Quite a few people were shocked when "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest told finalist Elise Testone she was safe last week, leaving 16-year-old Jessica Sanchez on stage. A clear frontrunner in the competition, she had received the least votes, marking her for elimination. But the judges stepped in before she could get through a couple lines of her "life-saving" song and used their Save to keep her in the contest. So how does that alter the overall power rankings? And power rankings aside, will it affect the outcome of the Bottom Three after the Top 7 redux?
"American Idol" audiences have been fickle and amorphous over the years. Finalists found in the Bottom Three or Bottom Two often get a sympathetic bump the following week, especially if the voting audience perceives some type of unjust slight (which could account for Testone's two straight weeks of staying out of the Bottom Three before returning and Hollie Cavanagh's not even making the Bottom Three after the judges panned her Top 7 performance) or unwarranted favoritism (which also accounts for surprising appearances in the bottom by perceived frontrunners -- like Sanchez and Joshua Ledet). The judges have a lot to do with these outcomes, as it is their critiques that cause supportive backlash and direct support as well in a number of voters.
And although it was no surprise to see Elise Testone in the Bottom Three on the Top 7 results show, it really shouldn't have been a surprise to see Jessica Sanchez there, either. For one thing, there are only six more finalists that can be eliminated and a power singer hasn't won "Idol" since Jordin Sparks won in 2007. There has been only one female power singer in the finale since Sparks won -- last season's Lauren Alaina. However, the most technically gifted singer, Pia Toscano, was eliminated in the No. 9 spot -- and she was, at the time of her elimination, considered the finalist to beat.
The end result? The "American Idol" viewer and voter get a second look at the Top 7. The finalists also get a second shot at singing within the decade (last week's theme was "Songs from the 2010s"). The upcoming theme is "No. 1 hits from the 2010s."
But the producers apparently figured doubling down on the 2010s wasn't enough, so they have the contestants doing a second performance song, a soul selection from a previous decade.
There is also an unknown factor involved in the Top 7 redux. Will the producers allow two of the finalists to be voted off the show, or will they, given that they lost an episode when Jermaine Jones was disqualified, allow voters to kick off only one contestant? And in the final analysis, will they double the vote count, adding the do-over show's votes to those of the previous Top 7 vote count? (Adding the vote counts -- and they've done it before -- seems unfair to all the contestants when one has been Saved; what's the point of a Save if the contestant starts off the next week's voting having to make up a number of votes?)
The power rankings have been difficult to find online this week, but Tracy Fusaro at Wetpaint saw reason to alter her Top 7 with regard to the redux show. And she believes that Sanchez won't even make the Bottom Three this week.
Fusaro also sees Colton Dixon as the frontrunner now. Along with Phillip Phillips, he has caught not only the judges eye for his creativity, but mentor Jimmy Iovine has had no problem talking about a Phillips-Dixon finale. Fusaro thinks Testone will actually be sent home this week. After three weeks in the Bottom Three (not to mention being Saved by the judges on the Top 13 results show), it appears to be her time to go.
It should be pointed out that Andrew Payne at Starpulse predicted an early dismissal for Sanchez in his power rankings, noting that the female power singers are often eliminated early, especially if there are more than one. He also had Sanchez in his Bottom Three last week.
And if that wasn't bad enough news for the teen from San Diego, no finalist receiving a judges Save has ever won "Idol."
Fusaro's redux power list follows:
"American Idol" Top 7 Power Rankings Part 2
7. Elise Testone
6. Joshua Ledet
5. Hollie Cavanagh
4. Skylar Laine
3. Jessica Sanchez
2. Phillip Phillips
1. Colton Dixon
The Top 7 will perform on "American Idol" were a second go-round on Wednesday, April 17, at 8:00 p.m. EST on Fox Television.
(photo credit: Jyle Dupuis, Creative Commons)