Camp Should-A-Been - Season Three
You'd have no trouble identifying Cabin Three here at Camp Should-A-Been.
It's the one with the enormous swingset and sandbox outside, and the colorful fingerpaintings
Scotch-taped to every wall. American Idol lowered the audition age to 16 for AI3,
and the result was the youngest group of semifinalists ever. Let's see how the little
tykes would've fared in the cold, cruel world where only performance quality matters, as
we raise the curtain on the Season Three replay....
Sunday, July 13th, 2008
Semifinals Group One
They were the last two standing in the original competition, and they were the first two out
of the gate in the replay. It took a little bit of time for our camp counselors to persuade
teen sensations Diana DeGarmo and Fantasia Barrino to put down their jumpropes and come sing,
but when they did, their strong performances in the
Group One Semifinals
comfortably advanced them to the Final 12. Afterwards, DeGarmo
skipped off to the snack bar for some ice cream, while Barrino grabbed our reporting staff by the
throat and reminded us that she was an adult single mother, and that if we thought she was
going to cheerfully spend the next two weeks listening to kiddie gags about her age, then we
were sadly mistaken. When we regained consciousness, we promised to take the matter under
Flash, bam, ala-kazaam! Katie Webber's throwback performance of "Orange Colored Sky" earned
her an invitation to the Wild Card Show, along with Jennifer Hudson, who cradled a funny-looking
little gold-plated doll as she sang, perhaps believing that it would somehow impress
the judges. The remaining four contestants, including original Wild Card performer Matthew
Metzger, failed to reach even the 3-star plateau and were told to go stand in the corner while
they waited for the Bus Of Shame to take them home.
Monday, July 14th, 2008
Semifinals Group Two
Rotten tomatoes. Water balloons. Stink bombs. As the perpetrators of the lowest-rated episode
(by a billion miles) of the first seven seasons, the
semifinalists expected that they'd be dodging a few projectiles. What they didn't realize
was that the barrage would begin during breakfast and never let up. And not just from their
fellow campers, either:
busloads of Idol fans stopped by the camp all day to chuck things at them, then headed
back to town to buy more.
The evening's show was staged behind chicken wire, a la The Blues Brothers. Lisa
Leuschner's 4-star rating earned her a spot in the Final 12, at which point things got
ugly. Camile Velasco was tarred and feathered by the audience before someone
noticed that her mediocre cover of "One Last Cry" was, astoundingly, good enough
for the second ticket into the Finals. Ex-football lineman Matt Rogers snagged a ticket to
the Wild Card show – look, would you want to tell him he was eliminated?
As for the rest, we
left the Bus Of Shame in the garage on the grounds that it was too good for them. Thus, Marisa
Joy rode the Yugo Of Shame home, Briana Ramirez-Rial got the Tricycle Of Shame, and
Kara Master the Floating Garbage Barge Of Malodorous Shame. We
saved the worst for the Roman brothers though: they
got the Hummer Of Shame, which delighted them briefly until we told them that the gas tank was
empty and that they were responsible for all fuel costs. It's never easy watching grown men cry.
Tuesday, July 15th, 2008
Semifinals Group Three
As the eldest Season Three semifinalist, LaToya London was getting a little tired of
sitting around a cabin where the primary forms of entertainment were Teletubbies videos and
Dora The Explorer coloring books. Channeling her feelings of alienation into a showstopping
rendition of "All By Myself", the Oakland wedding singer cruised out of
and into the Final 12, joined once more by pink-haired Amy Adams.
There was a major falloff after the top two, as none of
the other six contestants broke 50. Eric Yoder earned a Wild Card invitation, leaving
young Leah LaBelle in tears, not because she was upset at having
failed to advance but because Jon Peter Lewis was
pulling her pigtails. Still, a sympathetic Paula Abdul gave the sobbing
LaBelle a Wild Card ticket as well, with a whispered promise that she'd put her through to the
finals, too. JPL, meanwhile, became the first original finalist eliminated.
The ersatz pen salesman was shipped back
to Idaho on the Bus Of Shame along with Charly Lowery and Jonah Moananu, which was doubly
disappointing for the latter two because neither was from Idaho originally. Lastly,
original Wild Carder Elizabeth LeTendre got three notes into the infamous
AI Death Song when the Trap
Door Of Shame opened beneath her feet. Fully anticipating this, she jumped to safety and
looked smug about it...until the 16-Ton
Weight Of Shame fell from the rafters onto her head, that
is. These kids never learn.
Wednesday, July 16th, 2008
Semifinals Group Four
There was no shortage of American Idol fans who screamed "Get off my TV!" at
Jasmine Trias and John Stevens throughout the spring of 2004. The much-maligned teens came to
Camp Should-A-Been determined to prove that they belonged, at least in the early going.
Trias succeeded admirably: her rendition of "Run To You" was the highest-rated performance of
and it earned her a direct ticket into the Final 12. Stevens's respectable Billy Joel cover scored
52 and earned him a spot in the Wild Card show, alongside fan favorite George Huff.
Tiara Purifoy was the latest misguided soul to trot out the AI Death Song. Not as light on
her feet as Elizabeth LeTendre the night before, she fell through the Trap Door Of Shame into
the Starving Hyenas Pit Of Shame, whereupon the Water Cannons Of Shame were unleashed just before
Weight Of Shame came crashing through the ceiling. It wasn't until much later, when we
added up the scores, that we realized Purifoy's 42 rating actually qualified her
for the final spot in the Wild Card Show! We gave her the good news at the camp dispensary.
A good sport, she cheerfully blinked her eyelids twice from her body cast to accept the invitation.
Not so lucky were Heather Piccinini, John Preator, and future Miss Georgia Lisa Wilson, all of
whom took seats on the Bus Of Shame.
Early the next morning, Suzy Vulaca was found huddled in the middle of the ampitheatre stage,
shivering in the cool pre-dawn air while awaiting her results.
Whoops! Did the judges forget about her again?
Thursday, July 17th, 2008
If you're wondering why the producers dropped the
Wild Card Episode
from the American Idol calendar after
Season Three, look no further than tonight's replay. Things started out OK: Jennifer Hudson's
solid Whitney Houston cover took the night's top honors, and George Huff
again produced a spirited "Lean On Me." But after that, things took a turn for the weird.
Having watched subsequent contestants like Blake
Lewis and David Cook cleverly adapt old songs to new genres, John Stevens decided to have a
go at it himself. Alas, to coin a word, the song he chose was eminently uncroonable. Next,
Tiara Purifoy was released from the camp hospital only moments before
she had to take the stage again. Having had no chance to rehearse a new number, she could only
reprise her previous night's song choice and...um, yeah. You don't want to know what happened
next, except to say that NASA estimates she'll re-enter Earth's atmosphere no later
than 2013. Matt Rogers dedicated his Dr. Demento classic to a visibly nervous Simon, while
Leah LaBelle and Katie Webber re-enacted their underwhelming performances from four years prior.
Hudson, still clutching her favorite golden doll, earned the Viewers' Choice spot in the Final 12,
while Huff again earned Simon's nod. Simon declined to stick around for the remainder of the show,
instead choosing to disappear into the forest posthaste with Rogers close at his heels. Despite
the questionable song choice, Stevens came in third on the night.
And for the twelfth
and last slot, Paula Abdul winked at the camera and began, "I choose Leah
La—"...at which point, the Trap Door Of Shame opened beneath her chair, sending her
tumbling into oblivion. The audience is still cheering wildly.
In fact, and astoundingly, the last spot in the Finals went to long-forgotten Eric Yoder, despite
his never producing a performance rating above 50!. As his song choice tonight aptly put it,
"What the hell am I doing here?"
Thus we present your Final 12 of the Season Three replay here at Camp Should-A-Been:
- Amy Adams
- Fantasia Barrino
- Diana DeGarmo
- Jennifer Hudson
- George Huff
- Lisa Leuschner
- LaToya London
- John Stevens
- Jasmine Trias
- Camile Velasco
- Suzy Vulaca
- Eric Yoder
Newcomers in italics. Failing to qualify: Leah LaBelle, Jon Peter Lewis, Matt Rogers
Friday, July 18th, 2008
Final 12 (Soul)
Say what you will about American Idol Season Three...and most of us have...but when
that notoriously inconsistent group was good, they were very good. So it went tonight as the
Finals replay got underway with
The 12 contestants sang to an average rating of 61, featuring
four 5-star performances and two others above 70. Suzy Vulaca in particular looked
overwhelmed and proud at finally earning that spot in The Big Show that had been unjustly denied
to her in 2004...or at least she did until Simon, mistaking her for a minimum-wage 19E flunky,
told her to go backstage and bring him a bottle of mineral water.
Even the dregs of the night weren't all that dreggy. Eric Yoder's projected ratings already
landed him in the Bottom Three, though he didn't miss 4-stars by all that much. John Stevens
fell to a 30. Both survived for another week, however, as ultra-nervous
Camile Velasco brought up the rear with her croaked cover of Dusty Springfield's classic.
For her efforts, Velasco earned a starboard-side cabin on the Steamship Freighter Of Shame,
because the Bus can't make it all the way to Hawaii.
Sunday, July 20th, 2008
Final 11 (Country)
The latest Nielsen ratings are out, and they're not pretty. Telecasts from
Camp Should-A-Been rated 2,534th for the week, ahead of only This Week In Cribbage,
Uzbekistan's Got Talent, and Improve Your Vocabulary With Randy Jackson. As such,
a guest mentor for
was called for. Carrie Underwood was reluctant to join the panel at first, until
we reminded her of the contract she signed that granted 19E exclusive rights to her career
throughout the universe and for all eternity, including the afterlife. What, did she think
Lucifer Satan was the name of one of Simon Fuller's lawyers?
Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition: Amy Adams's brilliant ride on the "Sin Wagon" became
the second showstopper of the AI3 replay. There was the expected outrage and uproar when
Jennifer Hudson fell into the bottom three instead of John Stevens, but critics were directed
to the original performance clips on YouTube, at which point all objections ceased: this was
not Hudson's best night, to say the least. Meanwhile,
to honor Miss Underwood's biggest hit, our newcomer
contestants all went the Shania Karaoke route. Sadly for Eric Yoder, only three songs were
cleared by the staff, and he chose last and...well, it was ugly. But man!, it was original
third-place finisher Jasmine Trias who went home tonight in a tearful goodbye, long before her
nightmarish run of late-season performances ever took place. No one cried harder than the
camp counselors, who had to pay for two Freighter Of Shame trips to Hawaii in consecutive weeks.
Monday, July 21st, 2008
Final 10 (Motown)
No contestant ever went home a happier man than John Stevens IV did tonight. Yes, his
way-off-key rendition of "My Girl" was a train wreck, but everyone expected it this time
around. More significantly for the redheaded teen, he'd finished in a
very respectable 10th place on merit,
and he was spared the later embarrassment of having to redo "Crocodile Rock"
and "Music Of My Heart." A relieved Stevens smiled broadly when the results were announced,
did "As Time Goes By" for his sing-out, and waved cheerfully from the Bus Of Shame as it pulled
away. But not to worry, Camp Should-A-Been fans, because
we got the last laugh: we'd instructed the bus driver to take him directly to an Elton John-Gloria
Estefan fan festival in downtown Miami, where we'd booked Stevens as the opening act. You can
check out of this camp any time you'd like, but you can't really leave until we've humiliated
you to our satisfaction.
The rest of
was, quite honestly, kind of dull. As before, The Temptations provided both
the top-rated and lowest-rated performances of the night, with George Huff leading the way.
Our newcomer contestants kept with
the Smokey theme, and everyone else was just OK. A more pressing issue: the first three
eliminees in the Finals were all teenagers, and the remaining contestants were beginning to
feel kind of...old. Were they ready to ditch their Hannah Montana tapes in favor of Lawrence
Welk? Tune in tomorrow as the AI3 replay continues....
Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008
Final 9 (Elton John)
When it was announced that the theme for the AI3
episode would be the music of Elton John, Jennifer Hudson thought
she'd died and gone to heaven. Hadn't she just spent
months as a singer on the Disney Cruise Line, where her standout solo number was "Circle Of Life"?
She felt a warm glow of triumph spread across
her body...until the 6am strains of reveille awakened her to
the horrible truth: she hadn't died, she was still in the hell of Camp Should-A-Been,
and that glow she'd experienced was because her bunkmates had played on her the classic prank of
immersing her hand in a bowl of warm water as she slept, causing her to...ah, you know the rest.
A few hours and several showers later, Hudson got her revenge: despite strong performances from
George Huff and LaToya London, the girl with the golden doll outshone them all by delivering
the replay's third 90+ showstopper. At the other end of the spectrum, Lisa Leuschner and
Eric Yoder chose the songs that had produced single-digit disasters in the original competition.
They improved on John Stevens's and Camile Velasco's ratings by a lot, but not enough to keep
them out of the Bottom Two. Yoder was sent back to oblivion on the Bus Of Shame after an
improbably long run and a ninth-place finish. Finally, holdover Amy Adams decided to have some
fun: she chose Sir Elton's edgiest song title of all and mischeviously announced that it was
dedicated to someone in the audience, but she wouldn't say who. In hindsight, this was a
miscalculation on her part – that night, after lights-out time, every female camper
was seen sneaking towards Cabin Three carrying a bowl of warm water....
Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008
Final 8 (Movie Songs)
What could be more appropriate than hearing "Summertime" at a summer camp?
Fantasia Barrino was confident that her signature number would not only be the top performance
of the Season Three replay, but that it would send a message to fellow
divas LaToya London and Jennifer Hudson that the champ wouldn't give up
her crown without a fight. Unfortunately, the outdoor venue posed some unanticipated problems.
A circling hawk, mistaking Barrino's dreamy, arm-waving motions for a mating dance, swooped
down in a frenzy of passion and...um, look, the rest of the story would only get us in hot water
with the FCC and the Audubon Society, so just figure it out yourself.
In other news from
London delivered her second showstopper of the competition. Huff, whose summer
allergies were kicking in, slipped into the Bottom Three for the first time. The three holdover
ladies all decided to kick it up a notch by choosing songs from the same certain movie. Their
fellow campers in the audience did their part by dressing up in outrageous costumes and
throwing toast, rice, hot dogs, underwear, and even a few lit firecrackers towards the stage.
Oddly enough, most of the items fell a bit short and landed on the judges' heads. Purely
accidental, we're sure. But the big surprise tonight was the identity of the Bus Of Shame passenger:
none other than the original runner-up! "My Heart Will Go On" sunk Diana DeGarmo's ship here
at Camp Should-A-Been.
Thursday, July 24th, 2008
Final 7 (Barry Manilow)
Barry Manilow flew in from Vegas in a helicopter with his music director, his vocal coach,
six musicians, his publicist, his stylist, and three suitcases full of sheet music. Now this
is our kind of mentor: someone who takes his job seriously and provides his own transportation.
Of course, the original Manilow-mentored
episode didn't end well: Fantasia Barrino, LaToya London, and Jennifer
Hudson wound up in the most flabbergasting Bottom Three in AI history. Would history repeat
itself at Camp Should-A-Been?
At the end of the show, Ryan Seacrest put the Three Divas in one group and the three holdover
ladies in another. Just as on that fateful night in 2004, George Huff was then asked to choose
which trio was the Bottom Three. Not wishing to be made a fool of for a
second time, Huff defiantly stood between the two groups, crossed his arms, and stared angrily
at Ryan. Ah, but it was another trick question: neither group was the Bottom Three, because
Huff himself was the lowest-rated contestant on the night! An expression of great surprise
crossed his face briefly before the Louisianan disappeared through the Trap Door Of Shame.
Incidentally, we thought that the six surviving Idols' reaction to Huff's departure was
quite unprofessional. They high-fived and hugged one another gleefully and made no attempt
whatsoever to hide their happiness. Was the seemingly affable Huff really that disliked behind
the scenes? No, not at all. It was simply that the Final Six were all women,
and that meant they could use both bathrooms in Cabin Three
instead of having to stand in line for showers every morning.
Friday, July 25th, 2008
Final 6 (Gloria Estefan)
Salsa! All 295 members of the Miami Sound Machine turned up at
Camp Should-A-Been tonight for a Caribbean-fueled extravaganza featuring the music of
Gloria Estefan. Unfortunately, our campers were already well aware about what usually happens
when the producers try to combine American Idol and Latin music: pretty much the same thing
as when you mix Mentos mints with Diet Coke, except the result is even stickier and harder to
clean up. Thus, almost all of them decided to skip the show in favor of the camp's
alternate entertainment for the evening: a black-and-white health video from 1958 on armpit
diseases, airing in the mess hall. In fact, the only spectator in the ampitheater was Danny Noriega, who lost a bet with
Will Makar and either had to sit through the show or eat a bug.
The ladies of the
did the best they could. LaToya London won the night with a solid 70, and
Jennifer Hudson's first projected rating was still comfortably above 50. Fantasia Barrino,
however, slipped dangerously into the Bottom Two; she was saved only by fact that
Lisa Leuschner's ratings had been extrapolated seven times down our hypothetical decay curve.
Still, Leuschner finished sixth – a remarkably strong showing for a contestant who wasn't
even granted the courtesy of being permitted to sing on the original Wild Card show.
Thus the AI3 Final Five On Merit are: Amy Adams, Fantasia Barrino, Jennifer Hudson, LaToya London,
and Suzy Vulaca. And it's really hard to complain about that quintet, if we do say so
Sunday, July 27th, 2008
Final 5 (Big Band)
To use the popular schoolkids term, LaToya London pwned the field on
Big Band Night.
Her two performances averaged a showstopping 90, highlighted by one of the most
oddly underappreciated masterpieces in AI history: "Don't Rain On My Parade" at 93.
No other contestant averaged even 50, though Jennifer Hudson and Fantasia
Barrino came close. Barrino, who delivered her second 2-star performance in as many nights,
seemed a little melancholy to us, in fact. The original Season Three featured
an all-teenager Final Three, while here at Camp Should-A-Been, the sassy Carolina girl
had been the Last Teen Standing for several weeks now.
two months of projected ratings, both Amy Adams and Suzy Vulaca were clearly nearing the
end of their runs. Adams, whose ratings had been about three-tenths of a point behind
Vulaca's the whole way down, fell first, and she left us tonight on the Bus Of Shame,
which we dyed pink for the occasion.
Monday, July 28th, 2008
Final 4 (Disco)
Readers, we have a great idea: let's spend this episode of Camp Should-A-Been studying
esoteric statistical trends that will make your eyes glaze over by the middle of the
first equation. Sounds absolutely dreadful, you say? Look, it's
your choices are either to do some math homework with us or to listen to eight disco covers
We knew you'd see it our way.
- The Top Three —
That's where the WNTS.com staff projects that
the Three Divas of LaToya London, Fantasia Barrino, and Jennifer Hudson would have placed
had the voters in 2004 voted on merit. Usually we like to disprove the conventional wisdom
around here; this time, we're happy to have confirmed it for once.
- Fourth place —
That's where Suzy Vulaca would have finished based on our projections if
Paula Abdul had used the brains she was born with and chosen the Arizonan instead of Leah LaBelle
on Wild Card Night. Vulaca's first two performances were so strong that she was able to
survive an outrageous ten steps down our decay curve in the replay before she
was finally eliminated. Needless to say, the only passenger on the Bus Of Shame tonight
was a certain former Laker Girl.
- 42 —
The famous answer to Life, The Universe, and Everything also happens to be the mediocre rating
produced by each of the Three Divas in one performance tonight. Curiously, it was our second
three-way tie in as many weeks after never having one before in either real life or here at
That's about it from the Statistics Department. And you're in luck: the Disco Night show is
only halfway over so you can still catch...hey, where are you going? The theater is in the
Tuesday, July 29th, 2008
Final 3 (Idol's/Judges'/Clive's Choice)
All day, they arrived. Limousines carrying famous Hollywood celebrities, many still clutching
one-day release papers from prestigious rehab clinics.
Helicopters carrying entertainment reporters and camera crews, landing on our softball diamond in
mid-inning and scaring our campers.
Private jets direct from London ferrying ecstatic, and slightly tipsy, 19E executives, who
immediately ran to the Head Counselors' cabin to hug us and say thank you for all we've done.
Never has there been more excitement over a Camp Should-A-Been show than tonight's
replay, in which the Three Divas of AI3 would finally meet in the showdown that had
been denied to America. Mind you, some of the thrill wore off after our
visitors had dinner in the mess hall and saw the condition of the camp restrooms.
Nonetheless, the ampitheater was packed three hours before curtain time with everyone except
the 19E guys, who were still drunk out of their minds and hugging everyone and
everything in sight, including the animals from the camp petting zoo. That worried us a little.
Alas, the show itself was an anticlimax. Bouncing back from a few off-nights, Fantasia Barrino
slammed down three killer performances to win the night by a wide margin. LaToya London did
well with her first number but her approval ratings slid as she took on some questionable
song choices from Randy Jackson and Ryan Seacrest (filling in for Clive Davis, who was still at
the petting zoo.) As for Jennifer Hudson, her projected ratings had decayed to the point of
no return. There was a modicum of suspense as she took the stage for her final, signature
song, needing roughly a 126 rating to advance. (Paula was in charge of adding
up the scores, so anything was possible.) Regrettably, ten seconds into the performance, a
commotion ensued: the zoo animals overran the stage while being chased by the 19E executives, and
Hudson tripped over a sheep and sprained her ankle. She was still limping as she boarded the
Bus Of Shame.
Afterwards, as we pored over the numbers, we grew depressed. We'd hoped for a close, exciting
Finale, but three hits to London's projected ratings had already taken their toll. And,
nobody ever sang an American Idol Original Winner's Song™ the way Barrino
nailed "I Believe." Did Oakland's most famous wedding singer stand a chance at all? Tune in tomorrow
for the final chapter in the story.
Wednesday, July 30th, 2008
Unlike on the previous night, there were no crowds, no helicopters, and no petting zoo animals
requiring psychiatric therapy when it was over. The outcome of the
was a foregone
conclusion in everyone's book. Fantasia Barrino had "I Believe" in her back pocket, and LaToya
London could only counter with her fourth and fifth projected ratings. And yes, just as expected,
one song made all the difference....
..."All My Life."
Did you forget about Barrino's 1-star disaster, overshadowed as it was at the time by
"I Believe" and her "Summertime" reprisal? Nothing escapes the counselors' attention here at
Camp Should-A-Been. When she was through, Barrino's three performance ratings
added up to 173. London redid "All By Myself" to a 73 (a 21-point drop from
the original, the historical average for reprises.) She then broke one of the cardinal rules of
American Idol by covering a hit song by another contestant, but she wanted to send the
message not to count her out. Her version of "I Believe" came in nearly 40 points behind
her rival's. We added her scores, rubbed our eyes, added them again, and again, then called
the Math department of the local university for confirmation. It was 174.
By the utterly implausible margin of
one point, LaToya London was the Season Three Replay champion!
The two ladies both appeared shocked when Ryan Seacrest announced the outcome, and indeed
neither moved as the pine needles came showering down. As London silently took her seat on the
Shame Victory, a visiting reporter observed bitterly that there was
no need for the Finale to have been
that close. By the conditions of contest, London could have reprised two of her earlier performances
rather than one, just as Diana DeGarmo did in the original Finale. Had she simply redone
"Don't Rain On My Parade" or "Somewhere" instead of the Daughtry song, London would have won by a
comfortable margin. We immediately summoned our camp Disciplinary Counselors – Viktor,
Rocco, and Serge – to take our cynic aside and explain to him the literary concept
of "dramatic effect." They'll never find his body.
— The End —
Camp Should-A-Been – Season Three Results
- LaToya London
- Fantasia Barrino
- Jennifer Hudson
- Suzy Vulaca
- Amy Adams
- Lisa Leuschner
- George Huff
- Diana DeGarmo
- Eric Yoder
- John Stevens
- Jasmine Trias
- Camile Velasco
-- The staff of WNTS.com