'American Idol 6' cuts four more but Antonella Barba remains safe
By Christopher Rocchio, 03/02/2007
The 16 semifinalists on the sixth season of Fox' American Idol were revealed during last night's live results show -- but it wasn't without a few surprises -- as 20-year-old Point Pleasant, NJ native Antonella Barba survived despite both a poor singing performance and the emergence of numerous provocative photos that have captured viewer's attention over the past two weeks.
The four semifinalists eliminated during last night's broadcast were Nicholas Pedro, a 25-year-old account executive from Taunton, MA; AJ Tabaldo, a 22-year-old shipping service supervisor from Santa Maria, CA; Alaina Alexander, a 24-year-old pursuing a career in music from West Hollywood, CA; and Leslie Hunt, a 24-year-old dog walker from Chicago, IL. While Idol host Ryan Seacrest said "more than 32 million" votes were cast -- judges Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell didn't seem to think America got it right -- especially upon learning Tabaldo was going home and Barba was staying.
Hunt sang "Feeling Good" on Wednesday night's Idol broadcast, a performance Jackson and Adbul liked but Cowell thought was "forgettable." Rather than Hunt, Cowell and Jackson seemed to be anticipating the elimination of Barba, who sang "Because You Love Me." Jackson thought the performance "didn't work".
"I thought you were worse then last week," Cowell told Barba on Wednesday. She then engaged in an awkward verbal exchange with the British judge. "Simon was wrong about Jennifer Hudson, so hopefully..." said Barba before Cowell cut her off. "Let's be absolutely clear okay. We put Jennifer Hudson in American Idol. The American audience voted her out," he responded. Despite the poor singing performance and recent attention surrounding her provocative photos, Barba will be back to compete next week.
"It's a singing competition... everyone needs to vote and remember who it is that they love singing," said Abdul. When Seacrest asked Cowell if he agreed with the way America voted, he answered, "Not necessarily, no. But this is American Idol isn't it? You've got to vote for the people you want to stay in... that's all I can say."
Tabaldo sang "Feeling Good" (a different song then Hunt) on Tuesday night's Idol broadcast, a performance Cowell thought "showed off [his] personality" and helped him to "stand out." Jackson also thought Tabaldo had "skills" and Abdul commented he had a "really good voice."
However during the results show, the final guys elimination came down between Tabaldo and Sanjaya Malakar, a 17-year-old from Federal Way, WA, who sang "Stepping Out with My Baby" on Tuesday night. Jackson thought the performance was "like a high-school talent show" while Cowell described it as "weak and weird and lacked impact." When Seacrest revealed it was Tabaldo going home, Malakar said, "I'm shocked." Asked by Seacrest if he though he would be eliminated, Malakar answered, "Very much so."
"Truthfully this is a singing competition... yet I don't feel tonight reflects that. I think you're a brilliant singer," said Abdul to Tabaldo. Added Jackson, "I don't know about tonight dog, I think AJ kind of blew it out the box the other night... I thought he really showed off his skills."
Although they appeared to be surprised by the departure of Tabaldo and the survival of Barba, the judges seemed to be more at peace with America's decision to send Pedro and Alexander packing. Pedro made Hollywood Week during the fifth season of Idol, but decided to leave the competition before he was eliminated. He said he competed in Idol's sixth season to "redeem" himself. He sang "Fever" on Tuesday night, and Cowell thought he was eliminated due to a "lack of charisma."
"You've got to stand-out in the crowd, and that's the problem. You're not a bad singer actually. But it's about standing out in the crowd," Cowell told Pedro. Added Abdul, "Last year you opted out when you made it to Hollywood, and I'm so glad and everybody's so glad you opted in this season."
Alexander sang "I'm Not Ready to Make Nice" on Wednesday night and didn't receive a good review from any of the judges, especially Jackson, who characterized the performance as "a mess."
"I'm okay with it," said Alexander upon learning she was being eliminated. "It was an amazing experience and I can't believe I did this and I'm so happy that I got to. I just want to thank everyone for voting, all my family and friends... I couldn't do it without you guys. I just want everybody who's left to sing your butts off!"