So obviously a contestant needs some semblance of talent or it just won't work, but does anyone else feel like there's some favoritism among the producers?
Like within the top 32 we'd already been SO exposed to some of the semi-finalists, and many of them went on into the finals (in fact, of all the finalists the only ones I don't remember from the pre-semifinal auditions and callbacks are Charles, Trenyce, and Carmen), while some semifinalists had gotten nearly no screen time prior to their group of 8 round (Hadas, George, Patrick, Kimberly K, Nasheka, Chip). I feel like we're much more likely to vote for someone we liked in the early audition shows over someone we'd just met that night (perhaps explaining why Trenyce didn't make the top 3 in her group of 8).
Also, some contestants really have certain gimmicks played up over others. How many times has Fox reminded us that Julia is a hairdresser and Josh is a Marine, while Charles the supermarket boy and Clay's training to become a special ed teacher haven't received nearly as much coverage? And we all know Corey went out on the town three and half months ago, but how many remember what his occupation is?
How much influence do you think the non-performance elements play in america's voting?