AI Aftermath: 8th place finishers - VIDEOS

by Jason Hughes, posted Apr 16th 2008 12:19PM
American Idol - 8th Place Finishers
Welcome back to "AI Aftermath," where we explore Idol's past. Each week, as one more American Idol hopeful is eliminated from the competition, we take a look back at contestants past who were eliminated in the same week. We'll examine how they did on the show and what they've been up to since their eliminations. In honor of Michael Johns' elimination last week we'll be looking at other eighth place finishers.

This week: 8th place finishers, featuring featuring A.J. Gil (Season One), Rickey Smith (Season Two), Jon Peter Lewis (Season Three), Nadia Turner (Season Four), Bucky Covington (Season Five) and Haley Scarnato (Season Six).


A.J. GilI almost didn't recognize A.J. Gil when I started researching what he's been up to. He looked so young when he was on Idol and now he's rocking this Frankie J vibe with this look.

A.J's website is under construction, but over at A.J. Gil's MySpace page, we not only learn that he goes by his middle name, Juda, now, but that he doesn't blog there at all (though he was on there earlier at the same time I was). I thought about getting all fanboy and sending him something saying "OH MY GOD WE'RE ON YOUR SITE AT THE SAME TIME I LOVE YOU SO MUCH IF I SEND YOU A BANANA PEEL WILL YOU TAKE A BITE INTO IT SO I CAN GET A DENTAL PRINT!" but thought that might come across a little ... weird.

He's got some sample tracks on the page, though, and it shows that his voice has strengthened since his Idol time. And for only $1.40 apiece, you can download all three tracks and use them as Ringtones. Whenever a one night stand gives you his/her number, you can queue up "I Regret It" as his/her ringtone. A.J.'s got your back! And ... uh ... yeah, that's about all I could find.

Here's his latest single, the video's not much (HAHAHA) but I do like the sound of "I Try":

You'll see what I mean here with his voice a little weaker and whinier on "My Cherie Amour" back in A.J.'s Idol days:

You've got to love the hairstyle Gil was sporting back in the day. I can't believe this was six years ago already. Here's "How Sweet It Is":


Rickey SmithHe endeared himself to America with his infectious smile and his enthusiastic shouts of "Hercules! Hercules!" in the style of Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor. But since his ouster in the second season of American Idol, where did he go? The best I could do was find an review of a Rickey Smith show he did at a high school in Erie, PA last year and a video from the same year of him singing in some restaurant. And I'm not talking about up-on-stage singing but "Hey, sing me a song" singing.

Rickey wasn't the strongest singer on his season, but he still had a very impressive instrument. Is it just a matter of the different times (not as much Internet proliferation in 2003) as far as self-promotion goes and different media attention on the show back then? Hell, I can't even find a MySpace or a Wikipedia page for him. If you do want us to find you, get a MySpace page at least, Rickey!

Or maybe, Rickey has decided he doesn't want to be a professional singer. Maybe he's made other decisions in his life. I know it's hard to imagine someone not wanting to be famous or at least in the public eye in this day and age, but they're out there.

In that aforementioned video, attributed to Coaches Restaurant where he reportedly worked, Rickey didn't even look too happy to be singing. Looking at the comments even spotlighted that he downplayed who he was to other patrons either out of shame that he was waiting tables rather than selling out stadiums or just wanting to move on with his life:

Remembering the more innocent days of yore, here was Rickey on American Idol with "Endless Love":

And again with "I've Done Enough Dyin' Today." There was a really nice quality to Rickey's voice. I bet if he'd appeared in later seasons, he'd have had a better shot of making it in the industry. In the season of Studdard, Aiken and Locke it was hard to compete for the public's attention.:


Jon Peter LewisJon's manic style and reckless abandon on-stage didn't always go over well with the judges, while at other times they were completely enamored with his goofy charm. He was dubbed everything from a "mess" to a "dark horse to win." After his elimination from Idol, Lewis could have jumped on the bubblegum pop bandwagon and quickly jumped into a recording studio to put out an album he'd later regret. Instead, the "pen salesman," as Simon described his look on his first audition, took the time to learn the art of songwriting.

For the next several years, he penned and released two Christmas originals and "Turn to Grey," featured later in this article. In November of 2006, JPL released his own debut album under his own label, Cockaroo Entertainment. He took some time last year to write about American Idol Season 6 for us here at TV Squad. And we've kept Jon Peter Lewis' TV Squad posts available for you to enjoy his singular humor and style even now. Particularly memorable is his accounting of last year's "Crying Girl."

Jon Peter Lewis was also one of the featured singers on Curtain Call: New Songs from Past American Idol Finalists, Vol. 1. This is a new series of CDs spotlighting four former contestants each. The first one, with Jon, came out in February. On the disc, along with Season One's Ryan Starr, Season Six's A.J. Tabaldo and Season Five's Stevie Scott, each of the four singers was allowed three tracks.

This release garnered him some attention and now he's working with big name producers on the follow-up, Break the Silence.

While Break the Silence is currently scheduled to drop June 3, 2008, the title track single is available now:

Here's the video for that aforementioned earlier single "Turn to Grey":

Here's some footage of Jon at Idol Camp 2007:

And some of that manic energy on Idol with "Jailhouse Rock":

[via The Boston Herald,, MySpace, Wikipedia and more!]


Nadia TurnerMy wife always likened her to another Turner with big hair and long legs, and certainly she had that R&B/rocker blend that's made Tina such a legend. She just wasn't quite as compelling a performer or passionate a vocalist, but then this is Tina we're talking about.

You can check out sporadic updates of what she's been up to on Nadia Turner's MySpace page. She's also got a couple of sample tracks on the page, "Power of Love" and "Try a Little Tenderness" both as performed on Idol. It's weird that she wouldn't have any newer tracks available for us to sample. These date back to 2005 now.

Most recently, she's done some review work of this season's American Idol over at She also has an album entitled Standing on Love, but it's currently without a release date or label. I didn't find clearly if that means the album is finished completely just seeking distribution or if it is still a work in progress. She's also done a lot of local events and charity functions since her Idol run ended.

Nadia did do a movie that came out in May of last year. So that may have kept her busy. Lord Help Us is described as an "urban romantic comedy" and is available for purchase now. Nadia has one of the lead roles, so you can see how versatile this beautiful young woman is. In fact, you can see right now because I've got a clip. Who loves ya?

Remembering that rock edge that we so loved, here she is on Idol with "I'm the Only One":

And again on Idol with the video that goes with the audio on her MySpace page for "Try a Little Tenderness":

[via MySpace, Wikipedia and more!]


Bucky CovingtonWell, far and away the most successful eighth place finisher thus far, Bucky Covington naturally found his way to the land of country music. His self-titled debut album hit a year ago, and immediately set sales records in country music that had been held since 1992 by Billy Ray Cyrus. I think that should earn him a guest spot on Hannah Montana (please don't send me nasty letters if Bucky has already appeared on Hannah Montana, I really just don't watch that show--maybe I should review it for TV Squad).

His debut single, "A Different World" also did well on both the country and pop charts. Personally, I loved the song and the message of it. I'm not going to get on my soap box here about the coddling of America. The sad thing is that Bucky's only 29 years old and yet the lyrics about how much the world has changed still rings true for him (I can say that because I'm only a smidge older and I can remember all the things he sings about, too).

Bucky is currently on tour with Dierks Bentley across the nation in support of the album and his second single from it "It's Good to Be Us," which is currently climbing the charts. None of this is really a surprise, as from the moment we first heard his gravelly voice my wife and I thought he'd be a great fit for country music. People seem to either love or hate Bucky's sound so line up accordingly, but I'm a fan. I've bought this album and will buy the next one whenever it should come to pass.

Video for "It's Good to Be Us":

Video for "A Different World":

Bucky took some time out of his busy schedule around the release of the Bucky Covington CD to appear at Idol Camp 2007:

Remembering when we first knew country music would love this guy on Idol with "The Thunder Rolls":

[via Wikipedia,, MySpace and more!]


Haley ScarnatoHaley was one of my favorite American Idol contestants because she really got what the show was about. She got that it was as much about appearance as it was talent and song selection. And each week as she got slammed more and more by the judges and began to make appearances in "the bottom three," Haley responded by showing more and more skin.

I honestly think if she'd have made the finals she'd have been down to a thong string bikini by then. As it is, Haley made famous her short-shorts showcasing her admittedly very nice legs week after week and various tops that either plunged the neckline or were bare in the back.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a guy who's going to complain when a nice looking young woman wants to show off her physique, quite the opposite. And, in fact, I think doing a bit of that would have served some contestants who chose not to quite well. There's something to be said for looking pretty in a nicely fitting dress rather than going for the bizarre in an ill-fitting costume with shorts up to your breasts (I'm talking to you Asia'h) or wearing clothes that fit you like a burlap sack (don't think I forgot about you Kady Malloy).

But with Haley, it's as if she knew that these were her assets and the more and more blatantly she exploited them, the longer she might be able to stay in the competition. Of course, ultimately it didn't work because Sanjaya had a ponyhawk and you just can't compete with that?

On April 10, 2008 Haley sang the National Anthem at SeaWorld's 20th birthday celebration so she's still out there. We have to remind ourselves that she's only been off the show a year so we can't expect her to have a career yet, but we'll see if she can manage to find one.:

To get an idea of what that might sound like, here's her Idol performance "Turn the Beat Around," the studio recording version. My assessment? It's a shame you can't hear short shorts.:

Here's Haley's legs and back with "Tell Him":

She's not as strong on the mellower parts of "Ain't Misbehavin'," but I think she does well with sassy. And her legs did a fine job on this one as well.:

Haley's legs had one of their strongest performances here with "True Colors." I really think they may have a future in pantyhose or stockings.:

[via Wikipedia and more!]


Michael JohnsAnd now, the Aussie Posse failed to deliver enough numbers, and their main man finds himself in the illustrious group of eighth place finishers. As Bucky Covington has already proven, an eighth place finish on the top-rated show in America isn't the end of the road for anyone if you play your cards right, and impress the right people.

A lot of people have reacted strongly to Michael's elimination, which indicates he has a vocal and passionate fan base. All he needs to do now is capitalize on that as quickly as possible

We take a look at the seventh place finishers, including Ryan Starr, Kimberly Caldwell, Jennifer Hudson, Anwar Robinson, Ace Young and Sanjaya Malakar. See you there!

9th Place Finishers
10th Place Finishers
11th Place Finishers
12th Place Finishers

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He had me at "Crazy Love" (Jon's audition for AI) and it just keeps getting better.

April 18 2008 at 3:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mikey - Jon\'s Aussie Friend

Jon's a great and friendly guy. His debut album "Stories From Hollywood" rocks and I am eagerly awaiting the release of his second release "Break The Silence". I hope he'll do a worldwide tour as I'm in Australia and haven't been able to see one of his live shows yet.

April 17 2008 at 8:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Great article Jason. If Michael Johns works hard and mobilizes his fan base, as you point out, he should do well. Bucky has made a mark. And Jon Peter Lewis appears to be poised to make a major breakthrough with his new album. Those songs on Jon's MySpace ( sound decidedly current and radio worthy. Very, very impressive.

April 17 2008 at 12:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Jon Peter Lewis rocks! I downloaded and totally LOVE the new single! He also has some awesome new tracks from his upcoming album, "Break the Silence," on his MySpace at - or find out more info about him at his site,

Tristan, Jon is doing an American Idol commentary for EW online this year. Good stuff. :)

Jason, thanks for giving everyone this great update on Idol alumni!

April 17 2008 at 11:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

what happened to jon peter lewis, i loved reading his posts, they were good.

i love haley, she was one of my favorite of last season.

April 16 2008 at 4:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

JPL is a douche.

April 16 2008 at 12:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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