Wednesday, March 29, 2006

with 10 you get boring: a simulblog...

Time to kill off another kid who just weeks ago had visions of superstardom dancing in the head. Of course, after last night, we ought to off more than one, like, uhhh, eight, but hey, if one is all we can have, we'll take it.

It's a typical Wednesday night execution live blog, with publishing at every significant turn, so if you live in the west and want to be "shocked" as they promise us we will be, you might want to play Slingo for awhile.

Because THIS is American Idol!

Life is busy, we're told, for an American Idol, as we get a glimpse of all the work they force the kids to perform. But they get perks too, like seeing that cute little movie with that cute little Sid in it. Not as cute, of course, as Ace's brother, but he's cute in an animated sort of way.

We're reminded that Shakira is in the house and will be performing. Again (still?) I'm ticked about having to listen to someone I care nothing about when I could be laughing my butt off at a crappy group song. Don't these people know what we want? We want bad dancing, dang it.

But at least we still have crappy Ford commercials. And this week's isn't as much crappy as it is boring. Kinda fits into the theme of the whole week, I suppose.

Shakira is here. Good. I needed a bathroom break...

I'm sorry Shakira fans, but that had absolutely no business this week. At least Stevie Wonder and Barry Manilow did something besides sing. This was gratuitious hawking of a CD. This season really is starting to irk me.

We get a reminder of the injuries inflicted last night, like we needed it, and it's time to start lining up the condemned.

Mandisa, Chris, Pickler, Paris and Taylor are told they're safe. Applause ensues. Ryan says to look at the top row and asks "what have you done America." Geesh. I know what I done last night. And both of them are in the bad row.

Elliott gets his reviews and plugs his ears. And he's safe. YAY!! Lisa is reminded how much the judges hated her performance and, as usual, is sent to the middle of the stage because she's such a bad girl.

Ace is sent to join Lisa on the seal. Bucky and Katharine laugh that they're left. Each gets a reminder of their reviews, and Katharine is banished to the seal. Booing ensues. Screams ensue. Havoc reigns. Okay, I'm trying for drama...

This will, however, be the last time I believe Nigel and his "shockers." Katharine on the stage? Surprising, yes. But with Ace, who's been there and Lisa, who's qualified for squatters rights? Shocker more than the three divas? Hardly.

Katharine appears to be crying, and Ace is sent back to safety.

Simon backtracks on his glowing reviews last night for Kat. Paula admonishes the voters to hit redial until their fingers bleed.

Lisa is smiling, since she's grown so comfortable in the hot spot. Katharine says Jesus take the seal.

Ryan says goodbye [finally] to Lisa.

You had a bad day...

tag: american idol

shocking the nation...

Well, the Idol spin is in full effect today, with Nigel alerting us that tonight's results will "shock the nation.... worse than the three divas did." Consider this the official removal of Lisa from my proposed bottom tier and my addition of Katharine.

Interested? Here's the link to the seven-minute interview.

Actually a shock might be what we need to wake us up from last night's disaster.

Yay Shocks!

oh, and one more thing...

I know they've been wanting to make over Taylor, but I think they've gone just too far.

And when are they gonna stop putting interns in charge of the phone numbers?

21st century hangover...

It's official. I am considering instigating a class action lawsuit against the producers of American Idol and ten people under the age of 30 for injuries, both emotional and physical, that I sustained last evening as a direct result of being pelted by bad notes, horrid songs and just general overall ickiness.

I want my hour back.

We've had bad nights during the five-season run of this show. Last season's Showtunes night comes immediately to mind. But last night's Songs of the Current Century night will certainly, without doubt, rank right there among the best of the worst.

See? Kevin goes and the whole show turns to crap. Told ya.

For perhaps the first time, I'm hoping for a new twist: the execution of half of the field. Okay, okay. Maybe I'm being extreme. Three-quarters of them. Or maybe we can just choose the non-loser and spend the next two months watching repeats from season one.

Yeah. That works.

It's becoming sadly apparent that crappy group numbers are being forsaken this season in favor of guest performers hawking CDs. Tonight somebody named Shakira will be on stage, taking up time that would be better spent doing pointy poses and Brady Bunch dance moves. And expect an announcement that next week :::big gulp::: will be Country Night, as the celebrity-instead-of-group-sing will be Travis Tritt.

Please, please save Bucky tonight, so that he can have his country night!

The worst three last night were half of them, with the other half receiving honorable mentions. Dial Idol, which attempts to predict who will be leaving on the basis of busy signals, has about a six-way statistical tie. It's anybody's guess.

The only safe ones really are Chris, Taylor and Pickler, who have garnered fan bases so big, it's going to take several more eliminations/base-less fans to even begin chipping away at their advantage. Elliott should also be safe, considering he got the coveted pimp spot last night, and turned out one of the less-offensive efforts. And I think Katharine, despite her Goodwill Blue Light Special Clearance Rack wardrobe, probably has enough credit stored in the bank of past performances to rescue her. Ditto Paris, who at least brought a bit of spirit to a dreary night.

So the problem children remain Lisa, our traditional Wednesday-night stage dweller, Bucky, who is not one of the favored nations, Ace, who is all scarred, literally and figuratively, joined now by Mandisa, who may have just alienated a whole bunch of people with her gospel turn.

Oh the pain... (No, really. Pain.)

But here goes...

Who I want: Pickler, Lisa, Ace (Pickler)
Who should: Pickler, Lisa, Ace (Pickler)
Who will: Lisa, Ace, Mandisa.

And, despite my recommendation, Ace will regret that he did not choose to sing the Bad Day song as he will (if we're lucky) get his Drops of Jupiter cut off mid-verse.

Okay. Your turn.

tag: american idol

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

caution: current songs ahead...

It's Idol Night and it's the songs of the current century. And, considering the current century is all of six years old, it could just as well be called "songs of the last six years plus 2000 just cause..."

I knew I wouldn't know the songs, or most of them anyway.

But nonetheless, here they are, my early impressions, subject to rewind and revision and as always, from worst to first.

Holy Mother of Twang, Kellie decides to sing of Suds in a Bucket. At least she's minimally subdued and has dropped the alien accent in which she sang Patsy last week, but I'm biased. I don't like country. So ignore this one because unless somebody falls off the stage, it ranks worst for me. I'm grateful the judges agree.

Chris addresses the whole Live issue, promises that he's got a Celine Song tucked away somewhere then proceeds to make my dog whimper with a screaming, repetitive version of What If. The judges don't like it. I hate it with the intensity of a thousand suns.

I knew somebody would try Kelly Clarkson, but I didn't think it would be Lisa or that it would be such a current one. Simon calls her Because of You painful in parts. I don't know if I was pained, but it wasn't comfortable, even though she is quite apparently trying to shed the robot image. Randy says no. Paula says meh. I say Lisa, by getting the lead-off position is being helped out of the door and with that performance, she may have just exited it.

When it is introduced that Ace is singing Drops of Jupiter, I shrug [again] about how I don't know this song. Strangely enough, though, I do recognize this song. I just don't recognize it from Ace. Randy says no. Paula just wants Ace to tell her privately the story behind his chest scar and Simon calls it karaoke. Me? I don't care how he got the scar on his chest.

Mandisa takes Idol into gospel territory with Wanna Praise You, a song that she's been singing in church for "years." Only six years, Mandisa, please, or else we'll be having God-gate all next week. George Huff, who's in the audience, is excited. Simon calls it indulgent. Randy doesn't get the song choice, and Paula says Mandisa's just started her own church. I say it was, without question, her worst vocal performance of this competition, sung in the key of yell.

Bucky announces he's going to sing country. Now that's breaking news! So he sings Tim McGraw and is a Real Good Man. And, while I do have my country biases, he, at least, wakes me up, even though I don't recognize a single lyric. Simon says it's unimpressive tonight. I say no kidding.

Taylor wants to just "sing" a song, rather than "perform" one. And he chooses Trouble, a song that's never been performed on the show. The judges are split on its quality. I give it a meh. But considering the quality of the other performances, it's a gem.

Katharine takes on Christina with The Voice Within, again a song I've never heard. I am not liking this theme. She sounds okay, but certainly nothing worth writing home about. Simon tells her she's almost as good as Christina. Whatever.

Elliott gets the coveted pimp spot, bringing the show to a close and takes a huge risk with I Don't Wanna Be, the song so closely associated with Bo from last season. He's mastered the George Huff dip dance. Randy invokes the "hot" word. Paula is beside herself and calls him one funky white boy. Simon hates the dancing. I [heart] Elliott.

Paris is doing Beyonce, cause she wants to be 17. Paris, hun, you are 17. And she looks every inch of it as she Works It Out. I can say, before the judges utter a word, that this is, so far, the only performance I actually enjoyed. Simon says it's precocious. I say when we're desperate, precocious is good.

But I really and truly did not [heart] this theme night.


So? Who was worst?

pre-performance ponderings...

Whew. What a day. But now it's time to start thinking Idol and what's going to happen in just a matter of hours from now.

It's the songs from the 21st century, which does not technically include the year 2000, since it was the last year of the 20th centry despite the fact that we all laid on massive hangovers. But since 2000 doesn't fit very neatly into the decade of the 1990s, and it's doubtful that the producers will sponsor songs from the 20th century anytime soon, we'll forgive any technical ickiness. Yes, Chris, I'm talking to you.

What will happen? The 10 remaining kids will cover somebody's song. A few will blow us away. A couple will be told to pack their bags. And we will all miss Kevin's cuteness. (Hey! Stop it. It's my blog. I will miss Kevin's cuteness...)

I have my VCR set to tape. (I'm too poor to afford DVR.) I have my DialIdol software all loaded and ready for my first speed dialing. The pizza is ordered.

It's not Tuesday - it's Idol night.

I think the field is pretty much split. Taylor, Chris, Katharine, Mandisa and Paris just need to show up. I don't expect much in the way of explanation of Daughtry-gate, except for, perhaps, a Ryan comment in the introductions or in the post-performance chit chat, but it's no matter. At least not to me.

Rumors swirl that Chris will cover Creed and that Elliott will sing Gavin DeGraw in the pimp spot. It's the only thing in the way of song spoilers that I've found. Take them for what they're worth.

If Elliott does get the pimp spot, as is rumored, he should be okay. That leaves the usual suspects, Lisa and Bucky to battle it out with, potentially, Ace and Pickler.

Pickler may have lost a few of those fans last week with her attempted hijacking of an already-shortened results show by again insisting on opening her mouth. Sweetie, less is really more. The less you say, the more you gain. It's not cute anymore. It stopped being cute about six weeks ago.

Ace needs to can the falsetto and return to the basics. With every elimination, the field gets more and more superior, and making love to the camera is not going to substitute for a decent vocal performance much longer.

Bucky is just perpetually targeted. He doesn't fit the suit, never has, and he's obviously not one of the chosen few. Lisa continues to work better than the generic substitute for Ambien, and one really must wonder how many lives this little cat has.

Watch for Simon's comments tonight. If he blasts any one of the four, that person will probably be safe. The one he blesses with faint praise might be the one in most need of votes.

So, who do I think will land on the seal, without benefit of having even heard them?

Bucky and Lisa, only because it wouldn't be a result show without Lisa on stage. And Ace will join them.

And because I think Bucky has more support than anyone counts on, and Lisa has at least six more lives left, Ace will be heading home.

Sorry Frances.

Happy Idol Night!!

Monday, March 27, 2006

monday bits & pieces...

I never enjoy the themes where the kids pull songs that have played on the radio in the last twenty years. Okay, so call me an old fogey, but I don't listen to top 40 stations, unless the electricity is MIA, and it's the only signal I can get. (I still can't listen to Kelly Clarkson's Breakaway without getting shivers from the five days I spent in the dark last year.)

So it should come as no surprise that I am not exactly giddy over this week's "Songs from the 21st Century" theme. I read recently that "the 21st century is the worst century for music since the 19th century." I laughed. Then I nodded in agreement.

Needless to say, all of the purported song spoilers, song suggestions, song rumors are simply sailing over my head, and I'm too uninspired to even go look them up.

But I do know that Johnny Cash covered a 1990s song by Nine Inch Nails. Hey Chris!

Actually my only suggestion this week is for Ace. After all, I'm still maintaining that Ace is gonna be history, because the trends must continue.

In season three, Amy Adams landed in the bottom three of twelve, got put in the anchor position in the week of eleven and never hit the seal, but got booted in tenth. In season four, Jessica Sierra landed in the bottom three of twelve, got put in the anchor position in the week of eleven and never hit the seal, but got booted in tenth.

Ace landed in the bottom three of twelve, got put in the anchor position in the week of eleven and never hit the seal.

He's toast.

So my suggestion is for Ace to sing
Bad Day by Daniel Powter. That way on Wednesday, he can sing during his funeral tape and get the whole freakin' song in before FOX cuts away to whatever the next show is.

My fear: somebody's gonna sing Kelly Clarkson. My nightmare: it's gonna be Pickler.

All Bets Are On!

Daughtry-gate might still be the topic of discussion (although I still haven't figured out exactly why), but it doesn't seem to have hurt him in the odds. Chris is still favored to win at this point in two of the online wagering sites. (as of 8:10 a.m. EST) has him at 6/4 odds, just ahead of Katharine at 14/5 and Taylor at 26/5. Who's bringing up the rear? Bucky at 100/1, just behind the 40/1 Lisa Tucker.

Bucky's also the heavy favorite to be banished this week at
Pinnacle. (If one is favored to lose, does that truly make one a favorite? 'Jes askin'.) Guess the folks over there haven't heard of the trend. It's gonna be Ace, I tell ya'.

Bet on it.

With Ten You Get Tour

Somebody questioned the fairness of only allowing the top ten finishers to go on tour if the show is going to narrow the final field to twelve. Why not take all twelve?

That's a question we've asked for years with no clear answer. (So if anybody has the real answer, please share.)

The best we can surmise is that, in season one, there were only 10 finalists, so, in the second season, when they upped the field to 12 they may have just concluded that costs, staging, etc. made it easier with ten.

But the better (if somewhat cynical) suspicion is that the powers that be did not want to deal with Vanessa Oliverez, the first one booted in season two, so they cut the tour group at 10 to prevent her from qualifying. (Season two watchers might remember that Vanessa was scripted to smart off to Ryan during her first post-performance interview, which led to boos from the audience and, at least in my opinion, a premature exit from the competition.) That speculation might be somewhat credible, considering that Charles Grigsby, the 11th place finisher, was also excluded from the tour, even after Corey Clark was disqualified a couple weeks later. Grigsby could have been added to the tour in Corey's place, but wasn't, and possibly because the producers knew that the liklihood of Josh Gracin touring was remote. And one substitution would have led to a second, so the season two tour went with eight instead.

And it's been at ten since.

That probably didn't answer a dang thing, but I tried.

If you're new to watching American Idol, and you have questions, feel free to leave them in the comments. Somebody will probably have the answer.

If not, we'll make something up.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

crossing the line you walk...

YeeHaw!! We haven't even gone three weeks into the finals and already we have a yummy controversy. And for once it does not involve The Smoking Gun or old police records.

And, it seems, the online Idol community is taking center stage. Yay us!

Central question: Do we or do we not tie Chris Daughtry to the highest tree and stone him for failing to mention the fact that he was performing Johnny Cash as interpreted by Live when he delivered I Walk the Line Tuesday night, to the glowing reviews of the three judges, all of whom, in one fashion or another (yes, Paula, I'm talking to you) raved of the song's "originality"?

I knew there were rumblings throughout the Idol blogosphere and the message boards, but it wasn't until Vernae hit the tagboard to mention that her local news was discussing it that I discovered that Daughtry-gate had hit the
mainstream media too.

I [heart] controversy!

The general consensus is that Chris' Tuesday performance was a virtual carbon copy of Live's 2001 recording, found on their
Awake CD. And, while it was 50s night, the only reference to the performer was to Johnny Cash, to stay within the thematic framework. The outcry is one of hoodwinking. But the question is, who misled whom, was it wrong and should we care.

Considering that the prior week, Chris paid credit to the Red Hot Chili Peppers for the version of Stevie Wonder's Higher Ground that he chose to perform, I don't believe for one second that Chris is trying to pull off this sneaky cover stealer act. And I think he has every right to perform alternative versions of songs that fit into the theme. Actually I have less problem with that than I did when Bo whipped out Vehicle as part of "70s dance tunes" night last season. I loved the performance, but I'm still trying to figure out how they stretched that song to fit dance tunes. After all, I grew up in the 1970s, and I didn't dance to it. But no matter.

Some people are screaming foul to the point of suggesting Chris be booted from the show, that nowhere in the pre-performance clip does Chris mention that he's covering an alternative cover, one that's already in existence. Forgive me for my bluntness, but that's bull.

Unfortunately all we really get to see of the kids in their pre-performance introductions is what the producers and editors want us to see. And hear.

I watched the entire performance again, from the bit with Sammy the Ace fan to the post-performance bantering with Constantine. It's always interesting to view again, intentionally waiting and watching for anything and everything I missed while watching it live.

Here's my conclusion, and you are free to disagree, of course, because it really does come down to a matter of speculation. In the taped segment with Barry Manilow, it is clear that Chris is cut off after what appears to be a comma, rather than a period, immediately after mentioning that "we're going to try something different tonight..." Now Chris is no Pickler. He doesn't presume to think that he's the only person on the planet that has ever heard the group Live.

But all the proof I need that Chris was upfront about the arrangement was Barry's one sentence about Chris' version. "I'd never heard this rendition of it." Now, I may be completely out of my head, but one would think that if Manilow thought Chris was coming up with this new arrangement out of his head, he would have never said that, because Manilow's not stupid, and if this different version were absolutely original, of course he would have never heard it, but would probably not have considered to mention it.

So, for that reason alone, I refuse to even listen to any more Chris bashing on this matter. He's certainly not the "original" that they're trying to convince us that he is, but he's no fraud or cheater that deserves to be disqualified from the show. At least by anyone other than the voters.

The problem is obviously with the show, just as I complained about
earlier. I was bothered then, as I am now, with all of the gushing about originality. "...You took a great song and [made] it your own version," Simon told him.

No he didn't.

Just like the judges (and me) didn't know last season that Faith Hill had covered Joplin's Piece of my Heart, and blasted Carrie's butchering of Janis, when in fact she had butchered Faith, this Chris/Cash/Live issue reeks of the same problem: judges that are just ill-informed or unaware of what music is out there, despite their protestations that they are the all-knowers of current marketability.

So, from now on producers, if a performer is going to cover a recent cover of an old song, clue in the panel, so that nobody sniffs any more odors of conspiracy in this show than the ones we traditionally smell.

And please stop presuming that your viewers are stupid.

ETA: If you want to download a comparison of the versions, click here. I've downloaded it already; it's a safe download.

tag: american idol

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

50s minus one equals 10...

We're cutting the field to ten tonight, the ten who will tour the states this summer. And to do that we're gonna have to sentence one of the kids to a plane ticket home, not to be seen again until it's time for the annual Brady Bunch number in May.

Because THIS is American Idol.

And this is a simulblog, filled with misspellings and general grammatical ickiness, because it's live, blogging as it's happening, with publishing as soon as the first of the bottom feeders gets pulled off the sofa. So, if you don't want to be spoiled, you might want to look away.

Ryan says 35 gazillion votes were called in last night. We get a video reminder of last night's performances, as usual, and we get to revisit Poola's unusual behavior. About five minutes fewer in the retrospectives and we could get a crappy group number since they've seemed to chuck them in place of celebrity appearances. And, apparently, Barry Manilow is in the house.

About 10 fewer commercials and we would have time for the entire freakin' summer tour.

But the kids have got the beat in the cheesy Ford commercial. Now THAT was a commercial, complete with Kevin "the Love Machine" buried in the sand.

Manilow takes the stage, gushing about the kids. He really is a true gentleman. And he's performing Love is a Many Splendored Thing. What a glorious song.

HEY! It's Bobby "Copacabana" Bennett, standing, doing the wave in his Manilow worship. Ahh. That's nice. The kids have seen him and they're doing the Bobby love. Well, okay, they're laughing. And Bobby gets to go on stage to hug his man. Ahhh. I like this show.

But I'll like it better after the break.

And so the kids are lined up like little soldiers on the sofa of death. Idea: maybe one night they can put them in dunk tanks, and, instead of a boring "you're safe," Ryan can just hit the target, dunking their butts. We gotta liven up this show, after all. Predictability gets old.

Ace is first, since he was last last night, and he's safe. Mandisa is safe. Elliott is safe. Thank you America. Kellie wants to know what "ballsy" means. But she's safe anyway. Chris is okay.

Paris will continue and so will Katharine. And since Ryan's gone to Taylor, Kevin, Lisa and Bucky are the bottom dwellers.

And it's after the break.

Lisa escapes once more, getting sent back to the couch.

Paula babbles about how both Bucky and Kevin can star alongside Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls and little Kevin is told he's going home. He gets a big hug from Bucky and then from Ryan. We see his funeral tape, again to the Bad Day song, and he is much cuter now than he was during the audition.

He says he loves America and gets to sing his swan song.

Dang. The show just ain't gonna be quite as cute from here on in.

tag: american idol

one less fanilow to warble...

It's execution night and time for one of the little Fanilows to get drop kicked to the curb, destined to keep on walkin' the line after midnight in the still of the night until he or she develops a fever. Oh boy. At least he or she won't hurt anymore. Or hurt us.

In my normal morning after cruising, I am seeing universal love for Mandisa's performance and a range of critiques for all of the others. After all, this IS American Idol. Nobody's supposed to agree.

There is rightful criticism, though, of the reviews for Chris Daughtry's performance. Unlike the week before, when he performed the Red Hot Chili Peppers version of a Stevie Wonder song, and made that clear, the fact that Chris actually performed a Live cover of Johnny Cash, all the while getting glowing remarks about originality and not compromising is smacking of duplicity. So, of course, I had to find Ed Kowalczyk's version of I Walk the Line, and sure enough, Chris did nothing more last night than cover a cover.

Now, I have no problem at all with contestants doing an alternative version of a theme night song, but, for those of us voters who may not know of another version (Carrie's rendition last year of Piece of my Heart comes to mind), to not mention or attribute the cover of a cover is a little sneaky. And certainly not original or uncompromising.

Whew. Got that off my chest.

And, as much as I consider myself a Fanilow, I really hope Barry stays in Vegas tonight. With only a half hour to cram in 17 minutes of commercials, another celebrity performance will mean another night without a crappy group number. And I miss the crappy group numbers. Never thought I'd say that, but without the crappy group sing, that means that the crappy commercial is the only thing I have to make fun of. And that's no fun.

Junkie to Idol: I will buy Barry's CD if I get a crappy group number. Thank you.

So, who's gonna be safe, and whose butt is getting close to the flame?

The safe ones are the usual suspects: Mandisa, Chris, Taylor, Katharine, Paris and Pickler. Ace is probably going to be okay too, considering fans don't like seeing their guy standing helplessly on the seal and tend to come out en masse the following week.

[Note: watch out next week for Ace, though, as he's following the path of both Amy Adams and Jessica Sierra, both put in the pimp spot on eleven night, after being in the bottom the week before. Each of them was booted in tenth.]

The ones most likely of standing with Ryan at the end of tonight's results are, of course, Lisa who will likely make a return visit, Kevin, who's perennially in trouble, Bucky, who really turned in a crappy performance and, unfortunately, Elliott, who is still struggling to find a fan base.

This season we have the benefit of Dial Idol who, after a little run-in with Idol attorneys, is back up, running its speed dialing software and giving us an unscientific idea of whose number carried with it the most and the least busy signals. Busy signals equal votes, the theory goes, so the fewer beeps, the fewer votes. It's an interesting theory and it's had a good success rate thus far, and if it's to be believed, Elliott is a goner, coming in last, so far behind the nearest contestant that he has his own zip code.

While it's an interesting topic of conversation, I still can't put my whole faith in its results, because there are so many variables, including text message votes, that aren't accounted for. I do, however, believe in a track record, and Dial Idol is earning one.

Therefore, because I've hedged enough, here they are:

Who I want: Kevin, Lisa, Pickler (Lisa)
Who should: Lisa, Kevin, Bucky (Lisa)
Who will: Lisa, Bucky, Elliott

And, despite what it appears, Lisa's schedule will suddenly be free.

So, what do you think?

tag: american idol

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

eleven will get ya 50s...

Barry Manilow is in the house, or, well, he's in Las Vegas, but he's hawking a new album so what better reason than to build an American Idol theme around a Manilow new release.

It's 50s night!! The birth of rock, the beginning of roll, the innocence of loves lost and loves found. An entire decade from which to choose.

Barry Manilow not only hosts the kids on stage in Las Vegas, but he serves as advisor, mentor, arranger and cheerleader to all of them. And they try to make him proud. Some do. Some don't.

And so here they are, my early impressions, subject to rewind, re-evaluation and rearrangement and as always, from worst to first:

Buddy Holly, uh, I mean Bucky chooses Oh Boy. He's stayed away from the evil curling machine, but is playing hot potato with the mic. That bothers me, because I'm waiting for him to drop it. He looks like he's really enjoying himself, but the song is not working for me. Randy says great song choice. Paula mumbles the same thing as Randy said. Simon pans the whole thing, calling in classic karaoke. Me? Oh boy. I really, really didn't like it at all.

Yay! Somebody finally gives me some Frankie Lymon, but unfortunately it's Lisa, who seems to spend all of Why Do Fools Fall in Love either ahead or behind the band. She's full of energy and tries hard, but it just doesn't work. Randy says meh. Paula is Paula and Simon talks about being in the middle of a high school musical.

Kevin, wardrobed in keen new glasses, selects When I Fall in Love, begins, as per Barry's recommendation, very softly and sweetly, sitting on the stage, all but in the faces of the judges. The problem with a song of that sort is that any missed note is like a neon light, and he hits some sour ones, but overall, as Simon points out, it hits the target of probable Kevin voters. Randy calls him a dawg. Paula gets all squishy, and Simon tells him he likes him. Again.

Ace gets the coveted pimp spot, going last with his urban jazzed-up version of In the Still of the Night. Maybe it's just me, but he's looking a bit younger John Travolta-ish, and his really cute brother is there. Randy announces that Ace is back. Paula counts the "marry me Ace" signs and Simon says meh, but assures Ace he won't be back on the seal tomorrow. Me? I prefer the original version, thank you.

Pickler does Patsy. How did we know that would happen? And to think Barry Manilow had never heard of Walking After Midnight. Hmm. Something very Picklish about that. Actually it wasn't as bad as I had feared, even though she did hit some rough spots and seemed to forget the sadness that the lyrics convey. Randy says welcome back. Paula well... And Simon continues his Pickler pimping.

I feared that someone would sing Fever by Peggy Lee, not one of my favorite songs. And I should have known it would be one of the teenagers. Paris is looking quite mature, and does quite well with the song. Randy gives her props. Paula does Paula, and Simon says it was perfect. And other such stuff. Me? I don't like the song much, but she got some respect from me, even though I still say she should have sung Frankie Lymon.

I am loving Taylor's perfect pastel blue suit and white shoes as he takes on Buddy Holly's Not Fade Away, with its total of 5 words. He's all over the stage, all over the audience, all over the catwalk, and it's obvious he's having a great time. Randy and Paula gush, once they pull Paula back into her chair. Simon is unimpressed, but at least we don't get any drunk dads of the bride comparisons. Me? I love Taylor, so I'll forgive pretty much anything.

Chris decides that he and Johnny Cash need to hook up, so he chooses to turn I Walk the Line into a part-slow, part-rock, totally-unrecognizable version of the original. I alternatively love it and hate it. Randy says it wasn't his best vocal but it was original. Paula repeats Randy and Simon applauds Chris' unwillingness to compromise. It wasn't Chris' best vocal, not even close, but it was certainly unique, even though he messed up the first two lines and nobody brought it up.

Mandisa gets the lead-off spot, looking absolutely FAB, says she doesn't really know that much about Barry Manilow but has a new respect for him. She then proceeds to blow not only the roof but the walls off the joint, knocking down both Paris and Lisa in the process, with Dinah Washington's I Don't Hurt Anymore. Randy is speechless (plus he has a cold), Paula calls her a thoroughbred among other incomprehensible mumblings and Simon calls her performance sexy and makes some strip club reference. Me? I say that probably was the best Mandisa performance to date. And the sale of Dinah Washington CDs may have just spiked.

Katharine is channeling Ella Fitzgerald with Come Rain or Come Shine. Barry tells her to sing to one person; she promises to do so but says she will never say who. I think she's singing to Constantine Maroulis, who's in the audience, but she may be singing to Kevin. But it doesn't matter to whom she sings. She's flawless as usual, even though Randy and Paula tell her it's not her best vocal performance. She looks FAB, after that wardobe disaster of last week, and she assures us she's taped securely. Bottom line: she IS fab.

Elliott spends what feels like 15 minutes telling Ryan how he wasn't a big Manilow lover, but now he's a Fanilow. He's chosen Teach Me Tonight and, while he doesn't master the backphrasing that Barry tries to teach him tonight, he's stunning, he's smooth, he's Elliott, the Elliott that I love. Randy says "you worked it out dude" for about the ninth time, Paula is incoherent and Simon calls him terrific. Get on the phone people. I [heart] him.

Sammy, the little Ace fan/guest announcer. She wins. Hands down.

So, who was worst? Who was first?

Tomorrow: executions.

tag: american idol

rumors and randomness...

It's three hours until Idol, and I have a better chance of being elected Pope than I do of finding credible spoilers for tonight's 1950s song selections. Where's the fun in being surprised, I ask. I think they're taking this tight-lipped routine a bit too far.

Ah well.

Yes, there are the rumors. Bucky's gonna sing Elvis' Jailhouse Rock. Plausible. Kevin's gonna sing Anka's Put Your Head on my Shoulder. Okay, I can see that. Elliott's gonna perform Teach Me Tonight. Hmm. Maybe. Taylor's gonna try Buddy Holly's Not Fade Away. No, wait! He's going to sing Johnny B. Goode. Ace is going to sing Lonely Teardrops. Ah. Or my favorite: Chris is going to sing Last Kiss, even though Last Kiss wasn't even written until 1962. The rumor mill is so much fun...

Simon's saying on Good Day LA that he expects tonight's two best performances will come from Katharine and Taylor. Gee, that's not such a huge stretch, considering those two have turned in consistently good performances.

But it's not all about talent or good performances. And in keeping with the tradition of trying to choose who's gonna bite the dust before the dust has even had a chance to stir up, here I go.

We know who's safe. Taylor, Chris, Katharine, Kellie and Mandisa would have to bitch slap Simon and kick Paula in the face to, perhaps, hit bottom three. Otherwise, they're good.

Ace is probably still stinging from his bottom three appearance last time, but I'll wager his fans won't let it happen again. At least this week. Paris should also be okay, as long as she tries to answer her post-performance questions verbally, rather than in harmony.

The ones in danger probably are Lisa (again), Bucky, Kevin and Elliott, who will probably turn in a vocally-immaculate performance and be called "safe."

Lisa has to essentially turn in a Whitney-style performance, one that will force people to remember her for longer than three minutes after she's done and be told that she needs to pack her bags so that people will want to rush to the phone, to stay out of the bottom three. That vote splitting business has to kill one of the splitters, and it's become obvious Lisa is the victim.

Kevin has the advantage of being the comic relief, the prodding of the Vote for the Worst voters and those grannies out there who just want to pinch his cheeks. A decent performance could keep him out of the bottom three, but after seeing Ace there last week, I think the sexpot may just find himself there tomorrow.

Bucky will continue to be on the endangered list, even though he really doesn't deserve to be, as long as he's still considered "one of the others," those non-pimped going into the semi-finals. But I still maintain that his popularity is growing with each performance.

Which could spell problems for Elliott, who is vocally flawless but still hasn't solidified his [amazing] backstory, refuses to attempt to and is a little weak in the performance department. I really hope Elliott doesn't end up on the seal tomorrow, but it wouldn't surprise me if he did, despite the qualify of tonight's effort.

So, without having heard them, and going on nothing but hunches and history, I am going to go with Lisa, Kevin and Elliott in the bottom three with Lisa's last song getting chopped off after 10 seconds.

Happy Idol Night. Day.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

50s night fantasy-style...

That's right! It's time for a new edition of my favorite fantasy game. Knowing the theme beforehand gives me enough time to scour the lists of hits from that era/artist/composer/year/decade/century, whatever, and listen to countless clips in the somewhat futile attempt to narrow, for each of the kids, the choices that I, in my wildest fantasy, would love to hear them perform, or try to perform.

I tried to keep it at two per, but there were just some that I had to go three. The links are clips to each of the songs, because if you're like me, you might recognize the title but can't place the melody or, as much as it pains me to admit, some people just don't know the songs altogether. It's one of the reasons I fell in love with this show; it introduces a new generation to some of the best music ever.

So let's get started.

Lisa enters this week in probably the biggest trouble, having found herself in last week's bottom two. She's a ballad-fanatic, so I expect her to revert back to what's comfortable for her. So I would really, really like to hear her try the McGuire Sisters'
Sincerely (1955), which might get her brownie points since it's one of the selections on the Manilow CD that's being hawked. The only drawback to that song is the reliance on harmony, but sometimes the background singers are better than the contestants. Alas. But if she doesn't like that choice, there's always The Platters, the single greatest group of the decade. I might suggest My Prayer (1956). And just for good measure, because she is dangling off that cliff, I would also throw out Connie Francis' Who's Sorry Now (1957) as an alternative.

While I don't think Kevin is going anywhere anytime soon, I would like to see him offer a humble apology for his snarkiness last week and acknowledge his youth rather than his bad sexy self. And there are plenty of teen boy songs in this decade. My first suggestion is
Too Young (1951), by Nat King Cole, because Kevin is more vocally effective with the slower songs. But if he wants to avoid the sleepy stuff, there's always Bye Bye Love (1957) by the Everly Brothers or A Teenager in Love (1959) by Dion and the Belmonts.

Ace has some makin' up to do after three straight channel-turning worthy performances and a bottom three appearance. He should be relatively safe this week, though, as his fans found their boy in the danger zone and will undoubtedly pick up the dialing pace regardless of the quality of Tuesday's effort. I want Ace to sing Johnny Mathis. And I want him to sing
Chances Are (1957). So there. That's what I want. But, since I usually don't get what I want, I'll throw out The Skyliners' Since I Don't Have You (1958) or Paul Anka's Put Your Head on my Shoulder (1959) as other recommendations.

After last week's disaster of epic proportions, Pickler needs to tear off the eyelashes, throw out the strapless dress and go back to the performance-based numbers which help camouflage vocal weaknesses. And stay far far away from Patsy Cline. I suggest she give a nod to all of those true country music fans by performing Kitty Wells'
It Wasn't God who made Honky Tonk Angels (1952). She would have a lot of fun with it and any true country music fan might vote for her just for bringing Kitty to American Idol. But if she doesn't like that idea, how about Brenda Lee's Sweet Nothin's (1959) or Connie Francis' Lipstick on your Collar (1959)?

I would wager money that Bucky will choose an Elvis song, but which one is anyone's guess. So I suggest
All Shook Up (1957). Let's just hope he's laid off the Pantene products. Maybe use a little Brylcreem instead. But, in my fantasy, Bucky does Fats Domino's I'm Walkin' (1957 with an instrumental clip only).

Mandisa was a challenge. It would be easy to throw out Dinah Washington as a possibility, but every time I think of Mandisa I just envision her performing one of my most favorite songs,
The Big Hurt (1959) by Miss Toni Fisher. And it is my fantasy. But a priceless performance could be delivered by choosing LaVern Baker's Tweedle Dee (1954). Yeah. I definitely can see that.

Elliott is made for this decade as this decade was made for Elliott. It's probably unfair, but my biggest hopes ride with him, as he could probably choose just about anything and shine. So I'm going back to my favorite, The Platters with two of their hits,
Only You (1955) and The Great Pretender (1956). But I will vote for the solid two hours if he performs You Send Me (1957) by Sam Cooke. Two. Hours.

If Paris does not perform Frankie Lymon, she is nuts. She's perfect for his music, her voice is perfect, her personality is perfect, everything. And the song she should select is
Goody Goody (1957), although I suspect she would go for the more known Why Do Fools Fall in Love (1955). Okay, so she doesn't want to do a man's song, even a man that doesn't sound like a man? She would single-handedly knock Lisa out of this competition by choosing Connie Francis' Stupid Cupid (1958). But I will vote for the solid two hours if she sings Goody. I will. Promise.

I really hope Chris pays respect to the originals and doesn't select a 50s rock tune later covered by someone else. The 50s was the birth of rock, and that needs to be remembered. Plus, since he's so firmly on solid ground in this competition, there's nothing wrong with showing off his versatility, so I suggest he pull out
That'll Be The Day (1957) by Buddy Holly and the Crickets or Elvis' Jailhouse Rock (1957).

In the same way that this decade was made for Elliott, it is also made for Katharine. Every single song selection I've given to the other women would be just as good for her. (Well, maybe not Kitty Wells.) She could handle the great Patsy Cline, but Patsy is a very obvious choice, so I suggest she try the brilliant
Little Things Mean A Lot (1954) by Kitty Kallen or Unforgettable (1951) by Nat King Cole.

And then there's Taylor, looking at a catalog of Little Richard, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Ray Charles. Taylor's got to be like a little kid in a candy store. So, because there's a candy store of choices, I'll throw out these:
What I'd Say (1959) or I've Got a Woman (1954), both by Ray Charles or Jerry Lee Lewis' Great Balls of Fire (1957). Whoa!

Evidentially the kids took a roadtrip to Vegas to meet up with Barry Manilow, where he spent some quality time giving each of the 11 remaining some help with each of their selections. Hopefully some of their selections are the same as mine. That makes for one very happy junkie.

See you soon.

Friday, March 17, 2006

it's gonna be cool, it's gonna be keen...

Okay cads and lads, it's time to polish up those saddle shoes and poof up that poodle skirt. We're going back to the future. Next week is 50s night! WooHoo. I swear, I think I've died and gone to heaven, so watch the "old skool" remarks please. Don't pee on my Wheaties.

Barry Manilow is back, presumably doing more than just squawking out Unchained Melody. Last go-round, he worked with the kids, like Wonder this week. He's got a CD on the shelves, after all, and he's hitting the circuit, hawking his wares in addition to performing in Las Vegas.

Thankfully his CD is the greatest songs of the 1950s, and not the Greatest Hits of Barry Manilow. I think we all still have scars from the last time the Idols sang Manilow.

There are so many glorious songs, wonderful artists that hit the charts during the 1950s, in every genre. There is more than enough material to fit each of the kids, so much so that I'm having difficult narrowing my fantasy song choices to a reasonable number of songs.

Laura's got some great selections. Be sure to check hers out. Probably together we can write this show better than they do.

So, as I work this weekend on narrowing my fantasy song selections, I'll share some of the artists that I think the kids can master.

I know y'all are dissing on Kevin, but he still is a cute kid with talent, even if it is high school musical level, so I'd love to see him try something from Dion & the Belmonts, the Everly Brothers or, especially, a Paul Anka, Tab Hunter or Frankie Avalon tune. (And I also want him to keep his mouth shut when Simon tells him he's pathetic.)

Elliott, Taylor and Katharine were made for this decade, and each of them could hit the lottery by experiencing the treasure trove that is the 50s.

Elliott has Frank Sinatra, Sam Cooke and Bobby Darin tunes to choose from, but since it's my fantasy, I really want him to try a Nat King Cole tune. Kat can pretty much handle anything, and she's probably the only one of the women I would trust with Patsy Cline, but she also might Sincerely consider the McGuire Sisters or even one of The Platters' hits. And Taylor, of course, has Ray Charles and Fats Domino from which to choose and, if he really wants to let loose of those patented whoas, he could approach Little Richard. With caution. Taylor doing Little Richard. Can we handle it?

Ace loves his falsetto so much he could always check out Frankie Lymon's catalog, but then so could Paris. Goody, Goody! But Ace could probably handle Johnny Mathis. And Paris might want to consider something by Peggy Lee (anything but Fever, please) or the FAB! Teresa Brewer.

Lisa is always a question mark, and she's probably got the biggest target taped to her butt, from which she really must pull something to survive. She also could handle Teresa Brewer and the sisters McGuire, but, since her power is in the ballads, perhaps something by The Platters might be more in order.

Mandisa likes to belt, and that's where her strength is, so I have four words for her: Julie. London. Jo. Stafford. And just for good measure: The. Big. Hurt.

Hey Bucky! You've just hit the musical lottery. Choose something by Elvis. Or Hank Williams. Or Carl Perkins. Or Conway Twitty. Yes. Do that.

I swear I am having too much fun for my own good.

Pickler better stay away from Patsy. She can't handle it, but I feel in my soul she's gonna go there. I'd rather see her try to tackle Kitty Wells, though, or even Patti Page.

And that leaves Chris. I really want to see Chris break away from that rocker mode. I want him not to carry around a mic stand and get all pyrotechnic. He needs to show his versatility and his voice. A nice Elvis ballad would be welcomed, or even a non-ballad might get us All Shook Up. Maybe he could tackle something by Buddy Holly or Bill Haley. But, if he insists on rocking out, Chuck Berry is always fun.

Well, those are some of my ideas. Now I have to endure going through the lists of 50s songs, try to get some audio clips and narrow down my ideas. Oh the blissful torture.

Did I mention that I love the music of the 50s?

So, who did I forget to consider? What would be great songs for them to choose?

tag: american idol

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

signed, sealed, disaster, you're done...

Thirty-two and a half million votes were phoned in, says Ryan Seacrest, as we prepare for the first finals execution show of the fifth season.

YAY! Killings!

It's a simulblog, blogging live as the action unfolds and the group numbers are butchered, so ignore the misspellings and the oddly placed commas. I'm preoccupied watching the blood pour down the aisles.

We're being subjected to memories of Pickler and Kevin and treated to a repeat of Taylor and Chris. And we're told the results are "coming up." But we're promised a visit from the Wonder himself.

And it's the first cheesy Ford commercial! The kids are all campy-ing, except for Ace, who's a weird-looking troll in the Taylor Hicks Easter Bunny sort of way and Katharine, who's a cop. Not bad for a cheesy Ford spot.

Stevie's on the stage, by himself, having said he wanted to give the gang some constructive criticism. Take notes kids. This is how it's done. And he even has his new CD's logo on his sunglasses. How, uhhh, creative.

Time for the kill. Ryan pulls Kevin and Ace out. One is in the bottom.

It's Ace. Paula doesn't get it. What else is new? What's not to get? Kevin will continue to trample over the others until he gets to Mts. TayKatChrisMan. Then he'll go. Is she new around here?

The crowd is booing. Ace is looking sad. Ace's brother is looking cute.

Now to the others.

Paris is safe, Pickler is safe, Taylor is hawt, uhhh, I mean safe. And so is Chris.

Bottom row: Melissa and Elliott get their reviews. One of them is in the bottom. It's Melissa. She goes to hang out with Ace.

Mandisa is safe, and she has shoes on. Katharine continues. And we're down to Lisa and Bucky. Lisa looks about to vomit, and Bucky has his ponytail back. Lisa gets thrown off the couch. The crowd boos.

Why are you booing crowd?? Those were my picks. Shut up crowd.

The condemned are lined up, and Ace is sent back to the couch. The crowd goes wild.

Ryan tells Lisa she's safe and Melissa admits she kinda thought she would be the first to go. Forgetting those lyrics last night sure didn't help.

She gets to see a retrospective of her Idol adventures, again to the Bad Day song. And she gets a second chance at last night's song.

Goodbye Melissa.

[Link above to Daniel Powter's website, where you can hear the Bad Day song!]

tag: american idol

time to shed a few pounds...

I'm still trying to absorb last night's 'wonder'ful finals night. The kids truly did a good job of separating themselves into distinct camps: the contenders and the pretenders. And then there is, of course, Kevin.

But before I forget, I was asked about the song played during last night's opening montage. Here's
a link. It's called Keeping the Dream Alive by Freiheit. I liked the song too.

The word is Stevie Wonder will be performing tonight, which might explain why they're taking an hour to do what can be done in seven minutes, so look for the inevitable medley and for Taylor to take his harmonica/binkie out of his pocket for a treat.

It's always good to begin an execution with a medley, after all.

So, who's safe and who's in trouble? At this point the safe ones are pretty easy to identify. Taylor, Chris, Katharine, Mandisa and Paris are probably not in any danger of being forced to take the stage, and each of them performed well or adequately enough not to merit banishment to the bottom three. Pickler is probably safe too, not because she deserves to be after last night's disaster, but because she's bolstered by a fanbase, the size of which rivals Carrie Underwood's at this point last year.

So in the bottom are the other six. Elliott does not deserve to get anybody's boot at this early stage, but his performance last night wasn't extraordinary and he still suffers from image issues. So while his future with the show must be taken with caution, at this point, I think he can breathe. I get the same feeling about Ace, who turned in yet another subpar performance, but continues to ride the pretty boy wave.

The four in biggest trouble, therefore, have to be Kevin, Lisa, Melissa and Bucky, and I think at least two of those four will fill up the bottom three.

Lisa has the problem of splitting much of the teen vote with Paris, who totally outperformed her last night, despite becoming more and more annoying by the minute. Her Signed, Sealed, Delivered got unanimous praise from the judges, but fell totally flat and programmed with me and many other voters. And she's just not picking up the support of tweens who, if given a choice between her and Paris, feel more of a connection with the one who actually looks and acts as though she's 12.

Melissa, of course, had the misfortune of being the only one of the bunch to botch the lyrics to a song that is familiar with many. "Ayla wouldn't have forgotten the words," I've read more than once today. She got a reprieve from a lot of voters acting in response to negative Simon comments; last night she got positive reviews. Positive words = complacency. Melissa's in trouble.

Personally, of the four, Bucky was my favorite, and, from what I've picked up in random cruising of message boards, his fanbase is steadily increasing. Now, the Farrah hair didn't help his cause, but I know a lot of women who are ready to kill him for it. Bucky's appeal is his genuine likability, as opposed to some of the others who are perceived as faking it. Now, I have no objection when a contestant knows he or she is vocally weaker than the others and plays up alternative angles, but it is refreshing to have someone who at least seems to be the real thing.

Which brings us to Kevin. Kevin's angle has been his cuteness, his sweetness, his good-natured playing along with the sex symbol/Chicken Little gags that have given us comic relief. His choice of Part Time Lover was inspired, as a nod to the whole joke. But he might have cost himself some valuable votes by deciding to play foil to Simon. Voters don't like contestants who come off as obnoxious when criticized. It's especially ugly to see a child sass an elder, and, if he's going after the "granny vote," I know a lot of grannies who may have just have their cheek-pinching image tarnished.

My advice to Kevin: take it. Don't talk back. Suck it up, kid. Thank them for their help, even though it's no help at all. Look a bit saddened at the jab after sweating all that makeup off. That will send people screaming to the phone to make up for the mean mean man who said mean mean stuff. Mouth off and people aren't going to give a damn.

Whew. Got that off my chest.

Okay, I've hedged enough. This really is a tough one to call.

Who I want: Kellie, Lisa, Ace (but leave his cute brother) [Lisa]

Who should: Kellie, Ace, Kevin [Kevin]

Who will: Melissa, Ace, Lisa

Who won't be back: Melissa McGhee

tag: american idol

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

stevie wonder night: the top 12...

So Stevie Wonder is visiting the teary-eyed kids on opening night of the finals. The kids are introduced in order and it's clear what a stylist can accomplish. The kids cleaned up quite nicely.

I love the first night of finals. There's always that intangible electricity that just is not there during the semis. But I can't help but think how totally cruel it is to subject the kids to both opening night jitters, a big stage with a big crowd and forcing them to sing Stevie.

I love cruelty.

Well, here they are, written as I'm watching, my early impressions, and, as usual, subject to rewind, review and revision and, as always, from worst to first.

Kellie Pickler chooses Blame it on the Sun. In everything that is Idol, what in the hell was that? She points out that she bought her shoes on sale and that she's wearing false eyelashes. When that's the most memorable thing about a performance, things are not good. Randy says he likes the shoes. Simon likes the shoes. Paula likes the shoes. I don't even like the shoes.

Kevin Covais keeps the "I'm this year's sex god" theme alive by thanking all of the sign carrying fans and announcing he's a Part-Time Lover, complete with moving feet and indescribable dance moves. It's a cute and decent performance, in tune without forgotten lyrics. It was not appalling, as Simon described, but what is appalling is a 16 year old smart ass who is believing his own hype. Grannies do not appreciate freshness, and when you're depending on the granny vote, well...

Ace Young decides to Do I Do. He's all over the stage, the catwalk, avoids falsetto overload and yes, cute brother is there to cheer. Paula applauds his entertainment value, but the others criticize the vocals. Me? That was an unrecognizable version of a good song.

Melissa McGhee is adorable in her apologetic forgetting of the lyrics to Lately. Actually for awhile I seem to forget that I was not terribly impressed with the beginning of her performance, but the end was enough to let me forgive the front. Randy say meh. Paula tells her she should wear dresses more often. Simon says it was her best performance so far. Not so sure about that, but it was certainly not the worst one tonight.

I knew somebody would just feel compelled to sing Signed, Sealed, Delivered, considering it's been performed on pretty much every single season, and Lisa Tucker doesn't let me down. And, as much as I love this song, she doesn't show me anything new with the song, except for the fact that she's now proven she can actually move her feet to do something other than walk. It's not the best performance, as Simon suggests, but it's certainly not the pits.

It's touching how deeply moved Elliott Yamin is by meeting Stevie Wonder. His choice is interesting, considering he could probably eat up half of the Stevie catalog. But his rendition of Knocks Me off of my Feet, especially right after Pickler's shoes, is adequate. Randy says decent. Paula says we'll be seeing Elliott for weeks to come, and Simon tells him he needs to find his wow button.

Bucky Covington admits he's never heard Superstition and now that he has, he wants to run out and buy all Stevie Wonder products. Looks like Bucky has had a whole lot of products put into his hair; I never thought I would wish for his ponytail. I think I am falling more and more in love with this guy. He knows he's so far away from his zone, but he obviously grabs the experience just for the joy of the experience. And I think he's terrific. But for once I will agree with Simon; the curls have got to go.

Simon tells Paris Bennett she reminds him of a wind-up doll. Bratz dolls are not wound up. But she does an adequate job with All I Do, even though everything but the lyrics and the melody pretty much remind me of her Midnight Train to Georgia performance a couple of weeks back. I am not terribly impressed, but I'm not going to throw up. She's just Paris. The doll.

Mandisa has gotten my hall of fame forever and ever award for shedding her shoes (and even getting Ryan to remove them for her) for her peformance of Don't You Worry About a Thing. She's looking spectacular, but, ahem, she sounds really weak. She's fine in her upper voice, but her lower register almost makes me wonder if the band is playing in the wrong key. The judges tell her she's the best so far (having followed Ace, Kellie and Elliott), and she is, but after her blistering performance last time, I'm a little disappointed.

Taylor Hicks says Living for the City hits home for him. And he overcomes being virtually drowned by the band and his signature dance steps to bring the audience to its feet and the judges to acknowledging his talent.

Randy tells Katharine McPhee that her version of Until You Come Back to Me is da bomb. It is more than that. Simon says she's reminding him of Kelly Clarkson at the early stages of AI 1. The girl is fabulous. She's effortless. She's tremendous. But she needs a new clothing advisor. I hope they put that selection on the CD. Wow.

Chris Daughtry is lucky enough to merit the pimp spot, which, in and of itself, assures him a pass into next week. But Chris has proven he doesn't really need any manipulative assistance, choosing Higher Ground, the only Stevie song that would fit him like a glove. The smoke and the sparks light up the stage, but Chris doesn't need the pyrotechnics either. Simon says his was the best performance by a mile. Well, it was great, but I put him more in a deadlock with Katharine and Taylor.

Tomorrow Stevie will sing a Stevie song. Gee, I wonder if he'll make it his own. Guess we'll see.

C'mon. Who were your favorites? Who's toast?

tag: american idol

check your local listings...

Just in case two hours of Idol isn't enough, the TV Guide Channel will be launching Idol Tonight, sort of a red carpet gabfest, featuring Kimberly Caldwell and Rosanna Tavarez.

It's scheduled for an hour in that dreadful slot just before the show begins at 8 p.m. EST.

I soon expect the Weather Channel to offer Idol Weather in that dreadful 6 p.m. slot, just preceding the the show preceding Idol. And QVC scheduling Idol Wear in that dreadful 5 p.m. slot preceding...

Happy Idol Night. Day.

Monday, March 13, 2006

rod and barry and idol, oh my!...

Song spoilers for tomorrow's Stevie Wonder night are as hard to find as Jimmy Hoffa, but, as a rule, once the dress rehearsal is completed tomorrow afternoon, normally somebody somewhere tells someone who tells someone who...

So I've been busy going through the Stevie Wonder songbook, trying to figure out who I would like to hear do what. It's been nice, actually, because while I think I've heard every single Stevie Wonder song, I haven't always been able to match the song with its title. Who says Idol isn't educational.

But there is news about future Idol weeks. Some may not like it, but it makes me positively giddy.

Next week, March 22,
Barry Manilow will be performing. Of course, Barry has released his "Songs of the 1950s" CD. Might his appearance tie in with a "songs of the 50s" theme week? (Hey...I love 50s music.)

And on April 19 Rod Stewart will be the guest. Yes, he is another Arista artist, and is in the midst of publicizing his "Songbook" CD series, featuring Rod singing the standards. Ooooo! Could this mean standards as a theme?


season five: a reader's digest version...

I'm a little late this year, coming up with a predicted execution order, but dang, this season is a tough call. After all, I would have wagered that Ayla Brown would be in the final grouping.


While there are clear favorites for the top of the heap, it's the bottom of the heap that's causing me to wring my hands. It's kind of nice having a group of twelve, all of whom can actually sing.

But, throwing all caution to the wind, here I go.

Melissa will be first to go. Most of what carried her to the finals was the rush to save her from being told to pack her bags, and, in a field of just women, it was easy to spend time voting for her. But this time she's in the pack with the guys, and a lot of those Melissa voters from last week prefer one of the men. She will likely outperform some of the others, but her fan base just isn't that powerful.

If Lisa performs two more sleepy ballads, she very well could take the eleventh spot, as I still contend that voters are going to favor the guys over the gals. If she does step it up, and honestly I think she has more vocal talent than a couple of the other women, 11th could be Bucky, but going with what we've heard and seen thus far, I'm leaning toward Ms. Tucker.

Bucky could be in trouble by the tenth spot. Either that, or he will have built his fan base with voters coming over from Melissa. (Notice how I'm hedging every one of these?) He seems to be gaining in popularity, and there is a grassroots "Save Bucky" movement to get him on the tour, but his luck may just run out by the time he secures his spot.

While I would normally reserve ninth place for the longest shot, I think Kevin will push ahead, having undergone some makeover magic and having maturely withstood judging criticism, and, as the only boy teen still left, he's going to continue to benefit from the Hello Kitty phones. This could be the first of the "shocking eliminations." So I'm going to go with that prediction and call for a 9th place finish for Paris, whose "look at me!" act and personality changes will have driven voters blind to her phone numbers. And this will begin the string of the "shockers."

Elliott will go eighth, just prior to what we're expecting will be "standards week." He will have continued to deliver strong performances, but he will have been hampered by song choice issues, overshadowed by the showmanship of some of the others and totally swamped by the "save Kevin voters." We will gnash teeth and swear to stop watching the show. And vow revenge on the less-talented ones still there.

Now it's time for Kevin, as the Elliott voters come out in force to crucify the kid who they blame for Elliott's premature exit. So Kevin gets to sing on tour where he, no doubt, will draw in screaming 12-year-olds to venues everywhere.

Time for another shocker, because the push to oust will have subsided and, despite the packed field, certain voters will assume their contestant is on totally safe territory. So look for Mandisa to sing her swan song in sixth. We will gnash teeth and swear to stop watching the show. And vow revenge on the less-talented ones still there.

Voters mourning Mandisa will join the fans of the other ousted contestants and dismiss Kellie Pickler. She will cry. Katharine will cry. Katharine will hug her friend like there's no tomorrow. (Well, for Kellie there won't be.) Katharine wants Kellie fans to know what a close friend she is to the little Kellie-mari. After all, if you can't have Kellie, well...

It will work and Paula will cry at the elimination of Ace the following week. I will cry at the loss of Ace's cute brother, who I will have become quite attached to in the preceding weeks.

We will have our first male-heavy final three since season two. The judges will hand two of them song selections perfect for their vocal range, and give the third an obscure, virtually-impossible song to sing or a song that was performed flawlessly already in the competition which will naturally draw negative comparisons to the "original", thereby assuring that person's dismissal.

Goodbye Taylor. We've come to both love and loathe your whoa's and whoo's. Taylor will shout SOUL PATROL before exiting stage left.

And in a grand finale that will not live up to the hype unless they bring on Skynyrd again, Chris Daughtry will become the second male American Idol.

Of course I have no clue how it's really going to go down. I just hope we have fun watching it happen.

Friday, March 10, 2006

the fur's a-flyin' already...

Seems we're starting a bit early this season. Already the verbal fists are flying over the ousting of three of last night's four wannabe stars.

Normally the flames do not start in earnest until around tenth place. [Remember, only the top 10 go on tour, so the first two executed kids just go back to real life, but are dug up long enough for the Brady Bunch number during the finale, before being re-discarded.] But the flames are already breaking through the windows over the retention of Kevin over Gedeon, Kevin over Will, the dismissal of Ayla instead of Melissa, Ayla rather than Lisa, Ayla before Pickler, Ayla instead of Paris, you choose... The Vote for the Worst gang is debating whom to choose as their poster child. Blood is pouring through the streets.

God, I love this show!

I don't think it was any big secret that the producers want Kevin in the finals, so, even though I still would have preferred the vocal stylings of Gedeon, I never once thought Kevin wouldn't make it. It's become tradition to have that one finals contestant that will cause people to take sides. The outrage over him vs. him or her vs. her or them vs. them is terrific fodder, gives us all something to debate and draws in more and more viewers to see what all the fuss is about.

It happened in season three with John Stevens. It happened again last season with Scott Savol. What Kevin has, though, over Stevens is vocal talent. [Please forgive me, John Stevens fans, I liked him too, but after he single-handedly made my dog cry with his version of My Girl, I had to conclude that he just didn't have the talent necessary.] What Kevin has over Scott Savol is cuteness and likability. [Anybody want to seriously debate that one?] He's been and will continue to be carefully marketed as the sexy Chicken Little and who knows, maybe once he's in the hands of stylists, he might give Ace a run for his money.

Okay so maybe not, but it sounded good.

But let's hope this time nobody issues any death threats, okay?

And I think we've come up with a new AI verb.

MELISSA. pronounciation: me-LI-sa. (trans v) To react from disgust and anger over blatant pimping of certain contestants and manipulation of viewers as to whom to support: to rescue from underexposure: to disrupt preferred list of finalists.

After being Melindaed throughout the first three semi-final episodes, the viewers melissaed Ms. McGhee who, in turn, tamyraed uber-promoted Ayla Brown.

Okay, so it wasn't technically a tamyra, but play with me here.

Dang, I need one of
Dave's glossaries.

I'm still pondering Stevie Wonder week. Geesh. Two whole hours in which to butcher the classics. I've decided I'm just going to vote for the one who sings my favorite Stevie song.

Oh, and for those who've been asking: again this year, there will be no Wildcard Episode. The Wildcard, as much fun as it always was to see who Paula was gonna dredge up, is history with the current boy/girl/boy/girl format. So don't hold your breath, awaiting Will's return. Ain't gonna happen. What you see is what we get.

And to answer another question. The current eligibility rules prohibit any contestant who has reached the semi-finals from competing again. In season one there were 30 semi-finalists. In seasons two and three, there were 32. In seasons four and five there were 24. Once they've competed at that level, their eligibility for American Idol is over. But anyone making it to Hollywood but not making the final cut can try again. Vonzell was a repeat contestant.

Now I need to do some massive reconstruction of the sidebar. Anyone wanting to save the audio files (simply right click/save target as the pink link under the bar) should do that before tomorrow.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

moving on up: a simulblog...

Yay! We're moving out of the small studio with its ugly eyeball stage and into the big place with its sparkly and special big stage. But we have to get rid of four bodies before we can do that.

Plus Bo's gonna sing. The only thing that could make this better would be free beer.

Warning to our friends on the West Coast: this will be live blogging, published at every killing, so if you don't want to know, here's not the place to be. Until later, of course. Please come back later and rant/rave along with the rest of us.

THIS is American Idol.

Ryan looks quite handsome in his suit as he points to the odd-looking stools replacing what used to be the dawgpound, that will seat 12 butts at the end of the show.

We get a review of the guys and girls' performances from the last two nights, but unfortunately no revisit from the Easter Bunny. Bummer.

Oh yay. It's Bo. I'm giddy. His album is about to go platinum, and he's bragging about his baby, who loves Jim Croce and Skynyrd. Smart kid. He's going to sing The Real Thing, predicts he'll go home and carries the mic stand just like old times.

Maybe we'll get lucky and get a stay from the group number tonight. After all, bashing the dreams and hopes of four young people is gonna take some time for dramatic effect after all.

Watching the commercials, it suddenly dawns on me that beginning next week it's the return of the always-cheesy Ford spots.

We're getting down to business! The women are lined up on the sofa of death, and Ryan informs them they're looking for the biggest loser. Lisa is given a stay, Melissa, who's looking stunning, is given a pass, Ayla is okay. Then without warning, Kinnik is shot between the eyes, told by Ryan that "that's the way it goes," and shows incredible graciousness in her exit.

Paula tells her to pick better songs. Paula, honey, she has no more songs to pick.

And Kinnik gets to sing the song that got her booted...

Now the guys are stuck on the couch and they and Ryan engage in a little useless banter as they try to fill minutes. Again, they're looking for the one who finished last. Kevin's grannies came through for him, Gedeon looks about to pass out and is told he's okay. Bucky is next, has to endure a Rocky joke, and is given a pass. Time for Elliott, who is safe and in desperate need of a new hairstyle. Will gets no mercy and no lead in. Why don't they just shoot them in the face with a water gun? Or an uzi.

Will is sweet, recognizing his mates, and I've decided everybody's wrong. He does not look like Bobby Brady. He more resembles Peter.

And he gets to sing the song that killed him...

He should have sung it like that last night.

Those Doublemint Twins crack me up. Not the blond ones. And there appears there's absolutely nothing on FOX, outside of Idol, that I would ever watch. [Commercial commentary. At no extra charge.]

We're back and gonna fill those silver seats with girls. We're looking for the second-lowest girl, and Paris goes a bit dramatic even for a teenager when she gets the first one. Katharine is told to switch seats. They hug. Oh geez. More hugging.

Kellie gets sent to sit at the big people's side of the stage and, yes, more hugging. Mandisa is next and Melissa, Lisa and Ayla are looking totally devastated.

Group hug. On the good side of the eyeball.

Lisa is told to cross the stage as the youngest in the 12. [Well, there went that prediction.] Ryan leaves Ayla and Melissa alone on the sofa of death and tells them they'll find out their fate "after the break."

Ayla is reminded that she's a basketball star. She's got a scholarship after all. Well, school starts in the fall Ayla, and you'll be there right on time. Geez. I was just starting to like her and now she's trying so hard not to cry. I hope they don't make her sing. She says she never cries as tears stream down her face. Oh hell, now I'm crying too.

Simon tells her she wasn't rotten. The song was. So they let her sing it again. What do these people use for brains?

Ayla leaves and guys are already seated at death's door. Taylor is safe and acts like, well, Taylor. Ace and his beanie are next, and he is safe. The tension builds as Chris gets all the drama like we don't know where he's going next.

Time for Kevin who hauls ass across the stage into Chris' arms.

Ryan reminds Elliott what he's had to endure thus far, invoking the name Brittenum. Holy crap, Jesse and Frank are in the audience. Must be out on parole. Get those idiots off of my screen now!

Back to Elliott. I was worried, but he's safe, and I'm happy.

And of course, with Gedeon and Bucky seated, facing the firing squad, the Brittenum Twits and one final song, we have to sell more damn Coke.

Bucky gets the good news, and Gedeon is still smiling. He's got the cutest dimples.

And we get to hear him one more time...

The last four bootees get to watch their tributes to the tune of You Had a Bad Day. Well, one might say that I suppose.

The finalists are partying on the eyeball as Ryan reminds us that next week is two hours of Stevie Wonder.

See you then...

tag: american idol

oh the agony of defeat...

I am struggling with this one, the choosing of the probable dead singers walking. The girls aren't that hard; the guys are giving me fits.

So, to procrastinate, I decide to go ahead and upload the black and whites for tonight's reveal. But who to choose? I just don't know, because there are so many possibilities, so many variables to consider.

So I uploaded pretty much everybody except Taylor, Chris and Mandisa. How about we switch things up a bit and just predict who won't be leaving?

I still want to keep all eight guys and dump four women instead. (And I have those four women in mind.) But because I know they won't do that because they want an even-gendered pool of people to massacre Stevie Wonder next week, some good stuff is gonna get shafted along with the bad.

Too bad.

Nigel (AI producer) Lythgoe has gone on record to say that two of tonight's bootees are to be expected, and two are surprises. "Shocking," he calls them. Hell, Nigel thinks anytime a contestant is told he/she is going home and doesn't, that it's shocking, so I don't put a whole lot of store in his assessments. (Besides, what better way to boost the Thursday ratings a bit than to entice people to tune in, just in case the promise of Bo Bice on stage won't do that.) But it does make one wonder if the expected top 12 will look, well, expected.

Tonight's victims will not include Mandisa. We know that. So that leaves the other seven women.

Maybe the surprise will be that Katharine, despite her assurances to the contrary, really does want off the show, and she agreed to let them "boot" her rather than just quit? There's always that possibility. But aside from that scenerio, there will be a chair with Katharine's name on it tonight.

Maybe time and patience just wore off for Paris, considering that she's not living up to the promise of her auditions and seems to be slipping in the polls. Paris, if she continues on the song choice path she's taking, will have her funeral footage shown. I just doubt it will be today.

Perhaps the Pickler felt the wrath of Carrie Underwood fans everywhere who stopped dialing in protest of Simon's Tuesday night remark. Or maybe she picked up a case of food poisoning and just wants out of calamari-land. Fat chance.

So our likely victims will come from the quartet of steadily-improving Ayla, sleepy ballad queen Lisa and sacrificial lambs, Melissa and Kinnik. There would be nothing shocking or even remotely surprising about losing the lambs, so only one of them is a goner, and I don't think which one is any big shocker.

On the men's side, chairs with the names Taylor and Chris were ordered back in January. They're staying put. (Unless, of course, Chris did take that Fuel gig. If so, see Katharine, above.) So that leaves us with the other six.

An early exit for Ace would be a surprise, but not out of the question, considering his last two falsetto-laden performances have pretty much tanked, and he can't be our Father Figure for forever. Besides his brother is hotter.

I speculated about Elliott's future already, and that concern holds after a vocally-perfect but uninspired Bryan Adams imitation last night. That adorable sex-pot Kevin found himself in the bottom three last week, and as any veteran AI watcher will attest, landing in the bottom three can be like pouring gasoline on the flames of dialing fingers everywhere, so it's not necessarily a bad thing. Ask Ruben; ask Bo.

That leaves three.

I've contended throughout the semis that the teen boys are going to be hurt by vote splitting, and, since many will run to Kevin's rescue after last week, Will, especially following his dreary performance last night, could bear the brunt of that effort. I don't think the producers had much in the way of hope for either Bucky or Gedeon, but both have steadily increased their fan bases with terrific performances. (And we can never discount the anger of the voters, lashing out against the pimp-machine.
I pleaded guilty already.) But each of them could find that their off-stage personaes may be more of a hindrance than a help, especially Gedeon, who is still perceived by some as a cocky little kid with too many teeth.

[NOTE: I am still reading criticism of Gedeon's reply to Ryan's insipid " you think you're in the bottom three" nonsense last week. Geeze! Of course Gedeon knew he wasn't in the bottom three people! There were two guys still left and two on the stage and everybody knows that the last one called to the stage comes from the last pair. So I hope nobody avoided his number on the basis of that comment. Whew. Got that off my chest.]

So what's a junkie to do when she feels confident about three, but completely stumped on the fourth? She closes her eyes and eenie meenie minees.

So here's the moe:

Who I want: Kinnik and Lisa.
Who should: Kinnik and Lisa.
Who will: Lisa and Kinnik.

Who I want: Will and Kevin. (I still love the kid; he's just not ready.)
Who should: Kevin and Will.
Who will: Will and (please, please let it not be) Elliott.

tag: american idol

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

last men standing...

It's the last dance, the last chance for ...

Oh, wait. That was Brenna.

It's boys' night out, and the last eight standing are fighting for six spots remaining. (I still say can four girls and give us all eight guys, but nobody at the stupid show is listening.) The song spoilers are circulating, and there is at least one guarantee: there will be no Stevie Wonder songs performed tonight. Why? Next week is, gulp,
Stevie Wonder Theme Night. Yes, that's right. My worst nightmare is about to materialize.

Somebody just shoot me now.

With a couple of exceptions, the guys are in fine form, especially compared to the women who actually did, as a group, a decent job. If the semi-finals are any indication, the women, with a couple of exceptions, are not going to stick around very long once they hit the big stage.

But anyway, here they are, my first impressions, subject to rewind, review and reassignment, and as always, from worst to first.

Will Makar is studying Japanese and asks, in Japanese, all 11 year olds to UNITE! He should have asked for the 12 year olds to join in, because his version of How Sweet it Is would have sent me on an emergency potty break at a middle school recital. Eww.

Oh! Bucky Covington has a clone. I mean twin. I think they've intentionally withheld this from us, since we're still recovering from the last set of twins, you know, the ones who broke our spirit. One's Bucky and one's Rocky. Wow. Anyway, Bucky looks like Bucky, I mean Rocky, no I mean Bucky. Arghh. No fanciness, just Bucky. And again, I agree with Simon. It wasn't bad by any stretch, but it was nothing special, nothing that I couldn't hear at the Eagles Lodge on a Saturday night.

Gedeon McKinney sings lead-off and shows off his "record is the globe" painting before taking on Percy Sledge. He does put a unique and personal spin on the song, but leaves me unimpressed after last week's effort. The judges are lukewarm and, at first glance, sober. Simon says he's interesting and growing on him. The kid tells Ryan he chose that song because he "knows how to love women." Isn't he like 17? But in fairness, he clears it up by telling us his only true loves are Mom and Gramma. Ahhh.

Ace Young likes to use a hammer because, he tells us, he's become somewhat of a handyman. Now that I think about it, I could use a handyman around my home. But back to the show, I don't know this song, so perhaps I'm not the best judge, but I really don't like it. Ace does the Ace thing, but the whole song just wrecks, making me more in need of a handyman. I wonder if Ace's cute brother is also a handyman.

Okay, go ahead and flame me, but I love Vincent, and I love Kevin. Yes, "starry starry night" and "suffered for your sanity" are not good stretches of lyric for a kid with a lisp, and it is a song about suicide so there wasn't a whole lot of upbeat rock to it, but, despite the judges' historic distaste for that song, Kevin performed it beautifully, all hints of the nerves that have plagued him gone. I loved it. I'm a granny. So there.

Chris Daughtry shares some pictures of him with Ryan Seacrest hair before taking to the eyeball with a performance of Broken. Randy says "rock on." Paula says he'll be selling out stadiums before long. Simon calls it boring. God I hate agreeing with Simon. It was boring and sleepy, especially after last week's amazement.

Elliott Yamin reveals that he has 90 percent hearing loss in one ear. And he sings?? He sings Heaven beautifully. Randy wants to make a record. Elliott is ready to go. Paula, totally coherent, splashes "water" on everyone in her praise. Simon says it's a cop out and that Elliott disconnected with the audience. I say Simon's been sipping Paula's "water." Vote Elliott!!!

Many people have played Santa or the Easter Bunny just for spare change, but most don't wear their costumes on the highest rated show on television. Taylor Hicks does though. And in his obvious attempt to avoid WHOAing through Taking it to the Streets, he makes dance moves that make Jon Peter Lewis look like Drew Lachey. I don't know whether to applaud or to laugh. The judges do both. So do I.

I love these guys.

Tomorrow we execute two of the hunks, along with two of the girls. So? Who's your best? And worst?

tag: american idol

Thanks Rob for the awesome image!