We've barely started Season 7 of American Idol and already, the shenanigans appear to have started and conspiracy theories are sprouting up everywhere (at least at my house, but I love a good conspiracy theory). First, it was revealed that San Diego favorite Carly Smithson was Carly Hennessy back in 1999. Back when she had a record deal with MCA, who dropped a quarter mil on one video for their answer to Britney Spears. Uncoincidentally, MCA used to employ Randy Jackson. Allegedly, an American Idol contestant was disqualified last year "because it was publicized that he had been signed to BMG while Cowell was at the label, which is against Idol rules." If true, shouldn't Carly Smithson be held to the same rules and standards? Second, top 24 contestant Syesha Mercado (or S-YES-ha, per Paula's Vicodin meets vodka logic) has appeared in a Ford Sync commercial . . . Ford, American Idol's sponsor! Third, cute as a bug David Archuleta appeared on Star Search at age 12 and won. Won against Alexandrea Lushington. Yes, the same Alexandrea Lushington who is currently in the top 24 with David.
Perhaps most grievous, and cruel, in my opinion, is the disgusting treatment meted out to contestant Garrett Haley. Garrett made the top 24, although he was given 15 seconds of airtime during Hollywood week. Surely I wasn't the only viewer saying "Who was that?" when he was called to the floor to be told he was one of the golden 24. Unsurprisingly, without the megawatt pimpage that Idol doled out to fellow contestants like the aforementioned Carly Smithson, Amanda Overmeyer and David Archuleta, Garrett was in the first round of cuts last week. His first (and only, as it turned out) performance was brutal. Given the theme of "60s Week", Garrett sang "Breaking Up is Hard to Do". Seemed an odd choice, but the majority of guys had slow, ballod-y songs (i.e., weird choices). While his performance wasn't particularly inspired, Garrett did manage to hit all his notes, without being pitchy, eyefucking the camera or auditioning for this year's Gay Pride Parade (yes, I mean you, Danny Noriega). Randy just didn't feel it, dawg. Paula, well into her cup of Coke and loony, probably said something about colors in the universe and painting a doorknob. Simon was particularly brutal, criticizing Garrett's appearance (he was too pale, he looked as though he'd been shut away in his room for a month). However, Garrett took the criticism stoically and looked at it as "constructive criticism". When he was cut at the start of the results show, with no preamble, again, he took it stoically and maturely, assuring Ryan that he was happy with who he was and wasn't going to change anything. Gotta admire that. ET Online had a brief interview with Garrett, where he admitted that all the contestants were given a list of 50 songs and instructed to choose three and would be assigned one of those three. According to Garrett, "I didn't get any of my songs, because they had given them out to all the contestants before that, so I just ended up with having to choose from the list again. I didn't get to choose. They threw the song at me and said, 'Sing this one.' I took what I got and I did what I could with it. It is hard to make a ballad song pop out at the beginning. I did the best I could and I am happy with what I did."
So how, in good conscience, can any one of the judges call a contestant out on a poor song choice when apparently, unless you are one of The Chosen Ones, The Powers That Be can make a song choice for you? And a piss poor one, at that! At least give the kid a chance to shine or suck on his own. After all, isn't the point of Idol for America to choose?
To read Garrett's brief interview, along with the other three departing Idols, go here: http://www.etonline.com/news/2008/02/58917/index.html