Warning! The following contains spoilers for American Idol's Top 9 elimination episode. Read at your own risk!
American Idol Season 19 is getting down to the nitty-gritty with its talent, which meant it was only a matter of time before a controversial elimination happened. (Or another one, as it were.) The latest episode brought what may be the biggest stunner of the season thus far when the Top 9 contestants were cemented, and Ava August was not among the names called. August was sent home earlier than many viewers expected, but which of the other singers is the one who edged her out for a slot in the next round?
That's a complicated question that fans no doubt want an answer to, even though one will likely never come. What seemed clear is that even the judges didn't seem to think Ava would be eliminated tonight, especially after Luke Bryan raved about how stunning her "City of Stars" performance was. The only real complaint from any judge was Katy Perry's general note that she wished August acted more like a 15-year-old and bounced around the stage a bit. That's not exactly a criticism worthy of elimination, especially in a night where several competitors made some errors.
Hunter Metts made one of those errors, which normally might have led to an elimination, though this particular case may have actually won Metts even more votes than usual. The singer broke down after forgetting the words at the end of what was otherwise his best American Idol performance yet, unintentionally creating one of the season's most memorable moments in the process. Prior to that, Metts was on my shortlist of competitors deserving of being sent home, but he's obviously still firmly in this race.
Others pointed the finger at Caleb Kennedy, the only true country singer left in American Idol Season 19, as the contestant who arguably should have been eliminated instead of Ava August. Country music acts have historically done well on reality singing competitions, though, so his advancement wasn't a total surprise, but perhaps a little less understandable with Ava being cut from the competition.
Beyond those two popular suggestions, American Idol fans were all over the place on social media with their choices for who should have been cut instead of Ava August. Ultimately, it's a good example for why this season has been a standout in terms of singing talent and why there have already been a few tough eliminations along the way that haven't sat well with fans.
Ava August's elimination is definitely a tough pill to swallow, especially when the following "Comeback" episode will bring back ten contestants from Season 18 who all hoping for a shot to re-enter the competition. The gimmick episode is American Idol's way of rectifying the previous season being disrupted by COVID-19, but given the talent already on display in Season 19, I have to wonder if these past competitors even stand a real chance at toppling anyone in the Top 9. Perhaps August set herself up to be the prime contestant to be a comeback star next season if the idea is used again, though one can't help but wonder why one spot in the Top 10 is being held for a wildcard while a premiere talent is being sent home.