The teen had forgotten her song lyrics, and voters remembered it

By Stephen M. Silverman
March 16, 2006 08:00 AM

When she sang Stevie Wonder’s “Lately” on Tuesday’s episode of American Idol, contestant Melissa McGhee forgot some of the lyrics. On Wednesday viewers showed that they hadn’t forgotten that – and voted her off the show.

The distinction makes the 21-year-old Tampa, Fla., native the first of the final dozen to be voted off the FOX talent show this season. (The ultimate winner will be named May 24.)

McGhee’s reaction when host Ryan Seacrest announced her name was not to say anything. Not that she hadn’t drawn some praise along the way, even from the hardboiled judge Simon Cowell. “In my opinion, this was your best performance so far,” he said on Tuesday’s program.

Narrowly escaping viewer-elimination were studio-audience favorite Ace Young and Lisa Tucker, who gathered the next lowest vote tallies.

Tucker, 16, from Anaheim, Calif., had wowed judges on Tuesday with her rousing rendition of “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.” Long-locked Young, 25, from Denver, earned some sympathy from judge Paula Abdul, who shook her head about the voter tally and said, “I don’t get it.”