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With Pia Toscano now gone, can American Idol do anything about its woman problem?



piasotc_mb1_4279.jpgFive weeks, five women.

Since winnowing its field down to 13 finalists and allowing voters to pick who goes home, American Idol has ejected a women every time -- mostly recently sending home powerhouse vocalist Pia Toscano, who I considered the best vocalist in the contest.

Judge Jennifer Lopez seemed near tears after the result was announced, speechless to say anything but "I have no idea what just happened here." Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks joined former Idol judge Ellen DeGeneres, ex-Idol contestant Jennifer Hudson and star Ashton Kutcher in expressing shock over the results on Twitter, posting "Don't have an IDOL habit, but how could the USA vote Pia off? I may be done for the season!"

As much as people groused about my contention a few weeks ago that judges shouldn't have wasted their one save this season on scruffy blue-eyed soulster Casey Abrams, the result of their actions then meant there was nothing left to save Idol's most powerful singer.

Fans have always acknowledged that Idol is more than a singing contest, with viewers clearly allowing qualities other than actual vocal performances to guide their choices. Still, since the show kept the one guy voted off in five weeks from leaving, viewers have systematically kicked off women, starting with the women of color.

naimaandthia.jpgOne of last week's two ejected singers, Naima Adedapo, placed blame on the show's overwhelmingly young, female viewership: "When it comes down to it, the reality is that more than 50% of the audience is, like, little teenage girls," she said during a conference call last week. "Once they get a crush, we're done. They dominate, and that's all right."

But is it all right? If TV's biggest singing contest has suddenly developed an aversion to women, is there something producers could, or should do to make it right?

Ironically, I've always felt the ladies as a group this season have been stronger than the guys. Two of the three "wildcard" singers added by judges to the finalist list were female, offering some of the show's most compelling moments.

Of course, such shocking results ultimately benefit the show, by making the contest more unpredictable and ratcheting up tension among performers and the judges.

But if, as some suggest, these voting results give us an idea of America's attitudes about its recording artists, we may be seeing some ugly stuff welling up, as Idol's love for its cute guys takes on a laserlike focus.


[Last modified: Friday, April 8, 2011 8:57am]


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