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Rocker sent packing on ‘American Idol’

Amanda Overmyer’s singing style just didn’t click with viewers and the judges are shocked and dismayed when Carly Smithson ends up in the bottom three.
/ Source: msnbc.com contributor

There isn’t much on the Top 40 charts these days that sounds anything like Amanda Overmyer. Apparently, there’s a good reason for that.

Overmyer became the second of the 12 finalists voted off “American Idol” on Wednesday. The “rock and roll nurse,” as Randy Jackson called her, had one of the most memorable personalities among the contestants, but her song choices didn’t connect with the viewers.

She was blunt, unapologetic and unwilling to compromise herself by taking the judges’ advice to change things up by singing a ballad. “Ballads are boring,” she said Tuesday night. “I have a minute and a half to show America what they would see if they bought a ticket to my show.”

That turned out to be the problem. She sang bluegrass rock in her Janis Joplin-style voice and volume every week. But not many “Idol” viewers are eager to pay good money to see that, and so she’s heading out to try and sell those tickets at bars and restaurants back home.

The other 10 contestants will be trying to sell tickets as well, only they’ll be doing it in the short-term as part of the “Idol” concert tour this summer. That comes as a relief to Kristy Lee Cook and Carly Smithson, the other members of the bottom-three vote-getters who survived to sing again next week.

Genre trumps personalityOvermyer and Cook were the two onstage at the end of the show, waiting for Ryan Seacrest to deliver the verdict. On one side, there was the singer with a memorable personality singing a less-popular style of music. On the other, there was the contestant who Simon Cowell referred to as “musical wallpaper,” but who fits into a more popular genre. Ultimately, the safer but duller choice got yet another reprieve.

Ironically, that choice was revealed on the night when Kellie Pickler returned to perform on the “Idol” stage. Pickler wasn’t one of the better voices among the season five finalists, but she had a great backstory and made the most of it with a bubbly, outgoing personality.

The former roller-skating waitress, in tandem with the show’s producers and writers, didn’t miss an opportunity to play the “small-town girl in the big city” card, whether it involved her trying calamari for the first time or calling Ryan Seacrest the biggest celebrity she’d ever met. The audience ate that up, and though she didn’t come close to winning she did well enough to build a fan base and become one of the more successful “Idol” alumni.

There’s no reason why Cook couldn’t ride a similar wave to stardom. The few anecdotes the audience has heard about her are intriguing enough; she sold her favorite barrel horse to get the money to audition and cites cage fighting as a hobby, which should be more than enough material to work with. Despite that, she comes across as among the blandest of the contestants.

So instead of being one of the rising stars, Cook is this season’s Sanjaya Malakar. She’s perfectly polite and charming, but every week she’s in danger and yet somehow she sticks around.

Smithson’s selection surprisesSimon Cowell said that for the second week in a row, the audience got it right in its bottom two. But the judges were less happy at the start of the show, when Smithson was revealed as the first contestant in the bottom three. She’s been one of the strongest women in the competition, and though her song choice wasn’t great this week it was no worse than that of Brooke White or Ramiele Malubay, who both sailed into the top 10.

“She’s one of the best singers in the whole thing, dawg,” Randy complained.

It’s possible that her fans just figured she was a lock to advance and didn’t bother to call in their votes, but next week will tell the tale. One week in the bottom three at this stage in the competition isn’t a sign of a singer’s impending demise, but if it happens again she may need to start picking up shifts at the Irish bar where she worked before making it on the show. If that happens, at least now she knows she’ll need to ask for time off to go on the “Idol” concert tour, which is no longer something Overmyer needs to worry about.