Simon disses Clay -- but no one really stands out. Jessica Shaw rates the finalists on an off-night of country-rock tunes

By Jessica Shaw
July 03, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT
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Simon disses Clay — but no one really stands out

Note to ”American Idol” producers: Never, ever, ever again use ”country rock” as the singing theme of the week. If we wanted to hear cowboy music we would be tuning in to that other singing show with the ”Access Hollywood” chick. (And all you country fans, spare me the hate mail. This competition is all about finding a mainstream pop singer, not a niche musician.) What was it all about, anyway? We’re at war, so why not choose an all-American genre to look patriotic? All I know is the idea failed.

And while I’m griping, what was up with Olivia Newton-John? She’s like another Paula. All she could manage to say was how beautiful everyone’s voice was. And because of her presence (another note to ”AI” producers: Lose the stunt judges unless they can articulately critique the singers), my boy Clay did not get his fair share of praise. It was so unfair to end the show on that diss from Simon without letting Paula or Randy weigh in. Someone needed to point out that even though Clay might not have chosen the most country of songs, he still sounded better than Julia D’Amato (who managed to get far too much praise for butchering that Faith Hill song).

As far as evaluating the other contestants, there isn’t much to add since no one was all that spectacular. Josh the Marine performed pretty well, but did we really get a chance to hear his pipes with that Garth Brooks speed-singing ditty? Carmen is supposed to be all about this genre, but she wasn’t so country-tastic. Kimberley Locke, as always, sounded really good, but you just knew she wouldn’t have chosen that song if the theme had been less restrictive. Ditto Rickey and Corey (who, by the way, gets hotter and hotter every week).

Sure, Ruben sounded cute singing ”Sweet Home Alabama” and Kimberly Caldwell and Trenyce looked sexy in their slinky numbers, but frankly, unlike last week’s string of stellar performances, this week didn’t leave me wanting to hear more from anyone.

Well, at least there was one good thing about this week’s episode: It was only one hour long.

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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