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Ruben, Clay, and Carmen shine

Ruben, Clay, and Carmen shine. Mr. 205 area code gets Simon’s blessing, but Jessica Shaw says watch out for the plucky 17-year-old country singer who’s building momentum

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American Idol
American Idol: Ray Mickshaw

American Idol

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

Ruben, Clay, and Carmen shine

The title of ”American Idol” is now officially Ruben’s to lose. When the guy walks out with that adorable dimple, that aw-shucks cap, and belts out Barry White with that voice, you know he’s destined for stardom. And, hell, an endorsement from Simon doesn’t hurt either. Now, the only hard part is figuring out who’s going to join him in the top four.

Before tonight, I was all about the Ruben-Clay sing-off. Though I still love that adorable Southerner, I have to say the guy hasn’t exactly been so stellar for the past two weeks. His voice was fun in ”Everlasting Love,” but he just stood on stage and basked in the glow of the ”I Love Clay” posters. He didn’t even bother making the effort to dance…to disco, for Pete’s sake! Plus, if he wants to keep going in this competition, he’d better shut his trap about Simon. That whole self-righteous speech he gave at the end of the show will not endear him to the voting public.

Luckily for Clay and Ruben, there is no competition from the other six. My gut tells me Rickey or Kimberly Caldwell (who absolutely must stop over-tweezing her eyebrows!) will be headed home. Rickey, though talented, is not a pop singer, and Kimberly, though hot, is a singing cocktail waitress at best.

Out of national pride, Josh will remain this week. Who’s going to vote off a Marine even if he butchers ”Celebration” by affecting a Southern drawl and, most bizarrely, pointing over and over and over and over again into the audience. Who taught the guy to bust a move? Some old sergeant in basic training? I must agree with Simon with the ”absolutely dreadful” assessment.

Hopefully, Trenyce will be let go soon as well. She’s got to stop thinking she’s Whitney Houston and has also got to stop dressing like she’s Christina Aguilera. She of the one name can carry a tune pretty well, but would any of us pay even $5 to hear her sing not on television?

Though she is looking dumpier and dumpier every week, Kimberley Locke consistently amazes me. That girl’s voice is not to be believed. Still, she won’t take the trophy until she presents herself better. It’s unfortunate, actually, because she’s actually quite beautiful. She either needs to take on her size or embrace it and wear clothes with ”I am so plus-size hot” confidence. Dressing like she’s got the other Kimberly’s bod isn’t helping.

So who’s the big surprise this week? Little ol’ country Carmen with her hair extensions. I’ve heard whispers from my ”American Idol” obsessed friends (okay, my mom) that Carmen is going to take the whole thing. I’m not sure if I’d go that far, but I do think this girl will make it much further than we all thought. I gave her one or two episodes into the finals before getting booted, but she sure can hang in there. That is, until Ruben kicks her and her extensions right back to Utah.

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.