'American Idol': Down to 9

More than 30 million viewer votes were cast this week for the Top 10 Idolettes -- the biggest haul so far this "American Idol" season.

As befits the occasion, judges Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell have changed costumes since the previous night. She's no longer a Parisian apache dancer, she's Cinderella, on her way to the ball. He's no longer a longshoreman in "On the Waterfront," he's a waiter in "Saturday Night Fever." Randy Jackson looks pretty much the same. Ditto show host Ryan Seacrest, the King of All Media.

Kimberley Locke, the second runner-up from Season 2 -- the Ruben Studdard versus Clay Aiken season -- is going to sing. Seacrest begs people to send in their submissions for this year's American Idol Treacle Tune competition. He notes, once again, that last year's treacle tune was included in 2007 Idol Jordin Sparks's album, which is still only certified gold. Which means just 500,000 have been sold.

Because this was Songs From When We Were Born week, the 10 Idolettes are forced to run out on stage and jump and twirl like it's recess time on "High School Musical 23" while singing "Right Back Where We Started From," which we presume is a nod to the whole year-they-were-born thing. Yup, Nanny Brooke is still the worst dancer in the history of "Idol." She should always be planted behind a piano or a potted palm.

Seacrest takes us on a trip to see the making of the Idolettes' iTunes singles. Did David Cook, the Coroner Munchkin, just admit he trolls iTunes to find semi-emo covers of pop tunes, such as this week's "Billie Jean"?

Nanny Brooke pats us on the face and explains patiently that the iTunes recordings give us a chance to hear a little more of each song than we hear during the "Idol" broadcast.

Seacrest shows us the Sofa of Safety and the Three Stools of Danger. Chikezie Eze, who the night before had given an AARP interpretation of "If Only for One Night," which had not sat well with the judges, is immediately sent to sit in a Stool of Danger.

Nanny Brooke is brought out and asked why she allowed the "Idol" band to get in the way of the cosmic purity of her pianoed performance of "Every Breath You Take." She explains patiently she "didn't want to run the risk of sounding self-indulgent." Seacrest sends her to the Sofa of Safety.

Carly Smithson comes out on stage. Seacrest asks her to reveal the story about her that was burning up the blather-o-sphere. "Apparently I'm pregnant -- but I'm not. It was on the news today," Carly responds.

No, she is not pregnant, but she was wearing Spanx Tuesday night, she says, to make herself look thinner. Which is why, she explains, Simon was "definitely right" when he told her Tuesday she was not on her game.

"Carly, you are safe!" Seacrest exclaims before we have a chance to ask her why on earth she was wearing corset-like Spanx while trying to perform the Annual American Idol Singing of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" -- something that simply cannot be done.

So long, Chikezie . (Frank Micelotta - Fox)

David Archuleta is brought out to explain why Simon had suggested Tuesday his rendition of "You're the Voice" played like a ghastly theme-park performance sung while surrounded by animated characters. "Well I had a lot of fun up there and maybe I got a little carried away," Archuleta suggests, helpfully.

"They liked your fun -- you're safe," Seacrest says. The Mosh Pit Chicks squeal in approval.

Coroner Munchkin smirks his way onstage. Seacrest says for maybe the fourth time that C.M. knocked off Chris Cornell's version of the Michael Jackson tune "Billie Jean." Seacrest says he heard from Cornell today. Coroner Munchkin pales. "He loved it, just so you know," Seacrest says. C.M. smirks. America voted, and vocal plagiarism pays off -- he's off to the Sofa of Safety.

Syesha Mercado isn't so lucky, she's sent to take the second Stool of Danger, despite Randy having declared her performance "blazing hot" and Paula having crowned it "perfect."

But the judges' love of Michael Johns's Queen medley was shared by voters and he, too, heads to the Sofa of Safety.

Look! In the audience! It's Constantine Maroulis -- the other Idolette whose Queen covers made chicks swoon. Will he ever wash his hair?

It's time to let the little people ask questions of the Idolettes and judges on actual telephones!

Nicole wonders why David A. chose "You're the Voice" out of all the songs he might have picked from the year he was born.

"I just love that song and I don't know why it's so weird I picked it; I actually did pick it," he insists. This is in re Simon's comment the night before that he did not believe David had picked the song himself -- which, of course, means it must have been chosen for him by his Controlling Stage Dad.

Kaitlin wonders: If Nanny Brooke could do a duet with anybody she wanted to, who would it be? Vanessa wonders whether Simon considers himself the most attractive person on the show. Ari would like Seacrest's job. We resist the urge to throw a brick at the television.

"Idol" Season 2 non-winner Kimberley Locke on tape tells us her life story, including how many pounds she's lost -- why do women always assume that's fascinating? -- after which live Kimberley Locke comes on stage, looking extremely overdressed in a gown designed specially for her by "Project Runway" winner Christian Siriano, and sings her new single, "Fall."

The dress is going to be auctioned to raise money for a camp for children affected by HIV/AIDS, so we won't make any cracks about it. Let's just say Siriano said in a news release the dress was designed to "accentuate the goddess in Kimberley" and leave it at that.

Back to the Idolettes. None of the judges likes Ramiele Malubay's performance -- again. But this week she was very very brave, they said, because she was sick, and America agrees, sending her to the S of S.

One more Stool of Danger is vacant and only Kristy Lee "Horse Pawner" Cook and Jason Castro of the pull-off dreadlocks are left. Jason tells Seacrest he's nervous, which no one believes because Horse Pawner lands in the bottom three like always.

Ah, but this week she sang "God Bless the USA," which she's never done before. And it worked! Kristy's got a one-way ticket to sofa safety and Jason's in the bottom three. He proceeds to tell Seacrest he knew that was going to happen, because he's never been brought out on stage so late on results night, and he knew this would be "a big shocker," but it's okay, even though he was freaked out all day.

"Jason, you're safe," Seacrest says to shut him up. Which is a shame because he's the one who shoulda gone, if this was an actual singing competition. But he's one of the popular Idolettes.

That leaves Syesha and Chikezie and then Syesha is sent to the sofa and Chikezie, whose "She's a Woman" a couple of weeks back remains this season's best performance by far, is out, taking with him at least 50 percent of this year's Top 10 personality.

By Lisa de Moraes  |  March 27, 2008; 6:10 AM ET "American Idol"
Previous: 'American Idol': The Wave of the Past | Next: 'American Idol': Dolly Parton Days


Please email us to report offensive comments.

Ahh your signature sarcasm...that's why I like your column so much!!

Posted by: idolonfox | March 27, 2008 7:25 AM

Little David and Jason have got to go. They have good voice- but they're terrible performers, pick bad song, and most importantly I'm tired of hearing all those girls scream and think they're the best thing since the boy bands. I wonder how many might actually cry?

Posted by: My vote should be the only one that counts | March 27, 2008 7:53 AM

I seem to be in the minority when I say I'm not tired of Jason yet. Who doesn't love a stoner? That hair has to be mostly hemp at this point. Ramiele needs to go before he does. And even Kristy too. How ironic would it have been for her to go out before Dolly Parton week?

Speaking of which, get your ear plugs ready for next week, it should be quite the listening experience.

Do we really need a commercial for the iTunes music store? And they should track the numbers because it might actually make this a singing competition. Unless the total numbers are so bad they don't want to admit it. Why else would they need a commercial?

Finally, an Idolette commercial that isn't annoying.

Posted by: mdg | March 27, 2008 8:03 AM

No MDG, you're not alone. I like Jason too. Just wish he'd crank it up a bit. I understand the cracks about coffee shop singer or dorm room singer (I kind of visualize him on a beach around a campfire). But I really want to see him do something more....more...lively. However, his music is perfect if you want to mellow out.

The Coroner Munchkin, did anyone see his shoes last night?? He must read this column. He was actually wearing shoes with an upturned toe!! I nearly bust a gut when I saw that.

BTW Pookie, nothing wrong with researching what's current. That's what sells records and will make him Idol. The others should take note.

Posted by: hodie | March 27, 2008 8:18 AM

I think it's a bit unfair to criticize David Cook for singing Chris Cornell's version of Billie Jean. In the first place, Seacrest mentioned it before the performance began. I also didn't see Cook saying or even implying "here's my version of Billie Jean that I made up all by my original self." He just sang a cover that fit his singing style, and he performed it very very well. Finally, given the tight schedule the contestants have week to week, it's ridiculous to assume that they have the time to come up with original arrangements every week, especially on their own. They have to pick the song, work it out with the band, rehearse, film the stupid Ford videos, rehearse, do photo shoots and interviews, rehearse, film the iTunes performance, rehearse, and then it's Tuesday. Snarkyness is fine, but it's just ignorant to give an Idol contestant for singing a song someone else already recorded, and it's irresponsible for a journalist to imply that the contestant is claiming originality when he never did anything of the sort.

Posted by: Duodenum | March 27, 2008 8:41 AM

correction: should read, '...it's just ignorant to give an Idol contestant a hard time for singing a song someone else already recorded'

Posted by: Duodenum | March 27, 2008 8:43 AM

Do people really think David A. has that great of a voice? I mean, the kid is talented ... don't get me wrong. But the tone of his voice just doesn't appeal to me. It's monotone and a bit dull. Add the fact that his self-deprecating demeanor takes away from the "super-star" appeal ... the kid needs to go. First he was just annoying, now he just sounds horrible to me.

/2 cents

Posted by: Willis | March 27, 2008 8:58 AM

There's never been any doubt that AI is more popularity contest than talent show. The "vote for your favorite" vs. "vote for who you think turned in the worst performance" guarantees that result.

That said, Chikezie shot himself in the foot by performing a style that had already landed him in bottom two territory in the past.

Posted by: Mike | March 27, 2008 9:15 AM

I agree with Willis. David A. is a talented but annoying singer. I turned the channel every time he sings. I hope he doesn't win.

Posted by: Brooklyn | March 27, 2008 9:35 AM

I'm with Mike on this one -- has it ever been anything *but* a popularity contest?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 27, 2008 9:39 AM

David A. needs to pass go and go directly to Disney.

Posted by: Walt | March 27, 2008 9:39 AM

Maxine Nightingale must be rolling in her grave over that sappy HSM rendition of "Right Back Where We Started From." Oh wait, she's not dead.

"...accentuate the goddess in Kimberley." Yeah, those shoes were on display last night.

Did anyone else see David Hernandez and Danny Noreiga right behind Simon while he was giving Chikezie the "you're about to go" speech?

Posted by: jpstang | March 27, 2008 9:46 AM

I thought Kimberly Locke looked beautiful last night. I've never watched Project Runway, but that dress was gorgeous and now I'm looking forward to seeing whatever else this new designer comes up with. I agree with Lisa, Jason should've been the one to go last night--so boring and such a mediocre singer. I can't believe Syesha was in the bottom 3 while Ramiele (who completely butchered Alone) is safe. Yep, this is definitely a popularity contest. Always has been, always will be...How else can one explain Taylor Hicks winning a few seasons ago? He couldn't sing his way out of a paper bag!

Posted by: Amanda | March 27, 2008 9:59 AM

The "Coroner Munchkin". I just love Lisa. She always hits the nail on the head.

Posted by: Maria | March 27, 2008 10:05 AM

I was sorry to see Chikezie go last night. There were others who were more deserving of the boot (sleeveless Carly, stoner Jason, the BaNanny and the little one.)

Chikezie's song selection killed him.

Dolly Parton next week? Those are some awfully big "shoes" to fill. HAHA. I crack me up!

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | March 27, 2008 10:50 AM

Arch Angel/ Castrati backlash aside- why is no one here as shocked/dismayed as me when it comes to Kristy Lee's continued presence in this competition?

I know she was considered a lock to snag the red state vote after her grade school cheesy performance but I was holding on to some hope that that segment of the American population was smaller than we give them credit for.

While she does seem humble and sweet the fact remains Kristy Lee has continually used songs like this (Amazing Grace twice...) to steal spots from better performers-- it's almost as frustrating as that silent voting bloc that somehow (no matter how bland the weeks performance) keeps Ramielle from the bottom three.

Posted by: RIP Ezie | March 27, 2008 10:58 AM

It's too bad Chikezie got booted this week what with country week coming up. Based on his first "Beatle week" performance he would have shown Kristy Lee to be the pretender she really is.

Speaking of, Kristy better hope there's another "rah, rah God/USA" lyric on next week's song list otherwise she'll be back on the chopping block.

Posted by: Mike | March 27, 2008 11:01 AM

Even more frustrating re: Kristy is that she basically lucked into the song. If she had been born a year or two before or after she could very well have been going home last night instead of Chikezie.

Posted by: mike | March 27, 2008 11:07 AM

I knew Chickezie was a goner. He was hanging on because of those couple of songs that brought the audience to their feetzies. Ballads can't *make* people fall in love with you, they can keep people in love with you once they are already there, but it's the up-on-your-feet music that makes the voting populace happy. *That's* why Taylor Hicks took that season (well, I happened to like his voice too).

Seriously, the little hairs on my arms stood up when David Cook sang (Chris Cornell's) cover of Billie Jean. The song was melodic and powerful--and his voice was on point every note. That one note that he belted (the long "I"), and then when it was almost over, he jumped into a higher octave---OMG. That was so awesome. His version of Day Tripper is still ringing through my head.

I have never actually voted, even though I have watched most seasons cover to cover. I have never actually purchased any of the Idol's (or runners up) music either, even though I have really enjoyed the some of the singing.

BUT, I have already downloaded iTunes, and will spent the lousy buck and change to get David's last five songs.

Posted by: Sam | March 27, 2008 11:11 AM

I'm not sure I get what the big deal is about whether or not it's a talent vs. popularity contest. The show is not tasked with finding the best singer in the competition; it's about finding the next American Idol. Talent is comprised of many things, voice being just one element. Personality and marketability are talents also, and those go hand-in-hand with popularity. If all you have is a great voice and no personality, you end up with Melinda Doolittle. And who wants her to be the next American Idol?

If I am wrong about this, how else does one explain that among the list of the Top 15 female recording artists are: Madonna, Janet Jackson, Shania Twain, Dolly Parton, Cher and Britney Spears.

Posted by: Office Dweller | March 27, 2008 11:36 AM

Duodenum wrote: "it's irresponsible for a journalist to imply that the contestant is claiming originality when he never did anything of the sort."

Chill out, dude. You picked the wrong organ for your signoff.

Posted by: Anon | March 27, 2008 11:44 AM

Duodenum was right on all three points. Many many other AI singers (Tamyra, McPhee, Hicks, Clarkson, David A (earlier this year -- Imagine -- etc.) have covered other artists' versions of original songs. David C never claimed (nor did anyone on his behalf claim) to have arranged the song.

Syesha should not have been B3 for her effort. I think she suffered from 1) Simon's seemingly personal quest to oust her, based on his continuing pattern of always finding something negative to say to her, regardless of performance, and 2) Ramiele's incredible but perplexing support that kept her out of the B3 for two straight weeks (including the fact that she sang first; usually a bad omen). Is it the Asian block? Is it VFTW? Whatev', it is becoming a serious conspiricy. Even Kristy sang better. Jason deserved the B3, but not Syesha.

Posted by: RedRocket | March 27, 2008 12:18 PM

Office Dweller you are 100% right. Couldn't agree more.

But would also like to note, the singers with the MOST talent, are still in the competition. If popularity alone keeps people in the competition, Chekezie would still be there. He did have talent as his Beatles week song showed, but he did not have enough of it and the voters grew tired of him.

OD you are right, it has to be the right mix of talent and popularity. I predict David As popularity will NOT be enough to carry him to the end but he will go nearly there.

Posted by: hodie | March 27, 2008 12:24 PM

I liked Chickezie but he did himself no favor by picking a ballad. More deserving to be in the bottom three last night was Ramiele. I keep waiting for her to "bust out" in that "big voice" of hers. Haven't heard it and doubt I will. If the voters get it right next week: Jason will be back in the bottom three along with Ramiele. I'm not fond of Brooke and wouldn't mind seeing her there along with those two. Will be fun seeing what Dolly Parton does with them!

Posted by: WI | March 27, 2008 12:34 PM

OD / Hodie,

The reason the issue comes up over talent v. popularity is because Simon, Ryan or Randy seem to go out of their way each week to emphasize that AI is a talent contest and not a popularity contest.

They are obviously emphasizing talent because of last season's escapades where Sanjaya made it through half of last season almost exclusively on popularity. The producers can blame Stern and VFTW but I think most people feel those groups didn't swing the results as much as the producers would have liked people to believe.

Granted, most artists are a combination of personality and talent. But AI's constant emphasis on the talent competition part is laughable when someone like Ramiele manages to avoid the bottom three despite turning in poor performances week after week.

Posted by: Mike | March 27, 2008 12:51 PM

I bet that all of you who are mystified by Ramielle's absence from the bottom-3 are older that 30 and do not have any daughters in the 8-16 age bracket. Ramielle and David A are clearly the stars of the show to those two age brackets. They are the young pop performers and are definitely lapping up the full Hannah Montana crowd vote. Watch how Ramielle dresses and acts. Definitely catering to that age group. Many of them have computers and cell phones and probably vote for 2 hours straight when the show ends...and they keep those two firmly out of the bottom-3.

Let's face it, as has already been mentioned, this is about who will make the AI machine money. And these two kids will turn out audience attendance on the AI tour, will get sales of the AI album and will be popular with the young crowd. So as far as AI is concerned, they are the stars. Sayesha is in danger because there is no demographic group that is block voting for her like some of the others and so she needs to hit it big every week to stay alive. If she has an off-week, there is not enough residual support for her to survive, unlike several others who have already survived weak performances.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | March 27, 2008 1:38 PM


Unless a significant part of VFTW went rogue they are not behind Ramielle. Their choices this season have been Amy Davis, Danny Noriega, Amanda Overmyer and now Kristy. When Kristy goes Ramielle might be a candidate.

Posted by: bluemeanies | March 27, 2008 1:44 PM

I have to say this is why we have a variety; not just one kind of flavor.

I never liked Chikeze until he did his his first "Beatle week" performance; but it was like he had that one good week and then blah!

Syesha always seems pitchy and too hgih and whine-y for my taste.

Ramiele - overall I have enjoyed her performances more than some of the others. While I couldn't stand Kristy Lee's Beatle massacre, their have been weeks where I would not have put her at the bottom 3. That male stripper - was it David Hernandez? - I only thought he was decent once. Too many of these kids can't find a melody and it sounds like they are speaking or screeching instead of singing; and as Simon says, it is a singing competition.


Posted by: ask | March 27, 2008 2:24 PM

what is VFTW??

Posted by: call me stupid | March 27, 2008 2:58 PM

Mike you're right about Simon always claiming it is about talent not popularity. However he is just trying to take the blame off himself for letting some of the less talented through to the top 24. No way he'll take the blame for the likes of Sanjaya or this season's Amanda.

Posted by: hodie | March 27, 2008 3:03 PM

Vote For The Worst

Posted by: VFTW | March 27, 2008 3:09 PM

As I predicted yesterday. Chickezie signed his elimination death warrant when he took the bait and reverted to his Cheesy persona by singing a boring Luther-style song.

Of course some people can afford to be forever boring, so Boring Ramiele-Ratatouille seems headed on a Jasmine Trias trajectory.

Also was wrong that Sleeveless Carly would be in Bottom 2, but did say that stoned-out Jason Should have been.

Still on course for a Brooke-Cooke Finale. That would be perfection, as long as Chiquita BaNanny becomes AI #8.

Posted by: Christin | March 27, 2008 3:11 PM

THANK YOU DadWannaBe for enlightening comment re Ramiele. Wife and I could not figure out what was keeping Ramiele in after, and despite, several mediocre performances.

Also, agree with Sam that Coroner Munchkin's cover of "Billie Jean" (original or not, makes no difference in the AI context) was outstanding and, for me, highlight of the season so far. (Even went so far as backtracking on the Tivo - something I'd never done for this show before.) Chikezie's "She's a Woman" is a close second.

Posted by: MAlan | March 27, 2008 3:34 PM

Bluemeanies - so without a VFTW block, maybe DadWannabe is right that the cell-teens are voting for Lil David and Pint-sized Remiele, and the over-30's watch but don't vote as much. Regardless, VFTW website is the worst pox on this show. While they think they are cute, their subverted view is pathetic.

Christin - I could live with a Brooke-Cook final. And pint-size's comparison to Jasmine Trias is on point. Good calls.

Posted by: RedRocket | March 27, 2008 3:50 PM

They should only allow 1 vote. Unlimited votes is crazy. Maybe I should talk to some of those people that buy sports tickets etc that have automatic dialers and large phone banks and have them start casting votes.

Posted by: 1 Vote | March 27, 2008 4:21 PM

To "1 vote": I totally agree with you. How does unlimited calling for one person by whomever or whatever group equal a winner anyways? That being said - it is a popularity contest instead of a singing contest, isn't it. Bummer.

Posted by: WI | March 27, 2008 4:37 PM

The reason that the unlimited calling is used is that AT&T makes beaucoup moolah on each and every vote whether it is via text or call. And AT&T gives them free phone service for the voting. So, AI pays nothing and AT&T makes a lot of money. If they tried to limit it, I bet that AT&T would squawk and want to charge them for the phone lines and then both AT&T and AI would lose money on the deal.

I'm not sure how the other shows do it, but some of the other reality shows do have a limit to X calls per line (something like 10 votes per line) so that multiple people in the same household can vote, but that there is a limit to the number of votes. But that would not suit AT&T and AI.

Just another 4 cents (sorry, that's the gasoline upcharge for these very expensive electrons).

Posted by: DadWannaBe | March 27, 2008 5:13 PM

Syesha should not have been in the bottom 3 but AI is and will always continue to be a popularity contest. If you don't have the "right" stuff to make you marketable, you are as good as toast.

IMHO, the bottom 3 should have been Chickieze (based on song choice), Ramielle and Jason with Ramillee going home. Kristi Lee pulled out the American flag in order to save herself. With that said, her performance still wasn't that great.

Posted by: Home@Last | March 27, 2008 5:56 PM

I, for one, cannot WAIT for Dolly Parton week. She is known for her own zingers - so I'm hoping that she borrows a page from Amanda Obermeyer's book and says something to coach the Idolettes like "Time to tease it up and put some silicone in it!" And then she could tell Ryan Seacrest, "Sugar, I'm such a big country star - I got shoes AND socks!"

Posted by: Jean | April 1, 2008 2:47 PM

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