When it comes to causing “American Idol” controversy, Simon Cowell doesn’t like to be outdone.
So when asked Wednesday (April 28) about Elton John’s scandalous remark that the show’s voters had eliminated Jennifer Hudson because of racism, the notoriously harsh judge responded with a controversial comment of his own.
“My gut feeling is the girl who got kicked out wasn’t the American Idol,” Cowell said. “I don’t think she was the best singer.”
An unpopular opinion at a time when America is mourning Hudson’s departure. John, meanwhile, continues to cause an uproar among “American Idol” fans for telling reporters Tuesday he found La Toya London, Fantasia Barrino and Jennifer Hudson being in the bottom three “incredibly racist.”
While the music icon, who was a guest on the show earlier in the season, has found some supporters in the debate on fan-site message boards (the official “American Idol” boards were mysteriously down Wednesday), most seem to think the “Rocket Man” has gone to the moon.
“Elton John is certainly entitled to his opinion, but I happen to disagree,” said Logan Martin, who covers “American Idol” for FansofRealityTV.com. “The first three people voted off the show this season were white, so it seems like the whole racist thing doesn’t hold much water.”
Others have noted that Ruben Studdard, of course, won “American Idol” a year ago.
And even Hudson herself disagrees that her elimination came from white voters wanting a white winner.
“I feel talent has no color,” she said. “Right now, everybody is just trying to make some sense out of all of this, so there’s a lot of stuff that’s just thrown out there.”
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The most common theory seems to be that Hudson, London and Barrino were in the bottom three despite earning rave reviews from the judges because they had to share votes among the viewers who prefer a strong, female R&B voice. “That could be a big possibility,” Hudson said.
Contestants are not allowed to do interviews until eliminated, but Barrino seems to realize she was sharing votes with Hudson, as she campaigned for the departed singer’s fans Tuesday by dedicating her performance “to Jennifer.”
Martin has another theory on the “three divas” getting the fewest votes.
“I think there may have been a bit of the Tamyra Gray syndrome at work,” he said, referring to the first-season favorite who was surprising eliminated early. “What I mean is that Jennifer, La Toya and Fantasia were coming off of incredible performances during movie week the week before. Their fans may have thought they were safe and didn’t feel the need to call in or text as many votes because of that. If that’s the case, that line of thinking obviously came back to bite them in the butt.”
Ryan Seacrest hinted at the same thing when he encouraged viewers not to assume someone is safe on Tuesday, and it apparently worked.
“We’ve had 4 or 5 million new voters this week,” Cowell said Wednesday. “I think we needed a shakeup, and it will change from here on in. And the better singers now have a chance.”
Cowell’s theory on last week’s bottom three is that when there’s not a standout performance (which he believes there wasn’t during Barry Manilow week), the votes are much closer and anyone can be eliminated.
“We’ve coined a new phrase [backstage] we call ‘the American Idle’ and that applies to all of the passive viewers who complain about the results but don’t actually pick up a telephone or text a message,” he said. “There’s one way to keep someone in the competition, and that’s vote.”