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Why Emmy Lost

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Last Monday, I analyzed the reasons why Triston Harper failed to make the finale of American Idol.  But there was one other person who failed to make the finale, that was Emmy Russell.  She did well to get as far as she did, but why couldn’t she get to the finale?  As always, I’ll look at the rules that American Idol contestants need to follow in order to figure out what Emmy did right, what she did wrong, and why Emmy lost.


The first rule states that contestants must show both singing and performing talent.  And Emmy had problems with this rule from the beginning.  She was a good enough singer, but her performance skills were very weak.  She tended to stay in one spot, either behind a piano or playing a guitar, throughout most of her run on the show, especially when she did “Shut Up and Dance”, and this might be one of the reasons why Emmy was ranked in the middle of IDF for most of her run on the show, with the notable exceptions of “Beautiful Things”, where she was ranked first overall and “Coal Miner’s Daughter”, where she was ranked second overall behind Abi Carter’s justly praised “Bring Me to Life”.  And as the number of contestants dwindled, she fell towards the back of the pack.


So how did she do on her final performances on Disney night?  Not great.  Everyone on IDF put her first song, “The Climb”, at the bottom of the first round of songs, including me.  She did do better with her second song, “Carried Me With You”, as a couple of people put that song in first overall, but most still put it either in the middle of the pack or towards the back of it.  I ranked it sixth overall but still in fourth place in the second round.  More importantly, her final song was the first and last time she didn’t use a piano or guitar and actually tried to work the stage.  Had she better performance skills, she might have worked the stage sooner and maybe made the finale.  Thus Emmy stumbled on the first rule when it came to performance skills.


She didn’t do much better with the second rule, which states that song choice is key.  Her first song for Disney night was a terrible choice for two reasons.  First, “The Climb” has been done too many times on the show.  Second and more important, the song requires a voice that can belt and while Emmy was a good enough singer, she wasn’t a belter.  While I understand why she chose that song, she should have chosen a song that was better suited for her voice.  Thus Emmy screwed up on this rule as well.


The third rule states that contestants must be either consistently great or consistently improving.  Unfortunately for Emmy, she was mostly good to very good throughout most of her run, with her only great moment being CMD.  That’s not what this rule requires, so Emmy fouled up this rule as well.


Emmy’s biggest problem was the fourth rule, which states that contestants must be confident.  True, she didn’t fall apart the way that Blake did or go too far beyond her comfort zone like Mia did, but she wasn’t confident enough to work the stage until her final performance.  Had she been more confident, she probably would’ve done better.  Thus Emmy struck out on this rule.


At least Emmy had no problem with the fifth rule, which states that contestants must have a strong, current and marketable artistic identity.  Emmy was a singer-songwriter and was able to show that quality during her run on the show, even when she did covers.  This is why she was able to outlast Kayko, who was probably also a singer-songwriter but wasn’t as good a singer as Emmy was.  While following this rule wasn’t enough to get her to the finale, at least she followed it.


The sixth rule states that contestants must remember that they are a package.  This was Emmy’s biggest strength, as we all know that she is country singer Loretta Lynn’s granddaughter.  She was able to utilize her connection to her granddaughter to get farther in the competition than perhaps she should have and while she failed to make the finale with her connection, at least Emmy followed this rule.


Emmy also followed the seventh rule, which states that contestants must take any advice offered to them and follow it, within reason.  Emmy was able to avoid getting too far beyond her comfort zone and thus did better than Mia, even if this rule failed to get her to the finale.


The final rule states that contestants must gather and sustain a fan base.  Emmy was able to get enough of a fan base thanks to her grandmother being a country singer to get past the more talented Julia Gagnon, but she might have shared enough fans with actual country singers Triston and Will Moseley to have some possible vote splitting.  More importantly, she wasn’t good enough to add more fans that could help her keep up with Abi or get her past Jack Blocker, who was improving.  Thus Emmy struggled with this rule at the end.


Emmy did several things right.  She was able to take advice within reason, had a strong enough artistic identity, and she was the granddaughter of Loretta Lynn.  But she didn’t have enough confidence in her performance skills, and stayed behind a piano or played a guitar even when she should have worked the stage, as shown with “Shut Up and Dance”.  This prevented her from being more than just good to very good in her performances, and affected her ability to gain new fans.  Meanwhile, Will was gaining more country fans thanks to Triston’s declining performances, Abi was kicking her performances into another gear and Jack was improving, so Emmy couldn’t keep up.  Emmy wasn’t confident enough and that is why Emmy lost.

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