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Why Odell Lost

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Last Monday, we had to say good-bye to six singers, and so far I've analyzed two of them -- Jennifer and Quintavious, figuring out why they lost.  There are four others whose journey ended in the Top 20, and one of them was Odell.  But whereas Jennifer and Quintavious were expected to have their journeys come to an end more or less at this point, the same can't be said for Odell.  So why did he fail to make the Top 14?  As always, I'll examine the rules that American Idol contestants need to know in order to find out what Odell did right, what he did wrong and why Odell lost.


The first rule states that contestants need to show both singing and performing talent.  And Odell showed plenty of both, particularly early on since he got a Platinum Ticket and got to skip the first cut in Hollywood.  But he might have begun stumbling a little when it was time to perform for America's votes.  His song in Hawaii, "Uptown Funk", got an average score of 7.29 on IDF, which put him in tenth overall, but put him behind Quintavious, whom I thought would be in trouble for doing a Carrie Underwood song!  I gave that song a 7 and said that it was an enjoyable way to start the show, but a 7 is a score for just a good performance.  Fortunately, he was able to move on to the Top 20 and his second song, "The Door", got similar although somewhat higher scores, with me giving it a 7 and saying that it was good but not great.  Denton Davidson from Goldderby said that it was a risky song because it was uptempo, but didn't say that he was awful on it.


Odell failed to make the Top 10 in voting and had to sing for his survival.  So how was his performance of "Wait on You"?  Most of those on IDF thought that it was either decent, good or very good, with me giving it an 8.  Unfortunately, most people on IDF thought that Roman Collins was better.  Still, Odell was better than Jordan Anthony, who got a Wildcard spot, so Odell did a decent job with the first rule, but not quite good enough.


The second rule states that song choice is key.  I think that Odell had problems here after he got into the Top 24.  His first two songs were up-tempo songs that were risky because a lot of singers struggled on uptempo numbers throughout the seasons, and which didn't have enough emotional impact to get voters on his side.  His third and final song was a gospel song, which was a smarter choice than uptempo songs, but maybe he should've done an R&B ballad to differentiate himself from Quintavious and Roman more.  Therefore, Odell struggled with this rule.


The third rule states that contestants should be consistently great or better yet, improve every week.  The reason why it's better to improve every week is that if a singer begins at a high level, it's difficult to maintain the momentum and even more difficult to improve.  This is what happened to Odell.  He began very well but began to stall in Hawaii, having good -- but not great -- performances.  Meanwhile, Roman began improving in Hawaii and carried the momentum into the Top 20 round and when having to sing for his survival.  Thus Odell struck out on this rule.


At least Odell followed the fourth rule, which states that contestants need to have confidence.  I didn't see any signs of shaky confidence from him like I did with Blake.  Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to save him but at least Odell did well with this rule, so I'll move on.


Odell also succeeded to some extent with the fifth rule, which states that contestants must have a distinct artistic identity.  Odell was a gospel/soul/R&B singer, so he followed that part of the rule well.  However, the rule also states that you should have a current or marketable artistic identity, and gospel is definitely outdated, while soul might also be somewhat outdated.  R&B isn't as outdated, but it has problems with being as marketable as pop or country.  Thus, Odell stumbled with this rule.


But Odell had no problems with the sixth rule, which states that contestants must remember that they are a package.  Odell had the package of being a father of children and having to live in a hotel room to take care of them, as well as being a Platinum Ticket winner.  But as time progressed, his somewhat-outdated artistic identity and poor song choices unraveled his package enough that another gospel/soul/R&B singer could pass him.  So Odell sputtered with that rule at the end.


Odell didn't have any problem with the seventh rule, which states that contestants must take advice offered to them and follow it.  While it didn't save him from elimination, at least he followed the rule, so I'll move on.


The final rule states that contestants must gather and sustain a fan base.  Odell had a head start in gathering a fan base due to his backstory and his being a Platinum Ticket winner.  But the "funnel rule" came into play at the Top 20.  There were three gospel/soul/R&B singers in the Top 20:  Odell, Quintavious and Roman, and fans of this genre are less numerous than those of country or even pop; therefore, there's more risk of vote-splitting in gospel/soul/R&B.  And Odell, Quintavious, and Roman sang similarly enough that the risk of vote-splitting was even greater, and with Odell stalling in his performances while Roman was improving, in retrospect it was pretty clear that vote-splitting would ensure that alll three would have to sing for their survival.  Thus Odell screwed up this rule as well.


Odell began well, with a Platinum Ticket and a backstory that could gain him a fan base.  But because he began so well, he more or less had to remain great, and he couldn't do so.  Beginning in Hawaiii, he chose songs which stalled his momentum and prevented him from adding more fans.  Meanwhile, Roman began improving in Hawaii, and maintained the momentum in the Top 20 round.  And when not only Odell but Roman had to sing for their survival, Roman outperformed Odell.  Odell couldn't maintain his lead over the other gospel/R&B/soul singers, and that is why Odell lost.

Edited by CarmenSandiego
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