'American Idol 6' eliminates its first four semifinalists, reveals mentors
By Christopher Rocchio, 02/23/2007
The sixth season of Fox' American Idol finally began in earnest this week, with Tuesday and Wednesday's first performance shows culminating in last night's live results show that eliminated the four American Idol 6 semifinalists (two male, two female) who had received the fewest votes from home viewers.
While Simon Cowell thought he saw "two or three guys with potential" during the male semifinalists' Tuesday night performances, fellow Idol judge Randy Jackson felt the women had shown even more potential during their own Wednesday night performance show. "I think it's a girls' race to lose right now. The guys should take some heat... they weren't that good," Jackson said.
The first semifinalist to see their Idol journey end on Thursday night was Paul Kim, a 25-year-old pool maintenance technician from Saratoga, CA who became known for singing barefoot during his audition and Hollywood Round performances. Kim sang "Careless Whisper" on Tuesday night, which Paula Abdul thought he "over sang" and left Cowell "not impressed."
"Just keep it rockin' man, you definitely got potential. You have a really good voice. You know you just got to find those songs that are really going to let you excel. We talk about song choice all the time... because it's the song, when you're singing it really, really the best you can sing, that's what makes people think, 'Oh my God,'" said Jackson. Before departing, Kim said, "It hurts man... it hurts."
Next it was time for one of the Top 12 female semifinalists to be sent home. After lining up the girls the same way he had previously lined up the guys, Idol host Ryan Seacrest made it appear that 20-year-old Antonella Barba was being eliminated. However that was not the case, as Seacrest announced Amy Krebs, a 22-year-old from Federal Way, WA, was being sent home -- sparing Barba the same fate as Becky O'Donohue on Idol 5. Krebs sang "I Can't Make You Love Me" on Wednesday night's performance episode.
"What I said last night was I didn't think people were going to remember you. And this is the problem... you didn't stand out," said Cowell. "To do well in this business you have to stand out in the crowd, and you didn't stand out amongst 12 people. That was the problem. [Krebs] didn't sing that badly, she just didn't make an impression."
The next female semifinalist eliminated was Nicole Tranquillo, a 20-year-old student from Philadelphia, PA. "It's okay," said Tranquillo. "I had a lot of fun... meeting everybody, making such great friends." While Cowell thought her performance of "Stay" on Wednesday night was "over-rehearsed" and Jackson "didn't like it," Abdul stuck by her guns in backing Tranquillo.
"You're a brilliant vocalist," Abdul said. "Keep on doing what you're passionate about. You can do whatever you want."
The last two guys to learn their fate were Rudy Cardenas, a 28-year-old from North Hollywood, CA, and Sanjaya Malakar, a 17-year-old from Federal Way, WA. Seacrest said one of the two was going home, while the other was one of the top four vote getters among the guys. Cardenas, who sang "Free Ride" on Tuesday night, was eliminated. "I can't turn an okay singer into a great singer... it's as simple as that," said Cowell. Abdul and Jackson were a little more kind.
"You know what it really is, you got to find out what you do best. The song you chose was not really the right thing. Just work on getting better. Always think you can improve and get better," Jackson told Cardenas. Abdul said she thought he has "one of the best vocals" and added she was "very, very sad. I think that people didn't get who you were. Your falsetto is amazing, pitch perfect... I really want you to know you're fantastic."
During Thursday night's broadcast, Seacrest also announced some of the celebrities who will guest appear throughout Idol's sixth season. They are: Diana Ross, Jon Bon Jovi, Jennifer Lopez, Gwen Stefani, Tony Bennett, Martina McBride, Barry Gibb, and Peter Noone from Herman's Hermits (during "British Invasion" week).
Idol 3 winner Fantasia Barrino also appeared during Thursday night's broadcast, delivering the "special announcement" that she'll be appearing in Broadway's The Color Purple beginning April 10. "It's a very challenging part but I think I'm ready for it," said Fantasia before she sang "I'm Here," a number from The Color Purple.