American Idol
Credit: Michael Becker/Fox

American Idol history has proven that there’s one place besides the bottom 3 that you don’t want to be: Scheduled in the first slot on performance nights. Viewers with short-term memories are more likely to forget what the first contestant of the night brought to the table. Plus, as an Idol hopeful, it’s difficult to deliver a show-stopping number when the crowd itself is still warming up. But whereas being first in previous seasons merely meant that you had to cope with another contestant getting the spotlight (and, therefore, momentum going into the next week), the disadvantage this season seems to send contestants straight for those dreaded bottom 3 stools or even out the door — if they’re not saved, that is. It makes you wonder: Is the first position cursed?

Over the past six performance weeks, only two Idol contestants slotted first were deemed safe: Lauren Alaina, when she sang “Any Man of Mine” during Top 13 week, and Scotty McCreery, when he sang “Country Comfort” during Top 11. (Of course, thanks to their fans’ fast-texting fingers, the Idol juggernauts would have to deliver a Sanjaya-sized failure to be sent anywhere close to the bottom 3.) Contestants who weren’t so lucky: Naima Adedapo, sent to the bottom 3 after her Top 12 performance, “What’s Love Got To Do With It”; Jacob Lusk, who flirted with elimination after his Top 9 “Man in the Mirror” number; early frontrunner Casey Abrams, who would have been given the axe after Top 11’s “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” if not for the judges’ save; and Paul McDonald, who bit the dust last night after warming up the Top 8 with “Old Time Rock and Roll.” And being first during the semifinals certainly didn’t help this season’s crop of contestants: Do you even remember who Ta-Tynisa Wilson is? Or recall anything about Clint Jun Gamboa, besides how he treated poor Jacee Badeaux? True, none of those performances were necessarily solid enough to guarantee placement on the couch of safety, but, certainly, none were as bad as Bucky Covington’s “Fat Bottomed Girls,” a season 5 first-slot performance that deserved the boot.

Who’s with me? Who thinks the first performance slot is cursed this season? And who is the poor soul who is doomed to warm up the crowd next week?

Read more: