TV Recap

Billy Club

What has gone wrong with this show? In a night of Billy Joel songs, Kimberly and Carmen disappoint, while Ruben and Clay get stuck in a rut, says Jessica Shaw

Trenyce, Clay Aiken, ... | SEVEN UP Who's time is going to be after that last performance?
SEVEN UP Who's time is going to be after that last performance?

What has gone wrong with this show?

Eh. That basically sums up ''American Idol'' Tuesday night. Eh. Maybe I was just in a bad place 'cause it was Income Tax Day, but of these seven remaining contestants, did anyone really wow you?

When they could have chosen fitting songs from an artist as prolific as Billy Joel but ended up singing the cheesiest (''Tell Her About It'' and ''Just the Way You Are'') or simply the lamest (''My Baby Grand,'' ''It's Still Rock and Roll to Me''), something went seriously wrong. Simon was right in criticizing Ruben as he did this week and Clay in previous weeks. These guys need to try something new and not simply embrace the same shtick. If Kelly Clarkson had sung the same kind of song each week, she would have been a goner.

Clearly, someone else (me?) needs to be in charge of picking songs. Clay should have sung ''She's Got a Way.'' Ruben should have belted out ''Only the Good Die Young.'' Lashundra (oh, I'm sorry, Trenyce) could have scored some personality points (quit trying to be Whitney, dammit!) with ''Big Shot.'' And Josh Gracin might have actually sounded on-key with ''You're My Home.'' The only person who was pitch-perfect this week was my new fave, Kimberley Locke. Say what you will about her booty, but that girl, in the words of guest judge Smokey Robinson ''can sang.''

While we're on the subject of Smokey, these guest judges have got to go. Gladys was the one and only addition who proved worthwhile because she could throw down the insults as well as Simon. The rest of them are just has-been hall of famers who are trying to recruit a few fans younger than 45. Three judges are plenty. Well, three judges would be plenty if Paula could articulate just one coherent thought in English. Get rid of that palm-clapping runt and bring on Gladys full time next season!

But back to the contestants. Though Carmen's performance of ''And So It Goes'' led Simon to say one of the cruelest things ever uttered on television (which, of course, I will repeat here: ''It was rather like going to some ghastly party and a child stands up at the end and sings for her parents. If I was that parent I'd say 'shut up'''), I still think she'll last another week. As for who will get voted off, my pick is the irritatingly earnest, squinty, and overplucked Kimberly Caldwell. She's not rock and roll to anyone...except maybe a Carnival cruise ship.

What did you think of the show? Post your comment, and we'll publish the best ones in our Thursday ''American Idol'' column on EW.com.

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Originally posted Apr 16, 2003
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