Sunday, April 30, 2006

at least we don't have to register to vote...

It's midterm in the balloting and the Washington Post is sizing up the field of contenders, each with a Washington equivalent:

Paris = Secretary of State Condi Rice
Chris = Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke
Katharine = Rep. Katherine Harris
Elliott = White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten
Taylor = Former President Bill Clinton

One's too perfect for the top job, one speaks in tongues we don't understand but we don't care. One we don't hear because we're too busy being mesmerized. One we have a crush on and wonder where he's been all of our lives.

And one has a destiny.

Very clever and worth the read.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

hopes, wishes, videos and songlists...

Five kids, three decades of music. Oh where to begin.

Of course the final five are doubling up on the song selections next week, choosing one currently on the top ten charts and another from waaaaaay back, ahem, a song that hit the airwaves in the year they were born, which leaves us three in the 1970s and two from the 80s.

The spoilers are slowing trickling out about possible song selections from the current charts, and, since I am as familiar with today's music as I am rebuilding an automotive transmission, I'll leave the prognostication of that music to the ones in the know.

I am, however, familiar with songs from as long ago as 1976, because I was, well, alive then. And they've already devoted an entire theme night to the decade of my birth. I'll let you figure it out.

Some great song suggestions have already been offered in the comment threads in the entries below, and I've labored long and hard through the top singles lists from the kids' birthyears. Now of course we don't know what songs are cleared, or clearable, and affordable, but if artists are paying attention and need the boost in sales, they're not going to play hard to get. Just ask Daniel Powter (Bad Day). And if they think a performance of the song won't help record sales, all they need do is check out Donny Hathaway's Greatest Hits, which went from obscurity on to #27 in rank immediately following Elliott Yamin's exquisite offering of A Song For You.

So all we can do is peruse the lists, spend a few moments remembering good old days and come up with a very personal wish list.

And that's what I've done.

Paris Bennett is the youngest, born in 1988, when Whitney Houston was all over the charts. Whitney might be hard to resist, so, if she simply must choose one of her 1988 hits, I would recommend Where Do Broken Hearts Go. But I can also picture Paris grooving to Natalie Cole's Pink Cadillac or Pebbles' Girlfriend. But just for fun, I would throw her a few votes if she selected Straight Up, by none other than Paula Abdul. (Then, of course, I would hope that Simon would tell her by doing Abdul she's coming out telling people she's as good as Abdul and that she's no Paula Abdul, or something along those lines.)

The other 80s youngster is Katharine McPhee, who I would most enjoy watching perform Elton John's I Guess That's Why They Call it the Blues or Peabo Bryson's If Ever You're In My Arms Again. But if she insists upon singing a 1984 girl song, how about Strut by Sheena Easton or, better yet, Self Control by Laura Branigan.

I have to admit that I had the most difficulty with Chris, not that 1979 didn't have some great music, but there's only one song that I would love to hear from him, because I [heart] Bad Company. And I [heart] Rock & Roll Fantasy. So that's it. One wish.

Elliott could sing the 1978 phone directory and I would be happy, so trying to limit my wishes for him was a difficult endeavor. Absolutely number one on my Elliott wish list is I Go Crazy by Paul Davis, followed very closely by Meat Loaf's Two Out of Three Ain't Bad. But I would not be offended by Dan Hill's Sometimes When We Touch. And I would probably smile upon hearing How Much I Feel, by Ambrosia.

And then there's the 1976 baby, Taylor Hicks. And one of my absolute favorite 70s artists is Dr. Hook, so there's a little bias here, I admit freely. So Dr. Hook it is. How about Only Sixteen, since Sylvia's Mother is too old. Or, perhaps, A Little Bit More? No? Okay then, why not consider I'd Really Love to See You Tonight by England Dan and John Ford Coley or
You Sexy Thing by Hot Chocolate. Yeah. How about those? (I know most people are screaming Seger, so I purposely didn't, but I would not object...)

Okay, you have song ideas? Did I skip over any obvious ones? Just want to tell me I'm nuts? The comment lines are now open.

P.S. I actually spent some time this morning on the official site, which, in the past has been, well, worthless. Looks like they're getting the clue over there that we want to see video. I just love the crappy Ford commercials, and they have each of them on streaming video, just in case you're interested in reliving Kevin Covais in the sand.
Here's how to get there.

And, while they've not been formally announced, it appears that the track listing for the compilation CD is in place. We already know a few of these, because the ousted contestants have shared the song they chose to perform, but this listing has some legs, so I pretty much believe it is, at least mostly, correct. No word yet on the lineup, though. So these are listed alphabetically.

Ace = Father Figure.
Bucky = Superstition.
Chris =
Wanted Dead or Alive.
Elliott =
Moody's Mood for Love.
Katharine =
Kellie =
Walkin' After Midnight.
Kevin = When I Fall in Love.
Lisa =
Signed, Sealed, Delivered.
Mandisa =
I'm Every Woman.
Melissa =
What About Love.
Paris =
Midnight Train to Georgia.
Taylor =
Takin' It to the Streets.

early spoilers: don't say you weren't warned...

No word yet from anyone which "birthyear" songs the final five will be selecting, but a couple of pretty credible spoilers are emerging about the current tunes both Taylor Hicks and Katharine McPhee will perform.

According to, Taylor's early choice of a current chart title is Bon Jovi's Who Says You Can't Go Home? There's also a link to the mp3 of the song there, in case you have never heard it. I like the song choice, but then, I like Bon Jovi. Now, of course, we don't know what song Taylor will actually end up performing, because, as we all know, his first selections have not always been his last one. Ahem.

And on the Katharine side, looks like she'll be singing Black Horse and the Cherry Tree, at least according to artist KT Tunstall's MySpace site, where you can, again, listen to the song if you're not familiar with it.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

five kids/ten songs...

Okay boys and girls, now we have a contest. And next week the kids are going to have to come up with two songs: one a current top 10 Billboard chart occupant, and the other a song from the year he/she was born.

So here they are, the final five, for our consideration:

Taylor Hicks, born in 1976, a very, very good year! (#1 song that year: Silly Love Songs.)
Elliott Yamin, born in 1978. (#1 song that year: Shadow Dancing.)
Chris Daughtry, born in 1979. (#1 song that year: My Sharona.)
Katharine McPhee, born in 1984. (#1 song that year: When Doves Cry.)
Paris Bennett, born in 1988. {#1 song that year: Need You Tonight.)

Happy reminiscing!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

silly love songs: a simulblog...

Wednesdays mean only one thing: time to destroy the hopes and the dreams of another young person, leaving her awash in tears, regret and appointments with talk shows from coast to coast.

Yes. Heartbreak. The staple of love songs. That's why we love this show.

So that also means it's time for a simulblog, live blogging the results show as it's airing, so if you don't want to know beforehand and you live in the West, you might want to avoid this place for a few hours. (But please come back!) I'll be publishing at every important stop, so keep refreshing if you want to know.

Because THIS is American Idol!

Over 47 million trillion gazillion votes were cast last night, Ryan tells us, a non-finale record. Perhaps they should provide two phone lines per kid from the start. Then they could really beat their chests. Ryan admonishes the judges, telling them they were too harsh last night. Simon apologizes to Katharine, conceding that they were too tough on the girl after her button-popping performance.

Katharine looks happy.

We get to see the retrospective of last night's events, because we absolutely must squeeze out as many minutes as possible so as to rush the results and end the show three bars into the ousted kid's final performance.

The crappy Ford commercial is like the best ever, as the kids are chasing down a lost pup to the tune of Call Me. They spy the pup. They burst from the Chevy. Uhh, I mean Ford. They run. They chase. They catch up. And they discover Mr. Pup has been keeping a secret family all along.

Ahhhhhhh. We love the pups.

Andrea Bocelli performs Because We Believe, from [shock!] his newest CD, Amore. Gee, sounds like a song Tamyra Gray would write. My review? For Bocelli fans: it was wonderful, beautiful, poignant. For non-Bocelli fans: meh. There. I did the work. You choose.

The kids rush the stage, after Elliott makes sure it's legal, and everybody's just happy, happy, happy! Can't wait for that to change...

Lisa Tucker is in the house, just in time to pimp her appearance on the O.C.

As promised, the kids are getting split into three groups of two. Kat goes to Team Kat on the far side of the stage. Elliott is sent to Team Elliott in the middle. Pickler begins Team Pick on the near side.

Paris is sent to Team Pick. Uh oh. Sorry Paris. Taylor is told to join Team Elliott. That's good. Chris is obviously going to part of Team Kat.

So we have Kat/Chris, Taylor/Elliott and Pickler and Paris.

Ryan sends Team Elliott back to the sofa. Thank you Ryan.

And of course we now must sell 18 minutes of commercial time....

We have Team Kat on the left and Team Pick on the right. Anybody want to take any bets on who's who? Didn't think so.

Team Kat is told to sit down because they are the highest vote getters.

Now we're left with the P girls and we get to get a diatribe from the third P girl, Paula. Kellie says she deserves to be where she is. Both look resigned to go.

Kellie Pickler says goodbye. And we say goodbye to her.

So long Kellie. So, so, sooooo long.

She had a Bad Day. And she didn't even get to sing. She gets to talk. Oh well, it's Pickler. She was better known for talking anyway.

Good luck Pickler.

nigel speaks...

Nigel's not using the "S" word, but he is giving us a glimpse of what we have to look forward to, both tonight and next week.

He's quite proud of the fact that they racked up the third highest vote total. Ever. Third only to the season three and season four finales. And he's bragging about how, for the first time, tonight we will know the vote breakdown, as they will split the six into three groups of two: the top two, middle two and bottom two.

He loved four performances last night: Kat's, Elliott's, Taylor's and thought Chris was the best. And he attributes Taylor's "nervousness" partially to the fact that he had to switch from Try a Little Tenderness (dang, and I wanted some Otis Redding, too...) because the first song "just didn't fit the genre."

And then, after panning Pickler and damning Paris with faint praise, he tells us that the top four were brilliant. Well, gee. I wonder who the bottom two will be?

And next week? Double songs. One song will be from the year the contestant was born and the other has to have been on this week's Billboard charts.

Uh oh. I remember last time they did one of those current song nights.

You want to listen to the full nine minutes plus? It's worth the time. And
here's the link.

ETA: Oh, and since they're going bottom two instead of three, I don't think I need to clarify, but I shall, that I'm picking Pickler. And Paris. And as unfair and undeserving as it will be, it will be the last tango for Paris.

a hodgepodge of random thoughts...

It's always fun to gather information, opinions, suggestions and observations on the morning after performance nights. When one is watching, or trying to, writing, or trying to and constantly fighting off a pup who wants to take your socks off like now, I always seem to miss something. Heck, it wouldn't matter if I was watching without writing or defending my feet from the four-legged sock bandit - I always miss something that somebody else catches. That's why I tape.

I rewatched last night's episode in full this morning. And first things first: no way am I changing my prediction that tonight will be ladies night on the seal.

But I did see the Katharine flash that has so many people excited, mostly men. Unfortunately, that means I also saw the panty line too, the one that has so many people aghast, mostly women. Looked to me like she lost a button just as she was hitting the power notes and, unfortunately for her, not standing like a Grecian statue at the mic. Oopsie! Remember folks, always wear clean underwear, cause you never know when you're gonna pop a button in front of zillions of people.

And so okay, I did kinda re-evaluate my assessment of Kat's performance. Kinda. She remains fifth out of six though. I still think she oversang the most oversung song in Idol history. I think that's why I detested it last night. It wasn't so much her as it was the song, sung by Trenyce in season 2, Jennifer Hudson and Leah LaBelle in season 3, Vonzell in season 4 and now again. Holy Mother of Whitney, would somebody put a ban on that song already.

But I could help but picture poor little Lisa Tucker sitting at home in the OC just mumbling "that coulda been me..."

And I have now officially added Barbra to my list of forbidden artists.

Seems the opinion du jour is pretty universal: Paris is roadkill after tonight.

And the
DialIdol results are quite intriguing, placing Paris and Pickler as the projected bottom feeders, but putting everyone else in pretty much a statistical dead heat. So, technically, if the vote is anywhere close to the dialidol predictions, the P sisters could be joined by Elliott, who gave the performance of the night and his seminal performance of the finals.

This is where the cynic in me starts boiling up, because, while I do believe that the bootee is determined by votes, because no matter who gets kicked in the shins, this show is not going to ever run the risk of imploding under a voting scandal, I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't play a little bit with the others. And we all know they have their favorites. And I don't blame them for that either, cause whoever survives this game is gonna cost a fortune, so why not do all that's within the boundaries to hedge their bets.

Maybe it's me, but it seems that Pickler, once the darling of the show, is starting to be cast aside either in favor of Katharine, the superior vocalist, or the three remaining men. If the women are, in fact, the three bottom dwellers and Paris is the dead teen walking, will they want Pickler standing in the two, a sure bet to light a fire under her remaining fans, or might they want Katharine standing there at the end, to give her the voting boost that normally comes from a bottom two appearance? Wouldn't surprise me a bit.

But, of course, the show relishes those gaping mouth moments. Watching Paris sing over the credits while Pickler sits on the sofa with her snotrag, might just spark the Thursday morning watercooler outrage that has been sorely missing this season, much like last year's sixth-place ejection of fan fave Constantine while Scott Savol grinned from ear to ear.

Whatever the scenerio, for the first time this year, Pickler's future with the show appears genuinely in doubt.

I know people are blasting [again] Paula on her behavior last night, but she really did make some astute observations, even though most of them were extensions on Randy's remarks. She nailed Kellie precisely, telling her she hasn't raised, or even attempted to raise, the bar of excellence, even though we're at the final six. I like it when Paula gets critical, because otherwise, her fashion reviews or the ever-popular "You will be a star who will go far" rubbish is worthless. Plus her erratic behavior, as long as it's not a complete slap in the face to the kids as it was during the semi-final boot night disaster earlier this year, does make for some entertaining television.

And I know people are saying she was over the top with Elliott, and maybe she was, but I have to admit, I was dabbing a tissue to my eyes as well. It wasn't the song, or the power of the song, that I found emotionally grabbing; it was the performance, the switch, the blooming of the performer Elliott, right before my eyes, as opposed to simply the vocalist Elliott that I've adored since Moody's Mood for Love. He's been lauded for his pipes but blasted for his stiff stage persona, but finally he became a package. Full circle, some might say. Like I just did. Had a tear on the repeat too, but I still laughed at Simon laughing at Paula.

I don't know what's up with Taylor. Luckily his fan base is tenacious enough to keep him afloat, but it almost appears as though he's grown weary and even possibly bored. So many long-term contestants have complained of the fatigue factor as the weeks drone on. I hope that's all it is. After all, I've had weeks like that too.

So next week is when the contestants double up on their performances. No word yet on theme(s). Of course, last season there were double-themed nights, the first song of one genre, the second of another. We do know that Elvis is coming up, and I'm already coming up with my wish list for that night.

So that pretty much wraps up those random thoughts that swirl through my brain whilst I await another execution.

Got thoughts?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

sing me a love song...

Six. It's down to six. That's half of 12. And they're charged with singing "classic" love songs, whatever that means, with the help of Andrea Bocelli.

It's the last week of single songs, as next week the remaining five will get to double our pleasure with two performances each, but at least we get to double the phone lines this week in the hopes of hearing something besides busy signals and that terribly annoying er Er ER...all circuits are busy...hang up and vote for somebody else business.

It's gonna be tough to top last week's standards, but, considering love songs and standards pretty much cross wires, it's a possibility. But it's easy to figure out early that this ain't last week's show. What was good can be bad again. With some exceptions, of course.

So here they are, subject to review and revision and, as always, from worst to first:

I wish people would stop trying Unchained Melody, if only because it's a long song so the arrangement to 90 seconds really messes it up. But it doesn't mess it up as much as Pickler does. She hits a bad note in the front of the song and seems never to find the right note after that. Randy says the only note on pitch was the high one. Hell, that one was like nails on the proverbial chalkboard. David Foster tells her that the song without passion is the most boring song ever. She had more passion in the pre-song interview, pandering for a boyfriend. Paula says yuck. Simon is so critical the music cuts him off before the Pick can draw tears. That was a disaster beyond even Pickler proportions.

Katharine starts off the show and wallops us over the head with Whitney's I Have Nothing. Her dad is in the audience, crying as usual when his girl sings, and everyone else is just ducking as she appears ready to beat the crap out of anyone crossing her spotlight. The parts of the song she doesn't scream she goes off tune and the parts she doesn't scream or go off tune, she's okay. Randy says ick. Paula says yuck. Simon reminds her that she's no Whitney. But at least she looked pretty.

Taylor is very "interesting" according to Bocelli and the one with the most charisma, according to David Foster. But according to the judges, his version of Just Once is the equivalent to a Holiday Inn lounge act. While it's better than the two-third of the women combined, it doesn't have the flair or the originality of earlier Taylor performances, and, while not bad, not the best song he could have selected, considering the thousands of available titles.

Maybe Paris should have watched the movie The Way We Were before deciding to smile throughout the title song. I'm a little scared right now that I'm going to totally agree with Paula that Paris totally oversang the song. Perhaps these kids need to remember that the people who've done this for a living know what they're talking about when they say less is more, as Foster suggests to her, but, in comparison with the other women, she's a dream. The judges give her a lukewarm reception, and none of them mention how cute her hair is. This week.

Chris once again avoids the rock and wisely shows the love with Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman, delivering with ease one of the two top performances of a dreary night, ending with a mere three minutes until House, giving the judges only enough time to shout "great" and "love" before being shuttled off stage by Ryan. Chris is consistently reminding me why I initially selected him to win this whole thing.

Okay, so today's my birthday. And I told one of my bestest friends that all I wanted was for Elliott to have one of those Idol moments. He takes on Donnie Hathaway's A Song For You, complete with Donnie's daughter on backup. Randy hates the arrangement but thinks Elliott is the bomb. Paula tells him, through tears, that he is an American Idol. Simon calls it a master class in vocals. I just say Happy Birthday. I adore this man.

Okay, I'm going to do a bottom three long before DialIdol can skew my thinking. I'll see if tomorrow my views change.

Who I want: Pickler, Pickler, Pickler
Who should: Pickler, Katharine, Paris
Who will: Paris, Katharine, Pickler

Who will go? Despite a decent performance amid some not so decent ones, I fear Paris will be remembering The Way They Were.

Your turn.

double the phone lines, double your fun...

Looks like we're gonna get two phone lines per kid beginning tonight. I don't recall them doubling the numbers at six before, but, if comments and tagboard complaints are any indication, it's coming none too soon.

And, Elvis is making a comeback! That and other juicy stuff has been revealed by Ken Warwick, here.

I'm working on those spoilers, but, so far, I've read about 15 song selections for each of the kids, so none of them feel valid enough to pass along. We do know, however, that one of the kids will sing a David Foster song, as Foster joined Bocelli in working with the final six and their selections. Problem is, we don't know the kid.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

we're halfway home...

The halfway point is always a good time to take stock in what's occurred to this point and speculate on what's gonna happen from here until the May 24th finale.

Halfway speculation has been pretty easy in the past seasons. Nobody doubted Kelly Clarkson v. somebody in the final season one duel. And most people, if asked, probably would have picked Tamyra Gray. A Ruben/Clay finale was all but sealed after the first episode of season two, so by the time the final six rolled around, Kim, Josh, Trenyce and Carmen should have just packed up and called it a season.

The final six in season three had just watched the classic "three divas in the bottom" results show, but most expected a Fantasia/LaToya finale showdown, even though it didn't play out that way. And anyone who doubted that Bo Bice would square off against Carrie Underwood last year just wasn't paying attention.

This year, however, the tale is different, as all six have a reasonable (if improbable) chance of singing one of Clive Davis' choices in the final three show (my favorite one) in about four weeks.

If I were betting right now, I would probably put my money on Taylor Hicks. If DialIdol is to be believed, Taylor has led in the voting all season and seems to have a fan base that can't be pigeonholed into one particular demographic group. Young people love him. Old people love him. Seems everybody loves the breath of fresh air that has gray hair.

Taylor is all but a lock for final three.

So that pretty much leaves all the others.

Chris Daughtry, generally considered TCO (the chosen one) for this season, found himself in the bottom two last week. (Even though, I refuse to believe that Chris was the second lowest vote getter; that was Paris, but what better way to jumpstart complacent fans than to put him right next to the bootee and milk the fact that the two are best buds.) Chris' apparent decline from top vote getter to bottom two might be attributed to the cooling off effect often seen when performers pretty much stay in their genre box and refuse to play the game. Nadia Turner was a victim of that as was, to a point, Bo, last season. It also could be attributed to fans who have gotten a bit cocky over the weeks, thinking their boy was a chosen one, therefore safe from expulsion. Vote splitting is common in the early weeks, and these Chris fans might have been diluting their votes, trying to help another contestant deemed more in need of help. Like Bucky. Or Ace, whose voters he may just have pulled in. Chris won't hit the seal this week unless he decides to sing Olivia Newton John and bombs at it. It doesn't take fans long to learn a lesson.

Kellie Pickler is another interesting phenomenon. She came into the competition with a solid fan base, but, I think, might have lost a few voters when her cute country bumpkin act turned sour and annoying. But her voting base was large enough to absorb a few defectors. The problem with Pickler, again, if DialIdol is any indication, is that her base has not picked up much, which is crucial when voters find themselves without a singer. A significant base is great when the field is 12. When the field has shrunk by half, and bases start gaining strength in numbers, your base has to grow too. Hers, apparently, hasn't. Another disaster like Tuesday could result in her first trip to the Wednesday night stage. Hope she's got her snotrag.

Katharine McPhee's fans know what it's like to see their girl on the seal. And they're still mad about that. She seems to have hit her stride last week, but, if I'm a fan, I would hope that Simon will rein in his overenthusiastic "you're leagues above..." reviews, which lull some voters into a false sense of security, but tick off other voters to the point of calling in for anybody but. Voting is not easy at this stage. It's arduous and boring, listening to busy signal after busy signal as the finger hitting the redial button goes numb. So to make the effort, many fans need to be motivated. And anger is a powerful motivator. Katharine needs a solid vocal performance like last week, but with less hyperbole from the judges table, and she should avoid the seal. I say 50/50 at this stage.

The two in the biggest danger this week are Paris Bennett and Elliott Yamin, one an early favorite and the other the spoiler, the one who came out of virtually nowhere.

Elliott found himself in the top three last week, after scraping the bottom the two previous outings. I don't doubt that he picked up significant support from the Bucky fans, but he does need to gain a few of the abandoned Ace voters. Elliott fans are some of the most ardent, if the message boards are any indication, and many of the voters who supported Elliott in the beginning, did so in addition to someone else, like Taylor or Bucky. In my own circle of friends, all of us were split voting Elliott and somebody else, most predominately Bucky and Katharine, so, after seeing him land bottom two twice, despite praiseworthy performances, the splitting stopped. He really is the wildcard. If his fans dial with the tenacity of last week, he should be okay, but if they get lazy, Elliott may have a Bad Day.

Elliott's biggest weakness is his stage presence. As hard as he tries, he just looks uncomfortable. What he needs is to flip that switch, walk out on stage convinced it's his final performance, so, with nothing to lose, he lets it rip, much like Clay Aiken in the wildcard episode of season two, after a restrained, hesitant performance got him booted from his group. He came back with abandon and gave one of the most memorable Idol performances ever. Elliott needs his Clay moment now more than ever. And then he needs lukewarm reviews. Great performance/biased reviews = smoking phone lines.

The one in most trouble is Paris, who really seems to have struggled finding a fan base. She started with such promise, kind of faltered midway through, but has really come back vocally, but still landing in the bottom three. At this point, all of the kids must turn in vocally-perfect performances, because even a flawless effort, like Paris' last week, won't guarantee avid dialing.

Paris' biggest problem is that a lot of people like her. But, it seems, if the online polls are any indication, that not a lot of people loooove her. And people don't go to the effort of dialing hundreds of times on the basis of like. Loooove on the other hand, well... According to my middle school girl experts, there isn't a whole lot of luv for Paris in that age group. The girls, you know, the ones with the Hello Kitty phones and bionic dialing fingers, luuvvved Ace, because, well, do I really have to explain? So, with Ace gone, who do they luuuvvv? Kellie Pickler, because she's pretty. And she reminds them of Carrie Underwood, who they luuuuuuuuuuuvvvved. And Paris really hasn't established who she is. She changes identities like people change socks. She may be having fun with the inconsistency, but she's not done herself many favors among the voters.

If anybody's toast on Wednesday, it's Princess P.

So, it's time to dust off the crystal ball and drag out the tea leaves. I tried to predict the order of finish at 12 and got totally messed up around 11th, so I'm gonna try it again with six.

In sixth place will be Paris, who will fall victim to her multiple personalities. Some will call it a shock. Problem with this group is that, aside from Taylor, nobody will be a shock. Because they all deserve to stay. And, conversely, to leave.

Fifth place will be a surprise, though. Most will expect it to be Elliott. I don't think so. I think it will be Pickler. Pickler's at a place now where vocally, she is the weakest, and with no one weaker, every shortcoming will be magnified. And she can only apologize for so many.

Elliott will be fourth, because the Paris fans who aren't committed now to Taylor or Katharine will be not be enough to boost his support past the others, and the Pickler fans will blame him for her ouster, throwing their might phone support to roomie and hugmate, Kat.

[But I would not be above placing a wager on another traditional fourth-place Tamyra/LaToya finish for a front-runner, so Chris, you might want to watch your step.]

The top three show will be telling, as it always is, and the songs handed to these kids will complete the story of who wants whom to advance. Let's all hope that Paula does not get to choose for Chris, as she chose for Bo last season. Two will get perfect song choices. One will get the coffin nailer, reminiscent of Jasmine getting to sing 1.) a song performed to perfection earlier that season, and 2.) a crapper called Mr. Melody. But this year there is no Jasmine. There is no Vonzell.

Chris will finish in third, as the displaced Elliott voters will pour it on for either Kat or Taylor, and because in four seasons, no male has ever finished third, so it's time, setting up a Katharine/Taylor finale that actually might be the first overall entertaining final two show we've had in the five years of this contest.

And also, for the first time, we are going to see a man defeat a woman amid the blinding confetti on May 24.

The Soul Patrol will go wild. And Simon Cowell will wonder if we're all drunk.

So, there's my shakedown for the remainder of the season. One thing's for certain. I will be wrong.

How do you think it will play out?

Friday, April 21, 2006

just an old-fashioned love song...

It's going to be a lot more difficult to narrow down next week's theme than it was this week's. After all, a theme as broad as "Classic Love Songs," while terrific for the kids, encompasses every decade, every genre, every artist imaginable.

So where even to start?

I'll start with what I don't want to hear.

1. I do not, under any circumstances and regardless of whether your name is Katharine, want to hear any songs previously recorded by anyone named Mariah, Whitney, Celine or Streisand. And add Josh Groban. Just cause.

2. I do not want to hear anyone sing [again] Unchained Melody. I don't care if it's Simon's favorite song. I'm sure that after so many desecrations of that song, he doesn't like it anymore anyway.

3. I do not want to hear anything by Stevie Wonder. He had his week. Let the man recover in peace.

4. And leave Elton John alone too. Unless your name is Taylor.

Okay, so it's a short list, but it's sincere.

Here's a list to get us started. And here's another. I've got some thinking to do. As soon as I get Tuesday's songs out of my head.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

it had to be you: a simulblog...

Somebody's gonna get killed tonight. Seems the consensus is universal who it should be, but logic never wins at this game.

Because THIS is American Idol.

And, once again, it's live blogging, complete with typos and misspellings and publishing at every important break, so if you're in the West and don't want to be spoiled before the show airs in your area, this is not the place to be. has some great games while you wait.

After six five great performances, one mediocre one and one crapper, it's anybody's guess who's gonna bite the big one. And Rod Stewart is going to warble through The Way You Look Tonight. At least that's the excuse he gave Kat for tearing up her sheet music.

And it's time to get this show on the road...

Ryan found his razor, and Rod Stewart's family is in the house as we're told it was one of the strongest shows ever. Well it certainly was the strongest this season.

We get treated to a review of the preceding night, complete with Pickler's shoes a tearful Kath-dad. Oh man. More parents boo-hooing over their kids. Hey. I had enough of the tears last week, I don't need to be shedding no more. Quit it.

The 70s girl in me wants Rod Stewart to burst out singing Maggie May, but I then remember that he's elderly with the most adorable baby in the universe. Oh never mind.

The kids are billboards in the crappy Ford commercial that is actually well done and nicely sung. I like those kind of crappy commercials.

Rod Stewart joins Ryan and the kids on the sofa of death, announces he's working on a CD of 70s rock classics and assures America that none of the kids has an attitude. And he delivers on the promise of song. The kids swarm him, offering hugs, handshakes and overall gooeyness on stage.
Next week's theme is Greatest Love Songs with Andrea Bocelli, Ryan tells us, as he's setting up the kids to be separated into the traditional top seven two groups.

Elliott is in the far group, Chris in the near group. Paris joins Chris in the near side. Pickler is sent to join Elliott on the far side. Well, we know which group is which.

Ace is sent to the near side and Katharine is sent to the far, leaving Taylor in the George Huff role.

[Personal note: Taylor is looking so mighty sexy lounging on the sofa. :::fans self:::]

Oh crap, they're gonna pull the stupid "send Taylor to the safe group" BS. (Kudos, Dave; I didn't think they'd be that stupid again.) George Huff fell for it in season three; Bo stood perfectly between the two groups in season four.

Taylor!! Go stand with Elliott!!!

[Personal note: have I mentioned how much I detest commercials?]

Taylor studies the groups, shakes Chris' hand and joins Team Elliott, just like I told him to do. Smart man.

Paris, Ace and Chris make up the bottom three, but Ryan sends Paris back to safety.

And going home, not unexpectedly, is Ace. He gets a big hug from Chris and a standing ovation from the audience. He says he's looking forward to the tour as he watches his funeral footage.

He had a Bad Day...

So long Ace. And your really cute brother.

with all your faults, I [heart] you still...

Finally. I am excited about this season once again.

Yes, I know that some people found last night's celebration of classic American music somewhat of a snoozefest, and I suppose if one doesn't much like the music, one is not going to magically enjoy it coming from the seven finalists, but, speaking purely selfishly, this is my favorite genre, and the Big Band/Standards nights have always brought me joy. Last night was one of the finest.

And, while it may just be my tunnelled perception, it looked as though the kids were having a blast. But even if they weren't, they faked it well.

So it's tough to choose a loser when so many gave such terrific performances. But not that tough.

The DialIdol results that so many of us have been watching closely this season have seen a welcomed shake-up. For the first time there is no clear, runaway winner and the pack has bunched itself up tightly, mostly within the margin of error.

Now, while so many unaccounted-for variables (such as texting, incomplete calls being counted as votes, and a self-selected group of voters, myself included, contributing to the results) make it dangerous to use DialIdol as an accurate gauge of the voting trends, one must admit it's had an admirable accuracy rate thus far.

Taylor and Pickler have, essentially, dominated the vote. Not true this week, as Taylor continues to lead, but is within the margin of error of Elliott, who surged in the voting (I still say as a result of the Bucky-less voters and in reaction to his stellar results show performance last week) to push Pickler from the second spot. Add Katharine to the mix, and Pickler has dropped to fourth, but within the margin of Chris in fifth.

How refreshing to see that the top five are getting a mix-up and that, by all appearances, we really do not have an overwhelming, presumptive final two, as we have in virtually every season until now. Makes for an exciting home stretch.

But before we get to the home stretch, we have to lose some dead weight.

At this point, the only person who is completely secure is Taylor, who turned in a Taylor-esque performance last night. Pickler, who up until now has looked untouchable, took a hard hit as really the only one of the seven to tank last night, but I have to admit, I was impressed with her admission of suckiness, which is far more refreshing than one of those half-hearted, delusional "well, I think I rocked even though the entire free world knows I sucked" speeches. (Yes, Ace, I remember Queen week.) And, considering I don't give Pickler much in the way of praise, that's a biggie.

Chris has been running the risk of hitting the boredom and predictability plateau that has killed many an Idol kid, but last night's solid and true standards rendition may have awakened some of his early fans who were reminded, like I was, why they liked him in the first place. He really does have a good voice. When he's singing and not screaming.

It's kind of obvious that Katharine is becoming more and more one of the chosen ones, as the pimping has gotten more and more obvious. But last night's "you're leagues above everyone else in this competition," might have some negative consequences, because, while no one really debates that the girl can sing, she is not vocally leagues above Taylor, Chris, Elliott or even Paris.

Which brings me to Paris. Of the seven performances, hers, while technically sound, really was the most forgettable. I had to think for a minute this morning when trying to remember them all. And she has lagged toward the bottom of online polls all season. Simon may think she's destined for the final, but I don't think she's even going to make it to the top five.

Elliott. I truly think Elliott has totally screwed up all of their plans. There is always one contestant who comes out of nowhere, even though he/she wasn't expected to be much of a contender by the powers that be. Bucky and Elliott were this year's spoilers. Now Elliott is left, having, I think, benefitted from the Bucky vote (Bucky saying Elliott was his best friend sure didn't hurt any), and gaining more and more new fans/voters with every note he sings. Simon doesn't know how to stop his momentum, and he can't pick apart his vocals, so he goes for the "personality." Actually I think personality was the wrong word. Elliott has one of, if not the most, sparkling, genuine personalities of those who are left, now that Bucky's gone. And he's got a super cool mom. But his weakness is, as it's always been, stage presence. And while some voters (me) don't give a rat's patootie about dancing and camera flirting, many do, so while Simon's comments might sway some voters away from Elliott, the backlash against Simon's comments might equalize the vote.

And then there's Ace. Ace needs to go. A week ago last Wednesday. His performance on Queen night was cringe-worthy, which in and of itself may have saved him. Bad performances/negative reviews equal avid voting. Okay performances/lukewarm reviews equal complacency. And it's always good to have one of the kids going out on a good note.

Up until last night I was sniffing a shocker coming up, but I think that's gonna be next week. The sixth place finisher is often the unexpected one. This week I think things are gonna pan out the way they probably should.

So here's my lineup:

Who I want: Ace, Pickler, Paris (Ace)
Who should: Pickler, Paris, Ace (Ace)
Who will: Paris, Ace, Chris.

And if Ace doesn't go this time, I'm gonna be booking me a flight out to Los Angeles and take him out myself.

And I don't mean on a date.

Those are mine. Now show me yours.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

holy crap, I like this show again...

Almost halfway home tonight as the last seven compete to become part of the final six. Ryan has still not shaved as he tells us we can't boo if we don't vote.

Ryan, I can boo whenever I want.

Then we get to see a retrospective of Rod Stewart, "the ultimate entertainer" as he leaps and jumps and drops and spins through the rock songs of thirty years ago. And to think Simon thinks Taylor's antics are silly.

This was, without question, the best overall show of the finals, with only one really poor performance and six really great ones.

Nonetheless, it's time for the kids to take the time machine back to the pop standards and it's time for my early impressions, subject to rewind, review and revision and, as always, from worst to first.

Pickler does something that I don't recall any other Idol contestant ever doing. She judges her own performance of Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered before Randy ever gets to say a word. "I butchered it," she says. Well, butchered would be too many B's in that whole performance, but it certainly wasn't good (and Simon nailed it when he bluntly stated that the song itself is boring - God, that's six B's now). And on a night when only Ace and Katharine remain and everyone has scored high, even a single missed note is a broadcast. (7 B's.) But she had nice shoes, and when all else fails...

Somebody snuck in, stole Ace and replaced him with a ponytailed Ryan Seacrest. He certainly gets points for dressing the part. But, even though I found his That's All a big draggy and boring, I'm giving him credit for giving his best performance, one that Simon dubs "charming", since Father Figure.

Elliott's choice of It Had to Be You is roundly applauded and nobody argues the quality of the vocal performance. Simon, however, does express concern over the performance, questioning where Elliott left his personality. As much as I hate it, Simon was somewhat right, but it's nothing that hasn't plagued Elliott all season, even though this probably was his most relaxed outing.

Paris chooses These Foolish Things and goes for the conservative, pretty look and spellbinds the audience with a pitch-perfect performance that Randy calls her best ever. Can't argue with that. It was, without question, her moment.

Chris kicks off the show in the perfect outfit singing the perfect song. I am so glad those spoilers were wrong. What a Wonderful World, sung strictly to the original was wonderful. It was splendid. It made me remember why I loved him in the beginning of this contest. The judges love it.

Okay, full disclosure, You Send Me is my favorite song of all of the available numbers, and I got giddy realizing that Taylor was going to perform it. After assuring everyone that he found the SNL parody as funny as the rest of us did, he starts the song according to plan but finishes the song with a fabulous flourish that Simon calls magic.

Katharine picks the exact right song in Someone to Watch Over Me, and does exactly what most expected of her. Stewart says she was born to sing the standards. No truer sentence has ever been spoken on this show. She is elegant, even with a bit too much Ace camera flirting, she is wonderful. Simon gets a bit hyperbolic with his assessment that she makes the others look like amateurs, but she is the best of a great night.

So those are mine. What are yours?

Monday, April 17, 2006

blue moon, you saw me standing alone...

Since it seems the kids are confined to the four volumes of Rod Stewart's The Great American Songbook series, I have spent some time clicking the samples to see if I can hear any of the seven remaining contestants in any of the songs.

What I have is a headache. I don't mean to be rude, but I have discovered that I am not a fan of Rod Stewart's interpretation of the standards. He needs to stick with Maggie. Cannot believe I'm going to actually type this, but I much prefer
John Stevens.

Did I just type that?

Nevertheless, the kids have just over 24 hours to perfect these perfect songs, with no "original" alterations, no covers of Live by covers of Sinatra doing a cover of Cole. We're either going to be transformed to the days of big bands or we're going to save on the cost of prescription sleep aids.

Okay, so I've narrowed my wish list. To be honest, choosing a song for Elliott, Taylor, Kat and Paris was the most difficult because this should be their night to shine, if they choose correctly and sing without annoying and extraneous embellishment. So because they have the potential to sing virtually anything in this genre, narrowing it to one was challenging.

On the other hand, Chris, Pickler and Ace posed a different dilemma, as most people are discovering. But I did my best.

And in the spirit of full disclosure, I will admit here and now that all of these selections are among my personal favorites, because, yes, I am supremely selfish and just want to spend that full hour tomorrow night being entertained by hearing some of my favorite standards sung well. Go ahead. Pelt me. But I'm self-centered that way.

And while I'm on the selfish kick, I want all of them to dress the part. I want to see 1940s attire on all of them. (Yes, Chris, I'm talking to you.)

Ace knows his days are numbered, so hopefully he will select a song that is well known, but not too terribly challenging, stay far, far away from the falsetto he loves but can't sing. So I'm choosing for him Blue Moon, even though the lyrics may be a bit prophetic. You saw me standing alone [having a Bad Day...].

What to choose for Pickler. I've seen recommendations for five of the seven, but few for her (and Chris). So I think her best choice would be Makin' Whoopie. She's a crazy, let it all loose kind of gal, and that's a fun little song that she could have some fun with.

And Chris. Oh my. While I think Chris has the voice to take any of these songs and blow us away, I see him revolting against the entire idea of getting shoved into the big band corner. Too bad mister, it's called playing the game. I really hope Chris doesn't phone this one in in protest, so I've chosen for him one of the most beautiful: I Wish You Love.

Oh good, now to the easy ones.

I have one wish. I want to hear Elliott, my favorite, sing You Send Me, my favorite of all of the available songs. That's what I want. I wanted it during 50s night.

I am so dying to see Taylor in appropriate attire, cause I know he's not going to disappoint me. And so, with that appropriate attire, I want What a Wonderful World. I want it bad. Really bad. Thank you.

Paris has been choosing songs that, in some respects, are too mature for her. Problem with the standards is that most are for mature performers. So my choice for Paris is A Kiss to Build a Dream On. It's a fun, beautifully melodic song which won't come off as awkward out of a teenager.

And Katharine, who I totally expect to see in the anchor "pimp" spot, has probably been drooling for this night. The minute I heard the theme I had one song for her, and I've never wavered, never even considered changing my mind, even though she can pretty much choose anything and, if she brings the volume down a few notches and keeps the meaning of the lyrics uppermost in her mind, will save herself another trip to the bottom. Someone to Watch Over Me is the perfect song for her. I hope she figured that out last week.

So those are my choices. Now all we have to do is wait.

SPOILER ALERT! Don't read if you don't want to know!

Elliott is not going to make my wish come true. Credible spoilers indicate he has chosen It Had to be You, which should also be wonderful. But not as wonderful as my selection.

Chris, it seems, will be choosing Night and Day by Cole Porter. Not coincidentially I'm sure, U2 has a version of this very song, arranged very close to the standards arrangement. How much you wanna bet that's what we'll hear tonight?

Rumors are flying furiously that Paris has been battling song clearance issues. (Like this theme wasn't chosen a month ago. Hello AI? Who's asleep at the damn wheel over there?) Seems she just received the go-ahead yesterday for her fifth selection. But no spoilers on what that selection is yet.

Stay tuned for further developments...

Saturday, April 15, 2006

simon says...

Ace is history, Taylor is stupid, Katharine is too perfect and Paris is gonna win.

Apparently Chris, Pickler and Elliott aren't worth discussing.


Friday, April 14, 2006

a songbook for the ages...

Time to file away the Queen catalog as a distant memory and start focusing on Rod Stewart's The Great American Songbook series as next week the kids will dive into the pop standards, songs which have withstood the test of time and generation, have been recorded and performed by countless artists and will offer something for each of the seven remaining.

Somebody asked what the "standards" were. The group of songs referred to as "the standards" or "The Great American Songbook"were songs written during the golden age of songwriting, between 1930 and 1950, by composers such as Henry Mancini, Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer and Richard Rodgers with either Lorenz Hart or Oscar Hammerstein. Of course, Rod Stewart has compiled probably the most exhaustive collection of these songs in his four-volume set, simply entitled The Great American Songbook, and apparently, it is from this set that the kids will choose their selections. Although, in typical fashion, the ambiguity of the theme might indicate that the kids are not restricted to only those standards chosen by Stewart in his set, for the list of appropriate songs is huge. [I hope that's true, actually, because, while the songs on Stewart's set are wonderful, he does leave out some classics.]

And, according to the vocal coach, the kids will not be allowed to alter these great songs from the original arrangements. They must be sung as they were originally intended.

[Me: doing happy dance!!!]

Hmmm. Maybe I'll get my most fervent wish after all, that Elliott sing You Send Me, since he skipped over it during 50s week, but Rod covered it with Chaka Khan on Volume IV.

Here are the choices with audio clips from
Volume I, Volume II, Volume III and Volume IV. I'm working on my list of wishes.

Got wishes? Please share!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

smoke & mirrors...

Brian May is ticked at American Idol for misrepresenting his discussion with Ace.

Dang. And here I thought it was the highlight of the week.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

off with his head: a simulblog...

Time to reward seven and execute one after the kids' brush with Queen. And it's time for another simulblog, writtten as I'm watching, making all kinds of grammatical boo-boos with a publish at every important stop, so if you don't want to be spoiled, well, you know...

It's an hour tonight so we simply must be treated to several minutes of inane banter between Ryan and the three muskateers before being reminded of the events of the preceding evening.

Okay, another look at the Taylor missed mic stand kick was worth it.

We're promised a pointy-pose Queen medley and the kids kick off the show with it. Now, I liked the retrospective of the season thus far, but I hate the split screen. They've gypped us with group sings this season, so it's totally sucky that we don't even get to see the crappy dance steps unless we have a 89 inch television screen placed about two inches from our nose.

But it was an enjoyable vocal nonetheless.

Now...what are they gonna do for the next 50 minutes?

OH! Commercials!

And the crappy Ford one has the kids dressed in pastel golfing attire, all trying to hit golf balls in apparently an attempt to win a, uhhh, FORD! Ace says he picked out the clothes and that it's the first time he's worn pink. Uh huh.

Ryan has them all lined up on the sofa, quizzing each of them on what they miss from home. Most of them think food which sets up a series of greetings from moms and dads, as if the kids haven't seen their parents in ages. Heck, I just saw Mama McPhee last freakin' night!

But it makes Elliott cry, so it's all good, and I'll stop splitting hairs.

We're given a sneak peek into next week with Rod Stewart and the standards the kids will get to sing.

Taylor gets to see a message from his bandmates and Ray and Lamont, his fish. He gets reminded that he missed the mic stand and what the judges had to say. He's then given the safe sign.

Katharine gets another greeting from mom and dad, who cries when his little girl sings. Dad cries. Katharine cries. Kellie cries. Elliott cries. Kleenex all around. She gets her marks and gets told she's safe.

Chris gets his family greeting from his brother and parents. He's reminded of the judges' remarks and is told to sit still.

Commercial interruption...

Grandpa Pickler sheds a little tear in his Pick Pickler t-shirt, and it's very sweet. Pickler revisits her remarks from the evening before and passes her "snotrag" after being told she's safe.

Elliott's mother is a very sweet lady as she recounts the day they discovered his diabetes. More tears. He's reminded of what the judges said last night and is then sent to the stage to the boos of the audience. Randy tells America they're screwed up, just as Ryan surprises him with the microphone and screams SING!

And he does. And he does it well.

Ace's brothers laugh about the abuse they heaped on the boy growing up. Ace has to hear again the abuse heaped upon him last night by the judges before being told he's part of the bottom tier. Again. Paula tells him he's not in big trouble. She is such a liar.

Now he has to sing. And we have to listen.

Bucky's dad laments the loss of the local racetrack, and Paris' people rejoice in her decision to sing rather than to be an OBGYN. Both of them get their flashbacks, and Bucky is sent to the seal with Ace and Elliott.

The boys line up. Simon predicts Ace will leave.

Ryan, however, has bad news for Bucky and his fans.

He gets to watch the "You're Dead" video.

He's had a bad day...

So long Bucky. And thanks.

the execution must go on...

Another one is gonna bite the dust tonight (oh stop it...I couldn't help myself) after last evening's semi-assassination of the Queen songbook.

My favorite moments of the evening:

I am still cracking up at Brian May looking Ace straight in the eye and refusing to "bastardize" the arrangement of his song just to satisfy an American Idol contestant. American Idol contestant v. composer of song. Gee. I wonder which one knows best.

Secondary favorite moment: Paula actually using the word bastardize.

Giggles still go to Taylor missing the mic stand kick, and, instead of just saying "screw it", getting mad and kicking it again. He should have picked it up and broken it over his knee. Or found Ace and bashed it into his head. Whichever. Either would have been fun.

I gotta give thumbs up to Bucky for singing Fat Bottomed Girls on American Idol, the show that just two seasons ago would not let Amy Adams use the term "mattress dancing."

And I'm not going to forget Randy telling the voters, after Chris' performance, to "forget the song!" and that "half of these kids don't know what they're singing" anyway. This from the man who has "song choice" tattooed on his forearm.

From the mood on the the comment thread, the one who should be executed tonight is clear.
Nigel isn't giving us any kind of "shocker" talk today either, but he is giving us a sneak peek at tonight's festivities, including the promise of a group medley! Dial Idol has Ace and Bucky as the projected bootees, both of them clearly behind the others who are bunched in a middle pack behind Taylor and Pickler.

So the choice of a bottom two is clear. The dilemma is who to stick in the third spot. Chris landing on the seal is a distinct possibility, and would probably be the best thing for him, to shake the eyeliner off and, like Bo last year, to remind him that he's not a lock to win.

Oh the dilemma...

Who I want: Ace, Pickler, Chris (Ace)
Who should: Ace, Bucky, Katharine (Ace)
Who will: Ace, Bucky, Katharine

Ace, pack up your ego, your falsetto and grab your cute brother. And we'll see you for the Brady Bunch pointy pose performance at the finale.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

beelzebub has a devil put aside for me...

The corn is popped. The adult beverages are on ice. The aspirin bottle has been dechildfied and the mantra to the rock gods have been chanted. Freddie Mercury, please forgive them for what they're gonna do.

Coming to you LIVE from Hollywood, it's a trainwreck! And I hope Paula's brought enough drugs for the entire class.

Okay, the expectation is a disaster of epic Idol proportions, and, considering what this group of Idols has given us thus far, it's not an unreasonable suspicion. How sad it is when a group of people get literally giddy over the prospect of carnage. But dang, it's better than the mediocre sap we've endured over the last few weeks.

So it wasn't the trainwreck I was fearing or hoping for, but it certainly won't qualify as one of the best episodes ever either. But then, I fear this season won't even come close to qualifying as the least boring.

Long live the Queen.

Here they are, my early impressions, subject to rewind and revision and, as always, from worst to first:

Ace is told during rehearsals with Queen that Brian May just "can't do that - not to his own song." Brian probably wishes Ace hadn't done that to We Will Rock You either. When he doesn't forget the words he forgets the key. Oh Ace. I wish you hadn't done that too. The judges wish you hadn't done that either. Ace, your cute brother wishes you hadn't done that. Ace, honey, it may just be time to fold 'em.

Pickler decides to try arguably the most popular song ever, complete with leather rocker chick look. She does the Pickler bump and grind and finishes it off with the Pickler knee drop and Pickler wink, leaving me pretty much unaffected. The judges tell her she made it work, in the typical Pickler pimp. I give it a Pickler Bohemian Rhapsody whatever.

Katharine explains that she did a last-minute switcheroo once Mandisa got the ax and performs Who Wants to Live Forever. She gets all backlighted with a great smoky atmosphere and, despite some really bad notes and some irritating screeching, does a decent job with the ballad.

Chris gets all the strobe bells and whistles yet again, singing the "obscure" Innuendo, not covered, that we know of, by Live, Creed or anyone else but Queen. He sounds pretty much like Chris, nothing terribly distinctive or unique or mind-altering, but Randy and Paula drool. Simon again uses the indulgent word and chastises him for cheating the audience out of "a moment." Me? Hell, even I can yell a song and call it a song.

Bucky's in the lead-off position after anchoring last time and doesn't let me down with Fat Bottomed Girls. It's probably the first time I've seen him actually look like he's having a great time. Randy and Paula say yea. Simon says mediocre. Simon, I've heard mediocre. This was better than that.

Taylor is back! Despite a missed mic stand kick, he spazzes all over the stage, all over the catwalk and all over hearts everywhere with Crazy Little Thing Called Love. Randy is relieved the real Taylor has been returned unharmed. Paula calls him fresh air and Simon asks if he's drunk.

Elliott admittedly performs the most difficult of the songs with Somebody to Love, and despite that lingering stiffness, some missed notes and a totally shortchanged ending, helps save the tailend of this performance episode.

Paris takes on the emotional The Show Must Go On, the song recorded and written in the months preceding Freddie's death. She takes a strident and somewhat angry approach to the song, but performs it nicely, with enough maturity to bely her youth. The judges are mixed. I'm impressed, probably for the first time, with Paris.

Okay, those are mine. What are yours?

ag: american idol

here's the list...

Thanks to the sharp-eyed commenters, USA Today has the list of songs planned by tonight's Queens in waiting.

And yes, Pickler is doing Bohemian Rhapsody.

The list is an accompaniment to this article. Beware the line "countrified take on the late Freddie Mercury's melancholy solo in Bohemian Rhapsody."

Holy Mother of Queen, this episode is going to require a trip to the adult beverage vendor.

UPDATE: The Stone Cold Queen Classics website has been updated to include the song list, with a couple of variations from the USA Today songlist. Most suspect that the USA Today list is the most recent and correct, as Mandisa was originally scheduled to sing the song now attributed to Katharine. But this could point to a possible singing order.

UPDATE to the UPDATE: The list has now been edited.

Monday, April 10, 2006

but will they do the fandango?...

And so the countdown begins until the trainwreck of royally-massive proportions or the remaining eight awake from their vacation in mediocrity-land and salvage what's left of this season.

After the past two weeks, I must admit, I'm polishing up my helmet and tightening my seatbelt.

So what do we know? We know the kids will be belting the classics of Queen. This much we know. We know that one of them will attempt to perform Bohemian Rhapsody. But we don't know which one. Four names continually surface as possible/probable BoRhap killers: Kellie, Ace, Katharine and Chris. Watch. It will be Paris.

The only spoiler with any semblance of credibility comes, once again, from the Elliott camp (we love those family squealers!!) who hint and clue that he will perform Somebody to Love.

Rocky says Bucky will head bang his way through his selection. [Now, let's all take a moment and hope that by the time this show is over, we're not the ones banging our heads.]

And, of course, we know that the Wednesday results show has been moved up to an 8:30 p.m. start and will last an hour. (Gotta totally screw with ratings for The Amazing Race, now...) And there will be a group sing. Repeating: there will be a group sing.

'Bout damn time.

I am drawing a complete blank with song choices for these guys, and considering what a poor job they've done choosing songs for themselves, I've decided not to even try.

Regardless, it's definitely going to be, uhhh, interesting.

Get your popcorn ready.

Friday, April 07, 2006

rhapsody in queen...

This may give us a clue as to what the eight finalists will be choosing Tuesday night, as they work with, perform with and sing the Stone Cold Classics of Queen.

This new, limited edition CD goes on sale immediately following Tuesday's show.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

you gotta know when to fold 'em...

Hey! It's time to kill! Country's gonna prove fatal for one of the kids by show's end, and I'm going to simulblog the execution live as it's happening, with a publish at every significant break, so, as always, if you're in the West and you want to be surprised, there's a Pogo game with your name on it. Or, you can occupy your time with Nigel's commentary all about last night. Don't look for much in the way of new or interesting insights, though.

Blogger was down for maintenance until just about five minutes ago, so hopefully they maintained stuff and didn't break anything. If you're trying to keep up, just keep refreshing after the first 15 minutes. We must, after all, get an extended recap, a crappy Ford commercial, a Kenny Rogers performance and 14 minutes of commercials in first.

Because THIS IS American Idol.

Ryan still has the beard and tells us over 30 bazillion votes were phoned in last night. Recap reminds us that Paula got booed, Simon got snotty and Ryan asks us who we loved.

Well, Ryan. Uhhh. None really. But thanks for asking.

Kenny Rogers takes the stage and tries to give Simon a lesson in Country Music 101. Simon sucks up, assuring the man that he enjoys his songs. And yes, as we suspected, Kenny Rogers does indeed have a CD on the shelf. Gee. And here we thought these guys were showing up out of the kindness of their hearts.

He may look like a different person, but he does sound like Kenny Rogers.

Celebrity watch: Travis Tritt is in the house. Gee, he announced on Larry King last week that he was going to be on Idol this week. He never mentioned that he just had tickets.

The kids are crazy car repair people on the crappy Ford commercial "Just One Look."

Ryan puts to rest those April Fool's Joke rumors about next week being Queen, showing us footage from the kids' visit with the band.

Time to start splitting the kids.

Taylor is in group right. Mandisa in group center. Elliott is told to join Mandisa. Uh oh. Paris is sent to join team center. Uh oh again.

Ace starts group left. Kellie joins Taylor. Chris takes a spot with Taylor and Kellie. Katharine and Bucky join Ace.

Team Taylor is sent back in safety to the sofa.

This is an obvious split, considering that team Ace has all made at least one trip to the seal and the members of team Mandisa are all virgins. They are so going for the "it's not the group you think" approach, which has become so predictable that the shocker would be if the obvious ones actually are the bottom.

But I bet they're not.

And I'm right.

Mandisa, Elliott and Paris are the bottom feeders this week, and we get the obligatory lecture about voting from Ryan.


Paris is sent back to safety, to the hugs of her colleagues.

Ryan gives Mandisa the bad news. She and Elliott exchange sincere love yous, and, surprisingly, Paris is crying. Again.

She gets to see her funeral footage and even after all the songs they've performed thus far, still is forced to sing the song that got her booted. Have you ever noticed how their farewell performance is usually superior to their competitive one.

She's a classy lady and they stay with her long enough for a group gathering on the seal.

Farewell, Mandisa!

tag: american idol

caution: crankiness ahead...

Is it just me or is this season losing steam faster than a locomotive headed for a cliff? Or is it just headed for a cliff?

When ardent, some might call even psycho, fans of this show admit to finding other things to do during performance episodes, things are not good. When my good friends start emailing me because they can't think of anything to comment here about, things are looking bleak.

One crappy episode is understandable, even somewhat expected in an American Idol season. But back-to-back ones? One could blame last week on the crappy music from the era they were given to choose from.

But last night there was no excuse. None. Nada.

With the rich history of country music, the breadth of the artists, the styles and the stylings, I refuse to believe that the nine songs selected were the only ones available. And then only a couple of them rose enough to the occasion to call themselves worthy of being on that stage.

What I would have given to hear Katharine try Patsy Cline, even though she's not "bluesy." Too freakin' bad if she's not bluesy. She's perfection. The whole point of theme nights is to get out of your self-constructed box and show the world you can. Then, once it's over, climb back into the box and bluesy your life away.

Of course, I was in a crappy mood to begin with, kinda like I am today, so I expected not to really like anything, and I really didn't all that much, but I do have to give props to Pickler, the one who I've raked through the coals this season. Unfortunately, her fine performance had to be preceded by yet another manufactured spin conversation, which ticked me off beforehand. C'mon. The criticism of Pickler has less to do with calamari and more to do with fabrication. I lost it with this girl the moment she claimed not to have sung in front of people before, even though it was well-established that she was a pageant veteran. And frankly, I'm just sick of stupid being a fashion statement.

And who in the hell sucked out Taylor's soul and replaced it with cotton candy? You know cotton candy, right. You can see it. You know it's there. And it's very sweet, but it's nothing. I want Taylor back. Hopefully he's just at the dry cleaners.

And frankly, I've had my fill with these genre theme nights that Simon (or either of the others) just refuses to even try to understand. If they're gonna insist on country, then learn about country music. Hell, go out and buy the Cliff's Notes if you need to, but don't just dismiss every performance with "I hated the song." You're being paid enough money to put in a little homework time. Otherwise don't have the stupid theme. Criticize their vocals or their lack of performance skills or even their song choice, but don't criticize the song just because you don't like/understand/comprehend the theme.

Whew. Got that off my chest.

Seems Nigel's been at it again, this time on Ryan Seacrest's radio show. He's avoiding the "S" word this week, but is lamenting the fact that tonight's bootee will be sad to lose because he/she is "well-liked." He also says that, since there's nine of them, they're gonna do the good ole stack 'em up into three groups of three and let everybody wonder which group contains the bad people.

Then there's
Dial Idol, who has been doing some tweaking of its formula to account for the differences in population between the right side of the country and the left.

Couldn't help but sort through my pre-season predictions. This was my first predicted "shocker" week with Paris as the victim.

How do you pick a bottom three when none of them have done anything noteworthy in the past two weeks to merit not being there?

I'll tell ya. You take a wild ass guess and just hope you're somewhere in the vicinity of kinda correct.

Or not.

Here goes:

Who I want: Mandisa, Pickler, Ace (Ace)
Who should: Bucky, Mandisa, Ace (Ace)
Who will: Mandisa, Elliott, Paris

And it will be Mandisa who gets to avoid getting up close and personal with the music of Queen.

Okay, I showed you mine. Now, you show me yours...

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

country night: will tomorrow ever come?...

The final nine are strapping on their spurs and donning the 10-gallons tonight and hitting the country charts in an effort to overcome the nasty taste left in the mouths of viewers everywhere from last week's massacre of current tunes.

Ryan, who evidentially has been a bit too busy with Teri to shave recently, introduces us to the footage of Kenny Rogers hanging out with the kids, singing with them to The Gambler. Country music, he tells them, is a story, a journey, one that has to be felt, to be understood.

Note to Kenny: this is American Idol. Understanding the lyrics and knowing them are traditionally two very different things.

Celebrity watch: Whoopi Goldberg is in the audience. And so is Chris Rock. (He should be holding a ChrisRocks sign.)

After giving last week's episode an overall grade of F, this week earns at least a C-. And that's in large part due to Randy's vest and Paula's fading lucidity. Always good times.

Anyway, here they are, my early impressions, subject to review and revision and, as always, from worst to first:

Perhaps Ace should have chosen The Gambler. The only good thing about his Cry is the shot of his really cute brother. Randy calls it boring, except for the falsetto. Paula struggles to find words and then to pronouce them. Simon gives him faint praise. That's normally the curse. Harsh words will send people to the phones.

Mandisa, fresh from an appointment with Katharine's stylist, sings a Shania Twain song I've never heard of called Any Man of Mine (thanks Conni!), that Kenny Rogers says has more words than ever. She struggles with her lower register, as she normally does when she's not belting. The judges universally hate it. I don't hate it, but I don't like it either.

Taylor chooses the wrong John Denver song with Take Me Home Country Road. And they have a fiddler and everything, but even with spotless vocals, the judges are right: it's spiritless, boring and did not, as it should, make me want to clap or tap my feet along.

I am at a total loss to even begin discussing Katharine, who obviously just graduated the Nadia Turner School of Obscure and Never Before Heard of Songs which Bore Audiences to Damn Death. She wanted bluesy, since she doesn't really do country. Kenny calls it sultry. Simon calls it peculiar. She tells Simon to just admit he doesn't like country music. Oh. So that's what it was. Country music. Good to know.

Paris appears with yet another hairstyle, this one I like. She decides to sing How Do I Live Without You, and, like Mandisa, she is fine in the power parts but really shaky in the softer, lower segments. Randy says ick, Paula says she didn't connect with the song and gets booed (what is up with that? She doesn't get booed when she's stoned, but does when she gives an objective opinion??) and Simon tells her she's a young Dionne Warwick. Yeah. And he told Katharine she was almost as good as Christina too.

Kenny Rogers tells Bucky, the lucky pimp spot sitter this week, that it's imperitive he over-enunciate the lyrics to Gary Allan's The Best I Ever Had. Note to Kenny: we know you're new here, but this is Bucky. He doesn't even enunciate, much less overdo it. But he dresses the part and puts more depth into this performance than in past ones, even though I can't understand a word of his enunciation.

Pickler puts to rest all of the mean allegations that she's faking her call-e-maree and sallmon schtick and assures us the person we see is the real and genuine person she is. She chooses Fancy by Reba McEntire, of course a song about a mom who sends her daughter out to the streets in a fancy dress. But, instead of ending in the street, she starts in the audience and does a decent job with a terrible song. (Sorry Reba fans.)

Chris decides to sit on his stool for the duration of Keith Urban's Making Memories of Us. How nice to just hear his voice, rather than the screaming/screeching of his traditional rock turns. I really enjoyed it. Simon calls it boring. I disagree.

Elliott sings the right Garth Brooks song and if I didn't love him already, I would be in love with him now, tweeking If Tomorrow Never Comes just enough to make it his own, but still staying true to the melody, even with a bit too many curly-ques for my taste, despite recommendations to the contrary. Randy calls it hawt, Paula rambles in Paula-speak and Simon, while conceding it was better than Taylor and Mandisa, calls it safe and tentative. I always ask myself if I would buy that performance on a CD, and, for the first time this season, I would.

Now get on those phones!

Tomorrow night we kill another one.

tag: american idol

in the country...

Well, nine will become eight after this week, but first we have to listen to the nine remaining kids give us their version of country music.

YeeHaw! I still want Bucky to sing Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy.

Song spoilers are harder to find than Osama Bin Laden, but there are two circulating out there that seem to have some credibility. But remember, most spoilers this season have proven to be false, so take them with a teaspoon of salt.

Seems Elliott just may sing
If Tomorrow Never Comes, first recorded by Garth Brooks and later covered by Ronan Keating. I hope he does. Seems to be a good fit for him. And, according to a friend of a friend's cousin of Taylor's neighbor's aunt, Mr. Hicks is going for an "uptempo John Denver" tune. My hope? Thank God I'm a Country Boy. Not only is it a knee-slapping fun song, it's got Taylor's name written all over it.

And that's pretty much it for the spoilers with legs.

After last week's fiasco worthy of Hall of Shame induction, they certainly can't get any worse. In fact, I don't know that I've ever seen a week where longtime fans actually considered taking a break from the show. Country nights have usually been known for a mixture of good to ghastly, combined with the predictable Simonesque "I just don't get it" comments from the judge who just doesn't get it. (He'll do the same on Disco night.)

Who's most at risk this week? One word: Ace.

Katharine, who shared bottom two honors with Lisa last week, will probably get the biggest surge of support from all those fans out there who thought, mistakenly, that their girl was safe, much like the Bo fans did when their (our) boy found himself in the same position last season, Fantasia the season before, Ruben the season before that.

Bucky, the perennial in-trouble contestant, will be in his element this week, but considering virtually every performance has been a country one for the guy, getting his theme-of-choice might not advantage him as much as is expected.

Ace, on the other hand, has been losing his base steadily, due to consistently bad performances. He continues to rely on the camera seduction as opposed to the vocal performance, and it's getting beyond tiresome. I predicted he would get booted last week. I'm sticking with that this week as well.

So...who's your pick to leave? Not who you want, that's tomorrow, but who you think.

Monday, April 03, 2006

monday bits & pieces...

I'm a little lax on my news and gossip gathering, because I think last week's show just plum made me sick. But, even with Paris' Fever, I do have some stuff to share.

We all know that tomorrow's theme will be Country, with Kenny Rogers as Wednesday's guest performer. I don't know country music well enough to even begin to come up with song ideas, so if you would like to help, the comment section is all yours!

Seems next week they're planning to hand over the
Queen catalog to the kids, taking bets on whether any of them can turn in a performance as memorable as Constantine's Bohemian Rhapsody. So I guess that's good news and bad news. I do know the music of Queen, but the thought of these kids, who massacred the music of this century, trying to put their own stamp on perfection gives me more chills than a fever ever could.

But at least they're planning a crappy group sing for the final 8. In every dark cloud there is a silver lining. And all that other cliche BS.

Rod Stewart is the guest the following top-7 week, therefore presumably signaling a "standards" theme, considering Stewart's "Songbook" CD series.

And now there's gossip circulating that, in yet another blatant and pathetic CD promotion, the artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as
Prince is on tap to make an appearance, even though he detests the show. Since when did American Idol become QVC?

And Mandisa is making the news this week. See? I told you there'd be a God-Gate, or something like that, after her gospel turn and shout out last week about how our lifestyles, addictions, flu-like symptoms can be overcome with God's help. Simon was visibly critical of her song choice, possibly signaling the season's first de-pimping effort and now the
question is circulating about her views on homosexuality. And here all I thought she might have done was alienate the atheists. Shows what I know.

And that dang Chris Daughtry has done
committed murder. Maybe he can come up with an alternative version of the dearly departed. Now that would be truly original.

Hit the comment section. Got song ideas? Got news? Got Nyquil?

Thanks Rob for the awesome image!