American Idol fans love calling the final performance of the night the “Pimp Spot” because the person who sings last gets the biggest boost for votes since they are freshest in viewers’ minds. But this season it seems like performance order is more important than ever, and the Pimp Spot isn’t just one performance.
After four two-hour performance shows, anyone who performs in any of the last four spots has been safe. Meanwhile, the vast majority of the eight eliminated singers so far performed early in the episode, and three of them went second. Going early is definitely a bad thing on American Idol, and with its awful track record, going second should be called the un-Pimp Spot.
It’s not difficult to see that performance order has a huge impact on your chances. Ashley Rodriguez, Janell Wheeler, Haeley Vaughn, Joe Munoz, Tyler Grady and John Park all performed in the first half of their nights, while Jermaine Sellers and Michelle Delamor both sang at about the halfway point of a two-hour show.
Why are the singers who go early in so much danger? Just look at the ratings. When American Idol has a two-hour show, the ratings always increase as the show goes on. Of the four performance shows this season, the ratings for the second hour are always up by more than half a million viewers over the first hour. In the case of the Top 12 guys, the second hour was watched by 2.2 million more people.
More people watching means a larger pool of potential voters. Yes, the contestants still need to deliver a good performance, but that becomes far less important as the night goes on. Going first avoids this problem because starting the show is always a memorable place to be, but right after that, a singer is in real trouble.
The order can also show which singers the American Idol producers are favoring. Andrew Garcia went last in week 1 and then went 7th in week 2. Siobhan Magnus was the 10th singer both weeks. That’s a lot better than Haeley Vaughn, who had to sing in the first hour of both her performance shows.
The problem should go away next week, when performance shows are cut down to an hour, but when we get back to a two-hour show with the Top 12, performance order will become very important.
Look at the data. In season 8, once it got to the Top 13, the last four singers were safe in the first four shows. For the next two weeks, any of the last three performers were safe.
On American Idol, going early means going home early.
(Image courtesy of FOX)