Open Mic

‘Idol' Irony: Explaining Why Viewers Voted Off Who They Voted Off This Week, And Why They’ll Vote Him Off Again

Chuck Ross Posted April 8, 2010 at 12:13 AM

Ryan Seacrest, introducing "Idol" on Wednesday night, said the results of that night’s "American Idol" show would be shocking, and, indeed, conventional wisdom says they were: America voted, and the person with the fewest number of votes was Michael Lynche.

I say shocking to those who lean toward conventional wisdom, because, indeed, Lynche has been a favorite of the judges this year. Furthermore, he hasn’t been in the bottom two or three prior to this week.

But to many of us, his being voted off was not that surprising. (Nor was his being saved by the judges, given the praise they have lavished upon him.)

First, as most longtime “Idol” watchers know, it’s about this time every season that America often votes off someone the judges think is really good. Many times I’ve also found it inexplicable why that person is voted off.

But not this time.

That’s because something has been going on with Michael that’s different than any other contestant who has come this far in the contest, at least that I can remember.

And it’s unfortunate, because Big Mike has a big personality and a heartwarming personal story. You wanna root for the guy.

But here’s what’s been going on with him for many of us who watch “Idol.” Too often Michael’s vocals aren’t da bomb in our living rooms. Giving the judges their due, I’m assuming that in person Lynche has been hitting doubles, triples and home runs just about every week.

But if our house is typical, what we’re hearing through our TV—and we have a big Sony Bravia with decent speakers—is walks, singles, and the more than occasional long fly ball that's caught by an outfielder for an out.

For two seasons TVWeek did weekly podcasts with “Idol” executive producer Ken Warwick and former showrunner Nigel Lythgoe. Every so often Lythgoe and I would discuss the fact that a performance that Lythgoe and the judges thought was just fantastic in person really fell flat when viewed on TV at home.

The judges rarely mention it—though Simon has referred to it a few times this season.

I call this factor “Idol" Irony. Why this happens fairly often with a Lynche performance I don’t know. And with fewer and fewer contestants left on the show, it’s now manifest itself with what happened this week—Lynche receiving the fewest number of votes.

Clearly Tim Urban is only still on the show because girls think he’s cute. I’m not sure why Aaron is still on. Andrew is on thin ice. Katie making it down to the final two or three is doubtful

And despite the judges saving Lynche this week, he’ll soon be gone again.

Because regardless how much he might remind one of Maxwell or Al Green in person, too often in our living rooms he reminds us of a Max not well at all, with a voice sounding surprisingly thin and almost weak, lacking both the vigor and character of real soul.

It’s a case of a great guy who might have a lot of singing talent when seen live, but whose voice just doesn’t travel well over TV.

And unfortunately for Big Mike, what America is judging him on is how his performance sounds to us on TV.#