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Why Kennedy Lost

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After analyzing why five other contestants failed to make the Top 14, I'm down to the last one:  Kennedy Reid.  I don't think that anyone was surprised that she failed to make it into the Top 14 -- I sure wasn't.  But why was her departure so expected?  As always, I'll examine the rules that American Idol contestants need to follow in order to figure out what Kennedy did right, what she did wrong and why Kennedy lost.


The first rule states that contestants must show singing and performing talent, once they reach the Top 24.  Kennedy was able to show enough singing and performing talent to move on into the Top 20 with her performance of "Fancy", but even then IDF saw it as middle-of-the-road.  How did people react to her performance of "Love Can Build a Bridge", however?  Not quite as well, at least on IDF.  Most put her below a 7 and even those who put her above it put Mia Matthews, another country singer, above her, including me.  I put her at a 6.5, but said that even though I liked her new appearance, I thought that Mia was better.  I'll explain the impact of Mia later on, but it's clear that Kennedy took a step back with her performance in the Top 20 round.


Unsurprisingly, she didn't get into the Top 10 in votes, but she did have a chance to get a Wildcard spot.  However, she was perhaps even worse with "Somethin' Bad".  Most of IDF gave her scores of a 5 or lower.  I gave her a 6.5, which was one of the higher scores, but I still thought it wasn't good enough.  MJSBIGBLOG thought that her performance was manic and both she and Denton Davidson of Goldderby didn't think that the judges would save her.  So in the end, Kennedy failed the first rule.


She also had problems with the second rule, which states that song choice is key.  "Somethin' Bad" was sung as a duet with Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood, and I always said that a contestant should never try to sing a Carrie song unless they absolutely have to.  While Quintavious was a pleasant surprise with his "Something in the Water", most times if you try to sing a Carrie song, you're going to come out on the short end of the stick, which probably happened to Kennedy.  Thus she also struggled with this rule.


Kennedy also had problems with the third rule, which states that contestants should be consistently great or consistently improve.  Kennedy wasn't consistently great and she took one step back for her Top 20 performance and another one for her Wildcard song.  Thus Kennedy also stumbled on this rule.


At least Kennedy had no major problems with the fourth rule, which states that contestants should be confident.  She was understandably nervous when having to sing for her survival, but she didn't fall apart like Blake did in Hawaii, even if it wasn't enough to save her.  So I'll move on.


Kennedy managed to follow the fifth rule by the time of the Hawaii rounds and gain an artistic identity.  She was a country girl; unfortunately for her, there was another country girl in the Top 24:  Mia, and she was better.  Still, Kennedy didn't lose because of this rule, so I'll move on.


But Kennedy's biggest problems came with the sixth rule, which states that contestants must remember that they are a package.  Kennedy came in with crazy wigs that made her look older and that probably turned people off from the get-go, myself included.  She did explain that she did so because of a bleaching failure some time ago, but she only did so in the Top 20 round and by then, it was too late.  While there was a scandal brewing by the time of the Top 20 reveal that Kennedy was having an affair with her boss, and that would negatively affect her packaging, I don't think that it was able to do that much damage because she wasn't good enough.  Still, Kennedy definitely struck out on this rule.


Kennedy took the advice that was given to her and followed it, thus following the seventh rule.  Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to save her but at least she didn't fail it, so I'll move on as well.


The eighth rule states that contestants should gather and sustain a fan base.  Unfortunately, Kennedy's wigs and tendency to look older than 23 caused her to get off on the wrong foot in terms of gathering a fan base, and when she got into country, she was competing for fans with a better and more youthful-looking Mia.  And Mia was better as well.  All Kennedy had to get fans was her vocal and performance skills and they weren't enough, so Kennedy screwed up this rule as well.


Kennedy didn't lose because of the rumors that she was having an affair with her boss.  That might've sealed her fate and certainly didn't help her convince the judges to save her, but the damage was done long before it.  She had mediocre vocal and performance skills compared to the rest of the girls, was competing for the country vote with Mia and had an off-putting package that she didn't shed until it was too late.  She had one final chance to save herself even then, and she couldn't do so.  Kennedy wasn't good enough and that is why Kennedy lost.

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