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''American Idol'': Trouble down below

We expected Lisa’s departure on last night’s ”American Idol” but were shocked by Katharine’s next-to-last-place finish; some of you readers, however, predicted both

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American Idol: Ray Mickshaw/FOX

American Idol

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban, Ryan Seacrest
Reality TV

”American Idol”: Trouble down below

Well, I sure didn’t see that one coming! No, I don’t mean Lisa Tucker’s right-on-time elimination from American Idol tonight, but rather, her partner in the bottom two, judges’ favorite Katharine McPhee. Sure, I ranked the raven-haired beauty’s rendition of Christina Aguilera’s ”The Voice Within” among the four or five worst performances of Tuesday night’s episode — as I wrote in that night’s TV Watch, Katharine sounded ”shrill and slightly off the beat throughout,” and her beige Renaissance-fair blouse was ”possibly the most regurgitastic outfit in Idol history.” But since she was one of the few contestants who’d received unanimous kudos from Simon, Paula, and Randy, I’d figured Katharine was automatically safe.

Perhaps it was a bad sign for Katharine that I wasn’t the only one who disagreed with the judges about her subpar effort. (Simon himself admitted tonight that after watching a tape of the show, he realized Katharine was ”nowhere as good” as he’d given her credit for.) On our message board, a reader named R argued that ”the judges can’t accuse Lisa of not ‘making the song her own’ if they don’t accuse Katharine of it too. For Katharine, it really was one of her worst performances.”

Stephanie agreed, writing that ”the beginning of Katharine’s performance was a McPhiasco because it sounded pitchy.” Still, Stephanie made the same mistake I did, envisioning a bottom three of Lisa, Ace, and Bucky.

If only we’d listened to regular message-board poster djm. ”How much do you wanna bet one of the ‘top contenders’ is going to be in the bottom 3 tonight?” djm asked. ”I have a feeling the producers are going to put at least one (either Chris or Katharine or Mandisa) in the bottom 3 so that they will get more votes next week. And I have a feeling the vote totals from last night are going to be fairly dismal — I only voted a few times because I thought they were all pretty bad (except Elliott and Paris).” Interestingly enough, host Ryan Seacrest neglected to mention how many total votes the Idol contenders pulled down after the thoroughly lackluster evening. Much respect to you, djm — unless, of course, you’re planning to send a résumé to my editor.

Deservedly rounding out the bottom three was Ace Young, whose ”Drops of Jupiter” was far more about making goo-goo eyes at the camera than actually singing on key — a strategy that’s apparently just fine with readers such as Doug-E, who said he voted for Ace ”about 150 times last night — he is so hot. When he opened his shirt I almost went into cardiac arrest; too yummy.”

The majority of you, however, like reader Cayla13, found Ace’s scar-revealing incident ”pitiful.” As BeckyD wrote, ”nice looks can only get you so far.” I’ve got a theory about Ace, though, and if anyone can get his ear, feel free to pass it on: The only way he can survive much longer might be by buzzing off his labor-intensive tresses so he’ll have more time to work on his singing.

As for Lisa, well, not even a hairstyle makeover can help her now. Reader Kelbrat noted the super-perky teenager ”has a trained voice that’s very average, and it’s showing more week after week.” Indeed, there’s nothing like taking on a song by the show’s original champ, Kelly Clarkson — and failing miserably — to remind folks you’re just not Idol material.

What do you think? Were you surprised to see Katharine in the bottom two? Who should have been there in her place? And which contestant should be most worried about next week’s country theme?