Saturday night's all right with Elton John. But don't talk to him about Tuesdays and Wednesdays when American Idol is on.
Sir Elton has labeled Fox's top-rated talent show "incredibly racist" following last week's controversial vote that saw Jennifer Hudson eliminated and Fantasia Barrino and LaToya London with the next lowest tallies.
"The three people I was really impressed with, and they just happened to be black, young female singers, and they all seem to be landing in the bottom three," John griped Tuesday at a news conference in the Big Apple.
He was in town hyping a series of shows at New York's Radio City Music Hall July 13-18 where he'll be performing with students from London's Royal Academy of Music and the Juilliard School.
The Rocket Man, who served as a guest judge on Idol earlier this month and watched finalists perform many of his songs, made the accusation after the surprise elimination of Hudson last week. He also blasted millions of voters across the country for sending two other black vocalists who were considered frontrunners--London and Barrino--to the back of the pack.
"They have great voices. The fact that they're constantly in the bottom three--and I don't want to set myself up here--but I find it incredibly racist," John said.
A Fox spokesman declined to comment.
The "Sad Song" singer's slap at Idol voters hasn't exactly gone over well with some fans.
On the message board at Fans of RealityTV, some Netizens took shots at the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer.
"What a screwed-up world we live in where people can't just accept that folks voted the way they wanted. If someone doesn't like the way the votes were cast--they have to come in screaming that 'the fix is in'. Get over it Elton...you're washed up!" wrote one post by CWipperman after pointing out that the first five finalists to exit Idol this season were either white or Filipino.
"I honestly do not think race has anything to do with LaToya, Fantasia, and Jennifer being in the bottom three," wrote CombatCutie. "It has to do with their fan bases assuming they were safe because they gave great performances. Their fans then in turn voted for their second favorite to try to save them and didn't vote for them. Race has nothing to do with it."
"What utter drivel," wrote one MockeryJones. "Is it not enough that we were subjected to an entire hour of his knightship's foolishness earlier in the season? Now he has to come back for more?"
Race was just one of the conspiracy theories floated last week. Other explanations for the surprise vote included a power outage in Hudson's hometown of Chicago that may have prevented some 15,000 people from calling in, or it was the work of computer hackers. In any case, the vote prompted outcries from many TV and music critics, including USA Today, which called for a possible change in how winners are selected.
But with Idol's winners pinned to a popular vote, there will always be upsets. Tamyra Gray seemed like a sure thing in season one, but was ousted before the final three, clearing the way for Kelly Clarkson's win. Conversely, supporters of Clay Aiken said he was robbed last year after he lost a close vote to champ Ruben Studdard, an African American.
Aside from London and Barrino (who gave a shout-out to Hudson on Tuesday night's show), another black contestant, George Huff, is still in the running going into Wednesday's elimination episode.
In any case, the controversy hasn't hurt Idol's ratings. Last Tuesday's show was the most watched program of the week with 23.4 million viewers, and Wednesday's elimination show was the third-most watched with 21.2 million.
And last night's sing-off, featuring contestants karaokeing to Gloria Estefan's catalogue, was seen by 23.5 million, according to Fox.