The World of Idolmetrics

The World Of Idolmetrics

They say that analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog: nothing really is learned, and the frog tends to die in the process. So what disgusting activity can analyzing American Idol be compared to? Surprisingly enough, when you slice into the biggest, cheesiest, most preprocessed television show on earth, very often huge pearls of wisdom fall out. This little corner of is dedicated to collecting and disseminating the Idolsphere's research into the science of AI. And best of all: no frogs were harmed in the making of this section. (We did try dissecting the judges once, but they made too much of a fuss.)

Would you like to contribute an article or your own original research to this section? Write us at .

Start Here

  • ...The word "Idolmetrics" was coined by our friend Leo, The Idol Guy to mean the search for objective knowledge on American Idol. Read our introductory essay on the topic, published in January of 2009.
  • ...Would you prefer to read the same explanations and warnings at the beginning of all our Idolmetric articles? Neither would we. That's why we put it all on this one page where we can simply reference it for all eternity.
  • ...Help us advance the cause of Idolmetrics by filling in the missing data in our database.
  • ...A spreadsheet of all debut song performances on American Idol. We're looking for help on a future Idolmetrics project by having readers estimate how familiar America was with each song when it first appeared on the show. See the essay Hold On! for details.

Our Own Research

All of our Idolmetrics articles to date, and most of the ones we plan for the future, started life as an editorial essay on our home page.

  • ...You may have seen the USA Today feature story on the fabled AI leadoff jinx, "Idol Singers Who Sing First May Not Last". This is the in-depth companion essay we released on the day that article was published.
  • ...This one's a bit on the lighthearted side, but the phenomenon it studies is no laughing matter. When two contestants each engineer massive train wrecks on the same night, which one is more likely to go home, the first or the second? The surprising answer is: Neither!
  • ...Our report on how the average song age in Season Seven went through the roof. Have a quick look at its charts before you read The Idol Guy's definitive study of what it all means.
  • ...Why it's 4.2% better to be a guy than a girl on American Idol.
  • ...If being a teenaged contestant is such a huge advantage on American Idol, then somebody forgot to tell our database.
  • ...The cost of living in the Northeast might be higher than you think.
  • ...American Idol voters may be tone deaf, but they're not necessarily color blind.
  • ...Ever wonder why the producers don't air the backstories of every semifinalist? Here's your answer.
  • ..."Obscumelodiophobia": The fear that introducing a less-familiar song on AI is a dangerous endeavor. But this study says: fear not.
  • ...Where we introduce the metric of "Song Repeat Factor", and discover that there are no Cooks whatsoever in American Idol's version of Hell's Kitchen.
  • ..."Well I heard Mr. Young sing about her / Well I heard old Neil put her down..."
  • ...We apply our greatly improved methodology to our original round of Idolmetrics studies on survival factors, and we found that some things never change...but some others sure do.

Others' Research

  • ...A PDF summarizing the research of a Harvard psychology student who has studied how the order in which Idol contestants sing affects viewers' perception of the performance. (Angela has generously allowed us to offer the PDF for download here at, so if you choose to use it elsewhere, please give her and Harvard proper attribution.)
  • ...Is a contestant's average song age a factor in who stays and who goes on AI? TIG took a long, hard look at the data through the first seven seasons and discovered that Idols who favor golden oldies might be putting more than just their week-to-week survival at risk. You can read his original essay on the topic at Fans Of Reality, and his followup and far more comprehensive study at his own site.

    — In 2012, Leo published a three-year update of his study.

  • ...An anonymous but dedicated reader with a background in marketing statistics looks at a number of factors that might go into an American Idol champion, and applies them to the Final Four contestants of Season Eight. Did her prediction of the finishing order come true? Whether it did or not (we have no idea at the time of this writing), this PDF is a fascinating read at the various factors that help determine success and failure in American pop culture.

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