and producers say that EVERY season, and for the past four seasons, they've been wrong. And they may be wrong again, since this week's bottom three--the first bottom three of the season determined entirely by the public vote--was entirely female. Male contestants who'd been sternly critiqued by the judges this week, like Deandre Brackensick and Heejun Han, made it through to the top 10, while Elise Testone, Erika Van Pelt, and Shannon Magrane were all up for elimination--with Shannon, who'd actually been praised and called "fearless" by the judges this week, eventually getting the boot.
I absolutely did not think Elise or Erika deserved to be in the bottom three, and the judges were especially annoyed to see Elise at risk--for the second week in a row--after giving such a brilliant comeback performance of "Let's Stay Together" this Wednesday. ("I'm not happy. It's not fair. Great performances should be rewarded. She was one of the best last night," grumbled Jennifer Lopez.) Shannon was admittedly way better this week than she was last week, but I still thought she was a little too young and green for this competition, and I was pleased that Elise and Erika, who were both at risk last week, were given another reprieve.
So what I want to know now is, what does America have against the two coolest, most interesting women on the show? Is it the fact that Elise and Erika are women--at ages 28 and 26, respectively, they're the oldest contestants left in the competition--not girls like Jessica Sanchez or Hollie Cavanagh, so younger voters just don't relate to them? Well, that theory doesn't quite hold up, since this week's reject, Shannon, was in fact the youngest contestant in the entire top 11. And the idea that female contestants may be doomed this season can also be debated, since Jessica, Hollie, and plucky teen Skylar Laine still seem to have very good chances of breaking the female losing streak on "Idol" and making this year's finale. So I am not quite sure why voters are still not connecting with Elise and Erika. It's certainly not due to either ladies' lack of talent.
I am still kind of hoping that Elise and Erika will follow in the path of last season's Haley Reinhart--a scrappy little fighter who landed in the bottom three multiple times early on, but eventually won over America and clawed her way to the top three. But thankfully, no matter what happens to Elise and Erika now, they've at least made it into the top 10 lineup going on this summer's big Idols Live concert tour, and I look forward to seeing them rock it onstage in that setting, even if they don't rock "Idol's" soundstage for very much longer.
Yes, the saddest thing for Shannon this week was--due to the unexpected disqualification of Jermaine Jones (or maybe it wasn't so unexpected, if you believe the conspiracy theories)--this Wednesday's top 12 suddenly became a top 11, which meant that this Thursday's elimination show determined the top 10 touring cast. So Shannon just missed that opportunity. Ryan Seacrest described this as "one of the most brutal cuts of the season," and he wasn't kidding. For anyone going home on "Idol" in 11th place under normal circumstances, after getting so close to the top 10, this elimination would be bittersweet--but it was especially bittersweet for Shannon, who must have been thinking, what if Jermaine hadn't been disqualified this week? Would she have been safe? Maybe it would have been Jermaine with the lowest votes, and maybe Jermaine would have gone home under less scandalous circumstances, and maybe Shannon would have survived. We'll never know.
Adding to Shannon's sadness was the fact that the last time someone was disqualified at this stage in the game (when Season 2's Corey Clark was disqualified in 10th place), the show skipped eliminations entirely that week. Shannon was not so lucky this season, and she wasn't given the Judges' Save, either--although that was no surprise, considering all the flak the judges got last year for using the Judges' Save on Casey Abrams in 11th place, and considering the fact that her sing-for-her-life performance this Thursday had many pitchy moments that probably had the judges thinking America had actually gotten it right.
I do think America totally got it right this week, at least in terms of who went home--I think Shannon should have gotten cut last week, actually--but seeing an all-female bottom three this Thursday still struck fear into my heart. Will Season 11 be a "girls' season" in the end, or just another boys' club? I guess we shall soon see.