When the Tattooed Lady Sings

American Idol contestant and San Diegan Carly Smithson was eliminated from the show last week. Yet, sales of her failed 2001 album, Ultimate High, have never been better: last week, Amazon had it ranked at number 15 in MP3 album sales.

According to a 2002 article in the Wall Street Journal, MCA Records invested $2.2 million in Ultimate High; in the first three months, it sold 378 copies. After the flop and an eventual move from the L.A. area, she went to work as a waitress at the Field, where she’s been for about three years. With her husband, Smithson is co-owner of the Nothing Sacred tattoo shop in the Gaslamp Quarter.

Votefortheworst.com has pointed out some discrepancies in Carly’s alleged past. She has stated that her record label “imploded,” but MCA did not fall apart; it merged with Geffen in 2003. Under the Geffen banner, a number of former MCA acts — including the Roots, blink-182, and Mary J. Blige — continued to record. The website suggests Smithson may have made it onto the show through nepotism, as Idol cohost Randy Jackson was MCA’s vice president of A&R in 2001.

— Michael Hemmingson

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