Antonella stays on Idol and tops web searches, while four others go home

Antonella Barba, this season’s biggest story so far even though she’s far from the competition’s best singer, was saved last night on American Idol 6, while four others whose names no one really knows were sent home.

The results surprised at least one of the judges. “Truthfully, this is a singing competition. I don’t feel tonight reflects this,” Paula Abdul said, according to the AP’s account. (Dear Paula: Since when has the show been about only singing? P.S.: You were more fun last year.)

Alaina Alexander, Leslie Hunt, Nicholas Pedro, and A.J. Tabaldo received the fewest number of votes, and left in tears. “Even Kellie Pickler nearly broke down at the end of her guest performance,” MSNBC’s Craig Berman says, noting that “this season seems to have more criers than most.”

But despite all the tears and complaints about the results, the big news seemed to be that viewers who voted kept Antonella Barba around. Looking at web searches, however, that’s barely a surprise. Searches for Antonella’s name increased 47,400 percent on Lycos, for example, although to be honest, who really searches using Lycos?

As to search engines people actually used, Antonella currently leads all Yahoo searches, although she’s trending down. Among AOL searchers, Antonella was beating Britney Spears. And at the end of last week, Antonella ranked third on Google’s Zeitgeist.

Anecdotally, since news of the first set of topless pictures broke in the middle of February, 13 of the top 20 keywords/phrases people searched for and then clicked through to reality blurred have involved Antonella. (However, searches for Tonya Cooley’s porno appearance rank higher than Antonella; again, that’s just for this site.) Searches for Antonella that result in click-throughs here are led by phrases that clearly imply the searcher has no idea who she is, they just want to see pictures (“american idol nude,” “american idol topless,” “nude american idol,”) while people who actually know her name use different phrases to look for the photos (“antonella barba’s topless pics,” “antonella barba photos, “antonella barba pics,” “american idol naked,” “antonella barba pictures,” “antonella topless,” “nude american idol photos,” “antonella barba topless,” “topless american idol,” and “pictures of antonella barba”).

‘American Idol’ cuts four more singers [AP]
Everyone in tears on ‘American Idol’ [MSNBC]