3rd Annual Superstition Round-Up : Sifting the Tea Leaves and Predicting the Winners

The Idolworld is filled with a lot of wisdom – wisdom gained through years of observation discussion and obsession. Never dis a judge. Never wear a cow inspired jumpsuit. Never sing “Against All Odds”. If you can play an instrument, play it. If you find a cool cover on YouTube, credit it. If you find yourself assigned a song about penguins, start packing. The third season always sucks.

From this wealth of wisdom, superstitions/sign-posts/craziness has arisen – the ability to predict the winner out of the final two! Of course, like predicting the sex of a baby or the weather, these tea leaves can be tough to read and are often contradictory. It is hoped that by viewing them in their entirety, we can get a better forecast for the future. Now, this is the third season of reviewing the evidence, but that last two years have accurately foretold the winner. Can we do it yet again? Are their new clues to be discovered? Is our crystal ball in need of some Windex? Should we all be committed?

As usual, we will start with the one straight out of the Twilight Zone….

1) The Curse Of Kristy Lee Cook

The name “Kristy Lee Cook” invokes fear and awe across the Idol nation. You would have to live under a rock or have a life in order not to have heard of her legend. She has accurately predicted the last five winners of the American Idol and just when you think the curse has finally been broken, Kristy Lee arises again. The girls is like a phoenix or a cyborg or a bad infestation of fleas.

It all started back in Season 7. Kristy Lee Cook sold her beloved (but unnamed) barrel horse in order to attend the American Idol auditions in Philadelphia. While on the show, she did everything from butchering the Beatles catalogue to learning how to get out the patriotic vote before being eliminated in 7th position (seventh on the seventh season – yet another coincidence? Or did the fates have it all planned out?). That year, a gentleman with the same last name, David Cook, went on to win the season and everybody happily went about forgetting Miss Kristy Lee.

The next year, Kris Allen managed to win the season despite getting the cannon fodder edit and being made to sing in the second slot for much of the season. How could this happen? Well, somebody could not help but notice that the last two winners had something in common: KLC…Kris Cook. Odd coincidence, no?

When Lee Dewyze showed up in the voting rounds in Season 9, people were a bit concerned. Kris Lee Cook? Was he destined to win even though he frequently sang in the Key of Lee and wore a dead muskrat on his chin? He was indeed. Well, then, the curse is finished, even the most conspiratorial believed.

But don’t you believe it – a certain young man from Garner, North Carolina arrived at the Idol auditions. “What’s your name?” asked a hapless Steven Tyler not realizing what he would soon unleash. The lad responded “Scott McCreery – Scotty”. The ears on the Idol knoll perked up. Could that “ty” be completing Kristy Lee Cook’s name? Could this be the winner? Well, hell fire, save a match, * a duck and see what hatches. He was. Throw in the middle name “Cooke” for good measure.

That appeared to be it. Every single letter in Kristy Lee Cook’s name had been used up and she had no known middle name. The curse had finally, finally been broken. But had it? In season 12 Phillip Phillips arrived on the scene. Phillip means “horse lover”. Kristy Lee Cook was a horse lover. Kirsty Lee auditioned in Philadelphia. – Philadelphia/Phillip? And Phillip Phillips attended Lee County High School in Leesburg, Lee County. All those “Lees”. Surely that could only mean one thing? He would win! And he did.

Curse over? Surely it is tied to all those WGWG winners? No? There are no guys left. Surely there is nothing more that can be wrung from it? Don’t you bet on it!

Candice Rickelle Glover. Nothing. Kree Annette Harrison. Nothing again…no…wait a minute…
Kree….Kristy Lee…Kree…Kr(isty L)ee. Kree is a conjunction of Kristy Lee’s name! Now, quick, somebody tweet Kristy Lee and ask her the name of her favourite barrel horse. I bet it is Harrison! And to top it all off, Kree knows how to play the guitar. WGWG. Guy could be girl. Just sayin’. Maybe it s only the guitar that matters. If you see somebody named Listy from Cook County auditioning with a guitar next year, I’d start betting on her early before the bookies get wise.

Advantage: Kree
Accuracy: 100% (5 of 5)

2) You Cant Win if you Hit the Seal

This theory is actually pretty practical. Winners are typically popular out of the gate. If you are flirting with elimination, how are you supposed to win? Of course it’s not flawless because sometimes the race is pretty close. Let’s look at the stats:

Season 1: Kelly (never) vs Justin (Bottom 2 – Top 7): Advantage Kelly; Kelly won

Season 2: Ruben (Bottom 2 – Top 5) vs Clay (Needed WC to advance): Tough to call – Ruben actually won the semi-final round that Clay did not advance on, but Clay apparently led for the rest of the season – Advantage: Clay; Ruben won

Season 3: Fantasia (Bottom 2 – Top 7 & 4) vs Diana (Bottom 3 – Top 11, 9 & 8) Diana hit the seal more often, but earlier in the competition (indicating that she gained fans through the competition) and never hit the bottom 2 like Fantaisa did. Advantage: Diana; Fanatasia won

Season 4: Carrie (never) vs Bo (Bottom 2 – Top 8): Advantage Carrie; Carrie won
Season 5: Taylor (never) vs Kat (Bottom 2 – Top 10 & 4): Advantage Taylor; Taylor won
Season 6: Jordin (never) vs Blake (Bottom 3 – Top 7): Advantage Jordin; Jordin won
Season 7: David (never) vs David (never): Advantage none; David won
Season 8: Kris (Bottom 3 – Top 5) vs Adam (Bottom 2 – Top 5): Advantage Kris; Kris won
Season 9: Lee (never) vs Crystal (never): Advantage none; Lee won
Season 10: Scotty (never) vs Lauren (Bottom 2 – Top 5): Advantage Scotty; Scotty won
Season 11: Phillip (never) vs Jessica (Eliminated and Saved – Top 7): Advantage Phil; Phil won
Season 12: Candice (Bottom 2 – Top 4A) vs Kree (Bottom 2 – Top 5): Advantage?

Keep in mind that some weeks, we are not told who is bottom 2 so that may skew the results. There are eight seasons where the winner never hit the seal. Of those, six had runner-ups who had hit the seal. We could add in Season 8 because normally they don’t have a bottom three at top 5, so Kris would usually have had an unblemished record.

In seasons where both finalists hit the seal, Clay needed the WC and Diana hit it more often (though not as deep or as far into the competition as Fantasia). It could be noted that both lost to UAC artists, so it may be that fans of that genre are good at getting out the vote on final night.

I think both Kree and Candice were splitting votes the nights they ended up in the Bottom 2 (Kree with Janelle and Candice with Amber) and those vote splitters were eliminated that night. For the last two weeks, Idol has left us with the impression that Kree was in the Bottom 2, but said that the results were in not particular order. So was Kree actually in the Bottom 2 or was that just to make us think she was? Why? Discuss.

Advantage: Too close to call.
Accuracy: 81% (9/11) (100% if you remove the iffy calls from the calculation)

Maybe call it for Candice because Idol has given the viewing audience the impression that she has been in the bottom 2 several times and stole Angie’s spot (whether that is true or not, does not bother the majority of crazed voters – some of whom even write books!).

3) Alphabetically, Winners Always Come Last

Studies have shown that in an election, it is always best to have a name near the beginning of the alphabet. Apparently, voters get bored or their eyes glaze over or they fill out ballots like Brittany from Glee does her SAT tests, because getting near the top of the ballot increases your likelihood of winning. This is especially true in municipal elections where one must vote for a bunch of city councillors, school board officials, dog-catchers and such and you don’t really know who everybody is and who cares who catches your dog just so long as you get them back? Assuming they weed out the weirdos. Which, given some of the politicians I’ve seen, one probably shouldn’t assume.

Anyway, turns out the exact opposite true of Idol winners. All auditionees please change your name to Zero or Zeus immediately. Since all the guys cast were total cannon fodder, Kree has had this competition sewn up since the finals began since Amber, Angie, Candice and Janelle precede her in the alphabet.

David C/David A

Advantage: Kree
Accuracy: 100%

Candice should have used her middle name or changed the spelling of her name to Kuhandice.

4) Performance Order

The Home team always bats last – the last chance to win the game. Going last on Idol gives you the opportunity to leave the last impression. Your “Wow!” moment might erase everybody else’s “Wow!” moment as the entire audience cheers you one last time before the sparkling 19 shows up. It’s a tacit nod from the producers to the audience that this person is the best because they saved the best for last. Conspiracy theories have been built on who gets the pimp spot on Idol. Did somebody get it all the time because they simply are the best (hard to argue that when Ramiele closed the show with a devastatingly bad performance of “I Should Have Known Better” Top 11 night) or are the producers trying prop the person up (see Ramiele who survived that night to make the tour).

In any event, fans tend to let out a sigh of relief when their Idol gets the pimp spot. Rarely, do contestants ever get the boot from slot. Candice has had the pimp spot SF-Girls, Top 6 and Top 4A night. Kree had it Top 8 night and kind of Top 4B night (it was followed-up by a group number so it was not the last song of the night).

The evidence seems to indicate that Idols also believe in the magic of the pimp spot. In a rare bought of fairness, the Idol producers actually leave the final 2 pimp spot up to chance and have Ryan flip a coin (it may be that coin is weighted). Every time an Idol has chosen a slot, they have chosen the pimp spot. Two coin toss winners (Blake and Scotty) gallantly let their female opponent choose, and the female chose the pimp spot.

Spoilers have it that this year Kree won the toss and selected to go first. Eh? Scotty never got to go last and by the time he hit the finale, he had concluded that he had better luck not going last. Blake found out that he wouldn’t be allowed to re-arrange the turgid “This is My Now” coronation song, so he probably figured he might as well lie down in front of the bus – it might hurt less. Now I’m totally curious as to what Kree’s logic is. Given her expression in recent weeks, maybe she just wants it over with as soon as possible.

That said, the pimp spot does not guarantee the win:

Kelly/Justin: Kelly won the coin toss, sang last and won
Ruben/Clay: Clay won the coin toss, sang last and lost
Fantasia/Diana: Fantasia won the coin toss, sang last and won
Carrie/Bo: Carrie won the coin toss, sang last and won
Taylor/Kat: Taylor won the coin toss, sang last and won
Jordin/Blake: Blake won the coin toss, gave the choice to Jordin who sang last and won
Cook/Archie: Archie won the coin toss, sang last and lost
Kris/Adam: Kris won the coin toss, sang last and won
Lee/Crystal: Crystal won the coin toss, sang last and lost
Scotty/Lauren: Scotty won the coin toss, gave the choie to Lauren who sang last and lost
Phil/Jessica: Phil won the coin toss, sang last and won

Advantage: Candice
Accuracy: 64% (7 out of 11)

If you count the coin toss winners, 8 out of 11 (73%) have won.
If you are going to flaunt any of the superstitions, this is the one to flaunt. I guess Idol viewers are not so forgetful that they can’t remember two songs.

5) Majority Gender of Top 3

Okay, this one is a totally mute point this year. The entire top 5 and anybody with any real chance of winning were female. The thinking with this one goes that people likely prefer a certain style of singer and that style might be female/male (pretty broad if you ask me, but there are people who have stated that they only vote for males while others do the same for females, so this type of voter certainly exists). In any event, it is actually quite accurate (though some years, like this one, the entire top 3 is one gender). The only time it failed was in Season 10 when Scotty won against Lauren after Haley was eliminated.

Kelly/Justin/Nikki – two females, one male = female winner
Ruben/Clay/Kim – two males, one female = male winner
Fantasia/Diana/Jasmine – three females = female winner
Carrie/Bo/Vonzell – two females, one male = female winner
Taylor/Katharine/Elliot – two males, one female = male winner
Jordin/Blake/Melinda – two females, one male = female winner
Cookie/Archie/Syesha – two males, one female = male winner
Kris/Adam/Gokey – three males = male winner
Lee/Crystal/Casey – two males, one female = male winner
Scotty/Lauren/Haley – two females, one male = male winner
Phil/Jessica/Josh – two males, one fmeale = male winner

Advantage: Neither
Accuracy: 91% (soon to be 92%)

6) All Winners Come From the South

This has been a common mantra of Idol fans. Some even attribute Angie’s elimination this week on this phenomena. There are various reasons that people give for this rule. Some claim AT&T has more coverage in the South; some claim that all Southerners come from small towns, have a wealth of home town pride and have nothing other to do than vote on a Wednesday night (unlike those hip Northerners – IDK the people of Boston seem pretty proud of their town) and some get downright offensive. Of course, it helps that the definition of the “South” appears to be somewhat elastic. While few would dispute that South Carolina is part of the South, I think some might have an argument with places like Arizona and Missouri.

For the record, here is how I classify the wins:

Kelly (Texas)/Justin (Pennsylvania) – South won
Ruben (Alabama)/Clay (North Carolina) – Both from the South
Fantasia (North Carolina)/Diana (Georgia) – Both from the South
Carrie (Oklahoma)/Bo (Alabama) – South did not win (Oklahoma is mid-west)
Taylor (Alabama)/Katharine (California) – South won
Jordin (Arizona)/Blake (Washington) – Neither from the South
Cook (Missouri)/Archie (Utah) – Neither from the South
Kris (Arkansas)/Adam (California) – South Won
Lee (Illinois)/Crystal (Ohio) – Neither from the South
Scotty (North Carolina)/Lauren (Georgia) – Both from the South
Phil (Georgia)/Jessica (California) – South Won
Kree (Texas)/Candice(South Carolina) – Both from the South

Advantage: Neither
Accuracy: 80% (4 out of 5 times a Southerner faced somebody from the non-South), 64% (7 out of 11 winners from the South) – soon to be 67%

7) Double Letters for the Victory

Here is another quirky name related one. For whatever reason, double letters seem to be the hallmark of Idol winners – the more the merrier. So remember that when you are naming your children for AI Season 27 – should Fox stop messing with the formula and hiring judges that are repulsive to the audience so the show survive. Seriously, get 3 relatively mature adults that don’t drone on and on and on, know more than 5 words and don’t want start feuds with people for the most minor of incidents. Oh, and pick some interesting contestants and don’t make the manipulation so bad that even my dog has started commenting on it.

Oh, I could rant all day, but I have double names to discuss.

Season 1: Kelly Brianne Clarkson (“ll”, “nn”) vs Justin Eldrin Guarani (Zero!)

Season 2: Christopher Theodore Ruben Studdard (“dd”) vs Clayton Holmes Aiken (and that is why he also lost to Arsenio Hall on the Apprentice)

Season 3: Fantasia Monique Barrino (“rr” – wisely kept the last name until she won) vs Diane Nicole Degarmo (marrying Ace Young wil not help)

Season 4: Carrie Marie Underwood (“rr”,”oo”) vs Harold Edwin “Bo” Bice (should have had the nickname “Boo” instead)

Season 5: Taylor Ruben Hicks (no double letters unless you start gluing names together) vs Katharine Hope McPhee (“ee” – she should have won by this rule)

Season 6: Jordin Brianna Sparks (“nn”) vs Blake Colin Lewis (he may repeat syllables when beat-boxing, but he does not repeat letters in his name)

Season 7: David Roland Cook (“oo”) vs David James Archuleta (too bad the way people frequently mispell his last name was not true)

Season 8: Kristopher Neil Allen (“ll”) vs Adam Mitchel Lambert (none unless you do the name gluing trick)

Season 9: Leon (Lee) James Dewyze (“ee” – wise choice to pick up the double letter nickname – Idol voters approved) vs Crystal Lynn Bowersox (“nn” – nicknames trump milddle names).

Season 10: Scotty Cooke McCreery (“tt”, “oo”, “cc”, “ee” – a new record!) vs Lauren Alaina [Suddeth] (bad timing to drop the last name – though probably would still have been overwhelmed by her competitor)

Season 11: Phillip Phillips (“ll”, “ll”, same name twice, same name as his dad) vs Jessica Sanchez (“ss” – overwhelmed)

Season 12: Candace Rickelle Glover (“ll” in the middle name”) vs Kree Annette Harrison (“ee”, “nn”, “tt”, “rr” – ties the record with Scotty)

Advantage: Kree
Accuracy: 91%

8) First Time’s the Charm

It has been noted that winners are always first time auditioners. While some people come back time and time again before finally breaking through, other people show up to support their brother and go all the way to the top. Often, repeat auditioners don’t even make it to the finale. It may be that multi-year auditioners are just missing something and while they are a bit better when they come back, that is still not enough. But, we do know very good people that get cut every year in the audition process because that is not the story the producers want to tell that year. It may be that some people resent the multi-year auditioners because they come in with a built-in fan base. It may be that voters treat multi-year auditioners like they are houses that have been too long on the market – “There must be something wrong with them, even if I can’t see it”.

This is the first year for this theory, so let’s see if I can get the stats correct:

Season 1: Kelly vs Justin – obviously, both first time auditioners
Season 2: Ruben vs Clay – apparently, both first time auditioners
Season 3: Fantasia vs Diana – first timers, though Diana had done the pageant circuit
Season 4: Carrie vs Bo – first time for each
Season 5: Taylor vs Kat – two first timers
Season 6: Jordin vs Blake – first timers – but Jordin did audition in two cities (cut in the arena the first time) and was on the kids version of AI
Season 7: David vs David – also first timers (Archuleta had been on Star Search)
Season 8: Kris vs Adam – sensing a trend?
Season 9: Lee vs Crystal – again
Season 10: Scotty vs Lauren – first time these two were even eligible
Season 11: Phillip vs Jessica – this is an interesting year. While this was the first time the two were on American Idol, both tried out for Simon’s America’s Got Talent. Phil was rejected, Jessica was successful and made the wildcard round. Jessica’s run was better known and more resented

Season 12: Kree (first timer?) vs Candice (auditioned Seasons 9, 10 and 11)

Well, I don’t know. It seems clear that repeat auditioners have a tough time of making it to the finale, but ther is no evidence that it helps on the big night. Candice has made it the farthest thus far with people seeming to decide that she got cut in previous years because Randy is an idiot (hard to argue with that). So, maybe this rule does not affect her?

Advantage: Kree
Accuracy: 100%
Confidence:: 0%

7) Hairography

Basically, whoever has the least comment-worthy hair wins. If you are going bald, you are a virtual lock (there has to be some benefits to having to deal with that problem). If you are wearing wigs/extensions, dying your hair and working all those hair appliances, you are putting yourself at risk. Who knows, maybe more natural hair makes one look more organic. Maybe if you mess with your hair every week, people don’t recognize you (Idol fans are quick to forget!). Maybe as Glee explains, it makes one seem less serious and eats away at your credibility.

Kelly (short bob) vs Justin (Side Show Bob)
Ruben (bald) vs Clay (flat-iron addict)
Fantasia (no-nonsense pixie cut) vs Diana (long tresses wore in a variety of styles)
Carrie (long hair) vs Bo (longer hair, plus a beard!)
Taylor (grey hair, $8 hair cut) vs Katharine (hair extensions)
Jordin (flowing hair) vs Blake (always with the new styles, even changed from blonde to black!)
Cook (didn’t one of those over-reacting teens say “But he’s bald!) vs Archie (thick locks)
Kris (did he ever even change his hair?) vs Adam (even brought in his own hair stylist)
Lee (boring, non-descript hair plus muskrat) vs Crystal (much commented-upon Dreadlocks)
Scotty (started with a buzzcut and ended up with about an an inch of hair) vs Lauren (long hair, extensions, which ended up dyed two different colours)
Phil (ran away from the stylists, probably didn’t even own a comb) vs Jessica (always looking styled)
Kree (long hair that seems to get blown dry and she’s good to go) vs Candice (lots of different, stylish looks)

Advantage: Kree
Accuracy: 100%
Confidence: 20%

In our first year, Scotty took the majority of predictions, but Lauren held her own on a couple. Last year, Phil ran away with every category. This year, it’s a tough call. A lot of our bell-weather prediction tools have the contestants in a dead tie. While Kree wins the most of the categories, she is mainly dominating in the voodoo name categories (KLC curse, alphabet and double letters). Candice seems to have some traction in a few of the categories which actually have some kind of logic associated with them.

I’m going to go with crazy theories over logic and call the victory for Kree (plus I would never publicly bet against Kristy Lee). What say you?

Sources: Many of these theories are exracted from a variety of Idol related sites, all claiming to originate them. I salute the clever people who developed them whoever they are.

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Kirsten has had a long love affair with numbers. Marry that with her love of cheese and the Numbers Threads at MJs were born.