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HOME > American Idol > American Idol 5

Melissa McGhee remains confident despite 'Idol' flub and elimination

By Reality TV World staff, 03/17/2006 

Although she was the first American Idol 5 finalist eliminated, Melissa McGhee plans to continue pursuing a music career, putting most of the blame for her elimination on a bad case of nerves that caused her to forget the lyrics to Stevie Wonder's "Lately" during her Tuesday night performance of the song.

"I think [the mistake] weighed a lot on the actual decision," Melissa told reporters during a Thursday conference call. "You know, America is not that forgiving... forgetting [your] lyrics on a show where millions of people are watching you is kind of a big boo-boo."

"It was definitely nerves," Melissa added. "I started thinking about my lyrics way, way, way too much when I got onstage and it threw me off."

Like many home viewers, Melissa was surprised that American Idol's judges didn't really focus on the flub during the feedback that followed her Tuesday night performance. Instead, (in what was perhaps intended as a bit of a backhanded compliment), Idol judge Simon Cowell called the rendition Melissa's "best performance so far."

"You can't ever try to read Simon's mind because you have no clue what he's going to say," Melissa admitted. "I thought he was going to butcher me."

According to Melissa, some behind the scenes song selection drama was partly responsible for her performance anxiety. "What happened was I was going to do 'Ribbon in the Sky' but I kind of doubted [my ability to perform it]," the 21-year-old Tampa, FL native explained. "Then I picked 'Superstition,' but that was a big mess... so then I went back to 'Lately'... it was a big mess." By the time the her flip-flopping had ended, Melissa had only two days to learn "Lately."

American Idol 5 finalist Melissa McGhee performs on Idol's Tuesday, March 14 performance show. See more American Idol 5 photos in our American Idol photo gallery (photo credit Ray Mickshaw/FOX.)
Although she declined to blame it for her early Idol exit, Melissa also agreed with a reporter's suggestion that the fact she had received very little screen time during American Idol's early weeks also did her no favors. "To a certain extent, I do agree with that," Melissa remarked. "When you're put into a position when you haven't had that much face time, you have to bring it every single week. You don't have that little extra cushion to have a bad night."

While viewers didn't get to see much of it, Melissa says she did a much better job when she re-sang "Lately" as the closing credits to Wednesday's American Idol results show rolled. "Last night was the best performance I had on the show," she gushed. "I am not kidding, everyone's telling me, "They cut away from you so quickly' -- I remembered all my words, I hit every single one of my notes, didn't crack." "I was relaxed and had fun with the song, which is what I should have done in the first place," she added later.

Like most eliminated American Idol singers, Melissa (who having not made the season's Top 10, is not expected to be part of the Idol summer concert tour that follows each season) plans to continue pursuing a solo music career. "I'm going to go home and relax and take some time to absorb everything, then hopefully I can start writing some music and get myself into a studio and pop out an album. I'm going to stick with the music 'cause that's what I want to do."

And although the media asked, unlike Simon, Melissa isn't ready to make any predictions regarding which of the eleven remaining finalists will win American Idol's fifth season. "Right now, I think it could be anybody. This year's talent is so strong that I think anyone can pull it off."

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