Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Heartbreak Hotel, population Chris

Wait, did that just happen? Did I really just see Chris Daughtry get kicked off "American Idol," the show that not so long ago - even last night, maybe - he was favored to win? Chris, he of shaved head, modern rock sensibilities and powerful voice, the final Tar Heel in this year's "Idol" hunt? Chris, kicked off while Taylor Hicks and Elliott Yamin sat on the couch in safety, and a flabbergasted Katharine McPhee stood next to him, visibly distressed and with jaw agape? Oh, dear.

Judging by his expression when Ryan Seacrest announced the news, he was just as shocked - and pained - as, well, pretty much everyone in the audience seemed to be. In fact, Chris's was one of the most honest reactions I've ever seen from a booted "Idol" contestant. He told Seacrest that, yeah, he was shocked at the news. He looked like he'd been punctured and deflated. And then, in true "Idol" style, he was forced to sing anyway - and we didn't even get to hear the whole tune, because earlier shenanigans had pushed the show behind schedule.

Maybe the fact that the news shocked Chris is a sign of what the problem could have been - in recent weeks, he had to some extent coasted on earlier success. Perhaps he even got a little overconfident. But still, had he ever been really, truly bad? Nope. And he was decent enough Tuesday, too. "Bad Day" wasn't even close to the appropriate song to play in the background as they showed clips of his "Idol" journey, because he didn't have a bad day at all. More like lousy luck. Even though worthy "Idol" contenders have bit the dust early before, they haven't been contenders as worthy as Chris - who, unlike previous ejectees, actually had all the components you ought to have to win.

At any rate, things were looking grim even before we learned Chris was a goner, because Katharine was in the bottom two with him - deservedly, to be sure, after a seriously flawed Tuesday, but still, choosing between losing Chris and losing Kat? That's not a decision I was hoping to have to make 'til the finale. Ouch. Poor Katharine looked nearly as stunned by the results as Chris, considering she'd spent all night looking like she figured she was going to get kicked off. Personally, I'm glad she's still around. Though I know not everyone really has McPheever, I think Katharine is plenty talented, likeable and full of potential - and would make a fine winner, unlike some other folks, who are simply good contestants. (On a semi-related note, check out's interesting point on this season's roster of guest coaches. Namely: There hasn't been a woman among them.)

That aside, Wednesday's results show also blessed us with a group singing number - a lively, totally entertaining Elvis medley that ended with the final four cutting loose (and cutting a rug) to "Burning Love" and also displayed how talented they all are. (Or, were. Tear!) Of course, they probably only resorted the the group medley, a onetime "Idol" staple, because they couldn't get Elvis to perform on Wednesday's show. But I won't quibble. That kind of enjoyable cheese has been far too infrequent this year, even though it's just the sort of thing that makes you love American Idol...right before people like Chris get kicked off and you start hating it.

Tonight also marks the start of my official Elliott Must Go campaign. Not because I dislike him - far from it, seriously, and yes, I know he's nice and has a good voice and all - but it's just, he can't be in the top two. He can't. Something about it just isn't right, especially because of the injustice of Chris's ejection. A two-hour show featuring Chris, I could take, although I guess that's no longer a possibility. Same with Katharine and Taylor. But "The E Train" has got to stop here. (*Side note: And yes, as I suspected last night, he has definitely gotten his teeth fixed somehow.) If this is the final three we've got, then Kat-Taylor is the best possible outcome.

Destination, burned retinas: Certainly, I couldn't have been the only person in America disturbed by the sight of Paula sitting on Simon's lap right before the first commercial break...

Couldn't ya just call your local radio station, or TRL, or such? Rebecca Romijn was in the audience Wednesday, and she was, like, really freaking out, really freaking out, as she informed us repeatedly. Dude. Supermodel or not, would it really have been that difficult to, uh, not do things like REQUEST SONGS and receive on-demand performances in the middle of the results show, as happened Wednesday, when she asked Taylor to reprise his "Jailhouse Rock"? Even worse, Ryan Seacrest and the show's producers actually obliged. At first I was a little suspicious: Could this be an elaborate plot, leading into Taylor getting kicked off? But those suspicions soon turned to plain old irritation, when I figured out we'd probably be hearing more of Taylor next week anyway, and his random performance was cutting into the final song from the week's low vote-getter - you know, the person we wouldn't be seeing more of on the show? You've gotta wonder what Taylor thought of it, too. (Sample internal monologue: Why am I doing this again? But wait, a supermodel did just ask me to sing. Let me dance around some more and not think of it further!)

Methinks she'll miss more than his voice: All of the judges looked disappointed at the news Chris was getting kicked off, but Paula, predictably, topped 'em all in terms of emoting...probably because Chris's leaving also means the show is losing its one good-looking guy. (And before anyone starts to tar and feather me, I should note that I love Taylor, but "hot" isn't quite the word he brings to mind.)


Anonymous said...

Can't join your campaign, as I think Elliott is the only one worthy of my vote now.

Elliott is the perfect American Idol -- untapped potential plucked from an ordinary life, thrust upon a stage with millions of people watching and then delivering in a better voice than any of the favorites.

Go Elliott! You rock!

Anonymous said...

True, no female celebrities were used as vocal coaches this year, but they DID bring in Shakira to promote her new album. I've always felt that she is a terrible singer, so what does it tell you when the show has access to her but didn't let her near the contestants to "coach" them? When Simon made reference to her, saying "Now THAT is a professional" I had to laugh. She wouldn't even make it past the auditions. She is all face and booty.

Anonymous said...

Elliott? Nah, Taylor must go! He is an average-talent singer whose antics onstage rake in the votes from grandmas and pre-teens who vote on Idol. I actually think his only future is in children's videos. Come on kids, sing along!

Anonymous said...

Shakira a horrible signer? Are you crazy??? You might as well say Madonna is horrible. Doesn't matter. Shakira is an incredible persona - intelligent, intense and interesting. It's not girlie pop, it's world pop and done skillfully. Her success is no accident.

Anonymous said...

I love Elliott. He has an amazing voice and sings with passion. Granted, he may not be the best looking guy but his personality makes up for it. I bet he's very romantic. Elliott started off as an underdog and should come out on top. Go Elliott!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Elliott did better than Chris, plain and simple. Elliott must stay, he is the real talent in the whole show. E-Train will keep rolling. Obviously, your favorite got voted off last night and you are bitter. Sorry for you.

Anonymous said...

Elliott deserves every bit of that spotlight. Listen to the voice, stop concentrating on the other stuff. There's a REASON he's in the top three and was the second-highest vote-getter last night!

TobyinTampa said...

Like many other people, you basically are stating that Elliott must be stopped because in your opinion he's not handsome & has/had crooked teeth as those are really the only negatives you mentioned. As his mother said best after seeing his "stylists" transformation ..."He's almost handsome." Obviously, in the Yamin family, looks shouldn't matter,however staying true to yourself, being kind & supportive to others, having a big heart & doing your best IS. A good lesson to learn, Jen.

Anonymous said...

I don't see the POINT of your Elliot Must Go Campaign at all.

Quote; "he can't be in the top two","Something about it just isn't right, especially because of the injustice of Chris's ejection"

The only reason you mentioned was Chris' ejection.
Is it Elliott's fault?
As much as I am sad and upset to see Chris go, you don't make any sence at all.
Why don't you say you just don't like E-man.
Although you are entitle to have your own opinion;
first, you should at least show us your reason,
second, you have to admit many, I mean MANY people think Elliott is so talented and evolving with his performances/stage presense that he deserves to WIN all the way!
Best wishes to ALL remained contestants & Chris.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree. Elliott has ZERO charisma. He doesn't belong in the final 2. It'd be a travesty.

Jen Aronoff said...

Oh my! Little did I know what a torrent of comments one little paragraph on Elliott would unleash! Let me clarify: my "Elliott Must Go" campaign remark was intended to be kind of tongue in cheek. As a mere "American Idol" blogger, I'd not for a minute believe I had the power - or the desire, for that matter - to actively campaign against a contestant. I simply meant it as a means of saying, I'd prefer he get voted off next week. It's just my preference, but we are all entitled to our opinion. That's one of the great things about the show, and why I like writing about it and hearing from folks.

My reason for wanting Elliott gone has nothing to do with his appearance or character - indeed, if you read what I've written, you'll see I complimented him as a person and wrote nothing critical of his looks, only an observation that I thought he got his teeth fixed.

The strange - and cool - thing about this season is, I don't really have a favorite. I liked Chris, so I was unhappy to see him go, but I wouldn't have called him my favorite. I just thought he made the show interesting, and that's kind of my issue with Elliott. Obviously, lots of folks like him, and I've enjoyed hearing him sing, too, but he just doesn't interest me too much. It's hard to articulate why - it's just a feeling. I wouldn't personally attack anyone for having a different opinion, though.

By the way, another past contestant who took a lot of guff for his looks, Clay Aiken, is probably my favorite "Idol" finalist ever - for both his winning voice and personality.

Anonymous said...

Ok all you Chris-haters, crooked tooth and his quivering voice must go. Unfortunately he didn't get kicked long ago. Chris has shown consitently to be the most versatile of the group. He used the "Creed-like" voice to get in the competition and has since learned to control that and move on to better control and range. Does anyone remember his brilliant rendition of the Johnny Cash's song? His Elvis rendition was also one of the best of the night. I am having trouble getting past the repeated statements that all his fans are making of the suspicious inability to get through when voting. Actually, I think the producers have set what they think America wants to see. Unfortunately, we are not all in agreement. I think a performer who can't remember the lyrics, stay in time with the music, and just basically murder some of the most loved songs in America (ahem, McPheever) needed to go home.

Anonymous said...

But Elliott's mom is WAY cute and I loved her little dance with Taylor.

California E-Fan - Bay Area said...

Your comment regarding Elliott is baseless, immature and downright mean-spirited. Elliott has done nothing but work his tail off to get where he's gotten and has won the admiration of millions of fans. He has overcome more than any other contestant to be here and he deserves it as much if not more than any other. You cheapen the spirit of this competition and the spirit of all those whose struggle Elliott represents by your remarks.

I agree that Chris should not have been voted off last night. Chris is one of the good guys. And unlike you, he took the news with grace. But at this point in the competition it's anybody's game.

To even suggest a campaign such as this is hateful even if they are tongue-in-cheek and you tarnish Chris' memory with your mindless rhetoric. Your side note is in a word, offensive. You pertetuate the myth that beauty and greatness are synonymous. You are wrong. Judging by your photo, you of all people should understand this.

Your half-hearted retraction is too-little too-late. Words have the power to lift-up or destroy. As a writer, you of all people should know that. It's unfortunate that you choose to do the latter with yours.

I think Elbert Hubbard described Elliott and his value system by saying this: "The man who is anybody and who does anything is surely going to be criticized, vilified, and misunderstood. That is part of the penalty for greatness, and every great man understands it; and understands, too, that it is no proof of greatness. The final proof of greatness lies in being able to endure continously without resentment."

Elliott and his fans understand all to well and it is obvious that you do not.

Anonymous said...

And what are you basing your anti-Elliott "campaign" on? It certainly can't be his talent, which the judges and millions of people think is amazing, or his performances. So what is it? Could it be that he doesn't have movie star looks or dazzling stage presence? If so, shame on you for being so shallow. Try listening to the guy before you put such irresponsible verbiage in public.

Marlena said...

First of all, you're naive if you think that RR asking if Taylor could sing again wasn't completely staged, because it was. Or do you think the bassist standing on the step and playing while Taylor sang was also just a spur of the moment thing that the player decided to do all on his own?

Secondly, you act as though Elliott has something to do with Chris being eliminated. He doesn't. He and Taylor got the most votes, so they deserve to be there. You don't even come up with any concrete reason as to why you don't want him there. Well, plenty of us do want him there, because we feel Elliott has the best voice and we love r & b. Deal with it like an adult, 'k?

Oh, and one last thing - stop making it sound as though getting his teeth fixed is cheating the AI system.

God, talk about grasping at straws.

Anonymous said...

can't understand what kind of human being you are. would you like a campaign to dump you based on your unattractive pic? elliot is very talented singer. he has just as much right to the AI title as anyone else. beyond nasty!

Anonymous said... think Elliott should go because it "just wouldn't be right", huh? Now, that's objective!! He has the purest talent I've seen on AI since Clay Aiken. The guy never misses a note, has a pure rich tone, and he's the only performer I go back and watch again!!! The other two can sing, but have both had off nights. Elliott has consistently shown up and sung tremendously every night!!! He deserves to win!

Anonymous said...

sorry, but the e train is not about to stop here. your comments concerning eliot are way out of line. maybe he's not a pretty boy, but so what. he has talent and perserverance despite health issues. why not say you prefer someone else to win instead of that hateful campaign you advocate. you're cruel and heartless. by the way, his teeth are crooked due to diabetes. also,the fact that you mentioned he's a nice guy does not score you any brownie points. hope you'll reconsider your so called campaign.

Anonymous said...

Stop everyone...and think. Chris is going to do JUST FINE.
Look at the past Idol winners..I believe only one winner has made it BIG, that being Kelly Clarkson.

The past loser, Clay Aiken did better than Reuben (the winner).

I'm sad to see Chris out of the top two, but I'm betting on Eliott to win this thing. Like another person mentioned earlier, he's the only one who I've replayed after watching the show. His voice is amazing. Period.

Anonymous said...

I am so with you , Elliot must go!!

Why? Because he is boring. He is vanilla flavored, not even real vanilla.

Have no fear Elliot fans, you will always be able to hear him, whenever you get in an elevator, or go grocery shopping.

Anonymous said...

"But it's just, he can't be in the top two. He can't. Something about it just isn't right" (*Side note: And yes, as I suspected last night, he has definitely gotten his teeth fixed somehow.)

wow.. a completely mindless, tasteless, and worthless interpretation of human worth. Show some professionalism or find a new hobby.

Anonymous said...

I was upset to read you plan to start an "Elliott Yamin Must Go" campaign.

Elliott has fought an uphill battle all the way through this contest. Up until now, he has been mainly ignored by the media and treated as an afterthought by AI. He has endured in spite of constant negative comments about his appearance and lack of "stage presence", in spite of no prior vocal training or performing experience (outside of kareoke). He has gotten to this point solely on raw talent. And on Tuesday night, he gave us his best performances yet and showed he really wants to win this thing.

It strikes me as both mean-spirited and hard-hearted to be waging a "campaign" to try and stop this remarkable young man's journey. Why would you do this? I don't understand.
You say he can't be in the top two, that "something about it just isn't right, especially because of the injustice of Chris's ejection." What kind of reason is that? It's not Elliott's fault that Chris was eliminated. Elliott has earned his top 3 place, and I hope he wins it all.

By the way, I also think Chris's elimination was an injustice. I think based on the performances, Katharine should have been the one to leave. Unfortunately, the votes didn't go that way.

Jen Aronoff said...

Whew! "Tongue-lashing" doesn't even begin to do justice to what I've received today. It seems I've unleashed the wrath of the Elliott community - which is definitely not something I intended to do, or expected, considering I also said I liked Elliott and thought he was a nice guy and a very talented singer. Yes, right now I'd prefer he not win, though I'm open to changing my mind. That doesn't mean I'm criticizing him as a person, or ignoring his powerful life story. Indeed, there's a big difference between evaluating someone as a person and commenting on them as an "American Idol" contestant. At least, there ought to be.

I also want to again clarify a few points:
1) I am not and never have been waging "a campaign" against Elliott, nor would I ever want to do so. I'm just one voice who perhaps should have chosen her words more carefully, so as to avoid giving people the wrong impression.

2) Folks have commented that I didn't give a specific reason for wanting Elliott to go, or have assumed that because I mentioned his teeth that I'm judging him based on his looks (which is not the case at all). On this point, I probably could have been a little clearer. So let me explain: I like Elliott. He's very obviously talented. But onstage, he just doesn't interest me as much as the other two remaining contestants. That's all. I would hope that would not be construed as cruel, heartless or shallow, to use just a few of the verbal daggers sent my way.

3) And yeah, I should have mentioned that the Rebecca Romijn thing looked as staged as could be, though I was amused how Seacrest tried to make it seem off the cuff.

Anonymous said...

At this point, there are many who could care less about what you do, who you like, what you think or what you write.

As a reporter you should know that credibility is key to your success--you might consider getting some.

You may also want to add this thought to the list of things that you are clueless about: Nobody likes popups-- much less on a site whose service is free.

Anonymous said...

Hey, anonymous, don't be a dolt and get a free popup blocker. They've been out for quite some time now. After that you can get your panties out of a wad and try to be less of a crab.