The first semifinalists to be evicted this season on ''American Idol'' talk about regrets, song choice, and Antonella

By Shirley Halperin
Updated February 27, 2007 at 05:00 AM EST

If you thought this season’s American Idol got off to a slow start, think again. It’s only the first week and already a minor scandal has erupted (we’re looking at you, Antonella!), heated words have been exchanged, and one contestant even had to be quarantined. Ah, the fun never stops on America’s No. 1 show. But inevitably, someone has to be first to go home, and this week, the dubious honor goes to Paul Kim, Rudy Cardenas, Nicole Tranquillo, and Amy Krebs. Read on for more details about their last 24 hours as card-carrying members of the top 24.


So Paul, you’ve done more than your share of interviews today… Are you so over the bare feet thing?
Yeah, it has gotten a little old. It’s turned into some type of gimmick, which it was never supposed to be. That’s just me being me, and people think I was trying to get extra votes that way, and I wasn’t at all! I’ve been doing it for, like, five years. But it was cool to see Ryan do it, too.

Now that you’ve had a chance to sleep on it, do you regret choosing ”Careless Whisper”?
Yeah, I do. Honestly, it wasn’t what I wanted to do. It was sixth on my list of songs. My first choice was Donnie Hathaway, ”I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know,” but my top five songs didn’t clear and so I had to go with option number 6. I wasn’t really comfortable with it and on top of that, I got sick and had to lower the key half a step, which made it kind of boring. But I have no excuses. I just didn’t sing as well as I should have, that’s why I went home. I’m really mad at myself for that, but I did try.

What was ailing you?
I have bronchitis and a sinus infection and was actually quarantined at a different hotel because they didn’t want me to get anybody else sick. I have no clue how I got it, must’ve been lack of sleep or stress. I only slept an hour last night.

You were very passionate about wanting to represent Asian singers on Idol. Do you feel your mission was accomplished?
I’m not trying to get political or anything, it’s just that we’re stereotyped a certain way in the media — where people think all Asian guys wear glasses and are unathletic and really nerdy — that really bothered me. William Hung was shown over and over again, and at first I thought it was funny, but then it got to the point where it started getting embarrassing. That really irked me, and I was out to prove that that’s not what we look like, it’s not who we are as a whole. So I just wanted to bring something new to the table, and hopefully I did do that.


Do you feel like you were at a disadvantage being the first of 12 performers?
I didn’t really think about that going in. I just wanted to grab America and be like, ”This is going to kick ass!” Was it too much? Maybe, but I just wanted to give my all and sing from the heart. I did the best I could. Four people have to go, what are you going to do?

You’re a musician, too. Was the group performance hard for you to handle?
It was a little cheesy for my taste, and it’s funny that Randy used the word corny for my performance. But that’s the thing I love about the show. Obviously, they’re doing something right — Idol is the biggest show to ever air on TV. It may be a little corny, but it’s also so much fun!

Have you gotten calls from the people who turned down your band for gigs?
It’s funny, my band had to get a sub and is on the road right now without me, and we actually have gotten those calls. Both saying, ”If Rudy’s not going to be there, we don’t want you anymore” or ”Hey, I take back what I said, I do want to book you.” So it goes both ways. But I feel super blessed to be in this position. it’s just sad I had to leave a little early.

Next page: Our interviews with Amy and Nicole