Sometimes an audience looks at the way it's being manipulated and says no thanks ...
and last night the fans of Lauren and Scotty looked at the way the show was genuflecting before Haley and said, not this time. Said, in fact, 95 million votes' worth of not this time.
I don't have a rooting interest in Scotty or Lauren, but I am pleased to see Haley go. I think the show was wildly overpraising and over-presenting her (Lady Gaga gift song, wind machine on Wednesday). I also think she was quite a snot a week ago when presented with criticism. But I was still astonished that she was going home. Some possible reasons:
-- She wasn't nearly as good as the show claimed. As one of my friends said after last night's show, "Don't let her near my Zeppelin." Her vocals were erratic and her stage mannerisms a constant source of irritation, especially the smiling during songs that aren't really happy. The audience sensed this, even if the judges and producers ignored it; the audience has its reasons for preferring some contestants over others, but it's not stupid.
-- She went increasingly hard-rock (Alanis, Zeppelin) when the "Idol" audience leans toward mellow. This, after all, could be a big reason James, my favorite contestant, was sent home early.
-- She is older than Scotty and Lauren, who accordingly were more likely to appeal to the teens and tweens, an audience much more deft at mass voting.
-- She was just trampy enough to alienate the not-to-be-underestimated granny vote, which was far more likely to admire the sweet, genteel, well-mannered Scotty and Lauren.
-- She was snotty a week ago when dealing with Randy's criticism. And, as I mentioned at the time, snotty does often catch up to contestants, although not immediately; with a week to discuss her attitude, viewers were more likely to dislike her.
-- Beyond Randy, she was unlikable to the other contestants (and maybe to people who knew her a bit), and there were increasing signs of that. Back in the video where the contestants made jokes about each other's quirks, it all seemed affectionate and amused -- except when they talked about Haley. And where both Scotty and Lauren got their judges' songs in front of crowds on Wednesday's show, Haley received her while sitting almost alone in a limo.* Her behavior tonight -- hogging the stage and looking as if she had been denied her birthright at getting told she was out -- gave Scotty and Lauren, and the audience, all the more reason to dislike her.
-- The show was so pushy about her, it ticked people off.
I know others will point to the Southern factor, but that hasn't appeared to be a major factor in some previous seasons, and there are plenty of alternaitve explanations here. I can't say that it was any one of those reasons that put her out, but I can see a combination proving fatal.
*Looking at the early portions of tonight's show, I see that she had a crowd to play to -- so why not announce her judges' song there? Very odd impression conveyed before the vote.