Who is going to win American Idol? Some people will claim they can predict who will win. They’ll tell you some flim-flam about twitter followers, demographics or common sense, but that is all completely useless. Those methods have all proven to be notoriously unreliable at predicting winners. You might as well flip a coin with the contestants faces on it and good luck finding a three-sided coin.
Fortunately, we here at MJs have hard science. Years of study and research have allowed us to collect the most reliable predicting tools in the history of reality television. Mined from such auspicious sites as Television Without Pity, Idol Forums and our own overly active imagination, these state of the art tools will take the guess work out finale night. So sit back and prepare to win your American Idol Pool if people still ran pools for American Idol.
Warning: Because this is our first time 3 will compete in the finale, we would encourage you not to bet real money, but a few pop tarts might be worth the risk.
A) Double or Nothing
The Idol Fates favour those that double down on American Idol. Boxcars in your name can chug you to victory and no mere superman can stop that locomotive. And if one pair of letters can help you win at poker, two or three pairs are even better. Such is the love that Idol Fates have for double letters, they will curse you if your drop a name with double letters and smile if you come up with a creative way of having them.
1: Kelly [Brianne] Clarkson (2)
vs Justin [Eldrin] Guarani (0)
2: [Christopher Theodore] Ruben Studdard (1)
vs [Clayton Holmes] “Clay” Aiken (0)
3: Fantasia [Monique] Barrino (1 – Fantasia wisely chose not to drop her last name until after she won)
vs Diane [Nicole] Degarmo (0)
4: Carrie [Marie] Underwood (2)
vs [Harold Edwin] “Bo” Bice (0 – the fates were not pleased that Harold Edwin did not take the opportunity to be Harry or Eddie. He should have at least picked Boo)
5: Taylor Ruben Hicks (0)
vs Katharine Hope McPhee (1)
6: Jordin [Brianna] Sparks (1)
vs Blake Colin Lewis (0)
7: David [Roland] Cook (1 – Bonus – because of the plethora of David’s that year, he was commonly referred to as “Cookie” or “Cook”)
vs David [James] Archuleta (0 – if only he had spelled it Archuletta or gone by Jimmy!)
8: Kristopher [Neil] Allen (1)
vs Adam Mitchel Lambert (0)
9: [Leon] “Lee” [James] Dewyze (1 – De Wyze man used his nickname with double-letters showing respect to the Fates)
vs Crystal [Lynn] Bowersox (1 – in the unheard middle name)
10: Scotty Cooke McCreery (4 – it’s like his parents planned for this)
vs Lauren Alaina [Suddeth] (0 – unlike Fantasia, Lauren dropped her last name too soon)
11: Phillip [Ladon] Phillips (2 – plus the double name. The Idol Fates fell in love)
vs Jessica Sanchez (1)
12: Candace [Rickelle] Glover (1)
vs Kree Annette Harrison (4)
– Incorrect (the Idol Fates must have been distracted by the Nicki/Mariah squabbles too)
13: Caleb [Perry] Johnson (1)
vs Jena [Irene [Ascuitto]] (0 – As we learned with Lauren, keep those valuable last names)
14: Nick James Fradiani (0) ? vs Clark Paul Beckham (0)? – Inconclusive (nicknames could have helped us!)
15: Trent [William] Harmon (1)
vs LaPorsha Renae [Myers] (0)
Caleb Lee Hutchinson (1 – wisely using that middle name)
vs Gabby Barrett (3)
vs Maddie Poppe (2)
Accuracy: 12/14 (86%)
B) Odds on Favourite
It has been noted that the majority gender of the top 3 will predict the gender of the winner. This may not just be a coincidence. There are some people who prefer male or female voices. If voters already prefer a given gender, there may be more of that gender in the final 3. Or maybe they votes of the eliminated contestant gravitate towards their remaining best friend/roommate which are generally the same gender. Or maybe a year tends to be more of a boy’s year or a girl’s year and inertia carries through. Let’s examine the trends:
1. Kelly/Justin/Nikki – two females, one male = female winner – Correct
2. Ruben/Clay/Kim – two males, one female = male winner – Correct
3. Fantasia/Diana/Jasmine – three females = female winner – Correct
4. Carrie/Bo/Vonzell – two females, one male = female winner – Correct
5. Taylor/Katharine/Elliot – two males, one female = male winner – Correct
6. Jordin/Blake/Melinda – two females, one male = female winner – Correct
7. Cookie/Archie/Syesha – two males, one female = male winner – Correct
8. Kris/Adam/Gokey – three males = male winner – Correct
9. Lee/Crystal/Casey – two males, one female = male winner – Correct
10. Scotty/Lauren/Haley – two females, one male = male winner – Incorrect
11. Phil/Jessica/Josh – two males, one female = male winner – Correct
12. Candice/Kree/Angie – three females = female winner – Correct
13. Caleb/Jena/Alex – two males, one female = male winner – Correct
14. Nick/Jax/Clark – two males, one female = male winner – Correct
15. Trent/LaPorsha/Dalton – two males, one female=male winner – Correct
For Season 16: Caleb/Gabby/Maddie – one male/two females = female winner.
Or does the gender of the last eliminated contestants matter tipping the contest in favour of a male winner (Cade and Michael)? We may need to do further research.
Winner: Gabby or Maddie
Accuracy: 14/15 = 93%
C) Pole Position
If your name starts with a letter in the front of the alphabet, you float through life with a bit of an advantage. You are more likely to be elected to municipal council (ballots tend to be alphabetical), you are more likely to get the college courses you like (due to the sorting algorithms) and you are more likely to receive your diploma before half the audience has decided they would rather chew off their own arm than sit through any more diplomas being handed out. But Idol is one of the few places which favours those who inhabit the end of the alphabet.
1. Kelly/Justin – Correct
2. Ruben/Clay – Correct
3. Fantasia/Diana – Correct
4. Carrie/Bo – Correct (Bo pays for that nickname again!)
5. Taylor/Katharine – Correct
6. Jordin/Blake – Correct
7. David C/David A – Correct
8. Kris/Adam – Correct
9. Lee/Crystal – Correct
10. Scotty/Lauren – Correct
11. Phil/Jessica – Correct
12. Kree/Candice – Incorrect – Once again, Season 12 is hinky
13. Jena/Caleb – Incorrect
14. Nick/Clark – Correct
15. Trent/LaPorcha – Correct
Accuracy: 13/15 – 87%
D) Home-field Advantage
Idol viewers have long lamented that contestants from Southern states have an advantage on finale night. Some said that it used to be that the phone company that was linked to AI and provided free texting had better coverage in the South. Some say Southern states have a culture more likely to support their local contestant. The uncharitable say that people in Southern states don’t have anything to do other than vote while people in California and New York have busy, full lives.
I have long lamented that the definition of a “Southern” state is fluid and any attempt to define which states are Southern (other than North Carolina) will get you labelled as “stupid”. Let’s try again and see if the Southerner always wins:
1. Kelly (Texas-S)/Justin (Pennsylvania-N) – Correct
2. Ruben (Alabama-S)/Clay (North Carolina-S) – Correct
3. Fantasia (North Carolina-S)/Diana (Georgia-S) – Correct
4. Carrie (Oklahoma-S/MW/NNW/SoC/NoM)/Bo (Alabama-S) – Correct
5. Taylor (Alabama-S)/Katharine (California-S) – Correct
6. Jordin (Arizona-Not Called Southern)/Blake (Washington-PNW) – Incorrect (no Southerners made the finale)
7. Cook (Missouri-MW)/Archie (Utah-Who Knows, but it cannot be considered South) – Incorrect (no Southerners made the finale)
8. Kris (Arkansas-S)/Adam (California-Not classified as Southern even though San Diego is South of the entire State of Arkansas) – Correct
9. Lee (Illinois-N)/Crystal (Ohio-N) – Incorrect (no Southerners made the finale)
10. Scotty (North Carolina-S)/Lauren (Georgia-S) – Correct
11. Phil (Georgia-S)/Jessica (California-Not Called South) – Correct
12. Kree (Texas-S)/Candice(South Carolina-S) – Correct
13. Caleb (North Carolina)/Jena (Michigan) – Correct
14. Nick (Connecticut-N)/Clark (Tennessee-S) – Incorrect
15. Trent (Mississippi-S)/LaPorsha(Mississippi-S) – Correct
Season 16: Caleb (Georgia-S)/Gabby(Pennsylvania-N)/Maddie(Iowa-MW) – Advantage Caleb although Gabby has adopted a Southern accent so she might get some Southern votes too.
Accuracy: 11/15 – 73%
E) At the Post by a Hair
Rachel from “Glee” explained the issues of Hairography to us. Hairography can be used to distract people from less than stellar singing, but it also builds mistrust in the audience. “Why are you trying to distract us?”Voters from Idol seem to be firmly in the distrust of Hairography camp. Sure, we enjoy a good Ponyhawk as well as the next audience, but by the time we get to the finals, you better have wash and go hair or we are going to be skeptical. Let’s inspect the hair through the ages:
1. Kelly vs Justin – Justin had a big head of glorious hair that became a much talked about during the Summer of 2002 (even none-watchers heard the legends). Kelly’s hair let her voice do the talking – Correct.
2. Ruben vs Clay – Clay’s makeover was topped off by his hair. He arrived at his audition dressed like an office worker with glasses and bed-head hair and arrived at the finale in a suit, contacts and flat-ironed, gravity-defying, highlighted hair. Ruben was bald – Correct
3. Fantasia vs Diana – Diana was constantly experimenting with new hairstyles to accent her performances. Fantasia’s hair remained almost the same throughout because she was focussed on the sanging.- Correct
4. Carrie vs Bo – While Carrie did more to style her hair, Bo’s hair stole the focus. Idol had never had a long-haired, bearded rocker on the show and it’s novelty was much discussed. Bo’s hair became one of his defining features – Correct
5. Taylor vs Katharine – While one might think that Taylor’s grey hair got him is initial attention, his absolute refusal to do anything with it caused it to become the anti-Hairography. His message was that his hair didn’t matter, his singing did. Meanwhile, the stylists turned to Katharine in the later stages of the competition to have something to do. They added extensions and her hair was magnificent. Voters went with the one who said that hair should’t matter – Correct
6. Jordan vs Blake – Once again, one might think that the woman with the gorgeous hair would be accused of Hairogrpahy, but Blake used his hair to punctuate performances. He tried many different styles and on Bon Jovi night, his hair stole attention by being died black. The one who left her hair in the background won – Correct
7. Cook vs Archuleta – Cook showed up with a frightening hairstyle and a bad dye job. Idol stylists intervened to take his hair out of the equation. By the time tween-boppers were complaining on youtube about that “loser that doesn’t even shave”, he’d won out over the flowing locks of his rival. Like Taylor, Cook gave an anti-Hairogrpahy message – Correct.
8. Kris vs Adam – Adam talked about having his own stylist come to dye his hair and changed up his styles. Kris probably owned a comb. – Correct
9. Lee vs Crystal – Crystal’s dreads were amazing and pulled focus. Lee may not have owned a comb.- Correct
10. Scotty vs Lauren – Scotty, like Cook, arrived at his audition like it was a deposition for a lawsuit against the person who had mangled his hair. Idol stylists wrestled the clippers away from him until he had normal looking hair and then turned their attention to Lauren who experimented with dyes and extensions. – Correct
11. Phil vs Jessica – Jessica had amazing sheets of hair. Phil rolled out of bed, ruffled his hair, dragged on the shirt he’d worn the night before and performed. – Correct
12. Candace vs Kree – Candace’s daring doos were often commented upon by the judges while Kree’s hair did nothing to warrant comment – Incorrect. Season 12 strikes again.
13. Caleb vs Jena – Even JLo, the mighty JLo, was forced to admire Jena’s amazing hair styles. Caleb resolutely shlubbed his way to the win. – Correct
14. Nick and Clark – These two guys plodded on without much to do about hair. Clark did try a few new things which doomed him to failure – Correct
15. Trent vs LaPorsha – Not since Justin has a finalist had such a spectacular head of hair. La’Porsha talked a lot about her hair and how important it was for her. She played with the colours (going from a greeny-gold colour to a colour that might be found in nature), she spent 14 hours getting corn-rows and she made it a focal point. Trent wore a hat – Correct.
Season 16 features 3 blondes. Gabby has mentioned bringing in a relative to dye her hair and has added extensions. Maddie has tried some interesting braids, but they have been more of a framing mechanism. Caleb, he’s left his hair to just exist.
Accuracy: 14/15 – 93%
Retired Tool: Come from Behind Victory – At one time, performing last was an advantage because you left a lasting impression with the voters. Now, with voting messed up and people encouraged to vote from the start of the show, it’s less clear if the pimp spot is an advantage or a hinderance. Plus, we don’t know if there was a coin toss to decide who went last so we can make no predictions with it.
Retired Tool: Ready for the Glue Factory – It has been noted that Idol winners rarely if ever hit the seal. Being in the bottom 2 or 3 means that you are struggling for votes. But, this year, we were never told the B2 or B3, so we cannot use this predictive tool.
F) Match Fixing
Idol producers have a god complex. They are rarely satisfied with letting the chips fall where they may. They have favourites and may even plant ringers to get the results they want. As a recording contract is part of the prize, having a winner they think is marketable may make them want to tip the scales. Plus, having creditable winners adds value to the show.
Nigel used to go on the radio to cackle about the dirty tricks he did. Producers can tweak the show in a number of ways. They can make little effort to clear a song for somebody they don’t like while personally phoning up an artist to ensure a song was cleared for a contestant they do like (Blake once ended up having to clear his own song). They can mess with the sound like the time they messed with Diana’s monitors. They can provide awesome lighting/screen savers (flames of pimpage)) or nothing at all. They can rattle you with a bad intro clip (e.g. Ace and Queen) or let artists sing your praises (people debate it, but Katy with her “Lambert” cape).
Idol fans lament about The Chosen One. They are destined to win. But are they? Simon never seemed to understand why Americans love an underdog, but they do. It is more virtuous to win when the decks are stacked against you than it is to win with them stacked for you. So strong is this urge, that many times, The Chosen One does not win and fans will adamantly claim their favourite is not The Chosen One. So, be prepared for debate:
1. When Simon Fuller first started the Idol franchise, he assumed that men would win every time. The first Pop Idol proved him right. When he started American Idol, he assumed the same would hold true. Thus, it would seem that Justin would be The Chosen One although some might argue that Tamyra was because of the way the judges/show fawned over who. Kelly was not The Chosen One – her audition was not shown and she came as a surprise during the semi-finals when she blew everyone away. Underdog wins.
2. In Season 2, Idol indicated that they wanted an African American winner to quell claims that the show was racist (blamed for Tamyra’s departure the year before). Frenchie seemed the front-runner until a scandal took her out. Ruben became The Chosen One. He was allowed to break rules (promoting T-shits), given his own meme and traded pimp spots with Clay. The show realized almost too late that Clay was on fire and if voting lines hadn’t been jammed, Ruben might not have one. TCO wins.
3. Season 3: Fantasia seemed to be TCO. She remains one of Simon’s favourite acts and was given positive edits and lighting. Meanwhile, the judges could not stop complaining about how young Diana was like she hid it from them during her audition or was maliciously using a fountain of youth. In the finale, the monitors didn’t work for Diana and her wretched coronation song went horribly off-key. TCO wins.
4. Season 4: Mario was telegraphed early has TCO, but he inexplicably dropped out and got a recording contract from Clive (there were rumours). Carrie took up the mantle of TCO with Bo as the underdog (how could a bearded rocker win?). One way to tell you are the underdog? If nobody mentions you are deathly ill when you have a cold (let alone a deathly illness which Bo did have and we didn’t hear about until later), then you are the underdog. TCO wins.
5. Season 5: Let’s all agree, Taylor was not the one the show wanted to win. He looked like a grandpa, sang soul music and rebelled against the label. Chris Daughtry was the clear TCO with Katharine the chosen runner up (at the time, there were also rumours of phone banks and her father being connected to Fox – neither were true). They could not stop Taylor despite last minute song changes and scathing criticism. Daughtry went out fourth and Katharine remained the runner-up. Underdog wins.
6. Season 6: Jordan seemed the TCO while Blake shook up the competition. Blake started re-arranging songs which injected the competition with new excitement, but he didn’t have the best voice. The favouritism was clear when he was told he could not in anyway re-arrange the coronation song designed for a big-voiced diva. TCO wins
7. Season 7: Cook was the word-nerd added for flavour while Archuleta seemed to be TCO. From day one, people raged about how planty he was. Underdog wins.
8. Season 8: Danny Gokey seemed like TCO from Season 8. They would not stop yapping about his backstory and giving him favourable performance slots. Adam Lambert was either the chosen runner-up or the stealth chose one. Kris Allen was the Underdog in that race. He was practically in the witness protection plan up until the semi-finals, he was put into a stacked semi-final and he was number 2 in the performance order so many times, they practically engraved the spot for him. Underdog wins.
9. Season 9: Season 9 was supper weird. The producers seemed to like Crystal best while Simon made it is his job to get Lee the win. He poo-pooed the need to sing in key or show personality. He begged the audience to save Lee from the horrors of being a paint salesman. Some think Simon tried to destroy the show in his last season. IDK. I’m marking this one as inconclusive because there was some seriously strange messages being sent.
10 Season 10: Season 10 brought us back to form. Some will say that Scotty was the favourite, but they forget the absolutely horrible edit he got in Hollywood and how many people were determined to hate him when the semis started. He was probably meant as a support for Lauren whose country votes would coalesce around her once he left. Lauren got a tonne of support and a doctor came on stage to report on her health. Underdog wins.
11. Season 11: The show wanted Jessica to win (at this point, they wanted anybody without a guitar to win), but strangely did not rag on Phillip for wearing the same outfit every week. Maybe they were trying not to telegraph that he was an Underdog. Underdog wins.
12. Season 12: Hear, the heavy hand of the producers showed the strongest. They were not going to let a WGWG win. They stacked the voting rounds with a set of impressive women and sad-sack males. Candace seemed to be the favourite and she didn’t even look at a guitar. TCO wins.
13. Season 13: Caleb was just supposed to represent the rockers for a while. Jena had the artistry and variety they wanted in a winner. Underdog wins.
14. Season 14: Jax was so obviously TCO, but grandpa Nick and Clark ended up in the finale. Underdog wins.
15. Season 15: The show made it clear that they would rather go out with a female winner – they got another male one. Underdog wins.
TCO: 6 wins – Underdog: 8 wins.
Not all that definitive.
Gabby has been assumed to be TCO. Even some of the eliminated contestants say that. Rumours are that she is planted. I think the Underdog force is strong this year and I’m going to predict this one for Maddie with Caleb as the runner-up.
G) Inside Track
Since Season 7, we’ve seen a trend in this competition. Fans have started to groan when a white guy pulls out his guitar. Idol fans love a musician – especially a male musician. Is the WGWG got the inside track? (NG- No Guitar, WGP-With Guitar/Piano, WGO-With Guitar/Other – I’m probably going to forget some instrumental performances)
Season 7: Cook (WGWG) vs Archuletta (HGNG) – Correct
Season 8: Kris (WGWGP) vs Adam (WGNG) – Correct
Season 9: Lee (WGWG) vs Crystal (WFWG) – Correct
Season 10: Scotty (WGWG) vs Lauren (WFNG) – Correct
Season 11: Phillip (WGWG) vs Jessica (WFNG) – Correct
Season 12: Candace (AAFNG) vs Kree (WFNG) – Incorrect – Season 12 breaking the trends again – no guitars in the finale – guitars were probably burned in the parking lot
Season 13: Caleb (WGNG) vs Jena (WFWP) – Incorrect (Jena as the instrumentalist should have had the addventage)
Season 14; Nick (WGWG) vs Clark (WGWGO) – Correct (all WGWG finale)
Season 15: Trent (WGWG) vs LaPorsha (AAFNG) – Correct
Winner: Caleb (WGWGO)
Runner-up: Maddie (WFWGP)
Accuracy: 7/9 – 78%
H) Clubhouse Turn
The most legendary prediction tool in the Idol arsenal was The Curse of Kristy Lee Cook. After her elimination in Season 7, somehow the universe took revenge. Season 7 was won by a contestant with the last name Cook. Season 8 was won by a contestant called Kris. Lee won season 9 and “Scott McCreery” made sure everybody called him ScotTY in season 10. Scotty’s middle name was also Cooke. Phillip went to to Lee County High School in Leesburg, Lee County and he won Season 11. It seemed that you had to have some connection to the name “Kristy Lee Cook” to win the show. Remember how weird Season 12 was? Well, it seemed to have shattered all sorts of prediction tools including this one. Is the curse no more??? Should it have long since been retired? Caleb is listed as “Caleb Lee Hutchinson”. Just saying
First Past the Post:
So, who will win this year? Let’s first run through the stats from previous years these prediction tools have been used:
Season 10: Scotty (4), Lauren (2), Neither (1) – Scotty won
Season 11: Phil (7), Jessica (0), Neither (0) – Phillip won
Season 12: Kree (4), Candice (1), Neither (3) – Candice won – Season 12 – GRRRR!
Season 13: Caleb (6), Jena (3), Neither (1) – Caleb won
Season 14: Nick (5) Clark (1) Neither (1) – Nick won
Season 15: Trent (6) LaPorsha (0), Neither (3) – Trent won
Accuracy: 5/6 = 83%
Two Points for Winning, 1 Point for Runner-up ?Gabby – 2 wins and 1 runner-up = 5
Maddie – 3 wins and 3 runner-ups = 9
Caleb – 3 wins and 1 runner-up = 7
If the assessment about TCO not winning is wrong, then Gabby ties with Caleb. And if it is the gender balance of the top 5 that matters this year instead of the top 3, Caleb wins. And this year, we have a final 3 so it is harder to vote against somebody.
This is a very close race. Don’t forget to vote.