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).
I don't know how the show sounded over TV, but it was really good in the Kodak Theatre. And, even though there were some yawn moments, I felt like it was the best show of the year -- a nice recap of the season.
I'm very proud of Jordin. You know how every finale song has some inspirational message about making your dreams come true? Well, I think she is one of the few contestants who could sing that and not be at odds with the songwriting or the sentiments. I have a feeling she won't be one of those who later decides she wants nothing to do with her Idol roots.
"So, the bitch is OK" -- at least that's what Ryan says. Hmmm, I suppose we'll never know for sure.
I've been here at the Hollywood and Highland complex all day basking in the presence of past, present and future Idols and schmoozing it up with Fox affiliates and top 40 DJs. Oh joy! (Despite the sarcasm, it's a lot of fun.)
It's been a circus here all day. Every third person is toting a Fox News video camera with an anchor in tow while the rest have digital cameras cocked and ready to snap at any passing celebrity behind the barricade. I feel like I'm at a high school reunion. Well, what I imagine a reunion might be like...
I like surprises. Aside from Sanjaya, this year hasn't had very many -- although, he's probably enough surprise for an entire season. Melinda, Simon's longtime favorite and subsequently everyone else's, said goodbye to all our company. M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E.
(You won't get that if you weren't forced to watch everything involving Annette Funicello as a kid. My mom knew how to punish us when she was mad.)
And now without the protection of success, the media wolves are already laying into whatever they can get. Some are taking this opportunity to assuage their own egos by claiming that they weren't surprised at all.
The American Idol format is so brilliant. It's like the marriage of a national sports league, Star Search and the presidential election. After seeing the final three go home to all the fanfare, I can't help thinking how amazing all the intense community support is for the local Idol. It's like watching the home team during the NBA playoffs.
I never really had that experience, though, since my dad was a military man, and I grew up all over the country. That, and because I stayed in L.A. after the show instead of going back to school in Idaho, which is where AI decided to place me.
No surprises tonight with Lakisha going home. She's had a great run and lasted a lot longer than I expected, to be honest. Not that I think she isn't good. She's great; but I expected that, since she and Melinda have a similar thing going on, one would have canceled the other out a lot sooner -- like Fantasia and Jennifer Hudson.
During tonight's episode, I found myself thinking about results shows in general. I remember it being especially hard on the crew and production staff almost as much as the contestants. What you don't see while the camera is practically shoved up the teary-eyed contestant's nose is that on the other end one of the tattooed operators is trying to hold back his emotions too. I always heard Debbie, the stage manager, say at the start of most results shows something to the effect of "I hate this part."
Boy, that's rough having to learn a couple songs in a week; I think the challenge took its toll on the contestants. Those guys couldn't have looked or sounded more tired -- a fact which wasn't lost on the judges, it seemed.
There was very little love coming from the judges' table tonight. Only Jordin and Melinda seemed to get any praise on a night that should have been Blake's moment to stand out.
Granted, there's only so much you can do with '70s dance tracks, but it's dance music nonetheless. And you'd think that'd be enough to give him an edge.
One of my favorite Einstein quotes is, "Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That's relativity." Tonight's episode was an exercise in physics for me.
I don't know -- maybe it was the hot stove-like Seacrest interviews or the company I was keeping, but I was busy putting both sides of that version of relativity to the test, while I suppose Chris and Phil typified Idol's weekly lesson in gravity: What goes up must come down -- this time in a Blaze of Glory by high-fiving everyone in the crowd and choking back tears. (C'mon girls, lets hear an "awww" for sensitive guys). Glorious. Charlie Sheen and Lou Diamond Phillips would be proud.
I've heard Dead or Alive, You Give Love a Bad Name, Living on a Prayer and most of the other tunes sung tonight, but I have no real opinion about Bon Jovi's music. Ryan calls them one of the greatest bands of all time and qualifies himself by recounting their huge touring and record sales successes. But, do big numbers make them great?
I don't know. Some would say so, but I see McDonald's signs everywhere boasting how many billions of customers they've served, and I know I can make a better burger than they can.
This was a busy week for Idol. Three group songs for the contestants, two venues for the director, countless celebrities for the agents and enough video clips to keep the editors busy for months. At home on the couch, I felt exhausted.
During the season I can't recall ever not sleeping well. I was so tired at the end of each day -- and we didn't have all the gimmickry of today's Idol. These guys must be going out of their minds.
Disguise it however you want. Call it "giving back" and dress Simon up in a white shirt -- it's still a telethon. But, there's no shame in telethons.
I lived abroad for a couple of years and had the opportunity to get to know extremely needy people from many different countries. I remember one from Nigeria who was one of two survivors in a party of 20 that hiked across the Sahara desert and crossed the Straight of Gibraltar to live a better life in Spain. That meant picking melons in the field and living on dirt floors in a house with a bunch of other families -- and he was the lucky one.
It was a little eerie to hear all the shouts for joy when Sanjaya's name was announced as the one to leave Idol this week -- even though I felt just as glad as the audience sounded.
And, while I was happy to see him go, I ran into him backstage on Wednesday, and that stripped away all the dehumanizing effects TV watching had on me. I felt a little guilty about being so happy and felt empathetic for the media blast he's got to face.
It's easy to look at the characters we see on TV and pick them apart, and sometimes we forget that that person is real. Well, in reality TV anyway. I'd forgotten until the other night when I saw the on-staff psychologist. Directly after you get the boot, you have an immediate counseling session. Poor guy -- he's gonna carry some scars around for a while.
I'm running out of things to say. This isn't exactly a recap, nor should it be and there are only so many times I can talk about their clothes or hairstyle, who they looked like, how I can or can't relate to them and the whole Idol experience, etc. before it all sounds the same.
Hmmm, maybe I could start answering some FAQs. Everywhere I go, it's always the same questions, so I'll see if I can get some of them out of the way for you. If you have any other burning questions you want to ask that I don't cover today, feel free to leave a comment here or on my Web site.
Is Simon really mean?
No. But, that might depend on your definition of mean. He'll definitely tell you what he's thinking but not just to be mean to you. In fact, every time I've talked to him he's been really cool.
Does Randy really say "dawg" in private?
Surprisingly, yes. I thought it was an act before I was on the show, but I've never heard him talk any other way.
Oh man, not one, but two celebrity guests tonight. Uh, how were we so lucky? That means a full hour show...
You'd think a ten percent ratings drop from last year would motivate them to keep it simple, but Idol's sixth season is still picking up new fans and continuing to find new ways to keep us entertained -- even when that means morphing into something other than the beloved original format.
I wonder if turning American Idol into a variety show is a good thing? No longer is it only a singing show but also a telethon for the needy, an outlet for songwriters and a place where celebrities go to sell a few CDs and pretend they sing better than the contestants. All they need now is a stand-up comic and a cooking segment.
You might say I had my reservations when they announced a Jennifer Lopez week. Can you blame me? The artist formerly known as J. Lo doesn't exactly have a classic hits catalogue; but having the show billed as a "Latin Night" put me at ease ... a little.
Only a little because having Latin night in English doesn't make any sense. With only Santana's 'Supernatural' and Gloria Estefan's greatest hits to show off their voices, it's no wonder the judges were harping on the kids about how unexciting they were -- except Sanjaya, oddly enough. I think what he got right and the others didn't understand is that if you're going to make the effort to have a night for Latin music, you gotta go all the way.
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