Friday, May 24, 2013


So we at jork vs TPTB know that the singing competitions mostly want to create a good show with filler, but with regards to having "marketability for the radio?" Take a peek after the jump for analysis.

And it's easy to predict with the sort of contestants that are cast every year. Obviously, pop has the biggest upside, and then country. But country is so male-dominated and frankly oversaturated by the Voice and Idol continually churning out these contestants every year. Let's compare XFUS2, AI12, and The Voice 4 contestants for reference of where I think each contestant is pigeonholed:

[1]Tate Stevens--country. Again, over-saturation and the fact that he was in a pop-oriented show led to his flop.
[2]Carly Rose--based on her run, adult contemporary. Not even HAC. Which is why she wasn't promoted.
[3]Fifth Harmony--pop, possibly rhythmic. Huge potential audience there.
[4]Emblem3--pop, possibly alternative. Good sized audience there
[5]Diamond White--adult contemporary run, but looks like she can re-invent herself into urban and rhythmic in the future
[6]CeCe Frey--pop. Has a pretty rabid twitter fanbase but they opted not to promote her
[7]Vino Alan--adult contemporary or alternative. Limited upside.
[8]Paige Thomas--pop, possibly rhythmic and urban with the potential Cash Money stuff. There's a huge potential audience but probably too generic and too far down the ladder for investment.
[9]Beatrice Miller--there was some Avril Lavigne type stuff there, so I'd say she might have HAC potential if she plays her cards right in the future.
[10]Arin Ray--Definitely was going the pop/rhythmic/urban route with his run. Potential for sure, but too far down the ladder to promote.
[11]Jennel Garcia--Identity crisis as an old fashioned Joan Jett really destroyed whatever potential. Seemed pop though and maybe a tinge of the Latin market? Who knows
[12]Lyric145--Yeah, this one should have been marketed specifically to urban, and with sick beats, they might have taken it a step up to rhythmic. As usual with rap types with good collaborations with well known pop types they could have pop potential, so there's a variety of avenues to work with. More than adult contemporary types, at least.
[13]Jason Brock--AC was the only upside. Tried some dance stuff but I doubt rhythmic likes what he did on the show. Limited upside.

[1]Candice Glover--The way she represented herself on the show screams urban adult contemporary (UAC) all the way. They love old school sounds with great singing, more or less. However, the rest of radio doesn't, so there's limited crossover appeal. And this is the problem: UAC has the third-lowest audience reach of all the major radio genres. As mentioned, the type of artists that go there are incredibly niche--Jaheim, Avant, they just stick there with no movement to other charts. Fantasia however has crafted a career just doing stuff mostly on UAC so it could work, but most people never hear her--she just has a lot of urban adult contemporary lovers and no one else. That's why Candice has very limited upside here, base on how she presented herself. And if she tries to deviate from that--a la Jessica Sanchez--well, good luck with the identity crisis and all that.
[2]Kree Harrison--Female and country. Not a good combination. Sure, Miranda Lambert and Carrie have bucked the trend, but that's the high end of aspirations there. She has her friend Kacey but she's only 32nd on that chart, so it's pretty middling overall there. We haven't heard much from Idol's past several country girls--Skylar and Lauren--but granted, they were on the younger side. I'd say very middling upside at best here.
[3]Angie Miller--She had the most current run on the show (not saying too much given how old the season was, but still) and really really seems to want to do pop between the Jessie J/Lambert stuff at the end, but face it, she wasn't churned out by Disney nor does she pull the weight of a Rihanna, P!nk, Timberlake or a Macklemore, so that's a no go. Her style really seems like HAC at best with the Christina Perri type sound, and possibly Christian. Based on the sound, she's really having a middling upside of HAC and Christian, likely. There could be unrealistic expectations at work here.
[4]Amber Holcomb--This one had the greatest ability to reach a pop audience just by the looks alone, but her run was so incredibly old fashioned it screamed UAC. But then again, UAC loves their mature, older types, so I don't think she'd fit there. I'd say Idol might have ruined her chances by giving her an identity crisis--looks pop, sounds UAC, at the end, neither plays her. Not that she'll get promotion, but she possibly had the most potential in the bunch. Likely just tried out for the wrong show.
[5]Janelle Arthur--Female and country. Middling upside by default, but less than Kree given she's down the ladder. Also, it hurts that likely they won't promote two of the same type in one season, so she might get the shaft.
[6]Lazaro Arbos--That was a completely adult contemporary run. Maybe some Latino stuff, but clearly very limited, if any, upside.
[7]Burnell Taylor--Yeah, remember we thought he was more current than Ledet/Lusk? Slightly true, but John Legend spent a huge chunk of his career at UAC, and that's the upside he's looking at. Little swag to move up the urban/rhythmic ladder, so he's got limited upside
[8]Devin Velez--Completely adult contemporary run. Latino stuff like Arbos, but again very limited upside with that combination.
[9]Paul Jolley--Says he wants to be country pop, but face it, he's not either one and he's really an adult contemporary type in disguise. Limited upside, but the identity crisis gives him even less upside.
[10]Curtis Finch--UAC. Again, attempted good singing, old school upside. Churchy, so might go Christian too. Still, limited upside.
[11]Aubrey Cleland--Pop type, did have two current songs. Zero stage presence. Generically good sounding voice. Doesn't look like there's much rhythmic or urban here, so I'd say limited upside despite being pop.

The Voice 4:
[a]Amber Carrington--Looks country, but Adam gave her Kelly Clarkson and Avril Lavigne songs, so angst-laden pop isn't out of the question? Probably the combination of country pop. Again, only Taylor Swift has pulled this off with both charts, but she sold out. Amber will probably be country, but again with country and girls--I'd say the upside looks good at first, but then you realize it's more middling. At least seems more interesting than Idol's country types this year.
[b]Judith Hill--Old fashioned, older side, her upside is UAC at best. Which isn't much of an upside, but very similar to an older Candice Glover.
[c]Sasha Allen--Operatic voice which goes for belting type stuff. I'm not sure if she's completely embodying the R&B type stuff. She seems like she experiments with different stuff, between Heart and the Dixie Chicks song at her initial audition. That sort of identity crisis might hurt her at the end, so limited upside. It's good to be creative, but for radio? Eh.
[d] The Swon Brothers--Yeah, they're country guys. I guess they have potential--Blake seems to like them a lot, and Florida-Georgia line's a duo. They're not at XF and with Blake they can get reasonable promotion. Stealthily reasonable upside here is what I'd guess.
[e]Sarah Simmons--Really sounds adult contemporary all the way. Maybe at tinge of Christian, but this isn't much of an upside at all.
[f]Danielle Bradbery--This is probably the most marketable contestant. Wide eyed, Taylor Swift-ian country pop stuff, calm. Yeah, country and girls don't mix, but still, she's likely TCO, she's with Blake, and she'll get promoted. Reasonable potential.
[g]Holly Tucker--Country Christian. She's a bit generic and is really pulling out the audience voting cards to stay afloat, and her genres considering she's a female country singer? Limited upside.

Now let's look at the radio numbers. Here's why when people refer to marketability, they mostly mean it in the pop radio sense:

As of May 24, 2013:
*Using the top 50 songs as a barometer.
*Notables exclude judges.

Pop radio:
Average number of spins: 4403.2
Average peak audience rating: 32.53
Top ten artists: Justin Timberlake, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, P!nk, Icona Pop, Demi Lovato, Rihanna, Selena Gomez, Bruno Mars, Fall Out Boy, feat Justin Bieber
Notable Idol types: Kelly Clarkson
Notable X Factor types: Little Mix, Emblem3

Country radio:
Average number of spins: 2520
Average peak audience rating: 19.30
Top ten artists: Darius Rucker, Tim McGraw and Taylor Swift, Blake Shelton, Florida-Georgia Line, George Strait, Eric Church, Jake Owen, Brad Paisley, The Band Perry, Luke Bryan
Notable Idol types: Carrie Underwood, Scotty McCreery
No notables from XF.

Rhythmic radio:
Average number of spins: 1747.2
Average peak audience rating: 13.28
Top ten artists: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, J Cole, Justin Timberlake, Rihanna, Drake, Chris Brown, Wale, Lil Wayne, Ariana Grande, Justin Timberlake
No notables from Idol or X Factor.

Hot AC radio:
Average number of spins: 1499.8
Average peak audience rating: 11.24
Top ten artists: P!nk, Rihanna, Bruno Mars, Emeli Sande, Fun., Phillip Phillips, Maroon 5, Justin Timberlake, Mumford and Sons, Lumineers
Notable Idol types: Phillip Phillips, Kelly Clarkson
Notable X Factor types: Olly Murs

Urban radio:
Average number of spins: 1352.6
Average peak audience rating: 10.83
Top ten artists: Wale, Kendrick Lamar, B.o.B., Drake, Chris Brown, Rihanna, Rihanna, J Cole, Ciara, Tamar Braxton
No notable Idol or XF types.

AC radio:
Average number of spins: 546.2
Average peak audience rating: 4.73
Top ten artists: Lumineers, Maroon 5, Kelly Clarkson, Bruno Mars, P!nk, Phillip Phillips, P!nk, Taylor Swift, Michael Buble, fun.
Notable Idol types: Kelly Clarkson, Phillip Phillips
No notable X Factor types.

Urban AC radio:
Average number of spins: 442.3
Average peak audience rating: 4.19
Top ten artists: Tamar Braxton, Miguel, Alicia Keys, Anthony Hamilton, Fantasia, Avant, Charlie Wilson, Joe, Eric Benet, Jaheim
Notable Idol types: Fantasia
Notable The Voice types: Jermaine Paul
No notable X Factor types.

Alternative radio:
Average number of spins: 631.1
Average peak audience rating: 3.33
Top ten artists: Neighbourhood, Imagine Dragons, Capital Cities, Muse, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Of Monsters and Men, Fall Out Boy, New Politics, Lumineers, Twenty One Pilots
No notable Idol or X Factor types.

Christian radio:
Average number of spins: 429.9
Average peak audience rating: 2.34
Top ten artists: Matthew West, Chris Tomlin, Hawk Nelson, Afters, Mercyme, Passion, Toby Mac, Sidewalk Prophets, Tenth Avenue North, Big Daddy Weave
Notable Idol types: Jason Castro
No XF types.

Active Rock, Rock, AAA get a very small radio audience so statistics won't be tabulated on them.

Idol as of this moment only has one person charting in the chart that reaches the widest audience--pop--and that's only Kelly Clarkson, and "People Like Us" is kind of stagnant in the 30s for now. X Factor also has Little Mix dropping down steeply from their peak of 25 and Emblem3 is stagnant in the early 40s with a minimal bullet, but at least there were attempts to chart for the both of them.

The next chart, country, is incredibly niche and rarely sees any crossover charting to the other charts listed, but it reaches the second widest audience, even if it's almost half of what the pop charts see. Also, it's super male dominated up top--only one half of the Band Perry and Taylor Swift (leeching on Tim McGraw) are up there. Sure, there's Idol types swimming about, but Scotty's 50th (the very end) at this chart and Carrie's somewhere in the middle. Good luck to all the female country types Idol's attempted to churn, because this genre, while notorious for accepting Idol contestants, doesn't see many of them at the very top.

Rhythmic is next, and this is pretty much pop, more or less. There's so much crossover in the top ten between who is in pop and who is in rhythmic. The only differences are more of the hip hop types--Wale, J Cole, Lil Wayne, and Drake--none of which are the prototypes Idol will ever produce. So good luck finding any of the Idol contestants in rhythmic. X Factor has none for now, but if they do produce hip hop types, so it's not out of the realm of possibility in the future. But rhythmic has a reasonable audience, and bigger than the adult contemporary types Idol tends to churn out by the bushel.

Which leads us to Hot AC. Remember when that folksy sound was all the rage in late winter/early spring in pop radio? Yeah, as expected, that sound has less more or less disintegrated from pop radio as we make way into summer. Instead, hot AC has proven to be the dumping ground of this sort of sound--fun., Phillip Phillips, Mumford and Sons, Lumineers--this has proven to be your rightful place. Again, hot AC radio only has about a third the reach as pop radio, so it isn't all too much, but this sort of radio play is more appreciative of the acts who like the older sound, so Idol's a perfect breeding ground for adult contemporary artists. Nothing innovative, just filler for this part of the radio.

Urban is where we just never really see these contestants land. For one thing, you better have swag, hip hop and rap intermixed somewhere, otherwise you just won't land here. Again, X Factor is the only one that brings this sort of potential. Idol types will never land here, and possibly not land in rhythmic, simply because their old-song inducing runs just completely disintegrate whatever aspirations they had in having "swag", not to mention Idol purposely avoids contestants that fit this box. Too bad, there's a bigger audience for urban then there is for urban AC, which we'll get to soon...

AC is pretty much a carbon copy of hot AC with a smaller audience. Not much to say here, besides that non-country Idols, if they land on radio, find that this is their most likely landing spot.

Now urban AC is where most of Idol's diva belters attempt to land. They promote these types to reach high notes over old sounding beats on old Motown songs, and urban AC tends to like that. Very limited niche audience with very limited crossover appeal, but hey, Idol sure loves its AC. Whether it's hot AC, AC, or urban AC. May as well turn on the air conditioner...

Alternative gives Idols little play to begin with.

Christian radio--yeah, again, with the sort of contestants Idol tends to attract, many of them do pull out the Christian card and to try to eke out any sort of radio living, they go for the one with one of the smallest reaches. Again, it's a niche audience with limited upside.


The point seems to be, between the sort of contestants Idol casts relative to radio reach, Idol is definitely catering to the stations with lowest audience reaches, and with limited crossover appeal. They should rename it Country Adult Contemporary Idol because that's a reflection of where the contestants tend to go. Idol's had several UAC or HAC types marketed to pop (Jessica and Pia, respectively) and both have had incredibly poor sales due to the complete dissonance between their runs and expectations in the outside world. And that's Idol's problem in a nutshell. As we've covered in the other posts, Idol's pop contestants suffer the most from their format. The ones that succeed mostly hit smaller niches in adult contemporary, urban adult contemporary, and country. The Voice is similar this season and in past seasons with their adult contemporary types and country types, but at least they get more current songs. XF probably has the most marketable contestants with reasonable song choices. 


  1. Umm, Little Mix isn't from the X Factor US. That argument is invalid.

  2. Also, contestants from Idol continue to be successful on the charts, and X Factor US are nowhere to be found.