Carly Smithson 'not that sad' about her 'American Idol' elimination
By Christopher Rocchio, 04/24/2008
As the latest female finalist to be shown the door, Carly Smithson thinks American Idol's seventh season has turned into a popularity contest that is benefiting the boys.
"Women vote for this show. It's obvious, and they vote for the boys," Smithson told reporters during a Thursday conference call. "The boys are adorable. I definitely feel like the girls had more of a struggle this year with trying to get the popularity vote. I think the boys are definitely charming the females a lot. I think it was definitely a bit of a struggle for the ladies."
The 24-year-old from San Diego, CA was eliminated from Idol's seventh season after "over 38 million" home viewer votes were cast immediately following Tuesday night's live performance broadcast that saw the Top 6 finalists sing Andrew Lloyd Webber songs.
"Everybody keeps asking me why I'm not devastated and crying for being eliminated," Smithson told reporters. "I'm free to make a record, start writing and all that kind of stuff -- be with my husband and hang out in the real world. The Idol bubble is kind of weird."
Smithson reiterated comments she made after last night's ouster that she's fine with the way her Idol journey ended.
"I'm actually not that sad to be leaving," she told reporters. "I enjoyed every minute thoroughly, but we're back in two weeks to start preparing for the tour and the finale. So it's like a small break and I'm going to be back. I think anywhere after Top 10 is just a bonus. I think I made enough of an impact to reach a good fan base and now I just get to be me without a theme night and make a really cool record. I'm excited."
While Smithson is cool with the way her Idol experience ended, she readily admitted that it got off to a rocky start.
"I think that I kind of started out on the show with some bad press. I don't think it really helped me that much," she explained. "I think early on people accumulate their fan base, and every week I gave as good as I could. I enjoyed every moment on the show. I really did. Everything was just amazing -- the response that I had."
That "bad press" Smithson is referencing was both the media and public's backlash to her previous experience as a professional recording artist.
The Dublin, Ireland native released her debut album "Ultimate High" at 15-years-old, and although Vivendi Universal SA's MCA Records reportedly spent two years and around $2.2 million producing and promoting it, the album -- which was released under Smithson's maiden name of Carly Hennessy -- failed to sell more than 400 copies.
"I'm very proud of the first record that I made, but at the same time, I was 15. How experienced with life are you at 15 years of age?" Smithson asked reporters. "I wrote like four songs on that record and I really enjoyed myself. I did learn a lot. But by the time 'Beautiful You' -- one of the last tracks -- was written, it was almost written just as the record went out. It was just over. It went to stores; it never got promoted; and I ended up back in Ireland just in a weird situation."
Smithson said she feels like "such a different person" now and described Idol as her "first real chance."
"I'm not even sure I had a first chance," she said. "I did get signed before, but it just never really happened. It went to stores but it was never promoted. It just sort of crashed beneath my feet. The record label imploded. I learned a lot from my first experience and I understand [Idol] was a second experience, but I feel like it was my first chance. I like to see it in a fresh mind. I like to not dwell on things that happened before and I just like to see this as the first real experience that I really had."
While she said Idol was "more of a positive experience," judge Simon Cowell was consistently one of her harshest critics throughout the season.
"It's like he set this high bar for me straight away," Smithson said of Cowell. "I was trying to beat myself every week to be better and better and better. I felt that I did a great job. I gave it everything I had and I was satisfied for myself -- with my performances. I guess Simon just had a different idea in his mind. I'm not sure he really wanted me to be who I am. I don't think they liked the whole pop-rock idea that I have about myself. I can't please everybody. He's only one person."
Smithson said not all of Cowell's comments were "necessarily negative."
"I think he just really wanted me to do well," she said.
Now that she's had her second opportunity at a first chance, Smithson said she's pleased with the platform Idol provided.
"People didn't know about me before. They never really heard of the record. It just never happened," she said. "So I feel like this time, it was just so big and it was just on a different level and a different experience. I just feel like it was such a big gift."
Check back with Reality TV World on Friday for more from Smithson's exit interview, including why she realized too late not to take everything so seriously; why there was more pressure on her prior to her second Idol audition than her first one two years ago; if either of the two remaining female finalists has a shot at winning; and why she quit singing for two years before and how her passion for it was re-ignited.
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