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Idolwatch: Thursday Morning Quarterbacking

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Spoilers about last night’s American Idol elimination follow.

Whoa! I didn’t predict Melinda’s being voted off American Idol, but that won’t stop me from offering a few theories:

1. Repeat after me: It is not a singing contest. I’ve said it before, but I’ll repeat it–”You get on Idol by singing; you win Idol by telling a story.” Melinda was easily the all-around best singer, but America decided that she wasn’t the best performer. She was better at hitting the notes than selling the emotions of her performances and the narratives of her songs. (At least not convincingly to enough people.) Fantasia made you feel Summertime; Kelly Clarkson did that for any number of lousy Celine Dion songs; Taylor Hicks, much as I mocked him, told a story every night. I can’t think of a single Melinda performance that did the same.

2. Demographics. It is, literally, the oldest story of Melinda’s experience on the show: she was older, she sang older songs, she carried herself older. Younger people vote on Idol. Fair, unfair–that’s democracy.

3. Divine intervention? Could being voted off have been the better thing for Melinda’s career? She could very likely have won Idol but sold as poorly or worse than Hicks post-Idol. Now she’s the Contestant Who Was Robbed–the Chris Daughtry of this season. At the least, it could get her future album more attention than if she had cruised to her long-expected win.

Your thoughts? Theorize, protest or rejoice below.