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Why Oliver Lost


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When Season 21 of American Idol began, there was speculation that Oliver could get very far in the competition, maybe even make the finale.  But after Oliver got the Judges's Save at the expense of Tyson and Marybeth in the Top 10 round, it was clear that his days were numbered and in the Top 8 round, he was gone.  But why did Oliver's journey end so surprisingly early?  An analysis of the rules that Season 21 contestants need to follow will explain what Oliver did right, what he did wrong and why Oliver lost.


Show Singing and Performing Talent


Oliver had enough singing and performing talent to make the Top 26, but after that point, he needed to show it.  And he didn't always do so to the best of his ability.  Until "High and Dry" in the Top 10 round, his performances were generally good but not great and "Georgia on My Mind" was just mediocre for me.  "High and Dry" was better, but that was when he got in the Bottom 3 and the judges chose to save him.  So how did he do with "You Oughta Know" and his duet with Iam Tongi?  The general consensus on IDF was that he did a better job with the duet than he did with his solo.  The TooFab staff put his solo in 9th, only ahead of Colin and weren't sure If it would be enough, and third of the four solos, ahead only of Warren and We's duet and thought that it elevated Oliver a bit even though they also thought that Iam was better.  However, Crisis put the duet in last and said that it was pleasant and low-key, while saying that despite giving a noble effort on his solo, he was hard to hear over the band.  All in all, I have to think that Oliver stumbled with this rule, especially in terms of performance skills, as his performances were often described as "boring".


Song Choice Is Key


I don't think that Oliver had any notable problems with this rule.  He certainly didn't try to go for a song done by a powerhouse singer, for example.  So I'll move on.


Be Consistently Outstanding or Better Yet, Consistently Improve Every Week


This was the first rule that Oliver really failed in.  He was consistently mediocre or good but not great, which wasn't nearly what he needed to be even in the earlier stages of the competition.  Thus Oliver fouled up this rule.


Have the Confidence to Believe That You Belong


This might have been Oliver's biggest failing.  In his Showstopper performance, the judges noticed how he constantly looked up to the balcony where they sat, looking for his approval.  When I wrote about the rules that Season 21 contestants need to follow, I noted that Oliver would need more confidence if he wanted to get into the finale and even win.  And I don't think that he got confident enough until he was in danger, preferring to stay in his comfort zone.  Thus Oliver struck out with this rule.


Know Who You Are As an Artist


At least Oliver had no problems with this rule.  Unfortunately, it wasn't nearly enough to save him, but at least he knew what type of artist he was, so I'll move on.


Remember, You Are a Package


Oliver was mostly successful with this rule.  He had the sad story of his father's stroke and later on, of his father's dialysis issues.  And I'm pretty sure that the main reason why he got the Judges's Save was because he mentioned that his father would be coming to watch him perform if he made it to the Top 8.  So Oliver did fine with this rule.



Take Any Advice Offered to You and Follow It


At least Oliver had no problems with this rule.  Unfortunately, it wasn't nearly enough to save him so I'll move on.


Gather a Fan Base -- and Sustain It


Oliver began well with this rule.  He was able to gather a fan base due to his backstory involving his dad.  Unfortunately, he was probably competing with Iam for the non-country guy with guitar fan base -- and Iam was a slightly better singer and a much better performer.  Moreover, Iam's audition had gone viral, giving him a head start in gathering fans.  Oliver couldn't keep up and thus he screwed up this rule in the end.


Oliver was a white guy with a guitar and that gave him some advantages.  He also had a sad backstory with his father that enabled him to start gaining fans.  But he had two problems.  The first was that he and Iam (who was Hawaiian) were competing for the same fan base of people who liked non-country guys with guitars.  The second one was his Kryptonite -- confidence.  He was unable to gather enough confidence to really shine as a performer, while Iam was better at performing.  As a result, Oliver was stuck doing good-but-not-great performances, while Iam was at least able to do some very good performances.  Being in the Bottom 3 and needing to be saved lit a fire under Oliver, but it was too little, too late.  Oliver just wasn't confident enough.  And that is why Oliver lost.

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