Unfortunately, it didn’t cross too many minds to vote for Ramiele Malubay this week. The diminutive singer was eliminated from American Idol Wednesday after not quite connecting with her Dolly Parton song of choice on a performance show devoted to ditties penned by the country-music icon.
Though Paula Abdul said she was proud of Malubay after her solid yet unexciting take on “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind” and Randy Jackson “wasn’t mad” at her afterward, the majority of the millions of votes cast were on behalf of the eight other contestants still in the running this season.
The super-cute 20-year-old from Miramar, Fla.—”Finally, someone my size!” Parton exclaimed when Malubay approached the piano during rehearsals—wept in fellow finalist Kristy Lee Cook’s arms upon hearing the news.
Cook was there to lend comfort because she, too, was in the bottom three. She was joined by Brooke White, who was in the danger zone for the first time after trying her folksy hand at “Jolene,” which sounded good but, according to Simon Cowell, was lacking emotion.
“I thought all of you looked very odd together as a group,” the Brit noted, choosing to place a little blame on the band, as well.
Relieved to be out of the doghouse, meanwhile, were Syesha Mercado and Jason Castro, both bottom-feeders last week.
Mercado’s decision to do “I Will Always Love You”—part of which proficiently echoed the simplicity of Parton’s version while the other half failed to compare with Whitney Houston’s modern-day classic—was a risk (Randy’s never a fan of Whitney impersonators), but perhaps the song’s recognition factor worked in her favor.
And Castro, strumming away, seemingly hit “Travelin’ Thru” out of the park, turning in one of his richer vocals to date and capturing the message of the song. But Simon hated it.
“If this had been the first time I’d seen you or heard you, I wouldn’t get it,” he said Tuesday, losing his ticket to Dollywood in the process. But, luckily, it’s the armchair critics Castro really has to impress, and he lives to grin another day.
On the flip side, the march to stardom continued for the fearsome foursome.
David Cook, who later in the evening would be rushed to the hospital to be treated for high blood pressure, rocked one of Parton’s more contemporary tunes, the bluegrass-tinged “Little Sparrow” off of the 2001 album of the same name.
“If you can make a song about sparrows good, which actually you did, congratulations,” opined Simon, always the country enthusiast. (As he did on Kenny Rogers night last season, the pop music aficionado found quite a lot to complain about Wednesday.)
And although he gave his fans a scare, Cook, who sources say was suffering from anxiety brought on by Idol pressures and family issues, ended up being just fine. A doctor at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center gave him medication to lower his blood pressure and the 25-year-old rocker was sent back to his hotel to rest up.
Cook was back onstage Wednesday, having little cause to worry after such a strong showing. “I’m cool, I’m not going anywhere,” he told Ryan Seacrest.
Simon also took offense to Carly Smithson’s wardrobe (or the person who dressed the lass, at least), telling her it was time to start looking like a star.
Well, at least she sounded like one while belting “Here You Come Again.”
Next up was David Archuleta, who Simon said was “absolutely on the money” after singing “Smoky Mountain Memories,” his version giving Parton all she could do to keep from crying during rehearsal.
And all was well for Michael Johns, who was rewarded for giving his best performance to date—a textured, soulful rendition of “It’s All Wrong, But It’s All Right”—by being the first contestant to be declared unequivocally safe.
Parton, who had nary a disparaging word for anyone this week, was on hand to perform the single “Jesus & Gravity” off of her new album, Backwoods Barbie.
Next week, no one will get the boot on Wednesday when the second annual Idol Gives Back charity extravaganza takes place.
While it turns out Ellen DeGeneres had to drop out of cohosting the event with Seacrest due to “production constraints,” thesps ranging from Brad Pitt and Reese Witherspoon to Robin Williams and Billy Crystal are on board to participate either live or via video, and Idol alums such as Carrie Underwood and Chris Daughtry are set to perform.
And then, after two weeks worth of votes have been tallied, someone’s going to have to go on Thursday. Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown will perform their single “No Air,” which, sadly, will pretty much sum it up for one of the remaining eight finalists.
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