Mandisa, <EM>American Idol</EM> Mandisa, American Idol

Irony alert! Last Wednesday Nashville's own Mandisa Hundley was the casualty of country-music week on Fox's American Idol (Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 9 pm/ET), as her rendition of Shania Twain's "Any Man of Mine" failed to make the entire judging panel (or, apparently, the voting public) effuse.

Defending the song choice  and addressing Simon's reaction to it in particular  Mandisa says, "I know that he does not care for country or for that song too much, but I absolutely love it and don't have any regrets. I think it's a great song and I think that whoever wrote it is brilliant."

If only all the debates Mandisa had to contend with during her Idol engagement were so tidy. Having prefaced her previous week's performance (of Mary Mary's "Wanna Praise You") with a dedication to those who want God to "free" them of their "addiction [or] lifestyle," the songstress came under fire for appearing to toe the homophobic party line. When TVGuide.com asked Mandisa about that interpretation of her comments the morning after her dismissal, she said, "I just heard about that recently, and it broke my heart because I really do try to live my life according to the value system that you treat others the way you want to be treated. I live my life guided by love and absolutely hate nobody."

As for what exactly she meant, then, by "lifestyle," she explained, "I've been living a lifestyle where I've been giving in to every food indulgence I have ever had, so that was just me saying that God is freeing me of it."

Still, appearances are everything, so is it possible that what she appeared to say cost her the gay and gay-friendly audience vote? "It's possible," she says. "I don't know what ultimately cost me the competition, but that certainly could have led to it."

In a conference call with reporters, Mandisa also had this to say about...

... whether her size mattered:
"I feel like my platform immediately had to do with my weight, because of Simon's comments, and that kind of got me in the spotlight a little bit. However, I had to work to stay in the spotlight [while] everybody on that stage [was so] absolutely beautiful. [My size] probably could have been a disadvantage to me."

... setting a big example:
"I did not set out, necessarily, to be a role model. I was just being me, and what I stand for is the fact that you can be beautiful at any size. But at the same time, I'm also very vocal about [my realization] that my weight is something I have to deal with. And I am dealing with it. Since my first audition in Chicago, I have not gotten on a scale, but I do know that I've lost probably 30 or 35 pounds. I exercise and I'm trying not to let food dictate my life."

... being in the bottom three with Paris and Elliott:
"When we were standing up there, the first thing that came to my mind was Season 3, when the three divas [Fantasia Barrino, LaToya London and Jennifer Hudson] were in the bottom three and everybody was shocked. So when we went to the commercial break, I turned to the others and said, 'I want to remind you what happened in Season 3. We cannot assume what we think is going to happen.'"

... possible reasons for her Idol ejection:
"There are a lot of theories floating around. It could have something to do with my song choice. It could have something to do with my stance on my faith. It could have something to do with people thinking I was safe and not voting. It could be just about anything. I have no idea."

Why do so many people risk making fools of themselves on shows like American Idol? Find out.