Finally, the show is genius! Ruben, Kimberly, Clay, Trenyce -- Jessica Shaw says there are no losers here (Oh, except for Josh, that is)

By Jessica Shaw
July 03, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT
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Finally, the show is genius!

Finally, the episode we’ve all been waiting for. I don’t know what was in the water in Los Angeles Tuesday night, but was this the best ”American Idol” so far, or what?

For starters, we saw the two best performances of the season: Ruben’s ”Breaking Up is Hard to Do” and Kimberley Locke’s ”Where the Boys Are.” I actually found myself applauding alone in my living room while watching. Sad? Yes. Justifiable? Definitely.

But just because Ru and Kim owned the stage doesn’t mean others didn’t rock too. Clay finally listened to Simon and abandoned his smirky musical theater vibe. Granted, the guy looked downright freaky with all the backlighting during ”Solitaire” (I kept waiting for him to start a magic show à la David Copperfield), but if you closed your eyes, you got goosebumps. As Paula incomprehensibly said, ”You are now the pop singer. You just are.”

And you have to (reluctantly) admit, Trenyce was pretty damn fabulous. She always seemed a little skanky before tonight, but she found her stride (not to mention kick-ass fashion sense) with ”Proud Mary”’ and ”Love Will Keep Us Together.” Sure, Simon said ”Proud Mary” reminded him of a ”drag act,” but even he came around and pronounced her ”Love” rendition ”fabulous.”

But the best performer of the night had to be Neil Sedaka. Could the guy have been any more adorable taking notes during songs and reading them back on live television? Unlike some other judges (Olivia?), Neil fully embraced his own camp value and gave better comments and advice than Paula?s given all season. Okay, so he was a little obvious about who he wants to win (”I would kill to write and produce your first CD,” he gushed to Clay), but the guy knows talent. He worked with Neil Diamond, for Pete’s sake! ”You are ear delicious!” he told Kimberley. No, Neil, you’re delicious.

Alas, the one person who left a bad taste in my mouth was Josh the Marine. If you?re going to pack on serious poundage and major attitude at least give a decent performance. Instead, Marine boy hit an all-time low with his horrible song choices and uptight stage presence. Those odd attempts at feigning emotion during ”Then You Can Kiss Me Goodbye” made him look like a cheesy performer for some local church telethon. And those scrunchy faces he was making during ”Bad Blood” made me think the guy was either going to beat the crap out of someone backstage afterwards or run screaming into the nearest bathroom.

Though Paula tried to compliment him by saying ”that’s what Josh is all about,” Simon really called what Josh is all about: Going home. ”Those two performances weren’t good enough to stay in this competition,” Simon rightly said. And Josh, please accept defeat gracefully. His whole ”He’s just lucky I got Marine corps restraints on me” was simply pathetic. Maybe the guys in the barracks will appreciate his off-key tunes because hopefully we won’t have to ever again.

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

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