Saturday, August 16, 2014



Today, my roommate confirmed my suspicions about him: that his way of conducting business is savage, vicious, and belligerent. Do not get me wrong here: when discussing life topics, he seems relatively cordial enough. When I first moved into Mesa housing two years ago, we had frequent enough conversations. We talked about the stress of school, how we coped with it, outside hobbies, etc. He is an international student from Spain who has a good background: his sister and father were affiliated in medical-related fields, and he himself received a scholarship for UCSD’s liberal arts PHD program. He says he speaks seven languages fluently. But there was something about his international upbringing which seemed to admit what seemed to be a sort of “loathing” of American culture: not a deep-seated hatred, mind you, but in our casual conversations, he complained. A lot. When he had a TA’ship with the UCSD writing department, he complained about the international students from Asia and how he could not understand how several students could be so lazy.

He complained about the corruption within UCSD politicos taking money from students, and that he had joined an organization that tried to combat those effects. This all falls within the realm of normalcy for students, but in all my years of dealing with others, I had never faced a person who complained this much. Friends, family, former roommates, chance encounters, etc.  But then again, that falls within my modus operandi of surrounding myself with people who know how to suppress their deepest emotions, rather than projecting their insecurities upon others. Juan’s complaining cemented a sort of hatred of the institutions in place within campus, with “hatred” being the key word, because he generally projected that in his attitude as well. Especially when he got angry. And boy, does he ever.

Having lived for two years with Juan, I kind of gleaned his personality quite early on in the process from these conversations. As mentioned, I like “positive reinforcement” people, because that is how I have moved on through life, succeeded in group and research projects, and in my internship. Everyone needs to be on the same page to succeed, but people need to be propped up. Juan’s complainer attitude with seeds of loathing really turned me off almost from the get-go. But he was my roommate, and as usual, you have to work around the roommate’s limitations—er, I mean, personality. That sort of attitude was definitely incompatible with my beliefs, especially since he felt an urgent need to throw curse words possibly every six or seven words in these rants.  So after the personality-learning process, using my engineering decision matrix, I played it “neutral” in the apartment—being quiet and unassuming, so he would have less of a chance to get irritated. “Room to breathe”, as it were—he often had the whole living room to himself, used the table and microwave I brought over, and I dealt with most of the bill-handling for gas, electricity and internet. I always love a quiet place to study and work, and the reality is, when it comes to sharing apartments, it’s always a blessing when an apartment is quiet.

My roommate, however, was a real stickler when it came to cleaning up. Granted, I am not a clean person by any stretch of the imagination—but I adapted. We developed a schedule through a year of living in Mesa where every week we alternated cleaning different parts of the apartment. I conformed to those rules. But prior to this schedule, my roommate would get extremely irritated, using a very aggressive tone, throwing in curse words every two or three words, and scaring the heebie-jeebies out of possibly every living soul on Earth. Even though I would clean, there were times when he would angrily stumble towards my door, knock hard. Then, he seemed to have reflexive memory to times when I would not clean as much, and reference them in his hot-headed argumentative tone. Of course, with the curse words. Prior to this most recent incident, this had happened about four to five times. His demeanor is all sorts of vicious—he slams doors, tries to get the upper hand of the argument and closing his mind off to proper rebuttals, just being very narrow minded. It must be noted that he gets drunk every now and then, and when I first met him in a graduate student mixer he drank several beers with other students (I’m not a drinker, of course). So just bringing this up there…but it is possible that his drinking is messing with his mind. His personality is rash and impulsive with seeds of loathing when neutral, but when angry…ugh. Let’s just put it this way: if he ever has to deal with party animal type roommates who really blast the noise and hog the living room, imagine how he would act there. I approach the issues from a calm, rational, reasoning-type manner—he already starts off at 200 mph with bull horns for no apparent reason.

And this has kind of happened already, for him: he told me that he after celebrating the success of a fellow student’s PHD defense at 1 AM in downtown San Diego, he came upon several drunken people who were making fun of that student’s race. Juan told me he was fiercely loyal and wanted to take a stand to protect his friend, and after the name calling continued, he decided it was wise to throw a punch. From which he broke his hand, and he called me to take him to the hospital to get a cast on. So there has been a case where his argumentative tone has translated into violence. It’s an upbringing issue. Again, this is why I wanted to work around it, because you cannot change these people after several decades of living. It is how it is. Yeah, there is a method to his madness (protecting friends, cleaning up the house) but his approaches to dealing with those issues are all sorts of wrong. He takes the aggressive approach, when almost everyone I know takes a far more non-combative approach. He presents a study in stark contrasts here.

And of course, with complaints, there are always two sides to every coin. The difference is? In the terms of the Star Wars franchise, I take the moral high ground. My roommate basically takes the lower ground—in other words, he’s Anakin Skywalker at the end of Revenge of the Sith. There were times where he admits his faults with a false chuckle, but just like everyone else (including myself), he has his tendencies. While I am not always prompt in cleaning, as mentioned, he does an absolutely awful job at clearing things from what I call the “neutral” zone. And that includes the sink, where the both of us have to wash our dishes, pots and pans, and utensils. He has a grating tendency to leave the items completely un-cleaned overnight for days at a time. I told him once, and he told me he would work to correct this habit, but he has never done it for several months. Similarly, he rests his dirty plates for long periods of time on top of my microwave. Given that it is my microwave, it would be obvious to say that it belongs to my zone, but he infiltrates it. I haven’t told him about it for a long while in my hopes that he would eventually clean them up, but eventually he reached my threshold of tolerance here—and given how much leeway he has, I’m pretty sure I have a high level of tolerance. While I was on jury duty for a week this July, he even admitted that he had been neglecting his cleaning duties. Of course. That was obvious. I always see bread crumbs on one side of the sink near his toaster, lying for days at a time.

So what he does here all strikes as hypocritical, because I have made a habit of cleaning all my utensils immediately after eating. With me, you will never ever see dishes lying on counter tops or sinks for prolonged periods of time after eating. I wash them immediately and put them in the dish rack. Same with pots, pans, utensils, etc. Usually, the same for stains. We just do not create much of those, but the ones that do crop up (due to spaghetti, etc) are taken care of almost immediately.

That hypocritical attitude stemmed by a desire to focus on farther-off, past events, in the face of what I perceive to be a lack of equity—as mentioned, he uses my table, microwave, and I organize certain bills—is enough to piss possibly every sane person off in the planet. But on top of that, he sugarcoats his belligerent attitude with frequent curse words. It has easily gotten to the point where his central argument is rapidly degraded because the curse words are the only words that eventually stand out. My most recent encounters of Juan have virtually all been in this negative fashion: yelling, cursing, spitting, unfocused, drunk?, narrow-minded, etc. What I knew in my intuition had came into fruition.  The “his way or the highway” attitude has rapidly become tedious, and easily explains why I have kept a very neutral tone around him. Because he is likely intolerable for a prolonged period of time.

That roommate? JC Zabala.

Live and learn.

Sunday, May 11, 2014


This is part III of an article about the PGSC score metric to quantify Idol placement:

*Part I contains the ranks of the Idol contestants on a season-by-season basis, based on the PGSC score. Think of this as the way the contestants should be ranked, assuming neutral ground and zero pimpage. It is also the way I would rank them.
*Part II ranks the Idol contestants based on PGSC score, according to genre.
*Part III, which is this article, attempts to use historical rank data since AI3 to put actual rank numbers into contestants, based on PGSC score, and based on the features added in at Part II. Unlike Part I, this is how we predict the audience would vote based on these features, and this model gets more informed as we get more data points (more seasons).

As explained in the title above, from part II of my study I utilized the four features I implemented for the PGSC score, and for greater accuracy of specific trends within the PGSC score, I used the 8-degree polynomial function  for each of those features, and took averages of the four. Remember, the smaller the number, the better!--that means you're ranked higher. The average rank corresponds to the average rank within the top ten--an average of 2.54, as was Scotty McCreery's case, means the model is predicting an outcome between 2nd and 3rd place for that particular contestant, or if that contestant is the highest rank of that season, as was in McCreery's case, then he/she is the predicted winner of the season. There are certain errors for sure, but it attempts to create a model using prior knowledge of past seasons to update the current knowledge on how to peg contestant placement. It's not Bayesian, but it's informed to a certain degree.

Saturday, May 10, 2014


This is part II of an article about the PGSC score metric to quantify Idol placement:

*Part I contains the ranks of the Idol contestants on a season-by-season basis, based on the PGSC score. Think of this as the way the contestants should be ranked, assuming neutral ground and zero pimpage. It is also the way I would rank them.
*Part II ranks the Idol contestants based on PGSC score, according to genre.

I've integrated several features used in previous models to this PGSC score model. Check it out below:

Friday, May 9, 2014


So I recently created a model which I thought was able to perfectly encapsulate the general fan's assessments of the majority top ten American Idol contestants, starting from AI3 all the way to what we have now in AI13, independent of producer and judge manipulation. We start with AI3 because that's when we are able to chart one of our metrics, as will be explained below. This is the likely ranking of the contestant had every contestant played on a neutral ground.

Friday, April 25, 2014


CHR is essentially "pop", or mainstream music. It gets the big audience numbers--for instance, right now, the #10 song on the pop charts sees similar audience numbers as the #1 song in country, which carries the next highest audience. The #12 song on pop, relatively speaking, can be the #1 song in HAC in audience share. #15 on pop gets #1 in rhythmic and urban. #24 in pop translates to about #1 in urban AC and AC. #28 in pop translates to #1 in alternative. So CHR is the major chart, and it more or less drives a ton of single sales: every song in the top 33 of CHR right now, for instance, is in the top 100 of itunes. With the exception of two songs, every song in the top 15 of CHR right now is in the top 21. This does not necessarily translate to album sales that hit expectations, given that acts that chart high in CHR tend to have outsized expectations compared to those that chart high in other genres, but when you drive singles sales, it builds up your brand, and over time should help album sales. There are acts (like Jason DeRulo, etc) that are more singles than album-driven, but many acts that hit it big in CHR, with over 100K in sales (a very good number in today's awful album-selling market).

What constitutes CHR? Here they are:

Friday, April 11, 2014


We currently don't have anything that consolidates the quality of Voice performances, and the amount of buzz contestants have, into numbers. Well, with the power of social media...anything's possible. So we've used youtube shenanigans again and started normalizing things to illustrate the power of performance level across all the contestants who had their full auditions shown (sorry, Joshua Howard, and Austin whoever...among others, we can't quantify you). At this point, we have a ton of contestants so it's hard to normalize between so many, but here's what we have so far:


I know the show's canceled, but having already done this for the Voice's Season 5 and the beginnings of Season 6 (see here) and also having done rudimentary work on AI13 with this metric (see here), we can make cross comparisons between the three shows. It's not super exact, but it's the best we can do with these numbers, since social media is everywhere for all three shows.

First, here's the contestant ranks, organized by buzz and performance levels. There will be revelations...


So, we all know WNTS scours the interwebs to take aggregates of scores--whether from IDF, frauen blogs or other places. Lately, they have been taking in email submissions from people to submit their scores, because of the paucity of this stuff online.

I've got an alternate option: using the social media aspect to scour the performance value of contestants. But I'll also have something that WNTS doesn't have: a buzz meter. The social media aspect also presents an international flavor to the rankings, since it's just not centralized to America; this might make it different from WNTS, which tends to update their rankings East Coast first, then West Coast. Obviously, there's a ton of factors for what goes into the social media rating: the song being sung terribly is obviously one, but boring songs, the song being sung less well than the original, are all reasons for low(er) rankings. Higher rankings may involve creativity, good singing/emotion, good song selection, etc. The buzz meter shows who is really raking in the views. Let's note that I've consolidated each ranking for each particular night and used a Gaussian normalization to equalize the values between 0-100, much like what WNTS does. The performance ratings are somewhat similar, but also have some key differences. Take a look for yourself.

So far, I've done everything this season. Here's what I have:


So, we know that within singing competitions, there's a certain "type" preferred by the voting audience. We've seen enough, that qualitatively, we say in our heads: White. Southern. Wields guitar. Male. Rock, country, coffeehouse. These all fit the major voting ingredients.

But, we also have data. Through wiki, we know what percentage of the voting audience is within the elusive 18-49 age bracket that advertisers want to sell their goods to. For comparison purposes, we will cause these the non-frau, making the key assumption that people below 18 do not count. As you will see below, I've compiled this data through the three major singing competitions, 2011 and beyond (excluding the first season of the Voice since for some reason, wiki does not provide the 18-49 numbers). And you will see that Idol...really lags behind this 18-49 demographic, for the most part, compared to the other two competitions. So that "type" might amplified on Idol precisely because, well, the 50+ types who were ages 15-30 in the '70s and '80s really want to harken to that type of music...and that's good ol' Americana--country, rock, coffeehouse, what have you. Without further ado:

Thursday, February 13, 2014


Okay, now that we're pretty informed on how TPTB is shaping the season, who they are promoting, and the contestants' singing ability and personalities, here's one man's educated guess on how the rankings (for getting votes) are shaping up heading into rush week:

Monday, February 10, 2014

Why XFUS Failed

It's obvious, isn't it? That's all I got.

Nah, just playin'. There's a ton of reasons that have already been touted by the masses--awful judges, awful staging, the awful scheduling, awful hosts, awful post-show track records...a lot of awful in the essential ingredients.

Ranking the Urban Acts Across All X Factors

I'm going to organize the acts by category:

Friday, January 24, 2014


Based on portrayal in auditions:
Out of 85
Singing (out of 10)
Presence (out of 10)
Marketability (out of 10)
Song Choice (out of 10)
Relatability to Frau (out of 25)
Pimpage (out of 20)

So far:
1) Sam Woolf--69
2) Casey Thrasher/Marrialle Sellars--63
4) Alex Preston/Majesty York--62
6) Jessica Meuse--61
7) Brandy Neelly--60
8) Briston Maroney--59
9) Dexter Roberts--58
10) Ethan Harris--56
11) Austin Wolfe/Jordan Brisbane--55
13) CJ Harris--54
14) Kenzie Hall--53
15) Ben Briley/ Maurice Townsend--50
17) Bria Anai--49
18) Caleb Johnson--48
19) Briana Oakley--47
20) Spencer Lloyd--46
21) Malcolm Allen--45
22) Jena Asciutto--42
23) Malaya Watson--39
24) Emmanuel Zidor--36
25) Jillian Jensen/ Kristen O'Connor--35
27) MK Nobilette--32
28) Emily Piriz--31
29) Neco Starr-27

Sam Woolf
Total Points: 69
Singing: 9. Has really understated dynamics with his choices, and for his genre it's perfect. You don't necessarily need a huge range, but for his age, he knew how to navigate through a wordy song. Pitch was great.
Presence: 5. Understated presence actually with his voice, but this is to take the difference with his actual stage presence, which might be very poor, especially with the lack of confidence. But that's the compensation for the awwshucks we see below.
Song Choice: 10. Super current and perfect for him
Marketability: 10. I guess getting the Bieber/Sheeran/folk movement is really, really going to work. Seeing how Phillip navigated in that environment Sam should also breeze by this
Relatability to Frau: 25. Awwshucks. Awwshucks. Awwwshucks. That lack of direct eye contact strumming musicality aspect for folksy rock is absolute the bulls eye for frau votes, an he has it, combined with possible hordes of tween votes.
Pimpage: 10. Full Audition

Casey Thrasher
Total Points: 63
Singing: 5. His voice is just OK. We have heard it all before. Eh. He tries to go for high notes but it comes out very weaksauce.
Presence: 7. He just works the emotional angle. But nothing loud feeling like CJ Harris or vibe-based like Dexter. Organic, but whatever
Marketability: 3. If Tate Stevens' country balladry weepers didn't work, what makes this guy think it will work? He seems way more in it for the break than for actually bringing anything new to the table. Gokey's story didn't work long term for music, Thrasher's won't either. The up-tempo vibe is what sells
Song Choice: 8. Sort of current, not done before, fits his vibe
Relatability to Frau: 25. Playing the dad with babies card. I actually think his "I need this" desperation borders on Danny Gokey-esque, so there could be some self-sabotage on that front--something to monitor. I don't sense the awshucksness, but Jeff Gutt also played the single dad card and went super far.
Pimpage: 15. Pimp spot

Marrialle Sellars
Total Points: 63
Singing: 6. Good tone, didn't show excessive range
Presence: 9. Has a great presence when she sings, even through the guitar, both in voice and in the way she stares
Song Choice: 8. Current, decent.
Marketability: 10. She pretty much looks and acts the part, that Rihanna look and Miley personality and her super young age is a large chunk of the battle. Singing pop and possibly R&B also works.
Relatability to Frau: 10. I guess there's a wide eyed personality to her, and she's personable for sure in that Hannah Montana Miley vein. A few points off for some glares she gives off when she sings, and a certain confidence, and really, the pop girl aspect. But her sob story about her dad was featured heavily, which is the bulk of the points here.
Pimpage: 20. She completely broke the scale here. A bunch of previews, shown in two separate shows plus the pimp spot in one of them.

Alex Preston
Total Points: 62
Singing: 8. Good-ish dynamics for his genre, but more about the vibe and songwriting ability than anything else. Still, decent chops for what he represents, for sure.
Presence: 6. Voice cuts through decently, but he'll largely be constrained to a guitar. Self-assured voice which helps.
Marketability: 10. He actually doesn't sound too unlike many of the guys in the alternative charts, and he has some of that Passenger folk vibe right now. Folk and alternative crossover is absolutely in right now, and has notable songwriting, with decent but not great hooks. Still, has an ear for that, and that's why he's ranked this high.
Song Choice: 10. Original which showcased himself well.
Relatability to Frau: 15. He's a WGWG who loves the folksy sound that has created past winners, but I don't sense the awwshucks vibe here. He seems very self-assured and frankly at another level with respect to the audience, which will get him far on merit but in terms of the brownie points he might be lacking, which could hurt him compared to some of the others. East Coast vibe, clearly a transplant.
Pimpage: 13. Full audition plus preview.

Majesty York
Total Points: 62
Singing: 10. Awesome because of the disconnect, but also because she knows how to modulate and not overdo, letting a softer tone speak for itself. Brings a far different tone to the song too
Presence: 9. Great modulation into a captivating soft voice and then opened up well. As Connick said, quiet and elegant. A point off because of the actual stage presence, but her voice really speaks for it
Song Choice: 10. Mostly because of the disconnect and the twist-up, she earns major points, and this is one of Coldplay's best songs, even if they're about several years dated now. But still, can't ignore the twist-up.
Marketability: 8. She's like a very polished, skilled Haeley Vaughn in get-up, and her desire to sing softer folk type stuff here helps a lot. She might be able to carve a place here, depending on how it shakes out. Points because Idol never goes in the switch up direction much
Relatability to Frau: 15. Personable, and humble. Playing guitar will help. I can see a path here, actually.
Pimpage: 10. Audition

Jessica Meuse
Total Points: 61
Singing: 10. We just haven't heard this sort of voice on Idol before, so there's a ton of points, and she knew how to use it within her song, even with a cool hooky sound in the middle
Presence: 9. Great vibe
Song Choice: 10. Original song that sounded good on her
Marketability: 9. Great look and has the voice and vibe to match; in the throes of Paramore, she could be able to carve a niche
Relatability to Frau: 10. She gets points because she really has that legitimate musician vibe, but her pre-snippet showed a very independent, outlaw vibe, although that really helped out Crystal Bowersox, and she comes off more legit than some of the older contestants like Erika Van Pelt and Elise Testone. Her rocker style isn't an immediate vote grabber, and the red-tinged rawker independence as well, but Crystal's dreadlocks didn't stop her.
Pimpage: 13. She had a middle-placed audition but her preview was also shown.

Brandy Neelly
Total Points: 60
Singing: 8. Good vocal dynamics with great modulation. A bit nasally and somewhat forced, but still
Presence: 7. Good vocal presence for sure
Song Choice: 8. Good song choice, current, gender switchup
Marketability: 7. She's in the Dolly Parton country belting vein, kind of like how Janelle Arthur did it. She is five years younger than Arthur, and seems to play the part even with the girl lockout in country radio most of the time.
Relatability to Frau: 20. She's got the Lauren Alaina perks down pat, including the very old fashioned bob now and the perky personality. Southern charm vibe. Female country types that are young tend to do well when they follow this pattern.
Pimpage: 10. Full audition

Briston Maroney
Total Points: 59
Singing: 6. Actually has a cool defined voice but it feels like it is stretching its limits, albeit affected. He might lack range
Presence: 6. Has a really good up-tempo vibe and his rasp cuts through, but might easily seem awkward without the guitar.
Marketability: 7. Eh, I'm going to take some differences here. Young, folksy works, and there can be a specific marketing path involving teens and the genre that could work. Or, he's just too green. Not sure we see super young folksy types out there for this reason
Song Choice: 5. Old song choice, but not done on Idol before at least
Relatability to Frau: 25. Self assured type, but still has that combination of folksy vibe, guitar, and is absolute teenbait and fraubait due to that combination. He'll still get votes
Pimpage:  10. Full audition

Dexter Roberts
Total Points: 58
Singing: 7. Good sound that's actually great for the current marketplace, up-tempo twang. Bluegrass country style.
Presence: 7. Up-tempo driven guitar. Don't think he has actual stage presence, but he's as close as it gets to swagger anthems as Idol will get, so hence the extra point.
Marketability: 8. Most of the bro country types are perceived as cute guys for the frau, and they really get after the swagger. Roberts has a sound in that direction, but actual swagger?...not sure, and doubt it. Also, he isn't perceived as a cute guy either. That being said, he presents a different direction on Idol due to his style of country, and that's what sells.
Song Choice: 6. It's a decent song in the right direction as Casey James did have up-tempo guitar jams, but he's unknown on radio right now and he could have went more direct with F-G Line and others
Relatability to Frau: 20. He's a stereotype down from plaid, baseball cap, ducks, twang...and plays guitar. That being said, he doesn't look like a type that will get mass votes, and while he's awwshucks, his bro country aspect might not completely resonate with this sort of audience.
Pimpage: 10. Full audition

Ethan Harris
Total Points: 56
Singing: 7. Peaceful voice but it's hard to get a specific vibe, and didn't show much dynamics.
Presence: 6. Decent-ish based on what we saw
Song Choice: 4. Eh, I'm not sure if this represents him, and it's been covered several times on Idol.
Marketability: 6. Might kind of look and act the part, but there might be a musical disconnect and the whole vibe feels very AC-ish. The bulk of the points is due to the "looks" and "acts" part here
Relatability to Frau: 20. Wide-eyed stanning of Keith Urban might get votes, but he has that AC guitar-strumming aspect in combination with the boyish voice, looks and hair will get a ton of frau votes. Lack of rock or country aspect is what loses the extra five.
Pimpage: 13. Also had the preview in addition to the full audition.

Austin Wolfe
Total Points: 55
Singing: 9. That's a very good, mature voice especially for her age. Very understated lower register and pretty good upper register, with rasp. Clearly she's been at it.
Presence: 8. Good vocal presence, but lacks the extra oomph which we can attribute to age at this time.
Marketability: 9. She's super young, looks marketable, and sings in a style for pop that might have a fighting chance, with the proper connections.
Song Choice: 9. Very current song, which always helps, and the gender switch is creative, even if it's overdone by females in youtube covers.
Relatability to Frau: 10. I wanted to go 15 here, actually, because precocious teen girls who can sing have shown a tendency to really rack up the votes, and she's nice an innocuous enough. But she sings in a genre that might not necessarily get those votes, and your Jacquie Lees and Rachel Crows sang belting songs that really got the frau votes.
Pimpage: 10. Full audition

Jordan Brisbane
Total Points: 55
Singing: 8. He paused several times to gather himself, so there wasn't a continuous flow, but very good confident voice especially for his age. Connick was right a few people will do runs better than him
Presence: 8. Very good vocal presence
Song Choice: 7. Current, R&B choice, even if that song is overdone
Marketability: 7. Very young, actually looks the part, has the personality for it, but his style isn't really hat's going on right now.
Relatability to Frau: 15. Pre-package showed him to be a very bubbly kid, and frau will take to that. Like-able personality. Connick was right that people will take to him
Pimpage: 10. Full audition

CJ Harris
Total Points: 54
Singing: 7. Decent, but it feels like it is vibe and emotion-driven above anything else. Maximized there
Presence: 7. Very emotional pouring, especially with the high notes, but it gets shrilly and sometimes it feels screamy. Good vibe, and acts the part looking scrunchy for the emotion.
Marketability: 3. I really like what he represents, because we rarely see that, but the reality is besides Rucker, who else does this? And Rucker grinded hard for decades to ply his trade. Swagger anthems are represented by the super young, and CJ's in his early 20s and doesn't appear to have any of that unfortunately.
Song Choice: 7. It's a 20-year old song, but never been done before, and the BG doing country twist on guitar is interesting, so I'll give him a few points there.
Relatability to Frau: 20. The five points off are because he's not a WG, but otherwise he has everything else made: he's a man on a mission, family based, looks very emotional, hardened, crying, sings emotion, etc.
Pimpage: 10. Full audition

Kenzie Hall
Total Points: 53
Singing: 8. Very self-assured type Colbie Caillat with a rasp. Switches keys a ton but maintained her composure well throughout, showing great poise there. Versatile within range. Not a wide range but for a songwriter that's what you need.
Presence: 7. Colbie's more of the quiet type, and she actually showcases herself well, but that's the limitations due to the Colbie aspect.
Marketability: 8. She looks good, super young, has a clear identity. That said, it's about five-six years out of date with the Colbie sound, especially for CHR and even for HAC. This showed a great songwriting twist, but even Ellie Goulding transformed herself from folksy guitar strummer to electronic pop type. Wonder if Kenzie has to do something similar to have a fighting chance. Her clear identity here gets the extra point
Song Choice: 7. John Mayer songs are current, but that's not a well known song, even if it fit her voice.
Relatability to Frau: 10. Very friendly and personable, which is why I went to 10, but singer/songwriters with cutesy looks in the past have really struggled, but to her credit she might win some off merit.
Pimpage: 13. Full audition plus preview

Ben Briley
Total Points: 50
Singing: 6. A-ok. He didn't really stretch himself here, but decent sound, even if we've heard a lot of this
Presence: 2. I really didn't see much of it, if any, from here.
Song Choice: 5. Good choice for him, and unique to Idol, but there's a reason Amos Lee stayed indie.
Marketability: 2. I didn't sense any hook-grabbing aspect to him, or songwriter-y sensibilities here, so no real Passenger-potential, so I'll give him a low score here.
Relatability to Frau: 25. Southern sensibilities, being a guy with a guitar really earns pretty much all the points you need. His wife story also works. Hard working vibe.
Pimpage: 10. Full audition

Maurice Townsend
Total Points: 50
Singing: 8. Good tone and very polished within that range, but didn't display an excellent range.
Presence: 5. A-OK based on what we saw, but nothing special.
Song Choice: 8. John Legend songs will always get a ton of points from me here. Good work
Marketability: 4. I guess he's sort of like Aloe Blacc "The Man" KG style as the upside, but nothing major. But a cool vibe here that's understated
Relatability to Frau: 15. The family card is a huge one, and he's personable and very friendly. He got a very "Rough Water" treatment pre-package. Bringing kids to audition are absolutely huge for points
Pimpage: 10. Full audition

Bria Anai
Total Points: 49
Singing: 8. Makes good choices and displayed a wide arrange of lower and upper type runs. On the Idol stage, we have kind of heard this before though
Presence: 9. Has a natural confidence in her voice and presence.
Marketability: 8. Looks the part, acts the part of the R&B/pop diva type, and extra points because Idol hasn't had one of these types for a while. But it's about five-ten years out date in today's environment
Song Choice: 4. A current song, but it's by the overdone Adele, and she's a niche brand in today's market; also this song never really made it big in CHR.
Relatability to Frau: 5. Bright purple lips and pop type Beyonce get-up is a major turnoff, but has the wide-eyed charisma that earns back a few points as a precocious kid belter. Her dance moves at the end don't really help here either. But her trade-off isn't conducive to getting votes.
Pimpage: 15. Received the pimp spot, likely for the OMG15 aspect.

Caleb Johnson
Total Points: 48
Singing: 9. His rocker voice and rocker tinged mannerisms are typically only filled by one slot every season, what with James Durbin and Colton Dixon, so there's extra points for potentially filling that role
Presence: 8. Yeah, big presence with his voice, and he looks willing to use the entire stage although his look somewhat belies that
Song Choice: 10. Because it's an original song. That always works.
Marketability: 6. I think fronting a band is the best bet, but his harder rock is a few years out of date. But he has the vibe down, and I think that should count for something.
Relatability to Frau: 10. There's a sort of confidence especially when he goes into the emoting--it sounds good, but perhaps forced to the point where he loses points with the frau. Hipster attitude does not exactly help here. He'll get more if he wields a guitar, but somehow, I don't think it's heading in this direction. But rock-tinged guy always helps
Pimpage: 5. Snippet.

Briana Oakley
Total Points: 47
Singing: 9. Great voice, control and dynamic combination especially for her age.
Presence: 7. Very big vocal presence, but I question about her actual stage presence, but we'll see.
Song Choice: 5. Current, but this Sara Bareilles joint never was that hot on the radio. Is she just this sort of pop singer? I'm not necessarily seeing it?
Marketability: 6. I guess, due to the age, but I'm not detecting the swag for CHR; maybe AC, but even then, that's questionable. It's really hard to tell at this stage for her.
Relatability to Frau: 10. There's a very self-assured air about her, not in the super friendly/personable vein of a Rachel Crow or a Jordin Sparks, or in the awwshucks aspect of a Jacquie Lee or Carly Rose. But still, she represents that ilk, and it typically gets the votes. Just a peg down on a hunch.
Pimpage: 10. Full audition

Spencer Lloyd
Total Points: 46
Singing: 3. Decent sound but quite thin, barely taking any risks, even fewer than Colton did. It's hard to gauge anything here.
Presence: 2. Didn't detect much presence, let the guitar speak more than he did, between voice and actual stage presence
Song Choice: 5. Points for current, but it did nothing for him, and Colton's very niche even if very successful for his genre.
Marketability: 6. In the same way as Ethan Harris, looks the part, but can't get past the very niche aspect of his sound and his very generic vocals.
Relatability to Frau: 20. Thai aspect and the lack of rock/country is what takes this down five points, but should be major teenbait at the least, like some dude in the CW. But also sang a Colton Dixon song, revealing religious roots, and played a guitar, like he researched up on the best way to get Idol votes. As if Ace Young did research.
Pimpage: 10. Full audition

Malcolm Allen
Total Points: 45
Singing: 10. Really effortless style of singing that shows that you don't have to belt out songs interchangeably to make an impact. Shows great modulations
Presence: 9. Geek look takes off a point, but great confidence, including scatting, beatboxing, combining that with a very natural R&B voice. Kind of reminds of a R&B Blake Lewis here, as they also questioned how serious he was.
Song Choice: 5. Fits him, it's a good song, albeit done a ton of times
Marketability: 8. For Idol this really works, because after years of gospel belting, improved Burnell Taylors are the way to go, and he reminds of that. Straight up R&B isn't in the in though
Relatability to Frau: 0. He didn't really get any sort of frau-sympathetic portrayal, and in fact showed an above the fray, hipster attitude, which is refreshing to see in Idol but awful for actually generating votes.
Pimpage: 13. Full audition, plus preview.

Jena Asciutto
Total Points: 42
Singing: 8. Very big voice in the rocker vein, but Connick does have a point with a bit of the speech aspect, but still, it gives her a unique edge with the rocker aspect.
Presence: 8. Good presence with her voice
Song Choice: 5. Overdone song choice, even for the rock edge.
Marketability: 9. Youth+the Paramore comparisons will generate something, for sure.Good look and vibe especially for her age.
Relatability to Frau: 2. Her story is a whatever with the frau, and girls from bands have a sort of independence that doesn't resonate with them. Quiet unassuming personality at first, but still.
Pimpage: 10. Audition.

Malaya Watson
Total Points: 39
Singing: 9. Very good emoting voice especially for her age, and there's something that cuts above interchangeable-good here
Presence: 3. I don't detect a ton here
Song Choice: 4. Old fashioned song, even though it fits her well.
Marketability: 3. It's hard to envision it right now, between the song choice and lack of makeover
Relatability to Frau: 10. There's a sort of confidence about her in her pre-snippet that doesn't exactly jibe with audience votes, but she at least has a personality and she appears likeable there, combined with the makeover potential. A bit street to prevent the 15. Not Rachel Crow-precocious so we're lacking a few points, but she's a step up Danie Geimer. She might get a few chances for that reason.
Pimpage: 10. Full audition

Emmanuel Zidor
Total Points: 36
Singing: 7. Good tone based on what we saw
Presence: 8. Personality exudes he is singing
Song Choice: 4. Just very old school, like Malaya and MK in song choice
Marketability: 2. It's really, really hard to see it?
Relatability to Frau: 5. Did have that backstory that his music teacher said he would never become an Idol, so he might get sympathy votes for that, actually. But hard to go beyond this. Happy go lucky personality could be a turn off for them
Pimpage: 10. Full audition.

Jillian Jensen
Total Points: 35
Singing: 6. Her voice isn't all that great, as was the case in XF, it's more about the vibe
Presence: 5. Just kind of OK based on what we can see
Song Choice: 7. Current, and probably hits her singer/songwriter pop twisting of AC type songs
Marketability: 5. Eh. Female singer/songwriter isn't in right now, and she might be finding her footing on the musical side
Relatability to Frau: 7. She has a legion of possible XF fans given her major sob story there, but it wasn't really displayed in Idol. This is taking the difference given Jillian already has a major fanbase and has planty aspects already, but for what she represents she's more for the teens.
Pimpage: 5. Snippet

Kristen O'Connor
Total Points: 35
Singing: 8. Very polished and has good dynamics, but it comes off a bit practiced and a bit interchangeable with some of the big-voiced girls Idol alays lends itself to.
Presence: 3. A-ok.
Song Choice: 7. Original? Points for that, but it was whatever in terms of showcasing her.
Marketability: 7. Really looks the part, but unfortunately, Idol's clean-cut pop types are the inverse of what really sells for pop girls in the real world. For those reasons, it's tough to envision it for her
Relatability to Frau: 5. Comes off as personable, low key and hard working, all key qualities. But she's a pretty girl who sings pop, and she didn't play any other cards here to gain a few more points.
Pimpage: 5. Snippet

MK Nobilette
Total Points: 32
Singing: 8. Actually very personable voice with some risks in a few high notes
Presence: 8. Vocal has a lot of presence
Song Choice: 4. In the Malaya Watson vein, the Gladys Knight song is old fashioned but did fit her well
Marketability: 5. Tegan & Sara? It's hard to see here, but it could be interesting given the unique approach here
Relatability to Frau: 2. Eh. She didn't reveal anything besides saying she's not like other singers, but frau don't typically vote for singers of her vein, although her emotion gives her a few points here, but she doesn't have the life experience of a Beverly McClellan to notch this up a little further.
Pimpage: 5. Snippet

Emily Piriz
Total Points: 31
Singing: 7. Good-ish, but some parts were spoken at times, which took away from it at times
Presence: 6. Good-ish, but the moves felt a bit amateurish and try-hard.
Song Choice: 7. Probably good for her, and it's current, but Jessie J has really fallen hard in today's current market.
Marketability: 4. She hasn't crossed past generic pop type for me yet, in get-up, singing choices and other variables.
Relatability to Frau: 2. She's wide-eyed, but perhaps too confident for the frau, especially with the pop-tinged aspects.
Pimpage:  5. Snippet.

Neco Starr
Total Points: 27
Singing: 6. Overbaked, but there's a voice in there. Even Connick realized it
Presence: 6. Very confident get-up, but has a major tendency to get overdramatic, something that hasn't changed after two years unfortunately. A bit theatrical
Marketability: 8. Yeah, looks the part again, of those Usher clones. Points because Idol never ever goes in this direction, preferring church instead, but it's about a decade out of date if he thinks R&B has a role in the charts today
Song Choice: 2. Current, but Adele, and for someone who's going down R&B, this does nothing for him. Really doesn't  appear to know hat songs he should be singing
Relatability to Frau: 0. Usher meets Iman Shumpert look doesn't help matters, as is confident disposition in pre-package
Pimpage: 5. Snippet

Thursday, January 9, 2014


We learned Idol's semis are going to be separated by different age brackets.