Top 3 Tracker for the Top 7

The Top 3 tracker is a long view of the contest, trying to figure out who will end up in the Top 3 based on the current standings. It works in a similar way to the finals model, but rather than week-to-week, it looks at historical information to decide who most looks like a Top 3 contestant.

Here is the Top 3 tracker over time:

After finding himself the lowest vote-getter, Sam bounced back somewhat, regaining the #4 spot that he held two weeks ago, but just barely. The fight for the third spot is looking like a 3-way fight between him, Jessica, and Caleb. Both Jena and Alex remain in the top spots, albeit declining somewhat from their stratospheric highs last week. Both chose somewhat radical re-arrangements of 80s tunes, which were a bit polarizing on the voting public.

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Top 8 redux projection

Name Song WNTS DI VF Not-safe Probability
C.J. Harris Free Fallin 28 0 3 0.574
Malaya Watson Through the Fire 27 4.091 4 0.551
Dexter Roberts Keep Your Hands to Yourself 35 0 5 0.523
Sam Woolf Time After Time 55 0 13 0.347
Jessica Meuse Call Me 59 0 14 0.328
Alex Preston Every Breath You Take 68 0 19 0.246
Caleb Johnson Faithfully 86 0 19 0.241
Jena Irene I Love Rock N’ Roll 42 0 24 0.190


The methodology for the finals model is described here. The model is 87% accurate on ranking within a margin of error of +/- 3%. Probabilities being what they are, somebody with a not-safe probability of just 0.25 will be in the bottom 3 one out of four times. Please do not comment that the numbers are wrong. They are probabilities, not certainties or even claims. Do not gamble based on these numbers.

Names in green are most likely to be safe. Names in red are considered most at risk for being in the bottom 3. Names in yellow are undecided. The most probable bottom 3 is Dexter, C.J., and Malaya. However, anybody on the list being in the bottom 3 would not be shocking.

Updated 12:00 PM EST. Dexter jumps two spots, Jena and Jessica fall a bit, and Alex gains.

Update: 5:14 PM EST. Large drop for Sam Woolf relative to everyone else. No change in 3 most likely, but Dexter moves to third most likely.

Note that Votefair results have been slow to come in recently, and so these rankings are apt to change as the day goes on. In particular, Alex’s fans tend to pull him up later in the day.

So here’s the dilemma: the way I would normally model this round would be to factor in the figure from Dialidol at a moderate level. Dialidol has frequently shown so-so performance early in the year, and gotten better as weeks went by, until it’s quite accurate in the Top 5-Top 2. This year, with rule changes that make phone dialing nearly obsolete, something quite interesting has happened:

Round Highest scorer Result
Top 13 Kristen Eliminated
Top 12 Jena Bottom 3
Top 11 n/a
Top 10 Majesty Bottom 3
Top 9 n/a
Top 8 n/a
Top 8 (ii) Malaya ???

Dialidol so far has been anti-correlated with the results. That is, the person with a high score (and this year, they have been huge) has never been safe. Now, that’s only a sample set of 3, and unless you had a prior belief that the indicator had gone wacky, it’s no reason to change your behavior. But it’s enough to be quite suspicious now since, let’s be fair, we already had good reason to suspect Dialidol may be D.O.A. in 2014. As such, I’ve severely discounted Dialidol in the above numbers.

Dexter has certainly been underrated by the model so far. It’s projected him among the three most likely to be in the bottom 3 nearly every week, but he’s only been there once.

Sam had fairly good numbers last week, and we know he was the lowest vote-getter, which was mildly surprising but nowhere near shocking. His numbers today are also decent, and he’s likely safe.

The following is a bit technical:

Jena and Alex are definitely the most polarizing contestants. Though I rarely quote the statistic, WNTS releases the standard deviation of their sample in addition to its mean. The standard deviation is roughly thought of, in many contexts, as the width of a bell curve. In the normal distribution, one standard deviation encompasses around 2/3 of all the results. If your results are either Yes (approve) or No (disapprove), it’s not quite as straightforward to interpret. What it means in this case is that if you polled 100 people about whether they liked Alex’s version of “Every Breath You Take”, you will get a number, such as 56, that did like it, and 44 that did not. If you do that over and over again, with different sets of people, you get a range of numbers. Sometimes only 30% liked it, other times 70% liked it. The standard deviation in this context is the width of that range of numbers, which is an indication of something which there is a lot of disagreement about. (You can read my explanation of how polling works here and here.)

Alex and Jena had the highest standard deviation tonight, 24 and 27 respectively. So, though Alex’s approval rating as measured by WNTS is nominally 68%, in reality we can only be confident that it’s between 41 and 95! This doesn’t really help with our predictions, it only tells us we should be cautious about the figure. One part of the “probability” part of the above projection is this caution, though not the only part.

SSAR: What music sticks around on Oldies and Classic Rock stations?


In the previous installment I analyzed what I called contemporary radio: Top 40, Hot Adult Contemporary, and Modern Rock stations. Those stations play older songs with an exponentially decaying frequency, to the point where songs from just two years ago almost never get played. But now we look at the other end of the spectrum, stations that only play old songs: oldies and classic rock stations.

The three stations sampled were:

  • K-EARTH 101 LA (oldies)
  • WNCX (Cincinatti’s classic rock)
  • K-Hits Chicago (classic hits)

As before, I recorded every song play during the year and when the record played (day and time), including repeats.

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Top 3 Tracker for the Top 8 (redux)

The Top 3 tracker is a long view of the contest, trying to figure out who will end up in the Top 3 based on the current standings. It works in a similar way to the finals model, but rather than week-to-week, it looks at historical information to decide who most looks like a Top 3 contestant.

Sam Woolf continues to drop, and is now in 5th place. Malaya also took a big hit, though she is still ranked third least likely. Caleb Johnson fell somewhat. All of these gains went to Jena Irene and Alex Preston. Jena is now basically considered inevitable by the Top 3 Tracker, at about 98%; she has nowhere to go but down. Alex Preston, at 86%, is also extremely likely.

Caleb remains in 3rd place. Prior to this week, he had been steadily gaining, but that momentum halted this week. Jessica Meuse is steady, and Dexter and C.J. remain extremely unlikely. Malaya’s hit arguably puts her into extremely unlikely territory as well, which she already had been after the Top 10. Her recent gains with renditions of, e.g., “The Long and Winding Road”, have been erased by recent forgettable performances.

Regarding Sam’s ability to be in the Top 3 given that he was saved, it can certainly happen, though I believe the only instance of it was Jessica Sanchez, who made it to the finale. Michael Lynche made it to the Top 4, Matt Giraud the Top 5, and Casey Abrams the Top 6. We have fairly limited data for this set.