It's Not About Winning

Idol Gives Back" fallout week on "American Idol."

Last week, because none of the Idolettes got whacked in the name of charity, this week the herd will have to be culled.

Two Idolettes are going.

Phil Stacey is the first.

Jordin Sparks, on the other hand, is enjoying very special treatment tonight after getting totally messed with during "Idol Gives Back" when Seacrest let her believe she'd gotten the hook and then ...kidding!, because who can send someone home on charity night, am I right?

"Jordin, I messed with you so much last week --- sit down," Seacrest says tonight. He must have read his press from last week.

Last week, previous "Idol" winners who've gone on to make it big -- that would be Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood -- performed at the "Idol Gives Back" charity fundraiser alongside such megastars as Dead Elvis, Celine Dion, Annie Lennox, Ben Stiller.

This week, Idol winners you won't remember in three years got to read the 800 phone number you can still call to make a donation, like some telethon of Idol Winners Whose Careers Stalled.

Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino, Taylor Hicks.

What we wanted was Jennifer Hudson,Chris Daughtry and Clay Aiken.

But, of course, they are all "Idol" contestants who did not win but who have made it big.

This is not lost on the current crop of Idolettes. Take Chris Richardson, for instance.

Chris and Blake Lewis are the last two Idolettes on stage. Phil is out and the womenfolk are all safe. Seacrest notes Chris and Blake have become good friends.

"Best friends," Blake says.

"Awwwww!" the audience says.

"I'd got home for him!" Chris says. (By which, of course, he means "go home, like in a Chris Daughtry, sell
more albums than the winner way.")

"Mmmmmmmmm," Blake mumbles, less convincingly.

They say it doesn't matter which of them gets tossed because they're going to do on the "American Idol" tour together. This is very true. Winning no longer matters in this competition. Would you rather be Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino and Taylor Hicks -- or Jennifer Hudson, Chris Daughtry and Clay Aiken? We rest our case.

Anyway, Chris is out. But Chris looks like Justin Timberlake, and he seems like a nice guy. Sings through his nose, but little girls don't notice those things.

That leaves Blake -- who earlier in the show surprised the judges when he told them the beatbox arrangements they give him so much credit for are actually the product of audio production software -- still in the running for the "Idol" tiara. Plus the three chicks: Melinda Doolittle, LaKisha Jones and Jordin Sparks.

Not much chemistry there.

Editor's note: For more on last night's "American Idol," read Lisa's TV column 'Idol' Men Face A Double-Edged Sword.

By Maura McCarthy  |  May 3, 2007; 8:10 AM ET "American Idol"
Previous: 'Idol' Rocks Out | Next: All Hail 'Imperial Idol'


Please email us to report offensive comments.

They're right about one definitely doesn't matter who wins anymore, if you're in the top six or so, you're in a good place to start off a pro career.

Posted by: 23112 | May 3, 2007 9:02 AM

Chris does look like Justin Timberlake and sings through his nose, but I don't care (the singing through the nose part). I'll take him over Taylor Hicks any day.

-TG, creepy Phil is gone. He will have a career in country music where they will make him wear a cowboy hat.

-The best thing for Melinda is to lose so she can go work on her CD and can have the career she deserves.

-LaKisha should win so she can get the makeover (dental, weight, speech coach) she needs before she starts her career ( Look at Carrie Underwood)

-Jordin should win because she young enough to recover from AI.

-Blake should lose so he can work on his CD and then get a hosting over at MTV.

Posted by: Lisa1 | May 3, 2007 9:27 AM

I normally only watch the very end to see who is "leaving us tonight" - but I flipped it on at one point and some random guy was singing - i.e. not Bon Jovi - can anyone fill me in?

Posted by: Betty | May 3, 2007 9:41 AM

clay aiken? really? do you think he's gone on to have a career as big as kelly's or carrie's? where is his grammy?? neh, he has stalled big-time. he's in the heap with reuban and fantasia (and tamyra, and justin, kimberly locke....).

Posted by: wats | May 3, 2007 9:42 AM

betty, that was robin thicke. alan's kid, apparently. i had never heard him before, and now i'm glad. dude sings in the highest voice going. that was a tivo moment for me. bon jovi on the other hand? mmmm.

Posted by: dc at work | May 3, 2007 9:44 AM

To dc at work - Thanks for naming that awful "singer" that was on last night's show. My Lord - what a horrible voice. Now, to the exciting part - the final four! I sure hope Jordin steps it up next week - love her voice and hope this week's song will be a distant memory!

Posted by: Milwaukee | May 3, 2007 9:58 AM

To dc at work - thanks - but now I have a follow-up question - anyone know WHY he was on? I thought he was terrible and was quite confused.

Posted by: Betty | May 3, 2007 10:02 AM

Mmmm... Jon Bon Jovi was yummy last night. Mmmmmmmm....

And I hope Jordin steps it up next week. I'd like her to make the final 3.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 3, 2007 10:03 AM

Okay, I sorta' see the Justin Timberlake resemblance, but (and maybe I'm just weird), I always thought it seemed more like Chris Richardson, while aiming for a Timberfake impression, ended up with more of a KFed look. And he even missed that target, because it isn't even like he reimnds me of the KFed who was lucky enough to marry Britney, but rather a KFed-wannabe who just got kicked out of his trailer because of the restraining order his pregnant girlfriend took out on him for hitting her. I'm just sayin'.

Posted by: Uggh | May 3, 2007 10:40 AM

Reuben and Fantasia may not have had the pop music success that Clay, Kelly, and Chris are enjoying; however, they are doing well on the Contempary R&B charts. Reuben is a staple on the Tom Joyner morning show, for example

Posted by: Bill B | May 3, 2007 10:47 AM

I really wonder how close it was. I thought Phil did pretty good both weeks, whereas LaKisha stunk up big time on Charity week, but made up for it Bonning her Jovis. Not that I'll miss Phil, but LaKisha, I'm so over you.

I'm not really hoping that any particular one wins. Didja notice how much Jordin weeps, or at least tears up? Is she part crocodile?

Posted by: J | May 3, 2007 11:03 AM

Well said Billy B. Plus Fantasia is on Broadway which is nothing to sneeze at.

I think the final 3 will be as follows: Melinda, Jordin and Blake with a possibility of Blake making the finale.

Also Robin Thicke performance was in my book was dreadful. I didn't understand a word his was "singing."

Posted by: KME | May 3, 2007 11:13 AM

While I'm not her biggest fan I can say Fantasia isn't doing back compared to the others. I don't know what circles you guys are in but I know in the black community people of all ages know who Fantasia is and hears her music more than any of the other winners. She's also on broadway in the Color Purple right now. I have no idea what Taylor Hicks or Reuben are doing right now.

Posted by: KD | May 3, 2007 11:19 AM

KME, I agree--I could hear Simon in the back of my head, exclaiming that he couldn't understand a word! When I want R & B falsetto, I'll stick with Smokey Robinson . . . or, for his falsetto and many other reasons, Chris Isaak!

Posted by: Sunshine State | May 3, 2007 11:20 AM

I meant *bad* not back

Posted by: KD | May 3, 2007 11:21 AM

I was utterly horrified at the "singing" from this Robin Thicke character. Horrified and utterly baffled as to why someone with such an aggressive lack of talent was taking up time on this show (okay, perhaps in that context, the outrage is somewhat misplaced).

But then my wife explained why he was there. He's whispering all the things that women want to hear from a man.

Thats it. Lack of singing ability, lack of musical arrangement notwithstanding, thats why he's popular.

I then went from horrified and confused to down-right angry.

Posted by: matt in DC | May 3, 2007 11:22 AM

matt, the sad thing is that this is exactly why robin was performing on american idol. or at least that's the best i can gather. i have heard of him before, and that he was some new big deal, but i had not actually heard his music. and i cannot *believe* how horrid it is. so, so bad. any of the remaining idols, to me, smoke him. even chris richardson, who bugs the bejesus out of me!

Posted by: dc at work | May 3, 2007 11:35 AM

You are SO right re Chris Richardson, and your description of his appearance is priceless! I am so glad he*s gone!

Posted by: To Uggh | May 3, 2007 11:39 AM

Have not watched last nights episode yet (DVR'd). However, need to check out Robin Thicke's performance. I have his cd and it is actually one of my favorites. Hope he didn't totally mess up last night. That would be awful. Give him another chance, he is actually quite good and I don't say that about too many people.

Posted by: Maryland | May 3, 2007 11:50 AM

Fantasia may not sing pop music or be on MTV but trust me when I say she's doing her thing. Oprah *handpicked* her to play Celie in the Broadway production of The Color Purple. If you're handpicked by Oprah you definitely have talent. Lisa, do a little research please. As for Robin Thicke, the reason he was choosen to sing was because he has a top selling album. I like his music and think he's talented, romantic, sensitive, etc but even I cringed slightly when I heard him last night. But if you listen to his CD you'll see why he's popular. I have to agree with Sunshine State though, if I want falsetto I'll stick to Smokey or Maxwell :-)

Posted by: SPS | May 3, 2007 11:54 AM

I am very pleased with the remaining contestants. I hope to see an all-woman finale. Would be different. As for Fantasia not doing well, I am amazed by that comment. Fantasia's albums consistently sale well, she has starred in a full-length made-for-TV movie, and she is on Broadway for crying out loud! If that is not successful and known, I don't know what is.

Posted by: tmw | May 3, 2007 12:03 PM

Chris Richardson is damn hot. Some of you people are probably think Taylor Hicks is hot (eeww!)
Fantasia is doing well on Broadway, but the woman needs stylist (ASAP), because she is a hot mess when she's not on stage.
Clay Aiken is just eeww! I glad he's not around.

Posted by: Shar | May 3, 2007 12:26 PM

I missed the comment and reactions by judges to Blake's revelation about using software -- can someone tell me more? Thanks.

Posted by: kate | May 3, 2007 12:28 PM

I thought he just used the software to help him arrange the piece. No?

Posted by: NoVA | May 3, 2007 12:35 PM

I love Robin Thicke, and I really like the song "lost without you", but he was horrible last night...

Posted by: tyeinmd | May 3, 2007 12:39 PM

Robin Thicke's song was also cut to about a quarter of it's original length. It's a good song, sexy video, and he's got some real talent. I think thet complete abbreviation of his song may have thrown him off. youtube it maybe?

Also, Chris Richardson is hot and has the most awesome smile. he looks like a nice guy.

Posted by: kate | May 3, 2007 12:59 PM

Fantasia's career has not stalled. A leading role on Broadway is not the standard for stagnant careers.

The Washington Post is out of touch.

Posted by: off coverage | May 3, 2007 1:01 PM

I love all you nay sayers that Lakisha would be gone. Well Lakisha is back and better than ever. She may not win, I think Melinda has that wrapped up but she kicked ass on Tues. night.
The final four are my dream pick for the final four from the beginning, for once America got it right.
Now I'm going to just sit back and enjoy, there all great.

Posted by: sadie | May 3, 2007 1:05 PM

Amazing--Lisa, expected better of you. Maybe you need to go and read the Wikipedia article on Fantasia. I don't know much about her, but I do know that she's significantly more popular and grossing more money and sales than Daughtry and Hudson. Her first album did go double-platinum, she has had the single longest #1 debut of a single by any Idol and she has been both critically and patron acclaimed on Broadway. Her appearance on Oprah to advertise her Broadway debut in THE COLOR PURPLE bumped sales over $2M for a total of over $6.5M for pre-show sales and her participation in that show has broken house and show records for sales. Definitely sounds like a has-been to me.

And for the poster who thinks that Clay Aiken is a has-been, he is the #3 best selling Idol from six seasons. Only Clarkson and Underwood have outsold him in total records. He is still putting out albums (latest September 2006) and his album debuted at #2. He is only the 4th artist to have his first three albums debut in the top-5. His 20-city tour for later this year is mostly sold out. That's pretty unpopular, ain't it; definitely over the hill.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | May 3, 2007 1:56 PM

Blake is hotter than Chris - still not my type, though. Haven't seen last night's show yet, but I can't wait to see Mr. Bon
Jovi. . .he jsut gets hotter and hotter every time I see him.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 3, 2007 2:24 PM

My guess is that Simon has something to do with Robin Thicke's management, album production, or some angle. His music vid, getting alot of airplay, makes Coldplay seem like a muscle-metal band by comparison.

Thank gawd Chris is gone. Anyone who likens him to Timberlake, who actually has charisma, is smoking something. The K-Fed reference is much more apt.

Whoever thinks Clay has stalled is also off the meds. I sell film and music memorabilia, and Clay has been the hottest thing going (along with Josh Groban) since he left AI. His fan base is not only large and passionate, they are fanatical.

Fantasia is not the has-been that Hicks and Reuben have already become, but her latest album tanked, which is why she has gone to Broadway. She will always be able to make a nice living, but she certainly isn't an "Idol" at this point. She looked like a New York Giants linebacker in her last music video.

I don't believe for a minute Sanjaya was voted off. I think the producers stepped in to keep their franchise safe from ruin, and to keep all the tweener fans and gagsters that were voting him thru every week from turning their valuable property into a laughingstock.

Likewise, I don't see Kiki or the superior Melinda winning...they don't want another big-belting R&B singer under contract with limited appeal, in an industry dominated by rap and hip-hop.

Blake and Jordin in the finals. Blake is just the kind of wide-appeal pretty boy that Simon would LOVE to have under contract, and Jordin could seemingly do everything from Kelly Clarkson rockers to Fergie-like hip-hoppers to J-Lo styled Latin pop tunes.

Carrie has been a big hit on the country scene, which Simon abhors, and Taylor and Reuben have Amber-alerts out on their careers.

Simon is in it for the record deals, and he knows Blake or Jordin could be sold as logical winners, and could actually sell records. You can't say the same about the others, which is why they won't win.

Posted by: filmex | May 3, 2007 4:11 PM

You are right, "Filmex". Clay will always be terrific. He's also a great humanitarian for his efforts to help those in need around the world. For that alone, he will remain popular. I also agree, that it will be "Blake and Jordan". I just love those two and they are adorable to boot. Cheers :o)

Posted by: Larissa | May 3, 2007 5:08 PM

I think it depends on how you measure success. If the only criteria i CD sales, certainly Kelly and Carrie are ahead of the pack with Clay doing well himself. Like Fantasia, Clay Aiken has had success with his book "Learning to Sing" and has a lot of success as a popular guest on a vareity of TV shows. While Fantasia's CD sales are not outstanding but moderate, she is having success on Broadway and Jennifer Hudson, well, I think winning an Oscar is success.
Chris D. seems to be doing well also. Ruben seemed to have success early on but is just enjoying modest success as far as
CD sales. One thing can be said for all of them and that is, they are all making an honest, successful living out of the specific paths they have chosen to take with the exposure AI has afforded them.

Posted by: skye | May 3, 2007 8:25 PM

I can't wait to see Clay Aiken this Summer. He is doing his 8th tour.He will also appear on Kimmel again May 10th (He's not singing, but is the first and top billed guest) He is the defacto WINNER of Season 2.No doubt about it. He is doing great! Carrie and Kelly have also done well. I like them both too. Ruben I feel sorry for,he is reduced to touring with Idol has beens like William Hung. They had to cancel the last one because of poor tickets sales. The ones in Tesas last summer only sold 500 tickets.Clay Aiken has the best voice to ever come from Idol.

Posted by: afan | May 3, 2007 10:58 PM

the first time i heard robin thicke, i thought the song was awful; i didn't know who he was. then i saw him perform on kimmel and it was AWFUL! then i heard that "lost w/o you" song was #1 on the r&b charts. so i had to fall back. AND THEN I HEARD HE WAS A MAJOR PRODUCER IN THE R&B GENRE AND I CONTINUED TO FALL BACK!!! i think robin is more of a studio than a live performance artist.

according to, he HAS A FREAKIN' GRAMMY!!!

Thicke also penned a wide range of hits for pop artists such as Jordan Knight, writing and co-producing an extensive share of his self-titled album, Usher, Christina Aguilera, Mya, Brandy, Michael Jackson and Marc Anthony. In 2005 Thicke won his first Grammy award for his collaborations on Usher's 2004 release Confessions. He is married to actress Paula Patton, who is pictured on the cover of his A Beautiful World album.

so as much as i love you pookie, you're out of touch on this one. and i concur w/ the folks about fantasia. she's doing very well in the r&b market. perhaps the pookster needs to brush on the genre.

Posted by: boondocksjunkie | May 3, 2007 11:15 PM

I believe Melinda could make it in R & B, as she has the best quality Idol voice this year. Jordin and Blake would be easier to market, but she is a much better singer.

Fantasia has actually done well for herself, but her voice just does not appeal to me. Ruben has a nice, smooth sound, but no versatility at all. However, he is well known and liked in the urban world.

Chris Daughtry's rocker sound appeals to many, and he should continue to have success. Jennifer is so talented, and had she not made odd facials while on Idol, I think she would have made it to the finals.

As for Clay Aiken, there has never been a better voice on that show. He is the best live singer I have ever heard, and I have heard many. No studio dubbing is needed.

He most certainly is successful in all ways that count in life. Grammies are just politics. His cds and concerts are amazing. Lots of Idols are deserving of success, but he epitomizes what we all would want an Idol to be, and his fan base is enormous.

Posted by: Lauren | May 3, 2007 11:36 PM

Awards and multi platinum CD's from relative newcomers do not necessarily translate into long lasting careers. You don't have to be a great singer today to sell miilions of CD's thanks to studio help.

The ones who will truly last are those that are also great entertainers and not many have that quality. Although some may have success through all of Idol there has only been one person to have the elusive X-factor to match the voice that will keep them a headliner.

Posted by: Lynn | May 4, 2007 12:31 AM

Lisa's comment in the TV column about Robin Thicke's "itsy-bitsy falsetto" was perfect. But nobody has mentioned his creepy pencil-thin mustache! With the biggest audience he will probably ever have in his career, what in the world was he thinking???

Posted by: Thicke as a Bricke | May 4, 2007 12:36 AM

Justin Timberlake ...

I am seriously perplexed as to what the fixation is with that no-talent, boy-band reject. Take away his choreographer, publicist(s), song-writer(s) and what have you got ...

A scrawny, buzz-headed dork (get line, Skippy)

Posted by: CuttinThruTreacle | May 4, 2007 7:39 AM

Real question is ...

Who'll have a bigger career; the Idol 6 Winner or Sanjaya Malakar?

My rupees are on Mowgli

Posted by: Reuben Hung | May 4, 2007 1:30 PM

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