'American Idol': First Four to Go

It's "American Idol's" very first Elimination Costume Party. In honor of it being '60s-music week, the 12 Idolette chicks are all going as the "My Fair Lady" racetrack scene on drugs.

The best costume trophy goes to Alaina Whitaker -- or maybe it's Kady Malloy, it's so hard to tell this season's blonde chicks apart -- whose dress resembles the joker in a deck of cards.

All 12 Idolette guys are going as Michael Caine in "Alfie."

Viewers cast more than 28 million votes this week, says show host Ryan Seacrest, who introduces the "talented" Randy Jackson; the "back-in-a-big-way" Paula Abdul, which can only mean we're going to suffer through her new music video, "Dance Like There's No Tomorrow"; and the "monotonous" Simon Cowell, who leans over and asks Paula what Seacrest said.

Simon's been doing that a lot lately; we believe he's lost his hearing.

Joanne Borgella sings her farewell song. (Michael Becker - Fox)

Four Idolettes will get the hook tonight. But first, it's time for Fox to take another crack at placating fans who are upset over the ringer status of so many of this year's crop of singers.

"Some of these contestants are no strangers to the stage," Seacrest says ominously. He turns to Paula to make the ultimate decision: Should this affect viewer voting at home?

"No," Paula says.

Well, that's a relief.

But wait -- there's more!

"These are talented kids," says Paula. It's "a savvy business," says Paula. If the Idolettes had "not already tried to make a name for themselves they don't deserve to be in this competition," says Paula.

Wow, the old "we will accept no amateurs" strategy -- didn't see that coming.

But there's even more: Kelly Clarkson had a record deal before going on to win the first edition of "Idol," Paula says. Ditto last season's "Brandon Davis and Mandisa," she adds for good measure.

Brandon Davis? Guess she should have rehearsed that line a few more times -- we think she meant Brandon Rogers.

Now to announce this season's first four victims. But first, let's look at the "American Idol" Video, featuring the 24 Idolettes shot to look like the stars of something Aaron Spelling cooked up for the network in the early '90s.

Sadly, four of them are going home.

But first, let's hear this season's very first American Idol Group Sing -- more songs from the '60s the Idolettes have never heard of and just learned the words to this week.

And now, having run out of filler, it's finally, and this time we mean it, time to whack an Idolette. Seacrest calls Garrett Haley to the center of the stage.

"It's been quite a journey . . . tonight we have to say goodbye to you. It's over for you," Seacrest says, just like that. Seacrest asks Garrett whether he thought Simon had been too tough on him Tuesday night when he said Garrett looked pale, haunted and like he's been shut up in his room too long.

"I know I'm a pale kid, but I'm happy with the way I am -- I haven't gone tanning, so I'm being myself," Garrett says.

And, one last time, Garrett gives The Performance That Got Him Whacked.

Seacrest calls Kristy Lee Cook to the center of the stage. She is wearing a black patent-leather skirt -- maybe it was made out of her very best barrel horse -- and a striped sweater.

"This night is no fun, believe me," Seacrest says.

"You are safe, the person who is leaving us tonight unfortunately is Amy Davis," he adds.

We weren't surprised, because the camera accidentally cut to Amy during Seacrest's fakeout of Kristy.

Seacrest asks Paula if she has advice for Amy. Paula tells her to "paint that door and that knob." If only someone had given me that advice when I was embarking on my career.

Seacrest says that when they come back from the break, Paula will "shake what Mama Abdul gave her." Paula giggles like a schoolgirl.

Paula's new video is slick enough, but if she truly is a proponent of dancing -- and like there's no tomorrow, mind you -- maybe it should include a little more of her, um, dancing? Now, if they'd called it "Toss Your Hair Like There's No Tomorrow" they'd have had something.

Video done, Paula giggles some more, thanks Randy for getting her back into the studio, and kisses Seacrest's hand.

And now, it's time to whack another Idolette.

Seacrest brings Amanda Overmyer -- who's had several more skunks woven into her hair and is wearing a black-and-white crocheted afghan -- and Joanne Borgella to the center of the stage and lets all the other chicks know they're safe.

So, too, is Amanda, which leaves Joanne out.

Seacrest asks Simon what he's thinking, as he sits there looking all smug and sipping from his carefully placed red Coke product-placement cup.

"How much I love Coca-Cola?" Simon ventures. Good guess!

Next, Seacrest drags Chikezie Eze and Colton Berry to the center of the stage. Colton gets it in the neck.

Chikezie and Ryan Seacrest say goodbye to Colton Berry. (Michael Becker - Fox)

Paula does not think Colton needs to paint a door and a knob, but he does need to take his time and pick the right songs and "go for it."

Seacrest asks Simon if he has any constructive criticism for Colton. Simon suggests he go out and get himself a good job and enjoy singing on the side because "I don't think you will make a successful career out of it."

"Oh my god!" Randaula gasps and hisses at Simon that he should keep his opinions to himself.

"Then don't ask," Simon says. The man does have a point.

Among the surviving Idolettes, Kristy Lee Cook was once signed to a major Nashville label, David Archuleta was a "Star Search" winner, Jason Castro starred in the MTV series "Cheyenne" as the pop singer's love interest, Michael Johns had a major label deal in Australia and Robbie Carrico was part of a pop group called Boyz-N-Girlz United that toured with Britney Spears.

But Irish-born tattoo-parlor owner Carly Smithson, who had a recording contract at age 15 and whose first album tanked, is the one who has become the lightning rod in the squall over the number of ringers in this year's "Idol" competition.

By Lisa de Moraes  |  February 22, 2008; 7:50 AM ET "American Idol"
Previous: 'American Idol': Where the Girls Are | Next: 'American Idol' Guys: 10 Things We Didn't Know About You


Please email us to report offensive comments.


Posted by: First | February 22, 2008 7:55 AM

Why do they make these people sing the song that got them kicked off? I turn the TV when they start singing. How painful! Maybe they should sing a song that got them on the show. I caught when they cut to Amy Davis, too.

Posted by: Carla | February 22, 2008 8:47 AM


Posted by: Third | February 22, 2008 8:52 AM


Better luck next week in getting the song-screaming biker chick cut.

Posted by: Fourth | February 22, 2008 9:16 AM

How did the pouty guy who trashed "Jailhouse Rock" last he was just as bad of Colton Berry.

Posted by: USC1 | February 22, 2008 9:24 AM

Meanwhile on Survivor - see-ya yau-man...

Switched back during commercials and managed to catch Amy getting sent back to Maxim, Paula's video with her boy-toys, and Colton voicing over the credits while Kristy and Ramiele hugged/wept/emoted/groped...

Posted by: Rob Iola | February 22, 2008 9:49 AM

I'm at work and I'm laughing like a loon - LOVE your column!

Posted by: WI | February 22, 2008 10:20 AM

At least my ears did not deceive me. Carly IS Irish! As for the vote off show - it's too painful to have to listen to bad singers AGAIN. I fast forward to the tears and group hugs.

Posted by: Jean | February 22, 2008 11:13 AM

Lisa, this is why you are the absolute best WaPo writer: "She is wearing a black patent-leather skirt -- maybe it was made out of her very best barrel horse -- and a striped sweater."

Oh, and thanks for pointing out how I knew Jason Castro. It never dawned on me before now, but I did catch a few episodes of that dreadful show Cheyenne and remember him from that.

Paula's video was bad. Really bad. She looked almost as stiff as Britney did at last year's Grammy's! didn't it seems that she always a half-beat too late?

Posted by: Office World | February 22, 2008 11:20 AM

Did you notice that two of last nite's whackees were survivors of the Twin Folding Chairs of Horror?

Joanne was picked last over smokin' hot Cardin in the girls' TFCH, although Simon was heard to say, "I'm having second thoughts." Last nite, buh-bye Joanne.

Ditto for Colton, who survived TFCH over Buddy Holly look-alike guy. Simon made a big deal of saying it was a mistake, that Buddy Holly guy should have made it. Last nite - buh-bye Colton.

What does all this mean? (Beside the fact that I take this much too seriously). It merely confirms Lisa's oft-made comment that Simon is the only judge worth listening to. How could alleged talent experts Dawg and Goofy pick such lousy talent? There were better people cut during the mass auditions than made it to the top 24.

Anyway, got to go paint a door knob.

Posted by: Bethesda | February 22, 2008 11:20 AM

This is the best column on American Idol. I first discovered it the morning after the Top 12 Guys show. Brilliant. I could not stop laughing. I didn't see the Top 12 Girls show on Wednesday night so I read Lisa's take on it on Thursday morning - it is so complete and has all the mean little things in it - totally not necessary to see the whole show after that.
It looks like Ryan is joining Randaula a lot lately in "hissing" at Simon - nearly could add a "y" to "Randaula".

Anyway, thanks for this column. Best by a comfortable mile. :-)

Posted by: anja | February 22, 2008 12:21 PM

Absolutely right on the pouty guy who killed 'Jailhouse Rock'. Can't wait to see him go. Simon Cowell is the only judge worth listening to - Randaula are just there for the banter.
Is there any way they can bring the Buddy Holly lookalike back???

Posted by: Cheryll | February 22, 2008 12:30 PM

You should read -- and write about -- Justin Guarini's blogs about this season's Idol. They're on Fancast.com -- (thebiz.fancast.com) -- and I think they're the most interesting and insightful posts about the show. Any real Idol fan will enjoy his behind the scenes take.

Posted by: Todd | February 22, 2008 1:06 PM

I hope that Amanda being in the group of 2 girls (with one of them leaving the show) was not an indication that her votes were next to last!!!!

My gosh, I had thought that possibly Amanda was in the top 2,3 girls! She is SO d-i-f-f-e-r-e-n-t! Talent, with electric showmanship.....and all from Indiana! I'm from Indiana and STILL can't believe someone like Amanda is living in Indiana.....and has been kept such a secret. When she took the stage Wednesday night, I thought she blew the roof off the place. Could she have really been 10th in the voting??? If so, I am not "getting it" at all!!! The 3 Pointer

Posted by: 3 Pointer | February 22, 2008 1:10 PM

Lisa, you're too funny! You are the Simon Cowell of the Washington Post.

Posted by: Louis Yun | February 22, 2008 1:23 PM

As for the pros on the show thing, remember the little girl who they played up in the prelims who had placed in a Junior Idol show a few years before? I don't see where having an interest in music and having pursued it should be a disqualifier. These folks still have to audition with everyone else. Katherine McPhee had a mom who was a voice coach. The little chick Paris had a grandmother AND a mother who were recording artists. Those are probably far more significant advantages than having cut a loser CD five years earlier.

I think the kind of person who would be attracted to an AI audition-- especially now that it is no secret how brutal the process actually is-- are exactly the kind of folks who may have spent their teen years trying to find a way to break into the music business, anyway. More power to them. That old contract doesn't help them once they're in front of the judges.

Posted by: sharoncville | February 22, 2008 1:28 PM

I was pleased to note Joanne "slip" and state the shows were taped on Sunday. I was trying to figure out how Randy was on Letterman Tuesday (5:00pm taping) and still made it to the west coast in time for Tuesday's "live" show.

Could this be the WORST year for Idol talent?

Posted by: ray | February 22, 2008 1:38 PM

I don't think Amanda being pulled out of the crowd necessarily meant that she was 3rd from the bottom. I hope not anyway. I like her, but I didn't like her song. When I heard the other girl sing "Spinning Wheel," I wished Amanda had chosen to sing that song.

The girls that went were the right ones. I feel bad for Colten. He was all right. He didn't have a chance in hell of winning this thing, but he deserved at least another week to perform. I thought Luke should have been kicked off first. As for Danny, meet this year's Sanjaya!

As for the pros and semi-pros, I thought the rule was that contestants cannot be signed to labels at the time of their auditions or during the competition. In that case, everyone who does not currently have a deal is fairly in the game.

I'm not a big Carly fan. It's strange. She's got a nice voice, but I just can't seem to warm up to her. I can't even say why. Syesha is my favorite of the girls. I hope she makes the top 12. I don't have a favorite guy yet. David A is good but a little too cute. Michael was better during the auditions than he was on Tues. night.

I don't care what anyone says. I really enjoy following "Idol" each year. I love the music and seeing how it all plays out.

Posted by: Fletch | February 22, 2008 1:40 PM

I think the right four people got axed last night, especially the horrifically untalented Amy Davis. And to watch Simon(BTW Lisa, you're right: he's going deaf) destroy young Colton's hopes and dreams near the end of the show? That made me proud to be a television owner! Now come on, everyone--- let's go out there and paint those doors and paint those knobs.

Posted by: Earl Hofert | February 22, 2008 1:41 PM

Your column is funnier than the show.

Posted by: Brien | February 22, 2008 2:02 PM

I don't quite agree with the ones selected to get their parting gifts. I agree with Garrett, but although I agree that Colton was weak, he was significantly better than Chikeieze. What a horrible mangling of that song (done much better on Girl's night). And the orange suit and the sass to the judges...get this man off my television. He didn't sing well, he didn't comport himself well and he didn't show well. Why keep him around? Ick.

As for the women, although I agree that Joanna was weak and that was a horribly cabaret and treacly version of that song, I think she still did better than the horse-girl. Ms. Kristi Lee Cook got a huge birthday present by being kept around. My guess is that 90% of her votes came from guys that just want to see more of her and don't care what she sounds like because other than Amazing Grace (twice!) I haven't heard her give a better than average (for a singing competition) performance.

I think that Luke and Kristi are the Supermodel ringers...oops...wrong show.

Posted by: Dadwannabe | February 22, 2008 2:30 PM

I have heard Colton Berry sing and seen his work on the stage. He has phenomenal talent. For some reason, it did not come through on TV. Song selection, and possibly bad advice from whomever was his singing coach at AI did him in. Maybe he ignored the advice. Whatever, he did not shine as I have seen him shine on stage. As for Simon's comments, well, maybe--but then Simon did not see the best Colton. Regardless, I don't think Simon liked Colton from the first audition. Last, the hunk factor: there were men whose vocals were embarassing, but they did not get voted off because they are "hunks." There are lots of voters who vote for looks at least as much as talent--in the first few eliminations.
I hope Colton ignores Simon's last comment.

Posted by: Preston | February 22, 2008 2:32 PM

I don't think colton berry should have beeen voted off

Posted by: Haley | February 22, 2008 2:34 PM


Posted by: LINDA | February 22, 2008 2:44 PM

this year to me is not that good. The best year was when carrie underwood won, it's was hard to take anyone off that show. Then the year taylor hicks won there was alot of good ones, taylor and katherine not being my favorites to win

Posted by: angie | February 22, 2008 3:26 PM

Todd--love the Justin Guarini blog link. Thanks.

In general, I agree with the concept that there is not a problem with someone who has a professional background competing (like Doolittle and Rogers from last year). The reason that I differ with Smithson, is that she doesn't just have a professional background, she has a failed one. She had a $2.2M record that sold under 400 copies. MCA records invested $250K on a promotional video, $200K on independent promoters, $100K on imaging for Carly Hennessy, and $150K on a four week promotional tour. She also got paid over $100K up front. The reviews were luke-warm to bad and the album died. I personally think that she had a chance and blew it. I think someone else fresh that the public doesn't already dislike should get the chance. To me, keeping her on is throwing good money after bad. I can't imagine that she'll be that much more popular the second time around because I don't really hear anything that wasn't included the first time around. If she wins, she'll be like Jordan Sparks...a winner with no sparks. Popular within context of the show, but not popular for the bottom line.

Posted by: Dadwannabe | February 22, 2008 5:08 PM

Paula's song was HORRIBLE last night!!!!!! she should be ashamed of herself

Posted by: kelly | February 22, 2008 5:26 PM

hey, great comments, all! I must say I pray for the demolition of Danny Noriega---that kid is a total mess musically.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 22, 2008 5:46 PM

Can't anyone make Paula stop talking??!! WTF! I wonder if even she knows what she meant about about painting doors and doorknobs!

Posted by: Jenny | February 22, 2008 6:05 PM

Ray mentioned that shows were taped on Sunday. I'm confused -- can someone help? I thought that once they got to the point where the public votes, the shows/performances were broadcast live as they were happening?

Posted by: Linda | February 23, 2008 12:18 AM

While Paula Abdul is a complete loon, i loved her Dance video (props to randy j); watching it several times. Thank gawd for mr. cowell who redeems the whole hollywood sordid mess that we are completely addicted to: American Idol.

Posted by: Gene Simmons | February 23, 2008 2:17 AM

For me, I don't so much have a problem with second chances as with the show's producers playing us for fools by trying to keep this information regarding past/failed recording contracts quiet. Now they're trying to do some damage control but if they have been up front with us and told the truth about these contestants' backgrounds, I think for some it would have won our support rather than our derision.

Posted by: CathyEM | February 23, 2008 10:26 AM

I've been watching AI since the first season, and I am a big fan. Simon makes this show worth watching. He is not being cruel by making the comments he does, he is just saying what he sees and hears. The contestants will be better prepared for the cruelties of the biz if they pay attention to what he says. Thanks Simon for the great show, and fun way for the public to interact. I'll continue watching as long as the show remains!!!

Posted by: Denise | February 23, 2008 2:45 PM

Don't forget Brooke, the one who's never watched an R-rated movie: she has a CD (look for it on Amazon) called "Songs in the Attic" or some such thing.

Posted by: Illinois | February 24, 2008 12:52 AM

Having a CD and having a recording contract are two completely different things. Having a CD means that you put together money and paid to have a CD recorded (or got friends t help you record it). Having a recording contract means that someone hired you to make a CD, paid you money, paid for all the engineering, paid for publicity, and plugged it for you.

A CD that cost you $10K to make and distribute is very different from a CD that you were paid $100K to make and that a company spent another $2.1M to record, publicize, and push. I'm not sure how much she got paid for "Songs from the Attic" but I doubt too much since that was released in 2005 and she is still working as a nanny. If she had gotten paid much beyond royalties, then she probably would have put been able to do more with her own performing career before Idol.

Posted by: Dadwannabe | February 24, 2008 8:55 AM

Of course, it's always true...!!! there are no need in comments.

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