It was a tough week for “American Idol.” Viewership sank to a series low on Thursday night, according to an article by Entertainment Weekly. EW.com's James Hibberd attributes much of the struggle to the time slot, which has been in direct competition with the Olympics.
Then there was a controversial episode that aired Tuesday night where two Utahns were sent home.
As reported by several media outlets, the results of Tuesday night’s episode didn’t sit well with some viewers. In a change of format, five contestants, including Utahns Kenzie Hall and Austin Wolfe, were eliminated from the competition without even singing a note.
Hall, Wolfe, Andrina Brogden, Jillian Jensen and Brandy Neelly were dismissed before getting a chance to perform for America's votes. Online recaps from across the country referred to the results as “contrived,” “distressing” and “discombobulating.”
Amy Reiter of the Los Angeles Times said that the five female singers who were eventually eliminated were forced to spend the two-hour episode “silent and scared in the holding room and then be sent home looking stunned at the end of the show.”
Hall spoke with the Deseret News on Thursday about her “American Idol” experience and shed a little bit of light on the abrupt end to her journey on the show.
“What I knew was that 10 of the 15 girls were able to perform and five of us kind of got the boot, I guess,” Hall said. “We pretty much knew as much as viewers did, to be honest.”
When asked whether she had any indication that she would not be allowed to perform, Hall said, “I didn’t see myself as not being able to perform. I thought I had a pretty good chance, but all of the girls are so amazing, so they all deserved a chance.” She said that the five eliminated contestants were not given any post-episode feedback from judges Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr.
“We see the judges as much as viewers do, to be honest,” Hall said. “It’s not like we can just go sit and chat with them anytime we want. It isn’t like that at all.”
However, she did say that the five singers were able to speak with some of the “American Idol” crew backstage after the episode went off-air and that "they were super nice and kind."
For the record, the judges did clarify the elimination process during Wednesday night’s show with the top 15 male singers. “We spent the last week and a half-plus watching all the audition tapes and performances over and over and over again,” explained judge Keith Urban. “We watched rehearsals (Wednesday) afternoon. We saw all 15 of these guys perform to make sure that we had our top 10 together.”
Last week, all of the top 30 contestants spent a week with judge-turned-mentor Randy Jackson. Hall and Wolfe were both able to interact with and learn from Jackson and “Idol” alumni Adam Lambert and Chris Daughtry.
“(The workshop) is definitely something that I’ll never forget,” Hall said. “I was able to work with Randy and have interviews with him. He gave me insight to the whole industry. Working with Adam Lambert and Chris Daughtry was a lot of fun, as well. They’re both super nice guys, so I was humbled to be able to work with them and see their opinions.”
Brian Mansfield of USA Today wrote about how the ending of Tuesday’s show “had to infuriate many viewers.”
“With the quality of performances the remaining 10 women gave, the judges surely have to be reconsidering their decisions,” Mansfield said. “It's a shame we didn't get to see if the five young women who got eliminated could have done better.” He mentioned that Hall, of Draper, seemed to have been an early front-runner to win the competition.
Though her adventure on “Idol” is now over, Hall said this is not the last her fans will hear from her. “I’m grateful for the opportunity of ‘American Idol,’ ” she said. “It was a bummer how it went out and how it ended for me, but I’m definitely going to be performing around Utah, so watch out for me there!”
Wolfe, who is enjoying some vacation time in Southern California before returning to Utah, was unavailable for comment.