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Why Dawson Lost


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It took a lot of dedication, but I was able to analyze why five of the six contestants who failed to make the Top 20 lost:  PJAE, Elise, Malik, Elijah and Emma.  I have just one more contestant left, and that is Dawson.  Dawson is the last contestant whose American Idol journey ended in the Top 26.  But why did his journey end so early?  Looking at my rules on what Season 21 contestants should follow will hopefully explain what Dawson did right, what he did wrong and why Dawson lost.


Show Singing and Performing Talent


Dawson had enough singing and performing talent to make the Top 26, but that isn't enough anymore.  Now he had to show that talent in order to get America's votes.  And how did he do?  The results on IDF were mixed.  Some liked it, some really liked it, some really didn't like it and some, like me -- I gave him a 5.5 -- didn't like it much.  Crisis thought that he shined in the soft parts but that the band overpowered him in the bigger sections and he tried too hard to have stage presence.  And the TooFab staff put him ahead of only Elijah in his group, saying that they felt a massive disconnection to the song on his part.  All in all, I'd say that Dawson wasn't terrible with this rule but he wasn't great either and thus stumbled on this rule.


Song Choice Is Key


One reason why he had problems with the first rule is probably because of this rule, which states that song choice is key.  The TooFab staff thought that the song choice was bold since Dawson usually uses a cry in his voice to break hearts and "Copycat" is more of an empowerment anthem.  One IDF rater thought the song was underrated and was glad that it was being covered, but didn't want Dawson to be the one to sing it.  And I thought that if he wanted to do a Billie Ellish song, he should have done "No Time To Die", which is a James Bond song and thus would be more recognizable to fans.  Therefore Dawson fouled up this rule.


Be Consistently Outstanding or Better Yet, Consistently Improve Every Week


This was another rule that Dawson had problems with.  Coming into the Top 26, he didn't have as much exposure as a number of the other contestants in his group did and thus he needed to come out and be outstanding.  Unfortunately, he gave a performance that some liked while others didn't, and that's not what he needed to do.  Thus Dawson also screwed up this rule.


Have the Confidence to Believe That You Belong


At least Dawson seemed to do all right in this rule, as he had the confidence to take on an empowerment anthem instead of sticking to his usual lane.  Unfortunately, that wasn't enough to save him, but at least he didn't have any problems here, so I'll move on.


Know Who You Are As an Artist


I think that Dawson did a better job with this rule than some of the others who were eliminated.  He knew that he couldn't compete with the big voices, so he tried to use his vocal strengths to get far.  Unfortunately, he probably should have saved taking a risk with an empowerment anthem for a later time and stuck with what he was good at in his first time performing for his votes, considering the limited exposure that he had.  Also, one of the reasons why he had limited exposure is because I'm not sure if he was a pop artist, an R&B one, or a soul one.  Still, he didn't completely fail this rule, so I'll move on.


Remember, You Are a Package


Dawson had limited exposure heading into the Top 26 and this might be one reason why.  He had a natural cry to his voice that he could have used to create a package that would get him attention. but for some reason he failed to do so.  Maybe it was because he didn't have a sympathetic backstory.  Maybe it was because we didn't get enough of a sense of who he was as an artist other than his knowledge that he couldn't compete with the big voices.  Either way, he struggled with this rule as well.


Take Any Advice Offered to You and Follow It


At least Dawson didn't have any problems with this rule.  Unfortunately, it wasn't nearly enough to save him.


Gather a Fan Base -- and Sustain It


This was the biggest problem Dawson had.  He wasn't a country singer, so he couldn't get a dedicated fan base of country supporters.  He had very limited exposure coming into the Top 26, with his audition not even being aired (much like Malik's) and thus got behind the 8-ball.  He needed to have an outstanding performance in order to get a fan base, or at least enough fans who would vote for him.  Look at Nailyah from the first group.  I thought that she was a goner coming into the Top 26, but she gave a performance that got her into the Top 20.  Dawson could have done the same, but instead he gave a mediocre performance.  Thus he struck out with this rule as well.


Dawson was already in trouble coming into the Top 26.  His audition wasn't shown, and he couldn't get a dedicated fan base by singing country, so he was behind the 8-ball in gathering a fan base.  His struggles with packaging himself and possible struggles with his artistic identity also hurt him.  But he knew his limitations and his strengths, so he could have come out and performed a song that actually played to his strengths and took a risk in the Top 20, if he got that far.  But instead, he took his risk one round too soon, and chose a song that didn't suit him well enough, and he paid the price.  And that is why Dawson lost.

Edited by CarmenSandiego
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Great analysis. Regarding his lack of airtime, he couldn't have done anything since they didn't know the producers would give them less screen time when they were filming. Also, the producers purposefully refused to show his audition (and Malik) since they were looking for fillers in the cast. All in all, he will hopefully gain supporters that will continue long after the show. 

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