Well, it doesn’t rank up there in news value with the Fall of Baghdad, but I am still in shock that America – or at least the portion who vote for the show – voted Ricky Smith off the show Tuesday night. Were they watching the same Ricky Smith, whose technically and emotionally brilliant version of “Endless Love” – where he sang BOTH PARTS of the Lionel Richie/Diana Ross duet so well he made Paula Abdul “forget Diana Ross even sang on the original” – that I was? Did the rewt of the country get a different version of the show than I did?
Ricky, the most likeable member of the competition (Ruben and Clay are close), had grown vocally and in emotional depth every single week of the series, after getting into the finals largely on the strength of his ebullient personality.
Smith’s performance blew away those of the ever-teetering-on-the-brink=of-elimination Kimberly Caldwell, who performed a shaky and under-powered version of Bryan Adams’ excremental “Everything I Do, I Do It For You”; Carmen Rasmusen, whose “Call Me” was poor on every measurable level. Caldwell and Rasmusen have been in over their heads for some time now, and the fact that the voters allowed both to remian in the competition while ousting Ricky – who was also better than the sainted Marine Joshua Gracin (who I like, but he is limited) and even my dark horse candidate to take the competition Trenyce – is my first major breach with America in the competition. What were you people thinking?
As far as handicapping the rest of the contest, affable, gifted, relaxed man-mountain Ruben Studdard would appear to be well in the lead, with the always surprising Clay Aiken in a strong second. If I hear one more guest judge (Lionel Richie this week) exclaim to Clay, “How does that voice come out of that body?” while he has to stand there and smile about it, I am going to kick something.
I will state here and now that Ruben, Clay, Kimberley Locke, and Trenyce are all really, really good and deserve some kind of recording/performance deal regardless of how inscrutable America votes on them. And by the way, it is confirmed, I am so not a Kelly Clarkson fan: she is a porky little pseudo-diva and the material they have given her so far could not have been more cliched, generic or boring. Spare me.