America Aghast (at Itself): ‘Idol’ Viewers Vote Out Singer Who Most Believed Was a Front-runner. Some Explanations Why It Happened

Apr 8, 2011  •  Post A Comment

It generally happens at least once a season, though perhaps not this early. A front-runner was voted off of "American Idol" on Thursday night, April 7, 2011.

With nine contestants remaining, Pia Toscano was eliminated from the competition.

Most bloggers who write about the show regularly characterized Toscano’s elimination as a huge shock.

The judges were clearly surprised and angered by the elimination, and there were tears in Randy Jackson’s eyes.

Judge Jennifer Lopez said, "I — I have no idea — I have no idea what just happened here. I’m shocked. I’m angry. I don’t even know what to say."

Judge Randy Jackson said, "Dude, I’m never upset on this show and I’m never really mad, but this makes me mad. It’s like, ‘What is going on?’ "

Judge Steven Tyler said, "I don’t know America, man. A mistake is one thing, but lack of passion is unforgivable. They’re wrong. I don’t know what happened with this."

At least one "Idol" blogger, Carla Patton at BuddyTV, writes in her blog that the judges shouldn’t have to look too far to figure out why Toscano was eliminated: "Here’s the thing: It’s obviously not Pia’s fault that she was eliminated. She was one of the strongest voices in the group, and she gave us something up-tempo, which we’d been asking for for weeks. But the judges aren’t differentiating her that much from say, Haley Reinhart, Stefano Langone or Paul McDonald, when they’re all wildly different as contestants.

"When Simon was around, things were pretty cut and dry. He got booed a lot, to the point of tedium, but he always gave a bold, blunt opinion. No one wants to be ‘the mean one’ this season, so all the contestants are getting largely positive feedback every week from all three judges."

Patton continues, "So if everyone is doing so well each week, (barring a major musical disaster, which has yet to happen this season), what are the judges there for? Encouragement? It really is all up to America this season, and I won’t speak for the entire voting population, but personally, I’m confused….I miss the excitement of Simon Cowell saying what nobody else had the guts to say. A shocking elimination was the only way to keep us interested this season. I never thought I would miss all that stuff, but now that we have what I’ve always wanted — a real singing competition — I’m disappointed."

Likewise, over at The Hollywood Reporter, Shirley Halperin listed five theories why a singer clearly as talented as Toscano was eliminated, and one of those theories echos BuddyTV: "Lack of guidance by the judges: With the new judges so positive pretty much all the time, the audience seems unsure of who to vote for. It’s not like the show needs a bully to function, but when you’re faced with the decision of choosing the best in a group of greats, some professional insight is called for and these judges are failing on that front. Suggestion: let Jimmy Iovine have a turn to tell it like it really is. Even a short segment at the end of the live show running down his thoughts on all of the finalists would work, no matter how disjointed it might turn out."

Some of Halperin’s other theories about why Toscano received the lowest number of votes this week include "Girls don’t like girls: It’s a longstanding trend on ‘Idol,’ whose audience is overwhelmingly female — girls don’t vote for the female contestants," and "Presumptive Winner Syndrome: Or PWS, as I like to call it — it’s when everybody is so universally convinced that a contestant will win, that they basically neglect or forget to vote for that finalist."

Pia Toscano:piatoscano.jpg


  1. The reason Pia was voted off is that she is forgetable. Yes she can sing but American Idol divas don’t fair well. There is no excitement in ballads after ballad. This is the most talented and diverse group in a long time. Pia was not going to win on her looks alone.

  2. Let’s not forget, that the voting system itself is weighted to 12 & 13 year-old girls, who have nothing better to do for the two hours immediately following the show, than to sit and repeatedly text their multiple votes for the cutest guy in the bunch. Watch out Casey, as multi-talented as you are, you’re probably next, or shortly thereafter. Little girls don’t like bearded guys…
    “eeeewww, like…a beard is weird like, you know?!?!?

  3. I was not that surprised by Pia’s exit.
    Pia’s problem to me was that she had no personality and was emotionless (until she was eliminated).
    Excellent voice, attractive but always looked like “I know it” “The judges have said it” so vote for me.
    Several of the other contestants had the performance edge over Pia, as well.
    Look at who her female POP competition would be:
    Katy Perry
    Lady Gaga
    Avril Lavigne
    Britney Spears
    (would you consider any of the above great singers?)
    Pia reminded me of Katharine McPhee (runner up on season 5)
    Pia’s more of an Adult Contemporary artist and that is a tough format to break from.
    Which of the remaining contestants has the most appeal to fans between the ages of 15 and 28,
    can sell music, merchandise and tickets to see them live? I’m guessing that is what Jimmy Iovine is hoping for.
    Now we’ll see if that is what American Idol fans vote for.
    My prediction for the Top 3 are James, Scotty and Lauren.
    And the winner is…stay tuned.

  4. I’m in the minority that wasn’t shocked to see her go. She’s not different and very forgettable. But the other side of the coin is, they’re all good at this point so good people are going home every week, that’s a given.
    So who did they expect to see eliminated? Stefano, I imagine. He sure expected it. Lauren and Hailey will go, too, I imagine.
    Pia wasn’t going to win so whether she leaves now or later, doesn’t matter. As Constantine said, now she can get on with her career.

  5. Fact is, no one is special on this season’s show. There is no doubt that it is ridiculous that every judge thinks every contestant’s performance is great. They are ALL forgettable voices. And, I would think that the show’s producers were probably very concerned about how the ratings would be this season with no Simon — so they told the judges to say how incredible all the voices are. If the judges were honest and said, by week 3 or so, that everyone stunk, what kind of ratings do you think the show would receive? Still better than other shows but low enough that the Idol franchise would be considered over. So everyone has to be great!

  6. Pia, you were the best singer this season hands down. Congrats on the record deal. You will join the ranks of the more successful elimated contestants from past seasons. The voting on Idol is all wrong– voters should be told to vote for who they want to leave each week — not their favorites. It would be a fairer competition. This way some of the better singers wouldn’t have been eliminated earlier than they should have been in past seasons. I think about this every season when one of the best gets eliminated too early. But the good ones always succeed.

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