We Watch . . . So You Don't Have To

By Lisa de Moraes
Thursday, April 13, 2006

America has ruled Bucky Covington's countrification of "Fat Bottomed Girls" the worst mutilation of a Queen song on "American Idol."

Tough choice in a field that also included Ace Young milquetoasting his way through "We Will Rock You" and Kellie Pickler dumb-blonding the Queen classic "Bohemian Rhapsody."

Still, somebody had to go.

But not until after last night's obligatory results show. Mysteriously, Queen did not stick around to sing a number from its new CD or whatever. Instead, the "Idol" gang sang a High School Musical-esque Queen medley. After which, each of the three bottom vote-getters got to sing the Queen song that landed him there, and, as usual, they did a better job than they had the night before, especially Ace.

Then, a real treat, Kellie slimed the results card with the "community snot rag," which had gotten that way because of the much weeping onstage by contestants after watching video testimonials from their friends and families.

Bottom three last night: Ace, Bucky and Elliott Yamin. Show host Ryan Seacrest asked judge Simon Cowell who would go, and he predicted it would be Ace.

Ha! He got it wrong.

* * *

Taylor Hicks is far and away the people's choice for their next "American Idol," based on the number of Taylor tchotchkes sold on eBay over the past month.

In fact, Taylor Hicks items sold on eBay in the past 30 days nearly equal the number of items related to all the other remaining "Idol" contestants combined.

Turns out, when "Idol" contestants finish performing Tuesday nights, viewers aren't just hitting their land lines and cellphones to call in and text-message votes; they're hitting the Internet to buy junk with the name and face of their favorite singer on it.

Nearly 900 Taylor Hicks T-shirts, CDs, bumper stickers, silicone bracelets, beaded bracelets, buttons, necklaces, copies of local newspapers featuring articles on him, magnets, wall clocks, photo key rings, prints, address labels, tote bags and hoodies have been snapped up on eBay over the past month. About 15 transactions occurred during Tuesday's broadcast, in which the prematurely gray bundle of tics and good nature sang his enthusiastic, if goofy, version of Queen's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love."

"What it's telling me is that there is an instant reaction to his performance," eBay spokesman Dean Jutilla told The TV Column.

"He had a lot of energy to it; he seemed to get the crowd pretty fired up, and watching, they felt like, 'He's going to win it, and I want to get something related to him while I can.' "

Sales of rocker Chris Daughtry stuff hit 308 items on the online operation in the past month, 273 for boy toy Ace.

A mere 143 items related to dumb-as-hair Kellie have been sold -- though her week-over-week sales jumped nearly 80 percent last week after she sang "Fancy" during Country Night.

In the past 30 days, there have been just 94 eBay transactions on Katharine McPhee items.

Using the Easy eBay Method to try to gauge "Idol" voting is not foolproof; this week's "Idol" ejectee should have been Little Paris Bennett.

Only 12 bits of Bennett flotsam and jetsam had been exchanged for cash on eBay over the past month. It moved 25 Elliott items and, rounding out the bottom three, 81 items related to country boy Bucky as of yesterday afternoon.

Yes, Bucky and Elliott landed in the bottom three, but they were joined by Ace, not Paris, and Bucky was the one to go.

Last week, the rest of the "Idol"-watching world was shocked when the previously popular Mandisa got the hook; she had never before been among a week's bottom-three vote-getters.

But using the Easy eBay Method, you would have known it was coming. Over the previous 30 days, a mere 10 items related to the plus-size diva had sold -- the least business on any of the remaining contestants.

Jutilla stopped short of forecasting a Hicks win on this year's edition of "American Idol." He'd only go so far as to say that Hicks "seems to be the most popular at the present time."

The research service, which launched in November, is not scientific, he added, noting that when the company tracked traffic on Academy Award-related film items, they saw more volume on "Brokeback Mountain" stuff than on "Crash" items. Yet "Crash" took Best Picture.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company