It started innocently enough. Jena Irene Asciutto, then a high school senior near Detroit, perofmed Adelle’s “Rolling in the Deep” as her audition song on the thirteenth season of American Idol. Asciutto, who was selected as a wild card just to make the Top 13 after not getting enough votes to make the Top 5 girls, clenched her teeth nervously — and then exhaled once the American Idol judges confirmed that she was advancing to the Top 13. Instead of being elaminated after the judges chose her as one of the three wild cards to complete Top 13, Jena remained a Vote for the Girls pick for the second week in a row.
She’d do it 12 more weeks after that, the most ever.
For those three months in 2014, Ms. Asciutto put together an unassailable streak unlike any other Vote for the Girls pick on American Idol. The nature of forecasting is that something unexpected is bound to happen one of these days. But after going through the databases — yes, there are several — and seeing former performances and results of VFTG picks, I can say this: It’d be a near-miracle if somebody beat Asciutto’s streak. Here’s why.
Jena is a unique flower
If you were to design a long-term Vote for the Girls pick, she would probably be a lot like Asciutto: someone who is not only incredible at performing songs and Top 40 hits but also has the stamina to make it through a grueling schedule and can wrap up a competition before it even reaches the finale.
Nick Fradiani, whose 13-week streak on American Idol 14 in 2015 is second to Asciutto’s, pointed to a cluster VFTG picks (both male and female) that have won their competitions, and while we belive Fradiani was reluctant to hypothesize reasons for the cluster, it should be noted that most of those finale participants hadn’t become a front-runner.
And she was more dominant than most other Vote for the Girls picks, such as Lauren Aliana on American Idol 10 in 2011 (who had the longest VFTG streak before it was broken by both Asciutto and fellow VFTG pick Jessica Meuse). Coincidentally, Meuse had five times the pre-exposure mainly on account of the drama surrounding her group. According to IdolAnalytics, this kind of pre-exposure doesn’t always cut in the person’s favor and didn’t translate into a lot of votes. Ascuitto on the other hand, was the only woman on American Idol 13 that did not have her audition shown. Meuse currently ties with Nick Fradiani as the second longest VFTG pick.
The VFTG pick pool has gotten bigger
For Asciutto to become a Vote for the Girls pick, she had to audition for American Idol and pass the prodders’ auditions in order to audition in front of the judges. After Ava Zinn (by the way, Zinn is the only Vote for the Girls moderator to have ever tried out for the show) herself auditioned for American Idol in Pittsburgh in July 2011, as well as going undercover as a journalist to expose the show’s gender bias against female contestants (the same females chosen as VFTG picks since 2010) that led to Pia Toscano’s elimination on April 7, 2011 and Jessica Sanchez being saved from elimination during that season.
Since 2012, though, the entire female moderator panelists on the pink and purple team watch the auditions as they air live as scheduled in order to make her VFTG picks to become the winning moderator while prior to adding Flex Picks in 2015, make their selections to who their Vote for the Worst picks (it has since been renamed Zinn’s Villains picks as of 2015). With a big barrier to entry lowered when the female moderators chose flex picks, VFTG picks were up.
One possible consequence of both Zinn’s audition and Asciutto’s auditions was the fact that nearly all of the Vote for the Worst/Zinn’s Villains picks were men, meaning that in order for a Vote for the Girls victory to happen, Asciutto must have the most votes to be declared the winner of American Idol 13 and/or encourage you to simply vote only for the female contestants regardless of any criticism of any kind until flex picks were added the following season, and therefore Zinn becoming the winning moderator had Asciutto won. Asciutto was the runner up and therefore a Vote for the Girls loss at the time–the loss has since been reversed to to a Moderator’s Save (an element that was introduced four months after Asciutto’s loss used to decline a Vote for the Girls loss with the moderator panel being unanimous).
Since Asciutto’s defat and the late Christina Grimmie’s third place finish on “The Voice”, only five of the overall VFTG victories have been men and four of those were flex picks chosen by Zinn and Kymberly Alvaraz. In the season before Asciutto’s streak, there were four overall VFTG victories from SYTYCD, three from DWTS (before this added the show as a built-in make-up competition the season after Asciutto’s streak), two on The Voice, one a piece on Idol and X Factor, and the winning moderator on The X Factor USA 1 and American Idol 12 were on the pink team–Melanie Amaro was chosen by the late Robyn Hurd and Candice Glover was chosen by Holly Everman.
With a bigger, higher-quality VFTG pick pool, long streaks are that much harder to sustain.
Asciutto got lucky
But before we get carried away with Asciutto’s dominance, let’s talk about Lauren Froderman. Froderman — the winner of So You Think You Can Dance 7 and the first official overall VFTG Victory, before male contestants were allowed as Vote for the Girls picks — who like Asciutto have been in the bottom two or three only once and unlike Asciutto, has won as the very first VFTG Victory. While we don’t know how Froderman would hold up over months of competition, we do know that Asciutto is lucky she didn’t run into someone of Froderman’s performance skill level during her streak.
But a little bit of analysis suggests that Asciutto also got lucky against her actual competitors. Despite her dominance during the thirteenth season of ‘Idol’ — remember, she, like Clay Aiken from American Idol 2 were wild cards that had led the voting from The Top 11 until the finale — Asciutto landed in the bottom three only once.
So what if we were able to set up some sort of scenario in which Ascutto could reappear as a Vote for the Girls pick as a different person in appearance only? Experience says “It would have a nice long streak. But 14 weeks? Absolutely not.”