It’s not surprising that as last week’s buzz has died down, most of the contestants’ iTunes tracks have fallen out of the top 200. But it’s a testament to the quality of the recordings by James Wolpert (“A Case of You,” #98), Caroline Pennell (“We’re Going to Be Friends,” #114), Matthew Schuler (“Wrecking Ball,” #165) and Jacquie Lee (“I Put a Spell on You,” #166) that they are still hanging on. That very well may be your top four that will be left standing at the end of the competition, right there.
And here is how all 12 contestants look on social media:
Again, Tessanne Chin‘s following may be artificially inflated, relative to her actual vote-getting power, because she already had a successful singing career in Jamaica prior to coming on the “Voice” stage. Since people in Jamaica (or any country outside of the US) can’t vote, it’s difficult to get a clear read on just how many active voters Tessanne has. Still, she has the vocal abilities on par with Kelly Clarkson combined with a pop-friendly punk style a la Pink. All it will take is the right song to put Tessanne right up with James, Caroline, Matthew and Jacquie on the charts. Last week’s “Many Rivers To Cross” just wasn’t that song.
What’s surprising on the above list is that James Wolpert‘s social media fandom has not increased proportionate to his iTunes success. Part of the problem is that he is the only top 12 contestant without a proper Facebook fan page; he has a personal “friend page” through which a fan has the option to send him a friend request or follow his feed, but a vast majority of Facebook users don’t understand how or why to “follow” a friend page as opposed to just hitting “like” on a regular fan page. This is a disadvantage for James, as fans may feel frustrated at not being able to connect with him.
James’ Twitter following is way up from last week, but he is still only in the middle of the pack. This doesn’t bode well for his staying power; he doesn’t have as many die-hard, loyal fans as the others above him, and if he isn’t as good this week as last week — a possibility since James has not been the most consistent contestant — I predict he is going to have a huge drop on the charts. People won’t buy his music just because they like HIM, as they will for Caroline and Jacquie, even if notes aren’t perfect or the song isn’t that great.
In short, people loved James Wolpert’s performance of “A Case of You,” but they don’t necessarily love the man James Wolpert. He has work to do to secure his spot, and not just in terms of choosing a great song and nailing the performance. James needs to show more personality to really lock fans in. So far, he has come off as a little awkward and a bit prickly, which may appeal to some but isn’t going to win him any “America’s Sweetheart” awards (or votes). He needs to demonstrate that he is a nice person with a good heart, and that the other contestants like him; a duet with either Jacquie or Caroline could put him over the top.
Jacquie Lee and Caroline Pennell, meanwhile, have very safe positions. It’s hard to imagine either of them giving a performance that would alienate fans who are already totally in love with them. A bum note here or there will be forgiven; a just so-so song will be downloaded generously. Especially Caroline, who favors the kind of music that is a little easier to sing than songs in Jacquie’s powerhouse style. Not that there’s anything at all wrong with Caroline’s music; “easy” also translates to “easy to listen to” and “I want to listen to it over and over,” so she is the golden child.
Matthew Schuler is also in a good position, though perhaps not quite as strong as the ladies above. Matthew is a big hit on Twitter, gives consistently amazing performances, and is the only black person left in the competition (is “The Voice” racist?), so his spot is secure for a while. I’d love to hear Matthew and Tessanne together in a duet.
It’s all pretty close in the “middle of the pack,” with Will Champlin ahead by a nose on Twitter but lagging far behind Ray Boudreaux and Austin Jenckes on Facebook. My theory here is that country music fans = conservatives = more active on Facebook and hipster fans = liberals = more active on Twitter, although country fans may be underrepresented on both media. Overall, I think Will should be safe because his voice and knowledge of music will pull him through (also, a little personal bias there; Will is my favorite).
Meanwhile, Austin Jenckes and Ray Boudreaux will duke it out for the country vote. Hard to predict without knowing their song choices, but I think Austin will win the country battle based on flat-out being a better singer, which could put the vocally-inconsistent Ray in jeopardy despite his stronger social media following. Again, I don’t think country fans are well-represented on Twitter, so my numbers aren’t the most reliable predictors of these artists’ success. I also suspect that some of Ray’s fans are following him for his looks, not his voice, and that won’t carry him through if he can’t deliver vocally.
Cole Vosbury could also be competing for similar fans to Austin’s and Ray’s, but I think he is different enough to squeak past them both. His incredibly successful “Let Her Go” on iTunes hung on the chart for weeks, and fans remember his audition with the theme song from “The Jeffersons.” Still, he needs a more memorable performance than last week’s “Maggie May” to secure his spot. I’m sure he’ll be safe this week, I’m just not sure how many weeks he will have after that if he and Blake don’t choose better songs for him. (Not that “Maggie May” is a bad song, at all; I like it a lot. It’s just not a good choice for a contest performance.)
Predicting the bottom 3 without seeing/hearing the performances first is a real long shot, but I’ll go out on a limb and say Josh Logan is most likely to be eliminated. Josh has the fewest Twitter followers, is towards the bottom-of-the-pack on Facebook, and had the least-certain spot coming into the top 12. He would have to completely stop the show to be safe from the bottom 3, and I don’t think he is capable of that in this deep field. Vocally, Will, Austin, James and Matthew are going to blow both Josh, Ray and Jonny Gray out of the water.
Jonny Gray has respectable followings on both media, but I don’t think his vocal range or stage presence are on par with the other male singers. His voice has a pleasant tone, but he doesn’t do “money notes” and is often flat. Just in terms of singing abilities, I’d put him at the very bottom of the list. But Jonny has the military vote, and it is Veteran’s Day, so I predict he will be safe.
That puts Kat Robichaud in some danger. She is also trailing the leaders on social media, despite a very active (and fun!) Twitter feed. I loved her performance last week, but it was somewhat polarizing; based on other reviews I’m seeing, some people didn’t care for it at all, and others rated it just so-so. She needs to step up with a great up-tempo rock song this week to get back in the game and remind us all what a cool chick she is. If she is in the bottom 3 as I predict, I’m going to be working my Tweets hard to get her the special “instant save.”
So going out on a limb without knowing anything about performance order, song selection or the performances at all, I will predict the bottom three will be Josh Logan, Kat Robichaud, and Ray Boudreaux, with Josh Logan eliminated. Jonny Gray and Cole Vosbury may also be in some danger. Caroline, Jacquie, Matt, Will, James, Austin and Tessanne will all be back next week.
But almost anyone (except Caroline and Jacquie, who are safe as safe can be) could slip with a bad song choice or bum notes! Excited to see the show tonight.