what to do when you’re not the favorite

Spoiler alert – If you are a person who watches American Idol and haven’t seen the results show yet, I’m-a-gonna ruin it for you here. End of alert.

I’m one of the few people who still watches American Idol. Well, I shouldn’t say that. Re-phrase: I’m one of the 25 million people who still watches American Idol. Last night one of the judges favorites received the lowest number of votes. Her name is Jessica Sanchez and she’s a firecracker of a singer. Crazy big voice. Tiny little thing. Super cute.

(This is the part where I should have inserted a photo of Jessica but I have a weird and irrational peevishness about posting photos I didn’t take myself. So here is a sunset).

Everyone was appalled. And by everyone, I mean the judges and the studio audience. The judges used their save last night so Jessica didn’t go home. Of course.  It was a “shock.” It was an injustice. Randy Jackson got up and warned us, saying “America, vote for the best one. You have to vote for the best one!”

But behind him stood six other really talented singers. Singers I would listen to before Jessica. I would buy their music with money. She may have the judges in her pocket and maybe last night was some kind of weird fluke, but here’s the thing: Maybe America did vote for the best one. It just happened to be a different one than who Randy Jackson wanted it to be.

A judge on a panel being paid by a show doesn’t get to decide who’s the best at this point. The singer doesn’t get to decide, either. The show is designed for America to choose their favorite. When you put it in the hands of the people, you can’t slap their hands for having the wrong favorite.

There is no wrong favorite. These singers made it to the top seven out of 100,000 people. Top seven. So don’t point your finger and say America got it wrong.

Jessica is talented to be sure. She’s just not my favorite. But that isn’t saying anything about her. It isn’t her job to be my favorite, it’s her job to sing. She does her job well. But if she starts worrying about trying to become my favorite, she’ll ruin it all. Because she does what she does and that’s all she can do.

So sing. You can’t be the judge, the voter, and the singer. You have to choose one. If you’re the singer, be the singer. Some people will vote for you and some people won’t. But that isn’t your job to worry about. Sing, forthelove. Just sing.


  1. says

    SO funny I had the exact same thoughts! Though would never have said it so well. Just sing! Or judge! Or cook. Or run your house. Or make your widgets. Or. Or. Or. Do what YOU are made to do and do it to please the Lord.

    I read daily, comment rarely – trying to do more. But I do remember chiming in on some of your “what are you reading” posts. Have you read any of Charles Martin’s books yet? I think you would like them. I rarely (can count the number on 2 hands) read books more than once – he’s on the short list of re-reads.

    Happy Friday – I love thumbing my nose at luck on friday the 13. :)

    • says

      Thanks for speaking up, Jennifer! Although I’m a big supporter of not commenting unless you really feel compelled to. I’ve not yet finished When Crickets Cry but I did start it. I think it was during the time when my father in law was very sick and as I started to read the book, it felt like it was going to be sad so I put it aside for a bit and haven’t picked it back up. But I’ve heard lots of good things about Charles Martin and look forward to actually finishing one of his books.

  2. says

    perfect. just perfect. “It isn’t her job to be my favorite, it’s her job to sing.” Such a message I need to hear every day. Thank you for doing your job so well, Emily…snd for bringing us to do ours with such a grace. you inspire.

    • says

      Thanks so much, Tara. Yeah, this one got me fired up and I think it’s because sometimes in my writing, I try to be all three – the singer, the judge and the voter. And it doesn’t work out so well. I need to hear this message a lot.

  3. Jen says

    I thought the same exact thing when Randy said that! I couldn’t imagine what those other singers must have been feeling! They are all super-talented and someone has to go home every week. I thought they overreacted a bit.

  4. says

    Gracious. You are so right about this. My own personal interpretation / application: “I can’t be the critic, the reader, and the writer.” Well, I can and I try and then I wonder why I’m anxious and paralyzed.

    I need to heed my mama’s advice: You be you.

    Why is that easier said than done?

  5. says

    I agree that each person in the show [and life] has his or her role to fill– and I find it disturbing that a judge would try to influence the voters. Partisanship is never pretty. I think that your conclusion is perfect advice– and can only hope that those who are overstepping their roles, take it.

    And as for me, I shall continue on with my day: “just singing.” Love it!

  6. says

    There is a difference between a singer and an artist. I’m a big fan of singer/songwriter types because I feel like their music is more pure and heart-felt (although there are exceptions). Jessica definitely does have an incredible voice, but I wonder if the reason the industry wants her so much is because they can put her voice to the music of their choosing…. where someone like Phillip is going to “do his thing.” Just something I’ve been chewing on. :)

    And Emily, this post is so encouraging…. if you’re a singer, GREAT, sing. If you’re an artist, GREAT, make art. There are obviously places for all… but no matter what be who you are. My biggest fear for someone young and innocent like Jessica is that the industry will pick her up and make her into something she had no intention of becoming.

  7. says

    What an awkward position the judges put ALL of the singers in. All of those musicians are very talented…each has a unique voice. I wonder how Jessica feels about being the favored one? How do the others feel knowing the judges do not think they are the best? Why not just pronounce Jessica the winner now? Because it’s supposed to be the vote of the fans…not the judges.
    As a singer who started college as a voice major, while I appreciate Jessica’s talent, I don’t enjoy her performances as much as some of those whom the judges have deemed “not THE BEST.”

  8. Holly says

    Sometimes it freaks me out a little when I read your posts; you’re in my head! 😉 Apparently God made at least two of us. Glad one of us wrote a book!
    Oh, and to weigh in on the unrelated Charles Martin comments: yeah, he’s totally awesome. I actually buy his books, instead of getting them from the library. (It’s rare that I buy fiction!)

  9. says

    I don’t watch American Idol (haven’t for years), but this post resonated with me big time.

    Especially this: “You can’t be the judge, the voter, and the singer. You have to choose one.” Such a great and timely reminder for me…to be who God made me to be rather than spending my time worrying about everything I’m not.

    Thanks for this!

  10. says

    Long time reader… first time commenter. But you nailed this one. This is a great reminder for me as a mom, a blogger, a friend, a volunteer, etc. But about last night… geez. I felt so bad for MY favorites (Colton, Phillip, Joshua) because they deserved to be “safe” and I just don’t think America got it wrong. I was sad for my favorites and the others who were safe. Jessica is talented, but she’s not likable to me personally. But the girl can sing. Anyway- I agree with everything you said!

    And I think I heard a rumor that you’re coming to my church (Shandon Baptist) in the fall?

  11. says

    Yes! Great points. I’ve been beating myself up all week for some mistakes I made singing for our church Easter services last weekend, and you’ve just reminded me it’s not my job to judge as well as sing. I sang. Job done. God decides the rest. Love it! Thank you, Emily!

  12. says

    My little girl, who has a beautiful voice, was so disappointed the other day for not getting a major role in a choir musical. The mama bear in me was sad for her, but I told her to not let this one moment keep her from singing. I told her it doesn’t change the fact that she has a beautiful voice and gifts and talents that God planted inside of her. I didn’t watch American Idol, but sounds to me like you are right on mark.

  13. says

    Yes!! I was thinking the SAME thing! She’s beautiful to be sure, but I’ve been listening closely to try to find what the judges are hearing. Her voice is wonderful, but like you said, maybe not necessarily a cd I would purchase. I think she was a good pick to save though…I’d like to hear more from her and see her being a little less guarded with her perfomance.

    Another thing I’m curious about though is the community build up behind each singer. Maybe Jessica doesn’t have a large community backing her while other singers have friends posting videos begging for support on YouTube? Do they have access to larger followings via social media? IS America voting for the best singer? Or is the singer with highest number of voters pulling ahead?

  14. says

    I just read Jennifer Hudson’s book, I Got This. She was voted off American Idol at number six, I think it was the third year. She has gone on to win an Academy Award, a Grammy, and other awards because she did exactly what you said, she sang. Because that is what she does, that is what she loves, and that is what she is good at. ” Sing forthelove,” love that line. I don’t sing – you wouldn’t vote for my singing, ever! But I do love my kids, my home, I love to play at writing- thank you for the challenge to love and enjoy what I do. Even without the popular vote.

  15. says

    Loved this: “if she starts worrying about trying to become my favorite, she’ll ruin it all.” When we’re trying to make everything work – do everything, waste energy worrying about it – we mess it up! After another of your posts this week, I ended up writing my post I’d been deliberating about. I stopped trying to be 3 things and focused on the one I am most: a coach who gets people to think different. Some people unsubscribed, some people got on my case, but a lot more subscribed and saw freedom. It feels good to stop doing everyone else’s job and be who God calls me to be!

  16. says

    Thank you! I know I’m susceptible to trying to be what I think others want me to be, but I love the reminder to just be me and SING! I feel like this applies to my blog as well. Even if it would be (a tad) easier to grow it by being someone else (by fitting into a more specific niche, linking to a million link parties, etc), I have to be me! Have a great weekend!

  17. says

    how you encourage me! “if she starts worrying about trying to become my favorite, she’ll ruin it all.” absolutely … she probably won’t even start writing that song or poem or book or making that whatever, living that dream, taking that step. Thanks for the encouragement. I have to remember to sing with my own voice and there’s freedom in that.

  18. Jen says

    Oh Emily, THANK YOU so much for putting it into repectful words! I had the same exact thoughts. I felt sad for the other contestants, because I to think Jessica is amazing however, neither my favorite-“best!”. I feel the judges comments were not fair. They could have been more considerate to the 7 on stage. Just use the save and that speaks for itself! I hope America stays true and isn’t swayed by the judges!

  19. says

    WOW just WOW. This is spot on in every way. You echo my husbands thoughts on the show last night. Couldn’t follow them then but do I hear it now! You both are so correct and I hear this much deeper life lesson so sweetly too. Thanks.

  20. Come On says

    Part of your post is a copy of Jessica’s sentiment, “I don’t expect anything. I just do what I do…”.

    But the biggest part is you stir up the hearts of so many — just like what the AI judges did.

  21. says

    i love how you touched on this again. doing your art for the sake of art, not praise. you mentioned that awhile back when i was in the middle of a “why do i do this?” phase. it has really stuck in my heart.

  22. says

    Well written words! Reminded of the saying:

    Use what talents you possess: The woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best. -Henry Van Dyke

  23. says

    So true! You know, I feel this way as a friend sometimes. I hold onto to friends so tightly that, when they focus on someone else, a part of me feels a tiny bit jealous. I wonder what I did for them to neglect me, even though I know this reaction isn’t right, it’s my job to just live this life to the fullest, exactly how I was created to be.

  24. says

    You hit the nail on the head, Emily. My thoughts exactly.
    Jessica is not my favorite by a long shot. I’m interested to see what happens next week. Will Randy’s remarks backfire and Jessica will go home anyway? Hmmm.

  25. Jennifer says

    Funny…I really needed to hear that, and not in a metaphorical way. Singing is what I do, but I can’t get out of my own way, trying to be the judge and the voter, too. And it grieves my heart that I “try so hard” and yet come away feeling rejected, jealous, and mad, especially when the whole point is to lift my voice in praise to the Father who gave me my voice.

    “Sing, forthelove”–my new motto.


  26. says

    First, Randy was way out of line in his comment. I felt so bad for the other GREAT talent standing there. What a slap in the face. Other singers who work hard as well.

    But I really like your point. I’m 65 years old, and I have learned this to be true. Having spent most of my life with a very low self-esteem and ‘the need to be approved’ syndrome, I often found myself jumping through hoops to ‘perform’ to win approval…to be liked.

    I have at least one story I could share to illustrate the point, but for the sake of brevity, I won’t. I just wanted to affirm your words. Yes! Sing to SING… I’ve often wanted to tell this to those contestants. Don’t compete with one another. You will fail if you do. Just SING!

  27. says

    mmm… i like what you said about TRYING to be the favorite. if that’s what she starts to aim for it will totally mess w/ her head. just like it does all the rest of us when we go from BEING who we are, to STRIVING to be what others want us to!

    such good words. thoughts that didn’t even cross my mind, because i admit at the time i was too pre occupied with trying to see if j’lo’s butt is as big as everyone says it is!! 😉

  28. says

    Good heavens. Am I glad I read this.

    One thing I’ve observed about blogging is that sometimes my “star” performances (i.e. posts into which I pour my heart and feel that I’ve really written something important) get no votes. And there are times that I’m thinking, “Seriously? Blog readers? You didn’t like this? How could this not resonate with you?” As if I were in charge of what resonates with people.

    Somehow, this is worse when I read a mediocre post written by someone else that generates a great deal of attention. As if I were in charge of what constitutes a mediocre post.

    The heart of the matter for me is that I just want my own way. I don’t think of myself as a particularly controlling person or a childish person, but the truth is reminiscent of both controlling and childish: I want my way! And if you’ll just want things my way, too, we’ll all be happy!

    Sheesh. Thank you for reminding me just to sing my song and to leave the judging and the voting and the everything-elsing to others.

  29. beth says

    Yay! I agree, and it’s a good point for life as well. Do what you do, do it the best you can. You will definitely reach some, some will relate more to something else. I personally don’t care for Jessica. She’s cute and she’s talented but she’s not my cup of tea. I love Phillip! His love of music and passion speaks to me far more than a perfect voice ever could. Love Hollie too, for her enthusiasm and spunk despite constant criticism from the judges. (guess I’m also one of the few who still watches!) Anyway, couldn’t agree with you more, thanks for writing this!

  30. Elaine L says

    I have been thinking about your post since the day I read it. We all do so many things every day that may hurt someone and we never intended to cause any harm. I’m sure the judges didn’t mean to slight any of the other contestants, but they did. My daughter is a dancer. Life in the arts is fraught with daily assaults to your self esteem. Daily comments not meant to hurt, but they do. Parts that you don’t get, parts that you do get but maybe didn’t want. It is hard to see in the daily work, but if you dance for the sake of dancing it usually works out in the end. Doesn’t mean you don’t get a little bumped up on the way. Maybe that’s where God’s lessons are.

    Thanks for writing this blog, I will take my inspiration anywhere I can get it. :)

  31. says

    I LOVE this! It especially speaks to me now when I am trying to get a blog up and running. I have posted six blogs so far but only have two followers and one comment. I know people are reading it, but they just don’t have anything to say. I want to inspire people. I want to make them want to comment. I know it will take time, but I am anxious. Your post gives me the determination to keep writing. That’s what I love to do most…write. Not everyone is going to like it. I will not be everyone’s favorite. But I might be some people’s favorite and that is good enough for me. For the first time in a long time, I am finally puting myself out there with my writing, which makes me vulnerable. But my hopes are that it reaches enough people that it will end up being a favorite for somebody!

    Thank you for the inspiration!

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