Wednesday, May 31, 2006

music, music, music...

Taylor Hicks' single, Do I Make You Proud with Takin' It To The Streets, is scheduled for a June 13 launch date.

It is already, as is always the case, #4 in sales at, on its way to probable platinum sales. Meanwhile, Takin' It To The Streets, off of the AI compilation CD, Encores, is #37 on the overall top downloads list and #12 on the Pop list.

And if you missed Taylor breakdancing, well, you'll want to see it, I'm certain.

Meanwhile Katharine McPhee's single My Destiny with Somewhere Over the Rainbow is headed for release June 27 and is currently #68 on pre-sale at And, considering the front of the cover and the fact that she performed Rainbow on her first solo appearance (on Regis & Kelly with Donald Trump) it looks as though My Destiny, the universally-panned traditional crappy song, has been relegated to the "B" side. Sweet.

Kat's track, Think, from the compilation CD is at #26 on the iTunes Pop Top 100 list and #99 on the overall 100 list.

And, it seems, according to a Bocelli fansite, that she will be appearing through June with Andrea Bocelli, who has planned tour appearances in California. (The Idol tour does not begin until July.)

On another front, the cast CD, Encores, is debuting at #3 on the Billboard charts.

And, if you're wondering how the others are doing on tTunes, Chris Daughtry's track is #17 on the Top 100 list and #7 on the Pop 100 list. Elliott Yamin's track is #88 on the Top 100 list and #25 Pop 100 list.

Also on the Pop 100 list are Ace at #46, Paris at #52, Pickler at #56, Mandisa at #58 and Melissa at #72.


And, just in case you missed it, Michael Sandecki is continuing on his quest to squeeze 17 minutes out of the allotted 15 he's been given. Good news: he had a great time. Bad news? Agents are sending him contracts.

Where's William Hung when we need him?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

keeping tabs on the trio...

Just in case you missed it, Taylor was hanging with Regis and Kelly, even though Regis was a no-show, and the yummy Anderson Cooper was in his chair. Who knew Anderson Cooper was an American Idol Junkie too?? And the two compared their locks.

And a reminder, Katharine McPhee is slated to join Kelly and whoever's joining Kelly tomorrow. And Elliott Yamin will perform Thursday.

Also on Thursday, Kat and Taylor will be singing live on the plaza on Today. And on Friday, Taylor is making a stop in to visit with Ellen DeGeneres.

Friday, May 26, 2006

friday news and notes (and awards!)...

Any of y'all suffering an American Idol hangover? For me it was like Christmas, all the planning and anticipation, only for the day to arrive, followed by the inevitable letdown and exhaustion.

But I'm over that, thanks to about 12 hours of sleep and the magic of instant replay.

Taylor was a hoot on Jay Leno, and it's just the beginning for the Idol winner. He, along with Katharine McPhee, is scheduled to appear with Ryan Seacrest on Larry King tonight on CNN. His scheduled appearances next week include a stop by Regis and Kelly next Tuesday. Then he (again with Katharine) will perform live on the plaza on Thursday's Today Show. (Katharine will be chatting with Regis and Kelly next Wednesday and Elliott Yamin will be there next Thursday, so set your recordings!)


I've noticed that people are still buzzing about the finale extravanga from Wednesday. Nice to hear. I was going to give out my own "Junkie Awards" in a separate entry, but I think this entry will do.

Junkie Award
Best Duet
Ace Young and Melissa McGhee (The Look of Love). It's really too bad Melissa didn't get more of an opportunity to show us her stuff during the competition, leaving first in the finals after a disasterous Stevie Wonder performance and being completely overshadowed by many of the other girls in the semis, but I think people sat up and took notice Wednesday, especially when she paired with the just-as-lovely-to-look-at Ace on this Bacharach classic.

Honorable Mention
Paris Bennett and Al Jarreau. What a true gentleman Al Jarreau is, not only reminding us why we love his music but making the gesture to allow his 17-year-old companion to shine alongside him. Their pairing comes close to the Vonzell Solomon/Billy Preston duet from last season, and I'm going to make the same suggestion now that I did then: get them both into the studio for a do-over. It would sell.


Chris Daughtry's track on the compilation CD is still downloading well in iTunes, but he's getting a run for his money by Taylor Hicks. Chris' track, Wanted Dead or Alive, is at #11 on the overall top 100, followed by Taylor's Takin' It to the Streets at #17. The only other two tracks still on the top 100 are Elliott's Moody's Mood for Love at #38 and Katharine's Think at #59.

But on the Pop Top 100 list, Chris and Taylor have both cracked the top ten. Chris is at #5 and Taylor is at #7. (And how nice it is that iTunes has finally stopped calling each of them "Various Artists.") In fact, 11 of the 12 tracks have found their way to the top 100 pop list. Only Kevin Covais' track When I Fall in Love is missing from the rankings.


Junkie Award
Best Big Brother
Ace, Bucky, Chris, Elliott. It was never so obvious how really out of place Kevin was in the field of six guys before Wednesday, primarily because we had been so robbed of group numbers while he was a contestant, and in the only group sings we got to enjoy before his ejection, there were so dang many people on the stage it was easy for him to get lost. But rather than pretend that the little dude wasn't there, the four guys made a concerted effort to make him a part of the guys' medley and later the Bacharach number, when it would have been so easy simply not to. No wonder I have come to love this group of men.

Junkie Award
Best Sport
Clay Aiken and Michael Sandecki. This was one of the most priceless reactions I've ever seen on any television at any time anywhere. And I can't stop watching it. Some have speculated that the entire segment was staged, but Sandecki was on the Today show this morning, still in shock and awe, and assuring viewers that he, indeed, did believe that the gigantic cheers that arose from the audience were in fact for him, that he had rehearsed the song on stage alone and that, although running into all of the Idol finalists, each of whom knew Clay was in the building, he was totally clueless about the surprise that was awaiting him. And, by the way, since he had rehearsed the song, he was determined to perform it alongside his idol. (Honorable mention to the sound guy who turned down his microphone!) And Clay needed, new hairstyle notwithstanding, to re-emerge from the shadows, and what a better place and time than on the Idol stage, where he will always be safe. The buzz surrounding the classic moment has made fans out of non-fans and, hopefully, gone a long way in healing the rift between the show and one of its most popular alumni. You rock, Clay.

Honorable mention
Taylor Hicks. I don't think Toni Braxton was probably high on Taylor's list of ideal stage companions (and if she was, I doubt she is anymore) but managing to not only compensate for Braxton's a.) non-functioning mic; b.) impaired state; c.) lack of lyric knowledge or d.) all of the above, but also his swift and tactful managing to fend off her attempts to lap dance her way into an FCC fine, truly proved what a mature and masterful performer the man is.

Honorable mention II
Me. For avoiding completely the cheap use of any Braxton-Hicks remarks.


Elliott Yamin has been in the news. His partnership with Mary J. Blige has been considered one of the highlights of Wednesday's show. But not all of the press has been complimentary. Initially I was not thrilled with the duet, considering it came off at first as more of a star/backup singer performance. But after watching it more than once, (actually a lot more than once) I don't think the criticism of Mary J. Blige is warranted. After all, she's Mary J. Blige. And, aside from Prince, who didn't pair with anybody but a couple of unnamed dancers, she really was the most prominent of the guests from today's music scene. And she's Mary J. Blige. Anyone who's ever seen her perform, solo or not, knows she's an over-the-top performer. Elliott certainly knew this, and the joy on his face of being on stage with her was evident. And in comparison to the scary and out-of-tune Meatloaf duet that Katharine had to save and the In The Ghetto sexed-up remix that Taylor had to endure, Elliott won the lottery.

Seems the initial Stevie Wonder/Elliott duet rumor was correct, though. That was the plan from the beginning, but, according to Elliott, Stevie found himself unavailable after agreeing to perform. Plan B was an Elliott duet with Lenny Kravitz, but
"that didn't work out." So Mary J. Blige agreed to step in at the last minute.

And while we're on the E-train of thought (sorry, couldn't help it) seems the kid has done more than just karaoke nights at the local bar. Apparently, Elliott spent some studio time on a CD entitled
Sound Doctrine, a gospel/hip hop by somebody named Big Planz, who is proudly now advertising the disc as one featuring "up and newcomer and 2006 AI Finalist" Elliott Yamin. Smart move! Yesterday the CD was #560,505 in sales at Today? It's #7,037 #4,860 #3412 #1584 and climbing hourly. (And Clive Davis is gonna take a pass on this boy?) I can't tell exactly which tracks Elliott participated on, but my money is definitely on at least tracks seven and nine.


Junkie Award
Most Improved Player
Bucky Covington. I've not read a single review, blogger or message board diatribe that didn't praise Bucky's vocal performances. And he looked hot too.

Honorable Mention
Kellie Pickler. It's amazing how many people love her now that she spent most of her time not singing. Including me. Gurl, get an agent and get into speaking roles. If those Puck and Pickler moments were spontaneous, she's a gem. If they were scripted, then she's even better.


The official site already has a finale
recap video up, as well as a comprehensive recap of the entire season. And Nigel is speaking out here.

And if I learn of television appearances, scandals or other fun stuff, I'll let you know!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

congratulations taylor...

The American Idol.

I feel like I've been on a five-month bender, but I haven't left the building. And I hope you haven't either.

I'll be back soon. As soon as I nurse this Idol hangover.

Don't forget to check in on Taylor tonight with Jay Leno. And he, Kat and Elliott have busy weeks next week.

Me? I'll be back tomorrow.

You guys rock.

Taylor on Leno.

Studio version of Do I Make You Proud.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

let's rock the house: a finale simulblog...

It's all come down to this night and with two hours of surprises, music, dancing, it's probably going to be anti-climactic to watch the confetti fall. But we'll love every moment of this tradition cheese-fest known as the finale.

Because THIS is American Idol.

And this is a final simulblog, written as I'm watching, unless, of course, I'm crying, in which case I will have to wait until I stop doing that, so ignore the typos and the misspellings, forget you saw the misplaced commas or the poor grammar and, if you're in the west and you want to be surprised, this is not the place to be, because I'll be clicking the send button at every significant break in the action.

Hold on to your goudas, folks, the cheese is about to begin.

[personal note: we've got thunderstorms headed our way. if I lose power it better be after Elliott or there will be hell to pay.]

Carrie Underwood starts the show, joined by Taylor and Katharine with I Made it Through the Rain and they're joined by all the kids, dressed in traditional Brady Bunch white and the choir from last night, only tonight dressed in all black, as the show cues the traditional opening credits. Short but sweet song, just the way I like them, especially when there are about 50 people are singing together.

Ryan says they estimate 200 million folks all over the world are watching. We get to go to Birmingham with the O'Donahue twins. (Remember Becky?) And we get to hear from Tamyra Gray at Universal City in Los Angeles.

Paris starts off with Al Jarreau and they're terrific with We're In This Love Together. The whole song! It's not going to be a medley this year! YAY!

Paris and Al Jarreau

[how appropriate that they are running Super Bowl commercials, considering advertisers paid nearly the same price...]

Time for Chris and Live. Oh my goodness. They really do look alike! I don't know if I'd know who was who 'cept Chris has that wallet chain thing. I think this song is called Mystery (correct if wrong, please). Very nice harmonizing. The crowd goes crazy. They won't shut up.

Shut up crowd.

Chris with Live

The comedy break is a food mentoring session for Pickler with Wolfgang Puck, entitled Puck and Pickler. I'm telling ya, this girl needs to forget singing and hit the sitcom circuit. Forget calimari, she's eating escargot. Very appropriate remembrance of the Pick.

It's Meatloaf!! I love Meatloaf. And he's with Katharine. And the two would be completely at home on a Broadway stage singing It's All Coming Back to Me Now. I gotta be honest, Kat is great, but Meat is scaring me a little.

But Kat's mom's dress is scaring me more.

Kat with Meatloaf


We return with the traditional revisiting/humiliation of the crappy auditioners. (Damn, and here I had wiped the memory of that over-tanned, over-lipsticked girl from Chicago. Damn this show!) And yes, I was afraid Crazy Dave would be back. And he was.



It's the BOYS! And they're taking care of business, complete with harmonica. I am loving this. Loving. This. They were FAB!

The Boys...

Kat and Taylor get their Chevys. Uhh, I mean Fords.

Claudette Yamin gets the award for best parent moment and introduces "her" Elliott with Mary J. Blige. Elliott sounds good. Mary J. Blige sounds good. Unfortunately for Elliott, she pretty much drowns him out until the end of One, but an awesome performance nonetheless. Anything Elliott does is awesome.

Elliott with Mary J. Blige

Carrie Underwood performs her new single Don't Forget to Remember Me. Gosh, she is pretty. I like her much better now than I did last year.

I don't even want to talk about Rhonetta, the silver tube top twit. I swear if they bring out the Brittendumbs, I may go over the edge.

It's Taylor's turn, and he's with Toni Braxton with In the Ghetto. Uh, very nice, even though it was too short. But Taylor's got more singing, so he's saving his voice. I don't know what the hell Toni Braxton was doing.

Time for the Girlz Rule number, featuring all the girls, but overly starring Katharine.

And the Clay Aiken moment is, without a doubt, one of the best moments I have ever seen on a finale. That does it. This is the best finale ever. Best. Ever.

Time to drag out Burt Bacharach with the kids as they do a promising medley of his greatest hits. Taylor/Katharine pair up. So do Ace/Melissa, who is gorgeous! Pickler gets to solo, followed by Bucky. And I understand every word! Go Bucky! Mandisa gets Supreme-like backup from Paris, Pickler and Melissa and reminds us why she was a finalist. Lisa gets to hang at the piano with Burt and sings a fraction of Alfie better than she sang the whole time she was in the competition. Elliott gets A House is Not a Home and I think I'm going to melt. Seriously. Poor Kev has to follow that, but he's surrounded by the girls and looks so cute that nobody cares. And he sounds great too. He's having a blast.

Kevin is joined by Chris and Ace for The Best that You Can Do. And Paris channels Karen Carpenter with Close to You. Gosh these guys are tearing up the stage. And to think we were robbed of group numbers all season.

Paris introduces Dionne Warwick. Now that is an artist. Take notes kids. This is how it's done.

Best finale ever.

The next "Idol Award" is for best male bonding. Nominees: Ace and Chris; Ryan and Taylor and the Brokeback Cowbodys. Oh, Garet's gotta get this next award. Garet's just gotta be there. Pleeeeeeze.....

YAY! YAY!! The Brokenote Cowboys, starring Garet, get to perform. YAY! And they sound pretty good too.

Ryan does some time-eating nonsense, promising no more surprises, so we know "the surprise" is coming. But I did not see that coming.

It's Prince! The man who hates this show! And it's a great performance too! Bonus! (But, of course, appearing on this show for 90 seconds is worth about a million dollars in CD sales, so if given the choice between integrity and bucks...) And while the performance was great, it was kinda gratuitous, not tied in with the kids in any way. I like Prince, but I would have preferred another surprise.


Taylor and Kat (in a stunning gown) join up with The Time of My Life, the traditional duet. Now, of course, I'm wanting to see some dirty dancing, complete with overhead lift. I think Kat can hold him up. Well, okay. They do their best little poor-man's imitation of the dance. And on a duet scale of bad to good, I give it a meh.

Ryan says 63 million votes were cast last night. Well, none of them were from me, I don't think, cause I couldn't get through. Ryan says that's more votes than have ever been cast for a U.S. president. True, but unfortunately we're not allowed to vote a gazillion times for the prez.

Time for the announcement. And it's....

TAYLOR, like anybody had any doubts.

Aww. David Hasselhoff is weeping. And Taylor's acceptance speech consists of two words.

Soul Patrol. He looks so happy. There are tears in his eyes.

One more time with the crappy coronation song, soon to be coated with confetti.

Way to go Taylor.

it's the FINALE!!!...

As we're watching the webcast, Idol Tonight or just getting ready, here's the place to talk until the show starts in approximately 90 minutes.

Chat away!...

secrets, secrets...

For a live webcast, beginning at 6 p.m. eastern/3 p.m. Pacific, click here.

With just seven hours until showtime, the secrecy surrounding tonight's finale extravaganza is both intriguing and irritating. By this time last year, we pretty much knew who was scheduled, in what order and what they were singing.

This year? Virtually nothing.

Here's what we know or, at least, think we know with a high degree of certainty.

The top five (at least) are scheduled for solo/duets, which is my way of saying these kids will perform alone with an established star, rather than being grouped with one or more of the other kids for the performance. This is a new, but welcomed twist, because of all of the last five seasons, this is the one with the potential to spawn more breakout stars than the others. In addition to Taylor and Kat, I feel certain that we'll see Chris Daughtry with a CD out within the year. I expect to be standing in line to buy whatever Elliott Yamin produces, and a Paris Bennett CD wouldn't be a surprise. I do expect to see Kellie Pickler in a sitcom and see Ace Young somewhere on my television eventually. And if Mandisa doesn't release a gospel CD, I'll be shocked. And I'm not counting out Lisa Tucker or Bucky Covington.

Katharine McPhee will perform with Meatloaf. (I'm squeeling at the thought of Meatloaf on the Idol stage!)

Elliott Yamin will be paired with Mary J. Blige. (I'm hearing there's a lot of anticipation surrounding this performance.)

Chris Daughtry will perform with his favorite band, Live.

Paris Bennett will, reportedly, be singing with Al Jarreau.

Carrie Underwood and Clay Aiken will be there. Bo Bice may possibly be there. (Now, wouldn't it be nice to see Kelly Clarkson, Justin Guarini, Ruben Studdard, Diana DeGarmo and Fantasia Barrino too? Well, nobody's said they won't be there...) We haven't had a winners reunion since season three.

Burt Bacharach and Dionne Warwick will perform, most probably with the kids. Kevin Covais will sing What's New Pussycat, or at least part of it. Bucky Covington will sing Raindrops Keep Fallin' on my Head. And the girls will be singing a Girls Rule!-type of medley.

Katharine and Taylor's traditional duet will likely be (I've Had) The Time of My Life, from the soundtrack Dirty Dancing, suspected only because a couple of super sneaky radio personalities risked losing their media credentials to secretly tape them during rehearsal. (p.s. they sound good.)

UPDATED: Taylor Hicks will be performing In the Ghetto with Toni Braxton.

Here's what we don't know...

Who Taylor will be paired with, other than his harmonica. (Names thrown about have ranged from Bruce Springsteen and Bob Seger to Toni Braxton and Sheryl Crow, so it's anybody's guess.)

Who will sing the national anthem, which, if you're new to the finale, is always a highlight. Last year it was Leandra Jackson, one of the worst auditioners who was brought back, all dolled up and given a standing ovation. I cried. This year? My money's on little Garet Johnson, the Wyoming cowboy who is probably practicing in front of an audience of turkeys for his return to the big stage.

Nigel is being tight-lipped but promising us enormous surprises throughout the two-hour telecast. And Katharine is following in his footsteps,
telling ET that "There's a big surprise that out of all the contestants only me and Taylor know about, so trust us it's pretty big, something that's never happened on the show!"

Okay, it's pretty big. Never happened before. And Kat and Taylor would be clued in, but the other contestants left clueless. Hmmm. Guessing game time. Maybe they're gonna announce that Kat and Taylor really aren't the two top finishers, cause the whole season was a reverse dream and all the awards go to Melissa and Kevin. Now that's never happened before.

Or maybe they're gonna announce the offering of recording contracts to more kids from this group than have ever been offered in the past five seasons. Naaah. Wishful thinking.


album reports, day two...

The season five compilation CD, launched yesterday, seems to be, as they usually are, climbing to the top of the selling lists, currently at #7 in sales at, where its review will excite the fans of Paris, Chris and Elliott but not please the Soul Patrol.

Over at iTunes, where individual track downloads spell individual, as well as collective, success, nine of the 12 have cracked the Pop Download Top 100 list, and three of them have made it onto the overall top 100 list.

On the pop tunes list, as of 11 a.m. eastern, Chris is at #7, Taylor is at #18, Elliott's is right behind at #19 and Katharine is coming in at #23. Also on the chart are Ace at #35, Paris at #46, Pickler at #57, Melissa McGhee at #64 and Mandisa rounds them out, placing at #70.

Chris' track is #22 on the overall download list, followed by Elliott's at #62 and Taylor at #65.

I'll keep tabs on them as we approach tonight's finale, so keep checking this entry for updates.

UPDATE @ 2:50 p.m. On today's pop #100 downloads list at iTunes, there is some movement, but not a whole lot. Chris is currently #6, Taylor is #16, Elliott is #17, Katharine is still at #23, Ace is #32, Paris is at #42, Pickler is at #52, Melissa's moved a notch to #63 and Mandisa is #67.

On the overall download top 100 chart, Chris has moved to #19, Taylor is at #53 and Elliott is #56.

Keep checking back.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

kat v. taylor: a simulblog...

It's been a long season. And a very brief one. And it's ending tonight, because tomorrow is all about fun. Well, until we crown one and execute the other, shoving him or her to the side so that we can make room for confetti.

Three songs, one original that no one will like tomorrow, and two that are getting their second run, now on the really big stage. And this is a simulblog, written as it's happening, complete with typos and misplaced commas, with breaks at every important stop. There will be no worst to first ranking, at least not until the morning after.

And I must say, that as a voter with no dog in this fight, it is awfully relaxing to watch without the aid of antacids or adult beverages. Well, maybe some adult beverages, but only cause I want to.

Because THIS is American Idol.

Randy, Paula and Simon are giving mundane advice before we're treated to both of their journeys, because with only six songs, even counting the Bad Day song planned by Daniel Powter, we've got a lot of time to McPhill. (Sorry.)

YAY it's Chris Daughtry! And Dad McPhee isn't crying yet.

And Katharine is up with Black Horse and a Cherry Tree. And thankfully she is on her feet this time, but in a really terrible shirt. Smart girl. But her drummers are back, and she's pulling some Tayloresque dance moves. Randy agrees with me that this was a better vocal than the last time she delivered it. Paula is typically Paula. Simon calls it a warmup, because the occasion, he says, is bigger than the song she selected.

Taylor is up with Livin' for the City, his Stevie Wonder performance, and he's in the brightest purple velvety blazer I've ever seen. He works his way through the audience [Elliott sighting!!], up to the stage, back to the audience, up on the catwalk and back to the stage, and ignites the crowd into one of the longest applauses this season. That was terrific. Randy says it's a hawt one. Paula has lost her mind and it's still early. [Ace sighting!] Simon has to pan the jacket. [Pickler/Bucky sighting!!] but gives him the Simon thumbs up.

Round one: Taylor in a knockout.

So Katharine is going to run the risk of crapping on her moment from last week by sitting on the stage and pounding out Somewhere Over the Rainbow. And I actually think I like this week's version better. McPhather is bawling, and the audience won't shut up. Randy says she "worked it out." Paula calls her possessed by one thing or another. Simon says it was again her best performance of the season. She's happy, I suppose, that she was given good critiques, but happier that she started on the right key, considering her earpiece was picking up the Comedy Channel or something. But as long as she's happy, I guess that's all the matters.

Taylor's dad introduces his boy's Levon, one of my personal fave performances from the semi-finals. [Lisa/Melissa sighting!] Randy calls it pitchy, Paula says it's not pitchy it's Taylor (whatever) and Simon gives this round to Katharine. I agree.

Round two: Katharine by a field goal.

We get to see the requisite parent-remembers-kid-growing-up-singing puff piece, and she's climbing the wall of death, commonly and affectionately referred to as the crappy original song. Hers is My Destiny. And this is the first time all season I've said this: she looks stunning. It's very Inside My Heaven-ish, but makes some of those crappy original songs seem, well, exciting. She does get a choir though, and they have robes on. That's always a plus. Randy hates the crappy song, but says she sounded good. Paula assures her that she didn't write the song so it's not her fault just in case Kat decides to go all last week on them, and Simon gives her essentially the "it's been nice to have you" speech. Ouch.

Taylor's crappy original song, Do I Make You Proud, starts with about the same amount of excitement as the one that preceded it, but then busts into that obligatory choir chorus and, yep, sure enough, here come the robed ones. "Everybody needs to be loved" seems to be the main message here. Oh Taylor. You're gonna have to record this crap. Please Taylorize it in the studio. Randy hates the song only slightly less, but loves Taylor. Paula loves Taylor. Simon tells him he's just won the whole thing.

And I agree. Without question.

But will he?

See you tomorrow. Now go vote.

finale news...

Burt Bacharach will, apparently, be central in a group medley, it's being reported.

Dionne Warwick is slated to perform That's What Friends Are For, but as only part of an Ode to Bacharach,
TMZ says, including Kevin Covais singing What's New Pussycat (awww) and Bucky Covington performing Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head (awww, again.)

Plus it's being reported that Paris Bennett will duet with Al Jarreau and that yes, Clay Aiken will perform. (Aiken as been said to be anywhere from "part of the audience" to "performer" for Wednesday's show.)

we interrupt this blog ...

I know we're waiting for tonight's final six performances and tomorrow's finale extravaganza, but, in case you haven't been keeping track, I thought perhaps some figures from today's release of the American Idol Season 5 CD, Encores, might be of interest.

As of 1 p.m., three of the crew have cracked the top 100 today's pop single downloads at
iTunes. And they show no indication that they're gonna slide anywhere but up as people keep downloading them. (By the way, the software is free, and the singles cost just $.99 and downloads do contribute to Billboard chart numbers.)

Chris Daughtry's track Wanted Dead or Alive is currently at #47. And Chris is flipflopping with Elliott Yamin, whose track Moody's Mood for Love is currently #52. Taylor Hicks is the only other of the 12 to be ranked with Takin' It to the Streets, currently sitting at #83 (just behind Kelly Clarkson's A Moment Like This, ironically).

UPDATE @ 1:51 p.m. Wow! There are some downloading foooools out there! Way to go. Chris has jumped now to #31, Elliott is now at #39, Taylor has vaulted to #54 and now Katharine McPhee's track Think is on the chart too, at #93. (Hey Bucky fans where are you?) I'll keep checking back. This could be more fun than rumor patrol.

3:00 p.m. UPDATE! Chris is now at #23, Elliott is at #34, Taylor is #50 and Katharine is at #82. (Hey Paris fans, where are you?)

4:30 p.m. UPDATE! Chris is at #20, Elliott's gaining ground on him though, at #24, Taylor is #40, Katharine is at #59 and (YAY!) Ace Young is in there too now, at #80 with Father Figure. (It's really one of the best tracks on the CD.) C'mon Kevin fan! Let's go!

11 p.m. UPDATE!! This is a good one. Chris, Elliott and Taylor have cracked the overall top 100 chart, not just the pop chart at iTunes. Chris is currently #33, Elliott is at #77 and Taylor is at #92.

it's idol night (for the last time)...

No more rumors, speculation or innuendo about song selection, who can sing what, when, how or in standing or seated positions. Well, the seated/standing thing is still in wait-and-see mode.

Taylor's crappy original song is entitled Do I Make You Proud?, says Ken Warwick. And, in addition to the original number, Taylor has decided to go with two tried-and-true songs, one from the semi-finals (and the one I was hoping for), Levon, and Livin' for the City.

Katharine's original song, as we now know, is the interestingly-titled My Destiny, and she will bring back Somewhere Over the Rainbow after only seven days and her well-received version of Black Horse and a Cherry Tree.


Monday, May 22, 2006

more finale news...

Add Burt Bacharach and Dionne Warwick to the list of guests for Wednesday's finale, as they will join the Idol kids and, it seems, Carrie Underwood with Katharine and Taylor with We Made It Through the Rain.

Oh heck, just
check out the photos for yourself.

her destiny?...

Katharine McPhee's "original" song/soon-to-be single is a tune entitled My Destiny, written by Hanne Sorvaag, a Norwegian singer/songwriter.

If you scroll down her biography, she does have a link to her most recent album. (I personally, like the song Love Sucks, like anyone who would write/sing a song by that title, and think that should be the coronation single. But that's just me.)

So no Tamyra for Katharine. That's gotta be good news.

listen to them all...

Tomorrow is the launch date of the AI5 compilation CD Encores. And I'm still urging those of you who are fans of the non-finalists to download your favorites' individual track to send a message that we'd like to hear more from them. Who knows, enough downloads might land one of them on the charts. Taylor and Kat fans will have singles to buy in about a month, but the others have only this CD.

But anyway, if you just can't wait, America Online has the full CD now available for a listen. Some of them are worth it. Some of them, not so much. (Sorry Kev.)


as the rumors (continue to) churn...


It's finale talk, again. Okay, here's what we know or think we know:

1.) Meat Loaf will be there to duet with Katharine McPhee on It's All Coming Back to Me.

2.) Chris Daughtry will perform with the band "Live," as confirmed by the band's website.

3.) Elliott Yamin is
now rumored to be performing with Mary J. Blige. And although I still refer to this as rumor, it's highly substantiated.

4.) Carrie Underwood will perform. It is being widely rumored that Clay Aiken and Bo Bice will also perform, but that is still in the rumor stage, so don't pin any hopes on it. (But I gotta admit, the thought of an Idol/runner-up reunion does get me all excited...) The Clay rumor is gaining some credence beyond the gossip column the rumor originated in. And the Bo Bice appearance is all but verified here. (thanks mj for that one!) The Clay appearance has now been confirmed by ETOnline.

UPDATE: Okay, so Bo and Clay are confirmed, and now I'm hearing that Justin Guarini is scheduled to be there to "participate," but possibly not sing. Three of the male runners-up at the finale.

If this keeps up, I'm going to need a new rumor entry.

5.) It is widely reported that Tamyra Gray, season one's fourth-place winner, will host Taylor Hicks' Birmingham viewing party. (If you're new the AI finale, the viewing parties can give us some of the best moments, like when Matt Rogers of season three hit on the governor's wife and Simon asked LaToya London of season three, who was decked in tiara and feather boa, if she was drunk... Ahh. Good times.)


And for those of us who can't get enough Idol, need to store up our Idol tidbits for the long summer ahead, who just can't wait for tomorrow or Wednesday or, of course, all of the above, the TV Guide Channel will be satisfying the lust for all things Idol past and present with a marathon of sorts this week, starting tonight at 7 p.m. eastern, with guests season two's Kimberley Locke (YAY) and season four's Constantine Maroulis. Tomorrow a two-hour red carpet edition will precede the 8 p.m. final performance episode with guests LaToya London and George Huff (YAY) from season three and Anthony Fedorov and Nadia Turner from season four.

And, of course, they will be broadcasting live for two hours preceding the grand finale on Wednesday with guests Jon Peter Lewis and Jasmine Trias, both of season three. Want to know more? Here it is.


And as far as Tuesday's performance episode is concerned, evidentially Katharine and Taylor, like season two's Clay and Ruben, will perform different crappy original songs. Reports over the weekend were that Taylor was a tad unhappy with the drivel we call the coronation song, so the official line has changed a bit. (Not to worry; if both of them are coming from the same place, they'll both be crappy.)

Along with that, allegedly Randy is reporting that the two kids have been given a choice to sing a.) either two songs previously performed and judged between the round of 12 through the round of 4 (disqualifying final 3 and semi-final round songs*) *potentially innaccurate, or b.) they can sing one previous number and a new, not-yet-performed one, if they choose. No word from the Taylor camp, but Katharine confirmed in her interview last week that she will sing two songs she's already performed.

UPDATE: Again, I have no first-hand verification, but it's making the rounds that Good Day LA reported this morning that Katharine has elected to reprise Black Horse and a Cherry Tree and Somewhere Over the Rainbow for her two non-crappy original song beast selections. Of course, if she does elect to sing Rainbow, that means the Randy reports that they were restricted in song choice has proven to be unfounded. (See, this is why I don't like rumors, but since it's the last week, I'll just throw them out there and let you decide, unless I think they're too outrageous.) But if it is true, and she's going to elect those two songs, she better deliver Rainbow as well or better than last week. In my opinion she's either not getting any advice or she's getting some lousy advice.

Thanks you guys in the comments for giving me the heads up whilst I was snoozing. If I find out any more information today, it will be added here. And keep the assistance coming, please.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

for those who missed it...

If you missed Saturday Night Live's most recent visit from Taylor Hicks, and you want to see it, here you go. I couldn't help myself. I laughed a little.

Don't rip on me Katharine fans. When SNL starts doing Katharine skits, I'll link those too. But don't hold your breath. Let's face it. She's not that funny.

my ten most memorable moments...

With the finale looming, putting an end to this very short and very long fifth season of American Idol, it's time, as is customary, for me to sit back, remember, reflect, reassess and do all those other silly things one does as the end of something is so near.

Yes! That means it's time for the most memorable moments.

Seems people always like to talk about performances in terms of "best" or "worst." I don't do that, because talent is subjective, and style preferences run the spectrum. So I let others do that. In fact, my favorite performance(s) aren't even on this list. This is a list of the moments that stick in my brain without having to review a list of songs to trigger the recollection. And they're not in any specific order, really, until it gets to the end. (And, as always, I purposely exclude the two remaining kids, and anything from the previous week, because picking from a few days ago is the weenie way out.)

10.) Ace Young. (Father Figure). I remember Ace from his auditions, after having read his name being thrown about as a top 44er, so I was looking forward to seeing him for the first time, and I immediately pegged him as a frontrunner, but only on the basis of his good looks. But when he took the stage in the first men's semi-final and delivered this performance, I knew he'd make the 12, and was somewhat happy that he actually had a voice to back up those sensual gazes into the camera. Too bad his first good performance was his last good performance. But at least the memory of that night sustains me.

9.) Mandisa. (Wanna Praise You). Mandisa had blown most of the girls out of the water during the semi-finals with that big, belty voice that had her being compared with season two's prematurely evicted, but always remembered Frenchie Davis. But when she came down that ramp, preaching about lifestyles, I knew she was a goner. Faith is a wonderful thing, and she said later she needed to stay true to herself and that's a noble gesture, but the rules of the game are simple: sing, sing in tune, act nice. And leave agendas backstage.

8.) Gedeon McKinney. (Change is Gonna Come). Simon was right about Gedeon. His smile was offputting and even a little creepy, mainly because it just never seemed to go away. And smiles that never go away are not natural. But when he took to the semi-final eyeball stage and let loose with this song, I really believed he was going to oust one of the ratpackers to grab a final 12 spot. I still play this mp3 from time to time.

7.) Bobby Bennett. (Copacabana). Yes, this performance is still in my memory. And I want it out. Out. Now.

6.) Chris Daughtry. (Hemmorhage). I have this thing. When I hear a song for the very first time, I usually don't like it. It takes a few listens first. But when Chris Daughtry sang this song, that I had never before heard, he was my immediate choice for final two, because not only did he perform it well, he sang it well, erasing with that performance the one lingering doubt I initially had about him.

5.) Kevin Covais. (Part-Time Lover). Okay, so I thought Kevin was a cutie. And I couldn't help but smile at his willingness to play along with the self-mocking about his newly-discovered sex symbol status. And I pegged him immediately as this season's villian, you know, the one contestant who keeps plugging along, getting enough votes to continue while leaving better artists in his wake. After all, we have one every season. But when Kevin took to the top-12 stage and slinked and slunked his way through this Stevie Wonder song, I swear I felt my body shudder. Gratefully, he was gone the next week.

4.) Melissa McGhee. (What About Love). There weren't, truly, many memorable moments with Melissa, her butchered lyrics of Stevie Wonder notwithstanding, but when she sang Heart in the last women's semi-final, and did so somewhat admirably, only to have Simon tell her to pack her bags and reserve a flight to Florida, I had one of those rare moments. I got mad enough to vote for her. And I voted hardcore. And, it seems, so did a lot of other people, because the look on her face, when she outlasted the favored Ayla Brown to make it into the 12 was a priceless moment that made hitting that redial button worth it. (Sorry Ayla, nothing against you. I thought she'd oust Lisa Tucker instead.)

3.) Paris Bennett (The Show Must Go On). Knowing that Freddie Mercury recorded this song fully aware that he had just a short time to live, makes it one of my bittersweet favorites of the Queen catalog. So I knew I was going to be more highly critical of Paris than of the others that night. But when she came out in full rocker chick regalia and delivered this powerful and forceful rendition, I was impressed, enough even to blog it as the best performance of the night. But it's also memorable to me for the hell I had to take at work the next day for calling it the best of the night. Alas.

2.) The Entire Crew. (Standards Night). I had seriously lost interest in this competition after 21st Century night, which I still maintain was the worst overall finals performance episode in the five-year history of this show. But when Rod Stewart came to visit, and the kids had to choose from the greatest of the Great American Songbook, not only did each of them (minus one - sorry Pickler) bring it up a notch, but they renewed and rejuvenated my interest in a season that I pretty much would have written off - if it hadn't been for one of them. Which brings me to...

1.) Elliott Yamin. (A Song for You). Love Songs Night was on my birthday, and I had fallen in like with Elliott after Moody's Mood for Love and fallen in love after Teach Me Tonight. And even though I had shamelessly (and against all of the ethics of this blog) pleaded with people to vote for Elliott because "I [heart]ed him" (yes, I went back and looked - I did that), I really didn't think Elliott would advance too far, because as vocally brilliant as he was, he always seemed to be holding back on stage. But on my birthday, after telling my co-workers (yes, the ones who berated me over the Paris thing) that all I wanted as a gift was for Elliott to flip that switch and go for broke, he stood alone on that stage in that suit and light blue tie, took that Donny Hathaway song and totally ripped it with a confidence I hadn't seen in him until then. I was crying before Paula was, not over the song so much, but over watching this seemingly reserved kid bloom into a star.

So there they are. My most memorable moments.

Got memories of your own?

Saturday, May 20, 2006

as the rumors churn...

Okay boys and girls, back to finale talk, since other than song selections, the Tuesday episode is not all that intriguingly suspenseful. (Unless, of course, you're curious about what they'll wear...)

So here's what we know, or think we know, about Wednesday's finale:

1.) Meat Loaf will be there to duet with Katharine McPhee on It's All Coming Back to Me.

2.) We suspect that Chris Daughtry will perform with the band "Live," as hinted by Nigel. (Now confirmed!)

Current rumor is that Elliott Yamin might be paired with his own Idol, Stevie Wonder, at least according to his official website, or at least the site run by his family. Hmmm, indeed. I guess if I can't have a Roberta Flack duet, watching Elliott actually perform with Stevie is the next best thing. (Stevie Wonder reference has since been removed from the site, and rumor has been refuted. Bummer)

When I find out more juicy stuff, I'll let you know.

and we hear from them...

Katharine and Taylor are dishing the good stuff to USA Today. Unfortunately they're not giving us any hints to what they'll be singing, except that two of the three songs will be songs already sung this season.

Okay then.

I would say to Katharine: stay away from Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Let that performance, which is still fresh in the mind, stay frozen in time. You don't want to destroy the moment. I suggest dipping back into the vault with Black Horse and a Cherry Tree and one of the ballads, perferably Someone to Watch over Me. Yeah.

And Taylor, I don't recall any final two contestant going back as far as the semi-final performances, but I would love to hear Levon again. And Something. Yeah.

So, with two songs from which to choose, which Katharine/Taylor performances would you like to see them repeat? After all, something has to wash our ears out after being assaulted by the original song.

And just in case you missed it, Elliott's exit interview is here. If you thought he was a class act before, this will leave no doubt.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

next week news...(with updates!)

Well, we're getting a little trickle of information about next week's events. The Tuesday night episode, of course, is the final performance episode, where Taylor and Katharine will sing three songs.

Performance position depends on the famous coin flip, which Taylor won last night, electing to sing second, thereby finishing the show. The first song will be [taking deep breath and making big gulp] the original song. All we're hearing is "the original song" so that implies that there is just one, and both will sing it to their own beat, to their own arrangement.

And this will be certain: I will totally pan it.

I have no idea what else they will sing, but last year, as the year before, each of them selected one number from the season to reprise, so I have no reason to believe they won't do that again. Third song remains a mystery.

But what is not a mystery is that Daniel Powter will be there to sing, uhh, wanna guess? Yeah. He's gonna tell them they're having a Bad Day before they've even had one.

And then Wednesday, the two-hour cheesefest that is the finale, will run from 8-10 EDT, featuring Carrie Underwood and, of course, the reunion of the entire crew.

Now we kind of know that Meat Loaf (whom I adore) is planning to appear on the Wednesday finale, dueting with Katharine McPhee, so chances are likely that the kids will get to, like last year, pair with some great artists for a medley treat.

Now for me, my most fervent wish is for Roberta Flack to appear to sing one of her exquisite Donny Hathaway duets with Elliott. That is my wish. Last year the top three were given alone time on the stage with a guest. Word on the street says this time the top four will be given that opportunity and the rest of the kids will be grouped, usually by genre preference.

So that begs the question, if you could get anybody and pair them with one (or more) of the kids what would be your wish?

And yes, I still want Kanye West to rap with little Kevin.

UPDATE: Nigel's toying with us again, apparently. Discussing the finale extravaganza next Wednesday, he dropped us a morsel of a hint regarding Chris Daughtry, who he expected to be in the final two. Will Chris perform in the finale? Yes. He'll perform live. And, he says, "live" is the operative word. I think I know what that might mean, especially considering a certain band will be in Los Angeles on May 24.

ETA: Oh, and by the way, if you're interested in downloading any of the audio or video of this season's performances, the main site has those available now, but only until next Wednesday. The cost is $1.99 for videos and $.99 for audios. Just click the top Idol on Fox link in the sidebar.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

three minus one equals two: a simulblog...

Somebody's going home. Well, not exactly. He or she is gonna stick around for a week to practice Brady Bunch moves, but won't get to sing in competition next week on the real big stage. It's almost over, this very long season.

Because THIS is American Idol.

And this is a simulblog, live blogging the results show as it's unfolding, with publishing at every important stop, so if you live in the West and you want to wait to see it unfold yourself, you might want to do some shopping on QVC. But come back later!

Ryan sees Ace and Pickler in the audience. I like her new hair. Over 50 million votes, says Ryan, were cast last night, a new non-finale record. And, we're told, close doesn't even describe the difference between the kids.

The recaps pretty much look like they did live the evening before, and we're promised a look at the kids' homecomings.

After the break...

The kids are real old folks in the crappy Ford commercial, rapping to Young at Heart. And that's about all I'm gonna say about that.

Time for the home videos. First up: Taylor, who tells us he ate his way through Birmingham, including ribs and pancakes for breakfast. Birmingham knows how to treat it's Idols, considering its had enough practice with Ruben and Bo before him.

Taylor then takes the stage with Takin' It To the Streets, his track from the new compilation CD that we are going to shamelessly promote for the next week. And he gets backup dance help from Elliott and Katharine.

It's time to watch Katharine's 10-minute limo ride home, which even she admits isn't quite the festival event of the small towns. She gets to ride in a helicopter, though, and her high school crowd is small but mighty loud.

And she takes the stage and strips her shoes off to Think, her CD track. What is it with this girl and wardrobe issues? She's looking a lot happier in this show than at this time last week.

Hey! Todd Bridges is in the audience. Let this be a lesson to the kids: when your time in the spotlight is over, you too can be on Skating with Celebrities.

Hey! Gavin Degraw is in the audience too!

Time for Elliott's visit home. He says he felt like a king. Oh how sweet. He visited the pharmacy where he used to work. And he's riding in the biggest freakin' limo I've ever seen. And it's always good to see Mama Yamin. Even when she's overcome with tears.

Elliott's crying as the footage ends, Paula's crying (again) and now he has to sing Moody's Mood for Love.

Ahh. The pimping of the CD begins with a reminder of all of the music and kudos the former Idolites have accomplished with the help of Clive Davis, the guy who can't pick songs for crap. But they give him a big-ass plaque to acknowledge all the cool stuff. He invokes the holy name of Kelly and reminds us that she's a big star. He then goes through the litany of names and their good things. This could take awhile. He doesn't talk fast. Good heavens, this is like a meeting of the stockholders.

Results coming up. After the break.

Ryan gives us the breakdown of the votes on a big screen. They are separated by tenths of percentage points. The highest is 33.68, followed by 33.26 and 33.06. And there's a name behind the last one, the one who's outta here.

And it's Elliott. He gets to see the footage of his journey, he gets to acknowledge his mom and they give him the stage for the full length of his swan song.

Thanks Elliott. For making me very happy these past months.

And good luck.

wednesday afternoon quarterbacking...

Before I start hashing and rehashing, could we please have a moment of sympathy for my texting thumb? It hurts.

... hmmm.

Thank you.

Well, on the morning after, I can say that the Final Three performance episode used to be my favorite one of the season. Last night's blah-fest pretty much put an end to that streak.

And what the hell universe does Clive Davis live in anyway, where I Believe I Can Fly is a classic and Open Arms is a rock song? And, that either of them was a splendid choice to saddle these kids with? I suppose if Chris had been there, he would have been handed Muskrat Love? (Oooo, I just thought of Kevin...)

But anyway, I've taken the time today to listen to the audio - cause, you know listening without the visual distraction of spastic dancing, indulgent smiling or a deer in the headlights is very revealing. Performances I thought I liked sometimes I find I don't, and more often the reverse is true.

I didn't do much changing of the mind today, like I have in previous episodes, except to say that I really don't think Elliott had nearly the weak night I thought he had when I turned in last night.

Let me get my rant out of the way.

I've been making my daily rounds of message board hell, and I'm reading outrage over the pimping of Katharine, the pimping of Taylor and the outright dismissal of Elliott.

Okay. I abhor the blatant pimping of this show too. I've never made any secret of that. And I don't like when Simon essentially tells the voters that one of the kids does not deserve to move forward, which is the reason that the only contestant this season that I voted for aside from Elliott and Bucky was Melissa McGhee in the last women's semi-final. And yes, I think the show definitely had its final two chosen, and the deck was stacked against the odd man out.

But, as much as I hate when they do it, as if the voters aren't smart enough to decide for themselves, it's the way they do things, they've always done things and the way they will continue to do things. Simon has, since season two's inexcusable treatment of Kimberley Locke in the final three,
been blunt about skewing the judgements so that the two preferred contestants stay. That year the show wanted Ruben in the finals, Kim was performing circles around him (and Clay, for that matter), and so they simply put an insurance policy on the final three show.

So, as unfair as it is, and as much as I detest it from an ethical standpoint, it's no secret, and flailing at the machine isn't going to change last night or change the standard operating procedure.

With that having been said, I still think, in comparison to past seasons, that the overt pimpage was minimal. Yes, Katharine was granted over a minute more total camera time than Elliott (I'm ignoring Taylor, because he was a lock to make the finale regardless, and major thanks to Tenfingers in the comment thread who made the effort to actually time them. Sounds like something I would have done. Had I thought about it. It's a very interesting breakdown of actual performance time. Check it out. I wish I could link directly, but I can't.) But in all honesty, she wasn't given a pass at the judges table, either. Elliott, on the other hand, had the opportunity to slam dunk Kat, Rainbow or no rainbow, with his own "moment" like he had last week. But he didn't. He was solid (with the possible exception of a really bad note and botched lyrics in his first, somewhat terrified performance), but he just didn't bring it when he needed it most.

With pretty equal support, one would presume, from their own fan bases, both of them needed to leave an imprint in the minds of the undecided voters. These voters haven't watched a young man bloom from a tentative, self-conscious, shy guy with a bad haircut to a confident cute guy with a terrific voice. He needed his potential voters to sit up and want to make the effort, and I'm afraid he just didn't.

So, whichever of the two goes tonight, I'm really not buying the whole "it's because of the pimping" line.

Nigel says Taylor will make the finale. Simon said Taylor will make the finale. Hell's bells, I said Taylor would make the finale about five contestants ago. This is nothing we didn't know before last night and those who were fearful, had their fears calmed in the Taylor love-fest that was last evening. So let's not talk about Taylor.

Listening to Nigel's post-performance interview (and God, do I detest that interviewer person...), I can't detect any sort of definitive clue as to which one of the other two will get his or her hopes and dreams crushed like the ant I just squashed on my floor. (And the third-place position is totally sucky too, because the following week, when the ousted kid gets to normally make the talk show rounds and meet Ellen and everything, the third-place kid has to stick around to practice the Brady Bunch numbers. Bummer.

He called Elliott the night's best singer, but said he got kneecapped by song selection. He gave the night's highlight to Kat, but said she may have blown that opportunity with a crappy third song. (Gee, he disliked it more than I did...) It's anybody's guess what's behind those beady little eyes of his.

DialIdol, again, has Katharine and Elliott in a statistical deadlock, but experienced significant problems last night, able only to handle the reports from two lines, so those numbers cannot be trusted any more than they already shouldn't be trusted. Plus, DialIdol only counts the calls from those voters who are using its software. It's a small percentage of the populace actually voting, and should never be taken as the gospel of spoilers. And, very importantly, it does not take into account text voting, and by all accounts, both the Elliott and Kat camps texted themselves silly last night.

For the first time, I really am at a loss. I know the Elliott voters were out in force like never before, especially after seeing their guy in the top two last week and then having to listen to Simon giving him the proverbial pat on the back, it's been nice to have you speech. The Kat fans were determined not to let their girl get as close to extinction as she was last week, especially after getting crappy reviews at the end of the show.

I really don't know who's staying. But as an Elliott voter, I am prepared to say goodbye to my guy. (Hell, I didn't think he'd make it past seventh-place, so I think the Elliott fans are practiced in the art of dread.) If I were a Kat fan, I would be doing the same. It's always better to be prepared only to be made joyful than it is in reverse. Just ask any Chris voter.

But one thing I do know. I do know that these three young people have given their lives to this show since the beginning of the year. They have endured more than most of us could withstand. They have been made fun of. They have been called names. And while being in this show does have its consequences, it's no reason to feel justified in heaping even more abuse on the two who will be left, all in the name of the one left behind. And the fans of these kids have invested hours of time and deserve the same respect we would expect from them.

I hope after tonight's outcome, whatever it is, this place remains a place where people can gather, discuss, debate and commiserate without fear of being, or having their favorite kid, bashed.

Thanks in advance. And good luck to all of us!

nigel is speaking...

Nigel must not have stayed up late voting like the rest of us, cause he's dishing the dirt earlier than usual. (Thanks Canuck, for the head's up in the comments!)

He thinks Taylor will advance. (Gee, do you think he checked DialIdol for that one?) And the other spot is up for grabs.

Taylor, he says, had three good performances, but his fave was Dancing in the Dark. (Nigel? You okay?) Kat, he thinks, had an Idol moment, but may have thrown the night away with her third song and Elliott, he says, was the best singer of the night, even though he hated Clive's and Paula's song selections. (Nigel, y'all have been saying all season that Elliott's the best singer in the whole thing and, like Kat said, he didn't pick the song!)

Tonight (remember it's one hour tonight!) each of them will sing their track from the CD we're going to start shamelessly pimping, and then we will all cry when we say goodbye to somebody. (Please, Nigel. I cry every single year at the top three boot show. I still can't watch last year's without a box of tissues, and I didn't even like Vonzell all that much.)

Who's it gonna be? Nigel says it's gonna be the one who didn't stick their chest out enough at the finish line. (Okay Nigel, that's enough. That's pimping, and that's SEXIST. You know Elliott does not have Kat's chest. Oh. Sorry. Been reading my own comment threads.)

Here's the link. Listen for yourself. My texting thumb hurts.

Comment: Well, at least when the show is over, we won't have to listen to that horrid TV Week interviewer ever ever again.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

it's the clive davis show, not starring clive...

The long and winding road is winding down, but before we get to Oz, we gotta drive the last mile and throw somebody outta the car.

Unless somebody hurls him or herself out first.

Because THIS is American Idol.

And it's the Clive Show, the final three episode where the kids sing three songs, one of their own choosing, one handed to them from one of the judges, and one decreed from above, from the great one himself, Clive Davis.

Two will go the Kodak next week. One gets to take a long nap and boogie in the Brady Bunch tune instead.

And what a bummer - Clive the star isn't even gonna judge tonight. Eh, that's okay, he normally just says the same thing every time. Paula was his mentor.

And these are my early impressions, subject to rewind, revision and reorder, and as always, from worst to first.

Katharine McPhee (I Believe I Can Fly/Clive Davis selection). Clive says this song is a classic. (Probably in the same sense that Open Arms is a rock song.) Randy says she looks amazing. (And she does!!) Paula says her dress is a beautiful color. Never good. Simon says the others are wrong, that she didn't oversing (yes she did) and that aside from the crap notes at the end she "created a moment."

Elliott Yamin (Open Arms/Clive Davis selection). Clive says he wants Elliott to sing a rock song. Okaaay. Elliott sounds a bit nervous, and I think he transposed a couple of lines. He gets mediocre reviews from Randy (who reminds us, yet again, that he was with Journey) and Paula, and Simon admonishes him to start believing in himself. It was a shaky start, certainly not ranking among his best, but certainly no disaster.

Katharine McPhee (Ain't Got Nothing But the Blues/Personal Choice). Kat decides to channel Ella and the other great females, but hasn't learned yet that she's just not yet. Randy says blah. Paula says meh. Simon repeats after the first two.

Taylor Hicks (Dancing in the Dark/Clive Davis selection). Taylor says thanks to Clive for begging the Boss to let him sing the song. Taylor does all these cute little gun movements and pulls Paula up on the catwalk like Courteney Cox in the video. Oooo. Nice touch Taylor. But the song, as well presented as it was, lacked the Taylorisms I've come to hope for. Simon says meh and Paula wishes for double-stick tape.

Elliott Yamin (What You Won't Do For Love/Judges Pick). The confident Elliott is back on his second number, and he puts an original spin on the Bobby Caldwell song. Randy says he's sharp throughout, Paula mumbles incoherently, but Simon gives him a thumbs up. I say there were a few missteps, but overall, for me, preferable to the original, and even moreso if he were given longer than a 90 second arrangement.

Elliott Yamin (I Believe to my Soul/Personal Choice). Now that's Elliott, with a Donny Hathaway cover of a Ray Charles tune. Randy praises his singing, but not the song. Paula echoes Randy, as usual. Simon tells him he's a great guy but that he's history, single-handedly lighting a fire under every Elliott voter determined to prove Simon wrong.

Taylor Hicks (Try a Little Tenderness/Personal Choice). The Taylor we know lets loose. Randy gives him a new name with funky somewhere in there. Paula says she's waited all season for him to perform the song. (Ahem.) Simon says he'll see him next week.

Katharine McPhee (Somewhere Over the Rainbow/Judges Pick) Simon says he expects a moment from Kat, and she's sitting on the floor again, singing the opening that most people don't know a cappella, before launching into the lyrics we all recognize. She really restrains the vocals in a lovely and poignant performance. Randy says personal best. Paula gives a standing ovation and tells her what we've been screaming for weeks. Simon tells her it was the best performance of the season. I wouldn't go that far, but it was her best.

Taylor Hicks (You Are So Beautiful/Judges Pick). Taylor channels Joe Cocker with a simple, understated performance of a beautiful, understated song. Randy says yay! Paula says yay! Simon says another best ever.

With a few great ones, and a few less-than-great ones, it's all but over.

Taylor is certain, and I am going to hope that the Elliott fans vote harder than ever. Simon's declarations can work wonders. I still say Kat leaves. A season's worth of great work should not be reduced to one rainbow.

So, what's your verdict?

this just in...

Okay guys, as we await the 8 o'clock hour, spoilers tend to come hot and heavy prior to the start of performance, especially around 6:30 EDT, when the folks who've been at dress rehearsal start retrieving their phones and keyboards. So when I learn anything new, here's where it will go, rather than a new entry for each new item.

First Up! News, and credible news, on Elliott's personal choice. It very well could be I Believe To My Soul by Ray Charles, later covered by
Donny Hathaway. (And we all know how much he admires Hathaway.) It's another one of those bluesy numbers, with an arrangement very similar to the vocal/band arrangement of Trouble. Ray Charles' version is a bit slower than Hathaway's, so it will be interesting, if this is indeed his choice, to see which version he selects. My vote: Hathaway. Definitely. (thanks, mj)

And there's no refuting Taylor's personal choice of Otis Redding's
Try a Little Tenderness, and that title has been making the rounds consistently, so I say it's a go, unless we hear differently after dress rehearsal. You may remember that this was the song he had prepared for Love Songs night, only to be told the day before performance that the song "didn't fit the genre."

Finally, those dress rehearsal folks got in touch. Katharine's personal choice will be Ain't Got Nothing But the Blues.

Song order tonight: Clive pick, Judges pick, Personal Choice.

news & notes...

Looks like each of the kids will have three phone lines from which to choose tonight, which, of course, will make it easier to hear something beyond that annoying busy signal and drive up those vote totals beyond comprehension.

Good news all around, I suppose.

And because they have to check those lines, of course a whole batch of devilish Idol fanatics are at the ready to dial the numbers, and with the kids themselves answering the phones in the latter stages of the game, it's pretty easy to figure out the order of performance.

Here goes...

Elliott has been, reportedly, assigned numbers 01, 04, and 07, which means he's first out of the box.
Katharine has been, again reportedly, since all I ever get is that annoying busy signal, assigned numbers 02, 05, and 08.
Which leaves Taylor with numbers 03, 06, and 09.

If they do line them up on three night according to vote totals, which I am convinced they do, and since Elliott outdistanced Kat in last week's voting, it appears as though the order is, as I assumed, based on totals throughout the season, rather than the most recent competitive night. (I presumed as much because in season three, Fantasia went from bottom two on four night to the middle on three night much like Katharine allegedly will tonight.)

So, naturally, tonight will spell the end of one of the "trends" that I'm so fond of. Because either we will have our first male third-place finisher or the person who goes first will, for the first time, make it to the finale. So long trend. Whichever one you are.

Six hours and counting...

it's now or never...

[Sorry, I couldn't help just one more Elvis reference...]

For whatever is said about the finale being crunch time, I've never really viewed it that way. To me, the last performance episode is simply the send-off to the series, followed by what we hope will be a rollicking good two-hour finale extravaganza. Actually the final performance episode is usually a snoozer of epic proportions, as the final two get saddled with original songs, written by Tamyra Gray (with help this year from Nick Lachey, and no I'm not kidding) about puppies and rainbows, and hopes and dreams and heaven and meadows filled with flowers and butterflies.

In general, blech.

Then they top it off with their own favorite performance from the season we're waving goodbye to.

So that's why the Final Three show, or the Clive Show, has usually been one of, if not the best of the season. Because it is do or die time for real. And taking two-thirds of the song choices away from the kids who will sing them adds an element of intrigue and strategy to the game as a whole.

This is going to be an interesting final three in contrast to the previous seasons, as we have two early-season favorites squaring off against the early longest-of-shots guy who's not only peaking but gaining incredible fan momentum.

It really is anybody's game, unlike in previous seasons when the only suspense of who was going to make it through was how was Ryan going to tell her. (Remember, all four third-place finishers have been women.)

Much of the buzz on tonight's episode centers not only on song selection, but on voter apathy, after the ouster of Chris Daughtry last week. There is speculation that the Katharine McPhee voters will just say uncle, as she is now perceived as the underdog after her appearance in the bottom two. There is further speculation that the Elliott Yamin voters will suffer a bout of overconfidence in their guy, after standing next to Taylor Hicks in the top two.

To both of those suggestions, I say hogwash.

These three camps are possibly as motivated (if not moreso) than any voting group in Idol history. None of them are going to let their kid down. Phone providers are setting up camp in the various hometowns, allowing for free texting. People are buying Cingular phones like mad. People (like me) have added text messaging packages to their existing Cingular accounts. (Remember, only Cingular customers can text vote - give a raise to the Cingular exec who brokered that deal.) People are downloading the
DialIdol software in anticipation of a long night of dialing and an even longer night next week. (FYI: I have used DialIdol since the beginning of the season. It's free, easy to use and fun to be able to watch the results come in as it's happening. And, because I conducted my own experiment, it's really no faster than hitting redial on my telephone, so it's not one of those "power voting techniques" that are subject to rejection. It just frees up your hands to text. Or, in my case, to write. And text.)

The voters to consider tonight, I think, can be divided into two camps: the displaced Daughtry gang and the casual voter/first-time viewer. And, as is usually the case after a publicized boot, there should be plenty of newbies, tuning in for the first time to see what all this fuss is about.

That's when song selection/performance is absolutely key. We won't see much of the hometown footage tonight, aside from the mayor/governor/only available governmental official's pronouncement of each of the judge's selections, so backstory really won't affect or sway new voters one way or the other. (The hometown stuff will probably be featured on tomorrow's one-hour results show.)

Taylor and Elliott appeared to be in a virtual deadheat among voters after last week's Elvis tribute. And Katharine appears to have some ground to make up. Those casual/first-time voters might very well base their decisions only on what they see on the stage. One wrong note Katharine or too many spastic dance moves Taylor, or a hesitant and nervous stage performance Elliott could very well cost a significant number of votes. And while the number of new voters may be insignificant in the grand scheme of 47.5 million gazillion trillion votes, when we're in the midst of the dog fight I think we have, if half a million newbies phone in just five votes each, we're talking 2.5 million votes in a contest where the spread is measured in tenths of a percentage. (By all accounts, this race could be closer than Clay/Ruben where the difference was less than 150,000 votes.)

And then there are the Chris fans. And, from what I've been able to gather in my daily jaunts through the sometimes-scary message board universe, the Chris fans can be further divided into three camps: the not-gonna-watch/vote gang, the sad-but-gonna-vote-the-best group and the infamous ABKers, ABTers and ABEers.

I blogged several weeks ago about voting motivation, because, honestly, that's what most fascinates me about this whole phenomenon. Like, generally, won't spur somebody to press the redial button until the finger goes numb, but love - or lurrrrrve - will. Fear does, which explains why so many contestants survive after pitiful performances. And so does anger.

Many of the Chris fans, not only angry at the eviction of their guy, are angry that Katharine, who arguably had by far the worst night of the four last week and should, by all rights, have been ousted, is still there to sing another day. And many (not all!) of them will be voting ABK. Anybody. But. Katharine. And there are those voters who plan to try to oust Taylor in the ABT movement, by power-voting Kat. I haven't seen much in the way of an "Oust Elliott" movement, but I'm certain there are those who are longing, as the comment thread indicated yesterday, for a Kat/Taylor finale. I really don't think these voting movements will make any more of a difference than the Vote For The Worst drive does, but again, in a photo finish, every factor is important.

And the "Save Elliott" movement is done. Many voters, as indicated in yesterday's comment thread, noted that they've always loved Taylor, but, because they knew he really didn't need their votes to move on, threw their support to Elliott because he needed the support to stay afloat. Elliott doesn't need saving anymore, despite what some of the pundits and betting sites are speculating. He has gone from a no-show in many of the online polls to the possible winner of the whole shebang. Those votes will now go back to Taylor (or, possibly, to Kat) because at this point, it's everybody for themselves.

Have I mentioned how much I am loving this?

The Soul Patrol is feeling the heat. Taylor has glided, untouched and by his own merits, throughout this competition, but now has a serious contender in Elliott. Despite one early appearance on the seal that woke up her fans, Katharine has had much of the same, an avid voting group, but not one which felt too much pressure until last week. Now their girl is in the most danger, and they're gonna come out with claws drawn. They have to.

The Elliott voters, on the other hand, know what it feels like to claw their way through. This is the group who just hoped to get their guy in the final 12, then, with that accomplished, clawed some more to get him into the 10 so that he could make the tour, probably not thinking that final six was even possible. And then they fought to get him into the five, so that he could sing twice. And now that the finale's within reach, they've become a force to be recognized and reckoned with.

Yeah, it is anybody's game, on talent alone, because each of them has shown moments of brilliance. The problem is that two of them are at the top of their game, coming off superb performances and, no doubt, a surge of confidence. The other has struggled over the past two weeks, turning in three poorly-received performances out of her last four. Her confidence is key, and if last week's results show was any indication, could be at its low-ebb.

Simon has given Katharine a challenging task with his choice of Somewhere Over the Rainbow. It's one of his favorite tunes, and I think he's thrown down the gauntlet. If she can resist the urge to Mariah-ize the song and keeps the inappropriate smiling to the camera at the end of every line to zilch, the complete opposite of what she did to that poor Elvis ballad, she just may pick up enough casual viewers to make this a contest. I wouldn't want to be Katharine tonight, because since Simon nearly broke his leg jumping off her bandwagon last week, she's going to have to be better than good. And after the last two weeks, I just don't see that happening.

Katharine will become the fifth female third-place finisher, and next week it will be the crooner v. the showman in the last performance episode of the fifth season.

That's how I think it will play out.

Your turn.

clive's choices...

Not much to say until later, but here are Clive's selections:

Elliott = Open Arms.
Katharine = I Believe I Can Fly.
Taylor = Dancing in the Dark.

Clive has confirmed, because there was doubt, that he will sign both the winner and the runner-up to contracts. (Plus, for the Chris fans, there's some good news too.)

Something about those choices just says to me that Clive has a definite favorite.

So, what do you think?


Judges Choice

Paula for Elliott = What you Won't Do For Love by Bobby Caldwell. (verified)
Randy for Taylor = You Are So Beautiful by Joe Cocker. (verified)
Simon for Katharine = Somewhere Over the Rainbow (not verified but not refuted, so I feel very confident this is accurate. I have linked the Kim Locke rendition, mainly because it's the only one I have.)

Monday, May 15, 2006

monday bits & pieces...

While I still try to finish my prediction entry while tracking down any hint of song selections, and catching up on what rumored song choices are now being retracted (as they always are), I thought I'd pass on a little news that I'm still working on verifying and throw out a completely non-scientific straw poll-type of question, just so we can take just a bit of the pulse around here.

The finale is coming up, of course, next Wednesday. It will be tough to top last year's finale extravaganza, but it seems the show recognized what a brilliant move it was last year to pair the top 12 with their idols in the biggest, bestest medley EVER. Looks like they're planning the same sort of event again.

If you remember last season, or if you're new this season, the finale is where all of the finalists are reunited, do assorted Brady Bunch-type numbers, the top two sing separately, sing together and we all await the naming of the American Idol. Last year, in a stroke of genius, the kids were paired with their idols, presenting us a medley featuring George Benson, Billy Preston, Rascal Flatts and Lynyrd Skynryd, among others. Each of the top three was given a solo performance with theirs, and the other kids were grouped together.

Meat Loaf announced this weekend in his forum that he will be among the musical guests, performing with Katharine McPhee. Sounds like fun! I'll stay on top of that. [Please, let Kanye West show up to rap with Kevin. Pleeeeeze!]

Now for the totally non-scientific straw poll-ish type question for everyone reading this right now. (Remember, you don't have to register with Blogger to leave comments here!) So lurkers, it's time to speak up, please. You don't even have to identify yourself.

Who are you rooting for? I'd like to get an idea how representative the kids are supported around here.

I'll start [like anybody has to guess]. Go ELLIOTT!

Your turn.

Oh...and thanks.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

sing, sing a song...

I normally don't list song spoilers unless I feel confident in their accuracy. However, it's down to the wire, the final three show, so I'm gonna tell you what's floating out there and let you decide how much confidence you want to place in the details.

Judges picks

Paula for Elliott =
What you Won't Do For Love by Bobby Caldwell. (verified)
Randy for Taylor =
You Are So Beautiful by Joe Cocker. (verified)
Simon for Katharine =
Somewhere Over the Rainbow (not verified but not refuted, so I feel very confident this is accurate. I have linked the Kim Locke rendition, mainly because it's the only one I have.)

Clive's Choice (confirmed titles in most recent entry)

Clive for Taylor = Walkin' in Memphis. (Now being refuted.)
Clive for Katharine = The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. (Being refuted.)
Clive for Elliott = No clue.

Personal Choice

Katharine = Man...I Feel Like a Woman. (Becoming less likely.)
Taylor = Try a Little Tenderness. (Not verified, but virtually certain. This was the song he had ready but was nixed the day before Love Songs night because it "didn't fit the genre.")
Elliott = I've Got a Woman (Seems to be yet another bogus lead.)

Remember, except for the two verified judges picks, these are still rumors. Personally, except for Taylor's personal pick, I don't believe any of them except the judges selections.

We should find out Clive's choices tomorrow before the show. We normally do.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

it's all in the placement, part 2...

It's always interesting when something that has been staring me right in the face finally makes sense.

I have to clarify my last entry with all the fun facts. Something was bugging me when I was writing it initially. When I finally realized my error, the complete picture emerged, though, so it is true that sometimes when we err it's for a reason.

[For the record, I transposed the order of the final three lineup for season four; it is now fixed.]

As I said then, so much has been said about the importance (or lack thereof) of the order of performance. The pimp spot guarantees survival, first in line puts a kid at risk, etc., has been much the topic of debate. There was even the interesting phenomenon of the second singer always getting axed on final five night, and I tried to make some sense if it, if it is indeed significant at all.

But after realizing I had screwed up the order of performance in last year's final three, fixed the order and it fully dawned on me that no one performing first on final three night had ever advanced beyond the three, it hit me.

Perhaps performance order on final three night tells a story. Personally, I think it does.

If you read that entry, you read that I speculated that Katharine would lead off, because she anchored the show last week. I further speculated that Elliott would close the show because Taylor had gone last just two weeks ago, and they are adamant about switching around the order.

I have changed my mind.

I have concluded, and you don't have to agree, of course, that the lineup on final three night is dictated by votes. The kid with the fewest going into the three will go first; the kid with the most goes last. That is why, in all four seasons, the kid who goes first on final three night always goes away the next night.

Season one

Nikki had just bumped off Tamyra in a boot that makes the Chris boot pale in comparison. She was an unlikely final three participant, alongside Justin and Kelly, both of whom were favorites throughout the competition.

The lineup that night: Nikki, Justin, Kelly. I do not doubt for one second that Kelly was the top vote getter going into that episode.

Season two

In the best final three EVER, Kim Locke had fought style issues, the wrath of Simon and Heatwave to emerge as the lone girl to challenge the Goliaths of Clay and Ruben. We know now, because it's been widely reported that, until the finale, Clay was outpolling Ruben consistently, with Ruben even visiting the bottom on top five night.

The lineup that night: Kim, Ruben, Clay.

Season three

Fantasia had visited the seal more often than any other Idol winner, and little Jasmine, with help from a faceful of tears and her home state of Hawaii, had just knocked off the perfect LaToya. We now know that Fantasia knocked off Diana in the finale by a well-mascara'd eyelash.

The lineup that night: Jasmine, Fantasia, Diana.

Season four

I would bet my checkbook that Bo and Carrie separately were outvoting Vonzell and fourth-place finisher Anthony together. And I have no doubt that Carrie had distanced herself from the field going into the Clive show.

The lineup that night: Vonzell, Bo, Carrie.

Once or even twice could be coincidental, but four times? So Tuesday night's lineup could indeed tell a story. And if this theory pans, and the lineup is determined by the vote on top 4 night, Katharine will go first, followed by the two men. But in what order our two men will be placed is anybody's guess.

While I think it's dangerous to use DialIdol as anything more than what it's supposed to be, last week's results showed a rather significant margin between second and third. And the margin between first and second was statistically insignificant, it was so close.

So I don't know who will go second. Or last.

But I don't think it will have anything to do with simple protocol. Again, you can call me crazy, but it makes sense.

I knew all this trend stuff would come in handy eventually.

Thanks Rob for the awesome image!