As A.J. departs, the judges shine. It's Randy, Paula, and Simon who are creating the show's tension, says Jessica Shaw, not finding out who gets the boot

By Jessica Shaw
July 04, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT
A.J. Gil: Joe Viles
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As A.J. departs, the judges shine

You know your show is in trouble when the contestants have taken a backseat to the judges. Save for Kelly’s rendition of ”Natural Woman” (that girl sure does like Aretha!), the performances Tuesday night were average overall and occasionally hideous. On the other hand, the disses flying between Randy, Paula, and Simon are hitting all-time highs. I didn’t really get whatever Paula said about Simon being nursed by his father, but whatever. It sure pissed Simon off which always makes for fun viewing.

But I guess we should discuss A.J. ”I’m doing it for my mother” Gil, who finally got his sayonara tonight. How sweet it isn’t, A.J. Once again, Simon was right about this kid not having the vocal cords for the competition. And by the way, how right on target was Simon when he chastised Paula and Ryan ”I live at a tanning salon” Seacrest for claiming to be fans while not volunteering even a shred of help? There I go again — it’s all about the judges.

I wish I could say A.J. would be missed from the competition, but he was so boring I can barely remember anything about him. Had Ryan gotten kicked off, I would have longed to see that bowtie choker and those badly mismatched ensembles, but A.J. had little spark, so I’m not surprised or particularly sad that we won’t be hearing from him again.

Of course, Justin has way too much spark; someone has got to put that insanely cocky boy in his place. ”I really respect your opinion, but what did you guys think?” he said after Simon tried to put him in his place. And then the next night he was all apologetic, saying ”I meant it only in the best of ways.” Whatever, buddy. Your first audition rocked, but Ducka-Ducka-Ducka has kicked your butt every performance since then.

So, the question on everyone’s mind is, who will be ousted next week? I am torn between RJ, whose rendition of ”Under the Boardwalk” could not have been less inspired, and Nikki, who probably made Janis Joplin roll over in her grave. I think Christina has to up her charisma on stage because she’s clearly not connecting enough with the audience if she got fewer votes than Ms. Tongue Pierce Nikki. Plus, there’s nothing more adorable than watching Simon critique Christina. The woman deserves something for making Simon blush.

Who do you think is next to go?

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